Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trudeau may be killing his own electoral reform project

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to tell Canadians again why his government is engaging in a difficult — and potentially doomed — effort to reform the country’s voting rules.

In the House of Commons this week, Trudeau gave a cheap answer to questions put by the opposition about why his government isn’t going to put electoral reform proposals to a referendum. “Canadians heard loudly and clearly that we made the commitment that this was going to be the last election held under the first-past-the-post system and we are committed to doing that,” said Trudeau in question period. “Canadians also chose to support us with a majority and are expecting us to deliver on the promises that we gave.

“And it wasn’t the compellingness (sic) of our arguments that convinced Canadians, it was what the last government did with their majority that convinced Canadians that this must be the last election under first-past-the-post.”

In his response, Trudeau seemed to recognize that Canadians aren’t troubled by just one, clearly-defined problem with our institutions, or calling for a single solution. Electoral reform’s public profile has more to do with the scandals and perceptions of ethical impropriety that bedeviled the last government. That’s an astonishing acknowledgment of just how divided Canadians are about the kind of electoral reform they want — a debate which, according to some polls, is far from settled. Some have even questioned whether Canadians want electoral reform at all.

Trudeau, whose government has relied on the argument that first-past-the-post fails to properly represent voters as its main motivation for pursuing electoral reform, must do a much better job at convincing Canadians that this is all worth it. He must tell voters who isn’t being represented, and why.

Sadly, this week’s announcement of the makeup of the special committee on electoral reform gave people more reasons to disengage from politics, rather than tune in. Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef and Government House Leader Dominic Leblanc unveiled the Liberal-stacked special committee on Tuesday. The committee’s make-up reflects the balance of power in the House of Commons — meaning Liberals hold a majority — which was determined by the first-past-the-post system that Trudeau has vowed to end.

It was a self-interested and quixotic thing for the government to do, given how politically-charged this issue was even before the committee was named. The opposition has every right to lose its mind over this, and let the topic overwhelm question period over the next several days. You can’t make the electoral system more fair by exploiting aspects of the current system you’ve already attacked as unfair. It makes no sense.

Trudeau tried to get his electoral reform project off to a good start by proposing an all-party Parliamentary committee on the subject in his campaign platform. The idea was to put some distance between the project and the raw partisanship of most debates. But this week’s news put an end to that fond dream.

Trudeau might as well own this file and come out and defend his own ideas on why Canada must get rid of first-past-the-post. He should stop using these sham consultations as a smokescreen. He remains popular enough to appear in advertisements selling Canadian restaurants to American tourists. His wife remains popular enough to require another staff member to help with her bookings. He might as well, while he’s at it, come out from behind the committee and sell Canadians on one of the most critical legislative proposals his party promised in the last election.

Right now, the whole project looks to be in danger of going nowhere fast.

Original Article
Author: Editorial

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