Electoral reform … again

The media is chock-a-block with reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is preparing to back away from his promise that …

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… Brian Gable, drawing in the Globe and Mail, sums it up rather well, I think:

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Many speculate that he is simply reacting to the fact that he remains wildly popular, that Canadians are, as he himself said, “happy:” “Under Stephen Harper, there were so many people unhappy with the government and their approach that people were saying, ‘It will take electoral reform to no longer have a government we don’t like’. But under the current system, they now have a government they’re more satisfied with and the motivation to change the electoral system is less compelling …I believe there is some truth in that; I think that, almost unconsciously, Canadians have adopted the US notion of “term limits” and, after nine years in office a large plurality of Canadians, many more than felt he ought not to be there in the first place, wanted Stephen Harper gone … his “term” was up. They are happier now, with M. Trudeau, and they will be for another year or so, no matter how many promises he breaks.

But, I suspect, there is more …

A report in the National Post (amongst others) noted that Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef has, thus far, declined to file reports on her cross-Canada consultations on electoral reform, although other MPs have filed reports on ALL of their consultations. My guess is that Minister Monsef’s cross-Canada consultations are unhelpful. I suspect they show that many, many Canadians do want changes to the electoral system but, I think:

  • First ~ “many, many” ≠ most. It is unlikely, in my opinion, that most, which I take to be bigger than a simple majority (50%+1) of Canadians want change at all, quite possibly (even probably) because very, very few Canadians actually care much about the issue; and
  • Second ~ there is no consensus amongst those who do want change about what sort of change.

I notice that CARP (Canadian Association of Retired persons) polled their members and they listed five potential systems:

  • First Past The Post (FPTP);
  • Proportional Representation (PR); and
  • Three quite distinct variation on the Alternate Vote (AV) theme.

That, I believe, is a fair reflection of the range of opinion. I doubt that FPTP is favoured by a majority of Canadians but I doubt, even more, that any other system gets majority support.

My sense is that the government is, finally, coming to appreciate that this is a very complex issue and that it is not “top of mind” for very many Canadians, except, perhaps, for those who, typically, vote Green or NDP. It could, also, as Rex Murphy, suggests, backfire, and that I, believe, is the real reason it is unlikely to happen.

The other reasons is Ms Monsef: she is embroiled in an issue from which she seems unable to extricate herself and her handling of the file, which was never smooth, now appears to feature yet another dropped ball.

My guess is that Team Trudeau will find a way to juggle this ball, too …

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… I cannot imagine that they cannot find a way to make some minor changes to the elections laws, changes that the Trudeau toadies in Elections Canada will pronounce on as being fundamental reforms to democracy itself, that will allow them to put a check mark in the Promise made/Promise kept box for the 2019 campaign bumph.

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