WHY JUSTIN TRUDEAU CANCELLED ELECTORAL REFORM


I got suckered again but hopefully for the last time. Justin Trudeau has proven that he is just another dirty politician, who will say anything to get elected and double-cross the people afterwards.  He has already broken several campaign promises.  You can check the TrudeauMeter to follow which election promises he has broken, has completed, has started (and may not  finish), and those promises not yet started (and may not be started). “The TrudeauMetre is a non-partisan collaborative citizen initiative that tracks his performance with regards to his electoral platform.” (1)

I’m sure there are legitimate occasions when, after an election, new information, not available to anyone before the election, comes to light that requires the politicians to change their platform promises; but that should be a rarity. Instead, breaking promises is the norm.  If you don’t have the available facts then you shouldn’t be making promises.  But, of course, in most cases, the politicians never intend to keep the platform promises.  Oh, they will keep a few so they can say to the citizens “look we kept this promise”, while breaking many others.

I am most incensed about Trudeau lying about electoral reform because I had hoped that with electoral reform some of the power would go back into the hands of the people and the politicians would be less likely to lie. Trudeau said:

“We will make every vote count. We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.

We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.

This committee will deliver its recommendations to Parliament. Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.” (2)

He had excuses but they were cons.   For example:

  1. Electoral reform is no longer a priority

At a University of Ottawa forum, Trudeau said to students “‘A lot of people I’ve talked to have said, ‘Oh yes, we really, really wanted electoral reform because we had to get rid of Stephen Harper, but now we have a government we sort of like so electoral reform just doesn’t seem as much of a priority anymore,'” (3)

He made a similar statement to Le Devoir newspaper “Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people dissatisfied with the government and its approach that they were saying, ‘We need an electoral reform so that we can no longer have a government we don’t like.’

However, under the current system, they now have a government they are more satisfied with. And the motivation to want to change the electoral system is less urgent.” (4)

Trudeau’s comments don’t even make sense. You don’t vote for electoral reform and THEN get rid of Stephen Harper, you get rid of Stephen Harper and THEN get electoral reform (or not).

If he meant that the people wanted electoral reform AFTER they got rid of Stephen Harper to make sure they never got ANOTHER Stephen Harper (which is not what he said), then there would be no reason for the people to change their minds. In fact, his statements say that people did not change their minds, they still want electoral reform but that it does not need to be done IMMEDIATELY. This would assume that all these people think Trudeau will win the next election and the one after that…under our current system.

But more importantly, Trudeau provided no evidence that people actually said that electoral reform was not a priority. I have not read that he explained exactly who made the comments, when, or by how many people. If the comments were actually ever made, it could have been by his party members (the clapping seals) or his family or his pets .

Also, “the All-Party Parliamentary Committee which was tasked with recommending a way forward on reform said that [the] ‘overwhelming majority’ of submissions by almost 200 electoral experts and by thousands of Canadians were in favour of proportional representation.” (5)

According to ‘Katelynn Northam of advocacy group Leadnow; ‘tens of thousands of people have since joined our Vote Better campaign for proportional representation in the last year” [2016], so apparently a lot of people really do care about reform. (6)

And Trudeau didn’t just delay electoral reform, he cancelled it.

  1. Trudeau said that there was no consensus among the major political parties. (7) This is both true and false.

What is true is that each major party wants a system that will benefit their party. The Liberals want a preferential ballot, the NDP and Green Party want proportional representation and the Conservatives want the current First Past The Post system (7, 8, 9).

What is false is the statement that the House of Commons committee report on electoral reform did not reach a consensus. “The all-party committee recommended holding a referendum on changing Canada’s electoral system from first past the post to proportional representation in time for the next election.” (19, 20)

They did not recommend a specific version of proportional representation but recommended using the Gallagher Index to aid in making the selection (19, 20) and that should have been the next step. The Gallagher Index “measures the difference between the percentage of votes each party gets, and the percentage of seats each party gets in the resulting legislature” (Wikipedia) so a system can be selected where the number of votes a party receives country-wide most closely matches the number of seats allotted. For example, if a party receives 40% of all Canadian votes, they should receive 40% of the seats in the House of Commons or a number very close to 40%.

