A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, February 5, 2017

A No Win Situation From The Start

This week there has been much rhetoric about the failure of the Liberals to move forward on electoral reform, apparently this is all Trudeau's fault and no blame can be laid at the Conservatives who did everything they could to side track the committee studying the possibilities with their cry referendum, referendum, referendum! And what pray would you have as a question, “do you support electoral reform?” yes/no , what would that solve. Perhaps “do you support changing to a proportional system?”, but what type of proportional system? If the government decided upon a specific system to be put before the public, as the committee basically said they should, they would be accused of selecting a system to suit themselves. This was a no win situation right from the start, it was not helped by the tight time line to study alternatives and the failure to ask the committee to come up with a SPECIFIC recommendation, there is no doubt that Trudeau had every intention of introducing a new voting system by 2019 and made several missteps along the way to achieving that but as for broken promises.....they all do it!

His main error was promising something that he could not deliver, have you heard a politician say “we will try to.....” or “we will introduce legislation to......” or “we hope to....” in an election platform. No, 9 times out of 10 its “WE WILL” despite knowing that in Canada there is a process to go through before any legislation can become law, we are NOT the U.S where apparently a single leader, supported by a few want to be oligarchs, can change the country into a reflection of his warped mind with the stroke of a pen. The whole exercise was an interesting discussion that drew very little public comment outside of a few vocal organizations who were determined that their choice of a system had to be chosen and which was generally turning into a very divisive undertaking.

Let us continue to try and find a better system to elect those who would represent us in the House but understand it will take MUCH more study and someone to design and put before parliament a specific proposal, be it to directly vote on or put before the people in a referendum. Perhaps a more urgent matter should be Parliamentary Reform and the creation of some hard and fast rules to replace those unwritten 'traditions' that are ignored when it is convenient. The party line still overrides the individual MPs opinions, to paraphrase Orwell “All MPs are equal but some are more equal than others”.

I am getting very tired of the 'He broke his promise, He broke his promise, He broke his promise' rhetoric this week and the failure to understand that you cannot have a referendum on anything until you have a definitive question to consider. ” Tabling legislation to ram through a preferential ballot (or any other system) without parliamentary support would have been seen as transparently self-serving.”
As I said above its a no win situation for the government.

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Lorne said...

I know you have followed this issue very closely for a long time, Rural, and I deeply respect your views on electoral reform. I would be interested to know what your thoughts would be had Trudeau opted for a 'first step' of reform by going to a ranked ballot for the next election. Thanks.

Rural said...

That was my personal preference, which I tried not to push to hard in my discussions of the dozens of systems and variations available, Lorne. Right from the start JT said that it was his preference and was widely taken to task for choosing a system that would favor the liberals (something that is far from clear). Then the committee and the 'experts' dismissed this simple first step out of hand, so as I say above he was damned if he did and damned if he did not enable such a system no matter how brought in. I do not blame him at all for dumping the whole can of worms!

Frank A. Pelaschuk said...

You write you are “very tired of the ‘He broke his promise, He broke his promise, He broke his promise’ rhetoric”. What I’m tired of is folks giving politicians they support a free ride. It is not that Trudeau just broke his promise on electoral reform, it is that he raised the spectre of electoral reform when there was no clarion call for it except by the Liberals who were in third place. Then, having won his vast majority with an almost identical percentage of the vote as the last gang of sewer rats, he suddenly determined that folks weren’t all that interested in such reform. He was a liar when made the promise and he remains so today.
He also clearly did not like the committee recommendation when was for PR and not his (and yours, you admit) preferred choice ranked ballot. Of course Trudeau and both the major parties and their supporters prefer the ranked ballot; it all but makes a certainty that the two parties that have governed since time began for Canada will almost certainly win.

On the bottom of your blog you ask readers to Support Democracy. I say the same to you. PR, and my preference is MMP, at least allows for outcomes of votes to allow for proportionate representation.
You can give a pass, just as others who voted for Harper gave him a pass, but the fact is, Trudeau made promises knowing full well some would not be honoured. And then you blame the committee for not coming up with a SPECIFIC recommendation. That was Monsef’s line and Trudeau’s. At least be honest. The Liberals were looking for an out and anything, even a thin line like that will do. The truth is, Trudeau had no intention of honouring his promise and that became evident from day one when he won his majority. His main error, contrary to your assertion, is not that he made the promises he could not deliver, but that he made promises he had no intention of honouring.

Rural said...

You and I have disagreed before Frank, and on this we must agree to disagree again!

Alan Goodhall said...

For 150 years we have been doing the same thing and expecting different results. That is electing alternating liberal and conservative governments.

As citizens if we want to change how we are governed we must act differently ourselves. That would mean embracing a party that puts forward a policy of electoral reform as one of its primary planks.
But we don't.
We continue to believe that a vote cast for the perceived winner, the mainstream candidates, is the only method of retaining the value of your individual vote. Anything less is to "waste" your vote.
Yet here we are yet again. Those that supported change by voting for the liberal party find themselves in the same old boat. And whether you're a liberal or conservative voter, there will shall all remain.

Rural said...

Good to hear from you again Allen. I cannot substantially disagree with you but cannot help wonder if the cure is worse than the disease, at least in the case of some of the available voting systems.