Shortly after the ERRE Committee submitted its report, the Honourable Maryam Monsef was relieved of her position as Minister of Democratic Institutions in a cabinet shuffle. An even younger rookie MP was elevated to the Minister of Democratic Institutions position. Ms. Gould made the following statement… the words in green are my response.
Our electoral system is foundational to our democracy. At its core, is the question of how we, as Canadians, govern ourselves.
Our government believes that time was needed to consult Canadians about this complex issue. [Why, then, with such a clear timeline (18 months) established in Mr. Trudeau’s election promise, was so much time squandered before setting up the ERRE Committee?]
Our view has always been clear. Major reforms to the electoral system, changes of this magnitude, should not be made if they lack the broad support of Canadians.
[No such caveat was mentioned at all during the election campaign; in fact Mr. Trudeau clearly promised that if elected, 2015 would be the last First Past the Post election.]
Public consultations came in many forms. Members of Parliament were encouraged to hold Town Halls, to hear the views of their constituents.
[Many Canadians had no access to any such consultation. Locally the last remaining Conservative MP declined to host a live consultation, instead limitinh his efforts to a mail out householder questionaire. There were regional events put on by the Greens and NDP, whose constituents currently have no representation in Parliament. Additionally Fair Vote Waterloo put on a number of events, and partnered with the Waterloo Region Library and Kitchener Library systems to host information events.]
My predecessor travelled throughout the country visiting every province and territory, to host similar Town Halls on behalf of the government.
[In Waterloo Region, where 4 of 5 Conservative MPs had been replaced by 4 Liberal MPs in the 2015 election, not one of the newly minted LPC MPs conducted their own Town Hall consultation. Instead, all four piggybacked with Ms. Monsef’s visit for a single rushed event. Had each MP held their own Town Hall prior to (or even after) Ms. Monsef’s Tour stop, a much better quality of consultation would have been possible.]
An All Party Special Committee of the House of Commons worked long hours and in December produced a thorough report that documents the many complexities of electoral reform.
[The All Party Committee achieved a consensus report recommending some form of Proportional Representation within specific parameters and a referendum.]
In recent weeks, more than 360,000 Canadians participated in mydemocracy.ca to provide their insight into our democratic values.
[It seemed to me the ERRE consultation was grossly underfunded. Not only were the itineraries of the cross Canada consultations undertaken by Minister Monsef and the ERRE Committee very last minute with very little lead time, and certainly no advertising to allow better attendance by citizens, apparently the budget didn’t allow very many consultation stops at all. Ontario, the most populous province in Canada got only a single ERRE Committee stop, and that in Toronto. Minister Monsef’s travels took up some of the slack, but large swathes of Canadians (notably those under-represented in sparsely populated areas like northern Ontario) were never consulted. Apparently the budget for the entire process, from weeks of expert testimony and cross country tours, was less than what was spent on the dubious MyDemocracy survey. Had postcards informing Canadians of the ERRE Consultation Tours been sent our, the real ERRE consultation would have benefited enormously.]
Now, following all of these consultations, it has become clear that Canadians have a range of views about whether to continue using the current First Past The Post system to elect MPs to the House of Commons.
[Anyone who participated in any of the public consultations will understand that an important component of each was the education piece. Many of those Canadians in attendance required a civics refresher to help understand the First Past The Post system we use now, as well as an introduction to other potential electoral systems of which most of us have no experience at all.]
We respect and thank all those who have come forward to participate in these discussions. It has informed our decision.
[The Liberal Party didn’t say anything about making a decision, you promised Canadians an electoral reform process. There is no need of any decision at this point in the electoral reform process Prime Minister Trudeau promised in the election. As yet there has been no electoral reform legislation drafted; neither MPs or Senators have had an opportunity to debate it. ]
And it has become evident the broad support needed among Canadians for a change of this magnitude does not exist.
[In spite of the near invisibility of the un advertised underfunded cross country ERRE Consultation, Canadians came out, and more than 80% of the Canadians at Consultations expressed support for some form of Proportional Representation electoral reform — is a clear demonstration of broad support. Certainly more than the 39% of the votes that elevated the Liberal Party to majority government status.]
Therefore, my mandate letter states a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged.
[Your mandate letter could state the Earth is flat, but that wouldn’t be right, either. Canadians — more than the 39% who voted Liberal — Canadians voting NDP, Bloc and Green — voted for a party supporting electoral reform. This has not changed.]
Furthermore, without a clear preference or clear question a referendum would not be in Canada’s Interest.
[A clear majority — 88% of expert witnesses at the ERRE committee hearings in Ottawa advocated for some form of Proportional Representation.]
Changing the electoral system is not in my mandate.
[So? The Liberals were elected on this promise. The promised electoral reform process was begun. We expect it to continue. This is a democracy, right?]
We have listened to all Canadians in this debate.
[And yet you have not heard the clear message we have sent. An overwhelming majority of expert witnesses and citizens who engaged in the process want some form of Proportional Representation.]
To Canadians who cherish their democracy and who value the direct connection they have with their Member of Parliament.
[You say that as though you believe Proportional Representration precludes a direct connection with our MP. This is not true, which suggests you need to do your homework. Maybe even read the ERRE report. Because the Canadians who cherish their democracy and who value the direct connection they have with their Member of Parliament are the ones who are telling you we want Proportional Representation.]
Canadians want their Parliamentarians to work with each other and to cooperate on policy.
[Absolutely. That is precisely why we want Proportional Representation. Such cooperation is, at best, a rarity with winner take all politics. You’ve watched Question Period, right? Oddly enough, now that your government holds a phony majority QP is as much a joke as it was under the previous administration.]
They want their government to be accountable.
[Absolutely. That is precisely why we want Proportional Representation. Accountable means you take responsibility for your words. That when you promise 2015 would be the last FPTP election that you actually go through with it. But you know what they say about absolute power. Canadians are tired of phony majority governments that flip us the bird.]
They want their MPs to act in the interest of their constituents.
[We want you to listen to us. We want you to represent us. Which means following through on your promises.]
[Then act like it.]
My job is to strengthen and protect our democratic institutions and ensure they represent the values of Canadians. We are moving to accomplish that mandate.
[No, you are not. The only way to strengthen and protect our democratic institutions is to implement Proportional Representation so our Parliament will actually represent as many of its constituents as possible. This isn’t that.]
— CPAC: Karina Gould, the new Minister of Democratic Institutions, announcing government decision to break its campaign pledge to change Canada’s voting system.
This is unacceptable.
Electoral reform it isn’t just going to go away. Too many ordinary Canadians just know too much about it. I think we’re at the tipping point.
This is the thirtieth article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series
• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
• Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q
• The Poll’s The Thing
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
• #ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
• FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
• PEI picks Proportional Representation
• There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
• Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
• Sign the Petition e-616
• #ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals
and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!