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No electoral reform for Canadians

by Chloe Ranaldi February 14, 2017 1 comment

Canadians respond to Trudeau’s decision to abandon electoral reform plans

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent decision to scrap plans for electoral reform has disappointed many voters, Concordia students included.

The Liberals will not go forward with this pledge due to the lack of consensus on the kind of electoral system Canadians would prefer, stated Trudeau in an interview aired on Global News.

The announcement garnered mixed reactions, including mobilization from those in support of electoral reform. A National Day of Action for Electoral Reform took place on Parliament Hill and in various cities across the country on Feb. 11.

In Montreal, protesters gathered outside Jarry metro station then took to the streets to express their disappointment on the retraction of the Liberal’s campaign pledge. The crowd marched to Trudeau’s constituency office on Crémazie Boulevard East, according to the Montreal Gazette.

“We created the Facebook event [for all electoral reform events]  shortly after the 2015 election as a reminder to follow up on Trudeau’s promise that his government would bring forward electoral reform legislation within 18 months,” said Caitlin Urguhart, the organizer of National Day of Action for Electoral Reform. “The event quickly went viral, with more than 10,000 people responding as interested in attending.”

“Members [of the Facebook group] were outraged and wanted to do something about it. I saw the opportunity to mobilize people across the country and started to organize [the event],” Urguhart said.

“We are demanding a fairer, more collaborative and more representative democracy,” she said. “No path worth walking is easy, so we’re asking this government to do right by Canadians and walk the hard road to electoral reform.” Urguhart said now is not the time to give up on our democracy. “Now is the time to get to work.”

According to CTV News, during Trudeau’s election campaign, he pledged to voters “that the 2015 election will be the last federal election using the first-past-the-post” system.

First-past-the-post, or single member plurality (SMP), is when voters cast one vote and the candidate who receives the most votes in a constituency wins the riding and a seat in the House of Commons.

SMP is credited to be most successful when there are two political parties, however, as the number of parties increase, the less it is said to reflect voter wishes.

In the 2015 federal election, the Liberal government won a majority in the House of Commons with only 39 per cent of the vote. As a result, the Trudeau Liberals have held Town Hall meetings across Canada where electoral form was discussed. They created an all-party parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reform options, such as proportional representation, ranked ballots, mandatory voting and online voting.

Some within the Concordia community weighed in on Trudeau’s decision to abandon electoral reform.

“I think that it is really telling of the Trudeau government of their broken promise on electoral reform,” said Alex Tyrrell, a Concordia student and leader of the Quebec Green Party.

Tyrrell recommended a preferential ballot electoral system, where voters would rank their preferences from most to least favourable candidate, to better represent citizens votes.

However, one student understood Trudeau’s decision to maintain the current electoral system.

“Although I support the Conservative Party, it seems to me that Trudeau shows maturity and political savvy in abandoning electoral reform,” said André Grant, a Concordia political science student. “Instead of slavishly sticking to campaign promises, he’s realized many of them are unrealistic. That takes maturity.”

“Whether you agree with his policies or not, Trudeau did this because he believes it’s good for Canada,” said Grant.

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    The British and Canadian electoral reform movements, in promoting justice between parties, have left the voters behind, and the natural wish of everyone to have their own social group fairly represented in Parliament. All the parties and multi-party pressure groups seem interested-in is the more equitable or proportional fortunes of parties. That does not a democracy make. That requires Liberty of the voters to order their choices of the most popular candidates; their Equality by election with a proportional count. And Fraternity by a transferable vote that can prefer individual candidates across party divisions, to express a degree and kind of national unity in government.
    Richard Lung. “Democracy Science” with links to 3 free e-books on election method and science.