It's not hard to figure out how parties willing an election thereafter claim the legitimacy of a "public mandate." It's one thing in a two-party system but quite another in a multi-party milieu which allows a party to win a powerful majority of seats with considerably less than a majority of voter support.
And then there are matters of party platforms, strategic voting and such. If I vote for Party A instead of my preferred choice, Party B, but only because I think A has the best chance of defeating Party C, I do it knowing that Party A will add my vote to its supposed mandate. And even if I stick to my guns and vote for Party B, that hardly means I endorse that party's entire platform. There might be positions I like and dislike in each party's platform. I might not trust a party to meet its promises. I might distrust them all to varying degrees.
Unless you voted Conservative in the last runoff your party of choice was committed to some sort of electoral reform. Various types of voting are said to favour particular parties. Preferential ballots, it is claimed, are particularly advantageous to the Liberals. Proportional voting is said to favour the NDP. Each system is said to have several variations. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Both, we're told, will ensure there'll never be another tyranny such as we endured with the Harper regime.
Now there are some camps that want a new system imposed without further consulting the voting public. You made your bed in the last election, they seem to suggest, now lay in it. In that case I guess it would have to be the preferential ballot option. The Liberals, after all, did lay waste to the Mulcair New Democrats by any measure. The problem is, I don't like that idea.
I want a referendum. That said, I know that a referendum is a horribly flawed process to decide this issue. It's an issue that is exceptionally vulnerable to manipulation aimed at, well, confusing the issue. Voters don't like confusion, having to weigh this versus that over and over again.
As a result the voting public may not like FPTP, 'first past the post,' but they may be wary about the options and reluctant to change direction. Previous referenda show this to be the case.
Perhaps the only way to break this deadlock is to put the principles behind the options to the public, not the specific options. Test the public will and, from those responses, craft the system. One way or the other we have to do something.