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Victory for the Liberals, Defeat for Governance; Disgust for Canadian Politics

admin Saturday February 4, 2017



During the last federal election, an unprecedented share of political parties favored electoral reform. In a bad position, with a mere 10% of the seats, Canada's most popular party - and therefore the one most favored by the flaws of First-past-the-post voting, the Liberal Party - made the unthinkable: a unequivocal promise to get rid of FPTP, by 2019 (presumably because they considered a majority victory equally unthinkable anyway).

Unfortunately, the 2015 elections doubled the popular vote of the Liberal Party, which brought the liberals back from the parties disadvantaged by FPTP to the parties advantaged by FPTP - so much so, that their 39% popular vote granted the liberals not only the government, but a majority government. Surely, at this point the liberals would break their promise.

But the hope survived. It might have been too selfish to break their main promise right after benefiting from the status quo, but instead of becoming silent on the issue, the government renewed its commitment to electoral reform in its December 2015 Speech from the Throne. Yours truly - despite all his knowledge of politics and cynicism - was still enthusiastically wondering what would happen in 2016. Even in June 2016, the liberals weren't ready to break their promise and constituted the ERRE special committee on electoral reform,and yours truly went to an ERRE hearing last autumn wondering if change could still happen; after all, a strong majority of voters chose a party promising electoral reform.

Unsurprisingly, the experts and the public urged the government to abandon FPTP. It wasn't before October that it became difficult to stay hopeful. After millions had been spent, the Minister of democratic institutions then criticized the committee she had formed and dismissed its recommendation to adopt a more proportional electoral system. The liberals then designed their own biased survey on electoral reform.

And only after that much more money was wasted were the liberals willing to admit no reform would take place under their government. This week, after the Minister of Democratic Institutions was changed, electoral reform was removed from the mandate of the new Minister.

In more than a year, the liberals could not find better than an insulting bunch of misleading and pitiful excuses, served just one week after a certain candidate was elected president of a certain neighbor of Canada despite the will of its citizens, thanks to that country's broken electoral system.

I would like to thank those who contributed to this battle, despite the difficulty and high risk of failure, notably Fair Vote Canada and its Anita Nickerson and Executive Director Kelly Carmichael, which is outraged by this abandonment, as well as Quebec's MDN, which is also denouncing and calling for protests.

It is hard to accept defeat when a victory seemed so much more likely than ever. Although I signed petition e-616, I consider this battle lost. But if advocates of decent governance have lost one battle, the war is far from over. As for the liberals, they may have won another election, but they permanently lost any credibility (the one thing won permanently being a place in a certain activist's Political Party Blacklist).

See also
Why we broke our electoral reform promise. Signed, a Liberal MP.