There is also an argument that politicians have too much self-interest to make the decision themselves. (11) So maybe this decision should be made by a citizen’s committee and then approved by the citizens through a referendum

  1. Trudeau’s dislike for proportional representation is based on lies/mistruths

Disclaimer: My preferred political system, to date, is the Single Transferable Vote (STV), a form of proportional representation, as selected by the Citizens Committee in British Columbia.

 

  1. “Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau said in his leadership campaign literature, ‘I do not support proportional representation because I believe deeply that every member of Parliament should represent actual Canadians and Canadian communities, not just political parties.”‘ (12)   Trudeau also said: “I’m wary of disconnecting any MPs from specific groups of citizens or geographic location. I think that’s one of the strengths of our parliamentary system and as soon as you get into lists by parties or groups you have people who owe their election to the House of Commons to a partisan organization rather than to a group of Canadians.” (15) What is amazing about this statement is that the problem he describes is already part of our current first past the post system. Political candidates are selected by the party, so the candidates must serve the party, not the people, and if they don’t toe the party line then they will be booted out; they are just the clapping seals, the puppets of the party. The MPs represent the party to the people, NOT the people to the party (see YouTube documentary “Whipped”, plus resources at your local library).

One of the reasons that the Citizens Committee in BC selected the STV is that it would partly correct this problem. Each political party would have to select several candidates from their party to run in a specific geographic location (a riding) and so the candidates would work for the party BUT because the citizens would get to select a representative from several in a party, the candidates in a party would have to compete with each other for the citizens’ vote and thereby have to work for the citizens as well. It would be a balancing act for the candidate/representative between representing the party and representing the people to get chosen/rechosen by both.

 

  1. Fringe Parties

The Liberals are concerned proportional representation could have made it easier for smaller regional or fringe parties, including “extremist” parties, to win seats in the Legislature. (14) This is fear-mongering and it is disgusting because:

(i) A vote threshold can be set which means a party must win, for example 5%, of the national vote to win a seat in the House of Commons. (16)

(ii) One of the values of a system like proportional representation is that political parties must work together, which results in extreme ideas being eliminated or compromised or implemented. Some extreme ideas are good; for example, wasn’t Medicare once considered an extreme idea, the world is round was once a radical idea, etc. Radical ideas need to be heard and discussed.

(iii) As Stephen Best, of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party (AAEVP) said “The real innovations in politics and public policy start at the fringes,” he says. “It always does …. It would be better if these ideas could be embraced in a legislature.” And, “People who are politically marginalized often go to parties like ours … because we understand that if it wasn’t for us ‘crazies’ you wouldn’t have gay marriage recognized, you wouldn’t have women’s votes, you wouldn’t have universal education, none of this stuff if it wasn’t for the ‘weirdos’ starting the process.” (16) The Liberals want only large, established “big tent” parties (14) but these “big tent” parties tend to stagnate, they have the same people in the background although the “public” face may change, they have their cronies, and they do the same thing over and over; they have things working the way they like and they don’t want change.  Plus, all ‘big tent’ parties have extremists in their party (17)  And, I’m sure, Trudeau knows that having only the large, established “big tent’ parties allowed to run in elections eliminates a lot of competition, and the one-percenters don’t have to buy off as many people.

(iv) Most parties start off as fringe or ‘extremist’ parties. The Green Party, the NDP, etc. Tommy Douglas, the father of Medicare, was leader of the Cooperative Commonweath Federation (CCF) and was spied on by the government for over 30 years. (18) The CCF party is now the NDP and Tommy Douglas is widely considered the greatest Canadian of all time. (18)

(d) The United States has a first past the post electoral system. And just look at the low-life, demagogue, narcissist, (and a whole lot of other negative attributes), that got elected. NDP democratic reform critic Nathan Cullens said: “A fair voting system is the actual antidote to such campaigns like his…. Proportional representation elects more women, more diverse parliaments and forces parties to work together and bring a country like Canada together.” (14) I believe this statement by Cullens to be one of those rare political statements that coincides with the truth.

The Real Reason Trudeau Dropped Electoral Reform

Trudeau spoke at the 2012 Liberal convention in Ottawa, in favour of a policy resolution to “implement a preferential ballot for all future national elections.” (21)

The resolution passed with 73-per-cent support. (21)

“A delegate from Oakville said there was no evidence to back the suggestion that a preferential ballot would be beneficial.

