OTTAWA – As the year unfolds, it would appear the Trudeau Liberals will be stubbornly sticking to their slapdash plan to celebrate 150 years of Confederation next year by ripping apart our democracy’s very foundation.
This is not spin; this is fact.
Despite outcry from the opposition, threats of a Senate blockade, and constitutional experts and editorialists urging them to reboot their thought process, the Liberals will change our electoral system essentially by coup, using their majority as a truncheon and locking out the public as if inconsequential to the outcome of their unilateral treachery.
This is inherently dictatorial.
Now, even the most progressive of progressives will surely have to admit that Canada’s first-past-the-post system of plurality voting has served them particularly well.
The Liberal Party of Canada, after all, did not simply stumble upon the nickname of “Canada’s natural governing party,” but achieved it through an electoral dominance that saw the moniker achieve adhesion.
Most recently, they wanted the Harperites gone and, on Oct. 19, the public voted them out to a Halleluiah chorus.
But the selfish always want more.
The Liberals of Justin Trudeau have made it abundantly clear – repeatedly -- that they have absolutely no intention of holding a referendum to ask the public directly if it wants to abandon the voting system that has elected its governments since the days of John A. Macdonald.
They are just going to do it on their own.
This arrogance, in fact, was reflected when Trudeau asked a CTV interviewer if a government was supposed to hold a referendum on everything that matters to the future of our country, as if tearing apart our electoral system was no more important than, say, having a trade deal with Mongolia.
“You have to make choices at some point,” he said.
So out the window goes first-past-the-post and, in its place, the Liberals alone will decide whether the next federal election is a ranked ballot or proportional representation.
During the election campaign, Trudeau admitted to preferring a ranked ballot but, as Mandy Rice-Davies famously said long ago during Britain’s Profumo sex scandal, “Well (giggle) he would, wouldn’t he?”
After all, it would rig the game in the Liberals’ favour.
According to Abacus Data, a ranked ballot would have given the Trudeau Liberals, who achieved their October majority with only 39.47% of the popular vote, approximately 40 more seats in the House of Commons, while a proportional representational ballot would have knocked them out of enough ridings to reduce them to a minority.
Between 2005 and 2009, three provincial referendums – in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and British Columbia – turned down electoral reform proposals and, in 2011, so did Great Britain, the birthplace of Canada’s Westminster model.
Yet Trudeau still thinks the system is broken or, at the very least, still not kind enough to the Liberals that they occasionally find themselves losing an election.
What chuffs Trudeau in this episode of the pot calling the kettle black is that the Harper Conservatives won 54% of the seats in the Commons in the previous election with just 39.62% of the popular vote, and that declining voter turnout is the direct result of dissatisfaction with a system where the candidate who gets the most votes gets to go to Ottawa and the loser, even if only by a single vote, gets to sit at home watching Question Period on CPAC and cursing the neighbour who voted against him.
It ain’t fair, but it’s fairer than anything else.