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Letters to the EditorDid We Just Get Fooled Again?

Did We Just Get Fooled Again?

Recall those days a short one year ago before the 2015 election?  The Liberal platform said:

“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system”

That quote is directly from the Liberal party’s web-site.  It is clear and unambiguous, there are no conditions.

If this plank in the Liberal platform was something that swayed your vote, then read on to learn how their story has changed.

If you had hope that Canada would soon be joining the large majority of countries who have moved on from First Past The Post (FPTP) then read on.

Now they are saying something else.

One year later, we are hearing a different story. But before I elaborate, a brief bit of background information is needed.

As you may know, the federal government formed an all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRE).  This committee has just finished four months of public consultations.

Fair Vote Canada has been following the process.  They have tabulated data about every public submission.  All its data publicly available here.  You can look at the data (click on the link) and make up your own mind about what is true and what is political spin.

Now to get back to how the message has been changed, here is what the Prime Minister is saying:

Trudeau said he no longer sees the same appetite for electoral reform he did when the Conservatives were in power.

And this is what Minister Monsef is saying:

So I can’t promise you that I’ll be advocating for PR because I haven’t heard that from an overwhelming majority across the country.”

And here is what the data from the committee meetings is saying:

  • 87% of speakers who showed up at the ERRE public mic across Canada and addressed the voting system spoke for proportional representation.
  • At 69% of the MP town halls, the majority were calling for a system based on the principle of proportional representation. At another 8%, the majority were in favour of change.
  • At 83% of town halls and dialogues hosted by individuals and groups, the majority were calling for PR – at another 11% the majority spoke in favour of change
  • 88% of the academics, experts and community groups who appeared before the ERRE as witnesses with an opinion on the voting system spoke for PR. (Again, you can check the data yourself by going here)

The Prime Minister and Minister Monsef are saying that they are not seeing an overwhelming clamour for change and specifically PR. The data from the ERRE Committee public consultation paints a dramatically different picture.

The following quote from a press release from Fair Vote Canada describing the meeting in Victoria sums it up:

“The wheels were skidding out of control as we tried to combat the spin we received at last night’s town hall on Electoral Reform. Maryam Monsef, the Minister of Democratic Institutions hosted the gathering in Victoria billed as “the last chance” to give your input. But the tone of the meeting was quite acrimonious. The organisers were clearly managing the message while backpedaling from an election commitment about changing the electoral system. Not only did the minister defend Trudeau’s recent comments about no longer needing this reform because we voted for HIM.”

“After months of hearing expert witness by the proportionally cross-partisan panel, and while MPs held public consultations with thousands of Canadians across the country, are we now to believe there is no appetite for Proportional Representation? Monsef said that she has not yet made up her mind but the implication of her words was troubling. Will the government diminish the committee’s well-researched, democratic report in December by championing their predetermined preference? For many of us who attended last night the so-called consultation felt like a sham.”

Here’s what you can do about it.

Regardless of your political stripes, we must make an effort to compel governments to fulfil their election promises.  Inaction on our part will only legitimize governments to mislead with hollow platform promises.  A party’s platform is a fundamental part of how our democracy works. We should not abandon our democratic principles for partisan gain, political expediency or tribal interests.

You can do something.  Go here to learn more.


Robin Sukhu 




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