Thursday, November 17, 2016
The Cons, the NDP, and the Referendum Trap
As you know for almost a year Rona Ambrose and her Cons have been demanding that any plans for electoral reform must be approved by a referendum.
Screeching away like a broken record.
And for a very simple reason. They know that a referendum would almost certainly end up by reinforcing the status quo, and burying the idea of electoral reform for a generation.
So it's hard to understand why the NDP is now backing their position.
And that Nathan Cullen now says he is open to holding a referendum.
New Democrats have dropped their opposition to holding a national referendum on electoral reform in a bid to pressure the governing Liberals into agreeing to a proportional voting system.
NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Green members of the committee support a proportional voting system but Conservatives have said they will not support any change unless it is approved by Canadians in a referendum. The Bloc also wants a referendum.
Because if Cullen thinks that by so doing he can get the Cons to back proportional representation.
Asked if it will be enough to win Tory support for proportional representation, Cullen said Reid has acknowledged that the majority of experts and average folks consulted by the committee overwhelmingly favour a proportional voting system. "I can't see us writing a report that doesn't reflect that back," he said.
He is only falling into their trap.
For you can be sure that the Cons will never agree to a simple question like "Do you support proportional representation YES or NO."
Not when they fear it so much...
They will insist that the existing first-past-the-post system be also placed on the ballot, along with any others like the ranked ballot option the Liberals apparently favour.
And given a choice between the devil they know, and complicated systems they don't, the FPTP option will almost certainly be the winner.
And then there's the other big problem; there is not enough time to hold a referendum AND implement a new voting system before the next election.
Among the problems with holding a referendum is the tight time frame in which electoral reform must take place to deliver on Trudeau's promise. Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand has said legislation implementing a new voting system must be in place by June if Elections Canada is to have the system up and running in time for the next election in October 2019.
Not when our referendum law is out of date and would need to be overhauled before one could be held.
Cullen acknowledged that the Referendum Act would have to be amended before a vote could be held, to impose spending limits on campaigners, among other things. And more time could be lost negotiating all-party agreement on the question to be put to Canadians and the threshold of support — not just Canada-wide but also regionally — that would be required to approve a change.
Which would be both difficult and time consuming, and Cullen's way of getting around that is absolutely absurd.
Cullen said he believes Elections Canada could "begin the work" as soon as a new system is proposed by the committee, even before it's put to a referendum or legislation is passed.
For how could Elections Canada start the expensive work of reconfiguring ridings for a new voting system before it even knows whether it would be approved?
And since by having other options on the ballot, even if the proportional representation system was approved, it would fall far short of a majority. And how could it be considered legitimate if say only 30% of Canadians favoured it?
Or as in the recent case of P.E.I., most Canadians didn't bother to vote.
Just 36 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots, prompting Premier Wade MacLauchlan to question the legitimacy of the choice.
And then there are the other problems:
(1) A referendum is not constitutional.
(2) Referendums are incredibly divisive, very expensive, and on complicated questions only too easy to manipulate. As was demonstrated by the Brexit referendum, where many Brexit supporters later admitted they had no idea what they had voted for.
(3) Unless the fundraising rules of a our existing referendum law were overhauled as well, a referendum campaign would favour the Cons and their deep piggy pockets.
Now I understand that Nathan Cullen, a politician I like, is anxious to implement a PR system since it is probably the only way to revive or resuscitate the dead parrot NDP...
But if he thinks the Cons are serious about democratic reform, when they depend on the FPTP system and a divided opposition to win, he is as Michael Harris pointed out last January, only playing into the hands of Rona Ambrose.
So we’re now to believe that the Conservative Party of Canada has suddenly discovered democracy … you know, the kind of thing the Reform Party once promised but promptly forgot when they emerged from the wilderness to take power. The CPC seriously wants Canadians to accept that it will do anything to block electoral reform unless Justin Trudeau and the Liberals submit their plan to revamp the electoral system to a national referendum.
Who was a loyal servant of the Harper regime that never even suggested a referendum to decide the fate of ANYTHING...
Where was Ambrose’s vehement commitment to democracy when Pierre Poilievre was giving his pathetically partisan response to the Robocalls scandal? Only sad little “Skippy” could confuse doubling-down on skullduggery with reform. Still, Ambrose didn’t seem to mind rigging the electoral system without a referendum when it was her team that was doing the rigging.
And we already had a referendum on electoral reform, and it was called an election...
As much as Ambrose and her media enablers may not like it, the results of that poll were decisive. The Liberals won in a landslide and now have the mandate to govern that exceeds any that the Harper Conservatives could have claimed. The Liberals had more votes, a higher percentage of voters and more seats than the Conservatives. As a result, Ambrose was left with a mandate to oppose — not to obstruct. The public will eventually judge the Liberals on their actions, just as they did the Conservatives. What part of that is mysterious?
Now I must admit I have no idea where this process is heading, and I can't even decide which system I favour.
But what I do know is that the NDP are just playing into the hands of the Cons.
And that if we want to destroy the Harper Party a referendum is not the answer...