‘We need to look at other electoral voting systems like proportional voting system, this resolution does not allow for this,’ she said, adding she was concerned this would stop efforts to adopt proportional voting in their tracks”. (22)

A preferential ballot would, most likely, have kept the Liberal party “in power” for a very, very long time; it would have been a virtual dictatorship by the Liberal party. (29, 9, 10) This is the “democracy” Trudeau wants for Canada.

In May 2016, the Liberals created a special parliamentary committee to study electoral reform options. “Liberal MPs would comprise six of 10 voting seats on the committee, with three Conservatives and one New Democrat. The Greens and Bloc Québécois would each have one non-voting seat.” (21) This gave the Liberals a majority on the committee. Later, Monsef, then Democratic Institutions Minister, “announced that the Liberals would support an NDP proposal to ensure no one party had a majority of seats on the committee”. (23)

Without majority vote on the committee it was highly unlikely that the Liberal party’s preferred electoral system would be selected. I believe that it was at this point that the Liberal party decided against electoral reform and began the process of coming up with excuses, including requiring the broad support of Canadians.

[In May] “During a news conference with then-Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc, however, Monsef never mentioned the terms ‘broad support.’ The committee would be able to address the public interest through its own consultations, she said”. (23)

“That same month, Monsef appeared to change her position: in an interview with the Toronto Star, she signalled the Liberals would abandon plans to overhaul the electoral system without widespread public support.” (23)

“In June, the minister gave the committee the task of recommending to the government the ‘best method of ensuring that any proposal has the full or broad support of Canadians.’

‘The government will not proceed without the broad support of Canadians,’ she said“. (24) I’m not against broad support but it first needs to be defined, identifying what exactly is required. The main point, though, is that Trudeau changed the requirements to suit him.

“In October, Trudeau made headlines after he suggested in an interview with the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir that Canadians might be less keen on electoral reform now that the Liberals were in power.” (23)

 

Some Quotes from Trudeau and Monsef on the need for electoral reform

“Monsef has described first past the post as ‘an antiquated system, designed to meet the realities of 19th century Canada.’

‘We require an electoral system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and election results,’ she told the committee in July.” (19)

“Our platform guides our government. Over the course of our four-year mandate, I expect us to deliver on all of our commitments. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we fulfill our promises, while living within our fiscal plan”. (25) Although this is the mandate letter to the Minister of Finance, it illustrates what Trudeau says versus what he does.  The mandate letter to Monsef has “disappeared” but I suspect it was quite similar.

“I believe fundamentally that we can do better,” Trudeau said during a forum at the University of Ottawa last April, 10 months after he first vowed that a Liberal government would move past the current federal electoral system. “We can have an electoral system that does a better job of reflecting the concerns, the voices of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and give us a better level of governance.’” (15)

It was, he said, a priority for him and for a lot of Canadians who believe, ‘we need to make sure that going forward we have the best possible electoral system’.” (15)

Monsef  addressing the House said “she remained confident that the campaign promise would be upheld.

‘We will deliver on our commitment to modernize our electoral system,’ she told the House.” (26)

“‘In a multi-party democracy like Canada, first past the post distorts the will of the electorate. It’s part of why so many Canadians don’t engage in or care about politics,’ Monsef told reporters. ‘While there’s no such thing as a perfect electoral system, we can do better.”‘ (27)

The Reality:

“If his only concern was benefiting his own party, Trudeau said the easiest thing to do would be to maintain the status quo, which allowed the Liberals to capture 54 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons on Oct. 19 with just 39.5 per cent of the popular vote.” (13) And that’s what he did.

I think this is a prime example of how politicians see their “job” as serving themselves, not the people of Canada.

And, of course, Trudeau spent a lot of our money on ‘consultations’, so Canadians would feel as if they had a say in the new electoral system, when the decision had already been made. Isn’t it interesting how the politicians always have enough of OUR money to serve THEIR needs. This money could have been spent on housing the homeless, caring for the children and (…), fill in the blank.

Do you know that the politicians lie so often that we now have words and phases such as post-truth, alternative facts, fake news, deep state and deep politics, and media and citizens now have fact checkers for everything a politician says. I think that exemplifies the state of our so-called “democracy”.

I got conned by Trudeau and the Liberal Party. And I know the other parties are no different.

I don’t plan to vote again. If my only role in an election is to vote for which party I think should serve themselves while they exploit me, then I don’t want to play this game; I don’t want to be a chump.

I had my name taken off all the voters lists (or so I have been told).

