Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Why We Don't Need A Referendum on Electoral Reform
There's nothing that scares the Cons as much as electoral reform, and Justin Trudeau's plan to scrap the so called first past the post system.
They know that it would cripple their chances of ever ruling Canada again, and that the only thing that might stop that from happening is a referendum.
So I'm not surprised by this desperate tweet from Rona Ambrose.
After Trudeau gave the referendum idea a big thumbs down.
The federal Liberals say they will not hold a referendum to gauge public opinion on voting reform as they fulfill their promise to abandon the first-past-the-post system but will instead leave it up to Parliament – where they hold a majority of seats – to decide how Canadians will elect future governments.
For it's about time power was returned to where it belongs, to the Parliament that is the heart of our democratic system
Ambrose and her foul Cons are the last people to call anyone "arrogant" or pose as the defenders of democracy. Not after the way they behaved, and after what their monstrous leader did to our Parliament and our values.
Which couldn't have been less democratic or more obscene.
So if the Cons keep beating their drums for a referendum.
They need to be reminded of a few hard facts:
(1) There is no legal requirement for a referendum to be held to change the electoral system. Even if one was held it would not be binding, or constitutional.
A government cannot give away its powers and duties to “the people” through a binding referendum. A government may choose to have a referendum (which isn’t really part of our parliamentary system or culture), but it cannot make the results binding on itself or future governments. For that to happen, it would have to be part of our Constitution, which it is not and never has been.
(2) More than sixty percent of Canadians voted for electoral reform so their wishes should be respected. And all that needs to be determined after an extensive consultation process is which new voting system would work better.
Not whether we should change the system or not, as the Cons are hoping.
(3) If that consultation process shows that a system of proportional representation is better than the ranked ballot system that Trudeau favours, he would have to take that into account. But on that question the jury is still out.
Proportional representation has the advantage over first past the post that it produces a Commons that reflects the proportion of votes cast for each party. But it also fosters a multitude of smaller parties and leads almost constantly to minority governments and coalitions.
In a country as vast as Canada with a weak national identity, proportional representation would be a formula for recurrently weak government.
So a ranked ballot might be the way to go in a country like this one.
The logic of the ranked preferential ballot is directly opposite to first past the post: it encourages each party to be civil towards its adversaries because its candidates all need 50 per cent of the votes to be declared elected.
So parties seek consensus rather than polarization. The preferential ballot discourages extremism and encourages courtesy and compromise. It encourages more people to vote even in regions where their preferred party is weak because they know their vote will not certainly be wasted as with first past the post, but could help defeat the party they most abhor.
(4) No new electoral system would help the Cons, so whatever they may pretend they are only interested in the status quo.
And should be reminded what Stephen Harper and his Dr Strangelove Tom Flanagan once had to say about that.
Many of Canada's problems stem from a winner-take-all style of politics that allows governments in Ottawa to impose measures abhorred by large areas of the country. The political system still reverberates from shock waves from Pierre Trudeau's imposition of the National Energy Program upon the West and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms upon Quebec. Modernizing Canadian politics would not only be good for conservatism, it might be the key to Canada's survival as a nation.
And lastly but not leastly, when Cons like Scott Reid, who is flogging a petition calling for a referendum, claim that their misdeeds don't count.
Do as we say, not as we did. That, in a nutshell, is Conservative MP Scott Reid’s message to the Liberal government over its plans to change how federal elections are won and lost. Reid said that Liberal misbehaviour cannot be condoned just because “the Conservatives behaved badly when they were in government.”
They should be told to go and pound sand. Because that bad behaviour does count and should never be forgotten.
The Cons didn't offer up a referendum when they eliminated subsidies to political parties to favour themselves.
Or offer one up when Pierre Polievre rammed through changes to the Election Act to try to suppress the progressive vote..
So they should be treated with the same contempt they showed others.
The Cons would use a referendum campaign, and their well oiled propaganda machine, to sow mass confusion, and lie through their teeth as they have done so often in the past.
The thought of allowing a party like that one to return to power is unthinkable.
The Liberals must do what must be done with the democratic tools they have been given.
And bury the the Harperite cult forever...
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