I am angry, broken-hearted and deeply worried about the consequences of Prime Minister Trudeau’s decision to abandon his unequivocal, often repeated 2015 election promise that the 2015 Canadian election would be the last one under the democracy defying first past the post voting system where a small block of voters can elect a majority government.
The gutting of any semblance of reasonable governance, social decency or the common good that is going on in the United States under the results of a presidential electoral system that undermines the popular vote underscores my belief that a prime minister committed to any semblance of a just, sustaining and sustainable Canada would have to be committed to bringing in the kind of electoral reform that ensures our parliament represents the will of, at least, the majority of Canadians.
Under our first past the post electoral system the Conservative Party’s 30% base, a base that stuck with them even under Harper, could easily be expanded to another 39% Canadian Conservative Party “majority” government with its Trump-wan-a-be fear mongering, e-hate, attacks on minorities and its corporatist right-wing agenda.
Trudeau talks of a lack of consensus on electoral reform citing differing preferences among Canadian political parties. One has to wonder, about what other issues the Prime Minister is waiting for consensus among the parties on. In fact there is a clear consensus among the parties—they all agree and they all agree with the PM on the best electoral format—that is when it comes to the well being of their own parties. Every one of them, EVERY ONE OF THEM, elects the leader of their party by preferential ballot or its equivalent, run off election. No party wants their leader to be elected by a small minority of party members. Given the very real possibility of 5 candidates for the leadership of a party, under first past the post(FPP) the leader could be elected by as little as 21% of those casting a ballot—an outcome that could easily be as dastardly for the party as a 39% “majority” governments could be/have been for our country. With the Trump wan-a-bes running for the leadership of the Conservatives, another Conservative false majority could even be worse than Harper’s pillaging of our Canadian values!
Trudeau so clearly said we would have electoral reform before the next election. While he complains of a lack of consensus, he could easily have run a consensus seeking referendum on electoral reform based on the consensus seeking preferential ballot. FPP would have been on the ballot along with the other choices. Preferential ballot is about, exactly, consensus seeking. If on first count no candidate gets at least 51% of the vote, then the candidate with the least votes is dropped off the ballot and the second choice of that candidate’s voters is tallied until one candidate gets, at least, 50%. What did Trudeau do to promote an understanding or consensus on this most visible of his election promises? He made a weak hand off to a parliamentary committee. There ended up being a difference between the parliamentary committee recommendations and the preference of the PM, but why hand off the responsibility if he wasn’t interested in the result? What does keeping the electorate rejected FPP have to do with consensus? Given that the only party supporting FPP in the last election was the 30% Conservatives, keeping FPP is anything but consensus building or recognizing.
What disturbs me most is the disillusionment of so many voters and yes, especially young voters; voters who , in record numbers, believed that their vote mattered. I remember so clearly showing up at the Royston poll on election night to find a line of voters out the door and down the block. Wow!-but then–inside, there were few voters at the ballot boxes. I was confused until someone pointed out that all those voters in the lineup were citizens registering to vote for the first time! New voters–not all of them young, just new–who had come to the polls believing that their vote would matter, that we would throw out the hate mongering and the corporatist agenda and get a government that would represent the majority of Canadians. The red tide took on an orange fringe when it got to the west coast, but–even on the west coast–the Liberal Party vote went up under the, sadly mistaken, belief that the Liberals represented a more honest, open government, committed to electoral reform that would greatly expand the connection between government and the electorate. Sadly, not to be!
I don’t believe that Trudeau is being even minimally sincere with Canadians. He talks about his belief that a referendum on electoral reform would “divide Canadians.” But how about ramming a lie down their throats; is that going to bring Canadians together? What precedent does he have for such an assertion? British Columbians had two ballots on electoral reform and even when the requirement to pass was rigged by requiring a super majority for change, there is no evidence the vote divided British Columbians. Nor did the Ontario poll on electoral reform make for any lasting divisions in the province. Why does Trudeau react to the small chance of division and not flinch over creating the kind of disillusionment and potentially nation destroying division that has lead to the Trump presidency, the rise of disillusionment fired social resentment, class, racial and ethnic hate that lead to the Brexit vote and the rise of the politics of extremist ethnophobia?
What will Trudeau say to Canadians the next time he craftily steals a NDP election promise that he has no intention of implementing? Surely he will never dare to repeat even once again his vacuous promise to usher in “open and transparent government.”
Ah, but the Liberals are now promising an independent commission for electoral debates-and new measures to limit political spending between elections. Ha! And what are all those big bucks to dine with the Prime Minister for if not to spend more on vacuous Liberal Tomfoolery between and during elections? Or is it just to try to repair the PM’s much dented reputation as an sincere and honest politician?