I could write a million letters/emails to the politicians but they wouldn’t care. There are only two ways I can make my point, in a way they might understand:

  1. to NOT VOTE. Now, mine is only one vote but I have read that many other people are just as disgusted and outraged as I am so mine may be one of many. (6)(8) I am taking away their legitimacy to govern on my behalf.  This is not my government, this is not the government I voted for.
  2. to turn my back on them as a sign of my disrespect and contempt for people who lie, con, steal, and destroy my democracy, my freedom, and my rights.

I think that lying to us to get elected disrespects, to put it mildly, a basic fundamental right that citizens have to vote based on the truth.

 

 

  1. TrudeauMeter – https://trudeaumetre.polimeter.org
  2. Liberal election platform – Liberal Party of Canada, 2015
  3. How does Justin Trudeau really feel about electoral reform? Let’s go to the tape – Aaron Wherry, 21 Oct 2016, CBC News,
  4. Trudeau says government’s popularity has dampened public’s desire for electoral reform – Aaron Wherry, 19 Oct 2016, CBC News
  5. Canadians Won’t Forget Trudeau’s Broken Promise on Electoral Reform – Claudia Chwalisz, 02 Feb 2017, iPolitics
  6. Critics accuse Justin Trudeau of electoral reform flip-flop for ‘selfish’ political gain – Kathleen Harris, 17 Feb 2017, CBC News
  7. Opposition accuses Trudeau of ‘betrayal’ as Liberals abandon promise of electoral reform – Aaron Wherry, 01 Feb 2017, CBC News
  8. Change to preferential ballot would benefit Liberals – Eric Grenier, 26 Nov 2015, CBC News
  9. Electoral Reform and BC LNG: Bold Predictions on Two Big Issues – Bill Tieleman 29 Dec 2016, TheTyee.ca
  10. Canada’s electoral reform has reached tire fire status – Robyn Urback, 01 Dec 2016, CBC News
  11. Referendum on electoral reform would be fraught with complications – Aaron Wherry, 12 Dec 2016, CBC News
  12. Some Liberals join NDP in push for ‘fairer’ voting system – Leslie MacKinnon, 21 Nov 2013, CBC News
  13. Justin Trudeau denies electoral reform designed to keep Liberals in power – Joan Bryden, 17 Dec 2015, The Canadian Press
  14. Liberal fears of proportional representation and a referendum killed Trudeau’s reform promise – Aaron Wherry, 03 Feb 2017, CBC News
  15. Trudeau’s promise of electoral reform: From ‘we can do better’ to accusations of betrayal –Aaron Wherry, 05 Feb 2017, CBC News
  16. Electoral reform could have big impact on Canada’s smallest parties – Eric Grenier, 17 Sept 2016, CBC News
  17. Canadian Conservatives Face Their Alt-Right Problem – Jeremy J. Nuttall, 25 Aug 2017, TheTyee.ca
  18. RCMP spied on Tommy Dougas, files reveal – Canadian Press, 17 Dec 2006, CBC News
  19. Time for Liberals to decide if they’re serious about electoral reform: Aaron Wherry – Aaron Wherry, 02 Dec 2016, CBC News
  20. Minister ‘disappointed’ as electoral reform committee recommends referendum on proportional representation – Aaron Wherry, John Paul Tasker, 01 Dec 2016, CBC News
  21. 2012: Trudeau on Preferential Ballots – Andrew Thomson, 13 May 2016, CPAC
  22. Liberal Convention 2012: Party Votes In Favour Of Preferential Ballots – Althia Raj, 16 Mar 2012, HuffPost
  23. Baloney Meter: Did the Liberals promise electoral reform only with broad support? – Kristy Kirup, 01 Dec 2016, Canadian Press
  24. Liberals Are Misleading Canadians On Electoral Reform – Althia Raj, 21 Nov 2016, Huffington Post Canada
  25. Minister of Finance Mandate Letter, Justin Trudeau Prime Minister of Canada website
  26. Trudeau apologizes in House over misleading remarks on electoral reform delay – Hannah Jackson, 05 May 2016, CBC News
  27. ‘We can do better’: Liberals kick off push to change Canada’s voting system – Aaron Wherry, 10 May 2016, CBC News
  28. Trudeau’s Lost Opportunity to Build a Better Democracy – Crawford Kilian, 22 Jun 2017, Tyee

 

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