Monday, December 28, 2015

No Referendum on Voting Reform?


Not sure this is quite what we had in mind when it comes to deciding how Canadians will elect their political representatives in the future. According to The Globe & Mail, the Trudeau Libs have decided we, the people - you and me (but especially me) - won't have a say in what our ballot will be like when next we trek to the polls.

Parliament will make that call which is another way of saying Justin and his false majority. They're going to figure out our next system of voting. I'm just guessing but I expect it won't be the one, proportional voting, that's considered most favourable to the New Dems. I'd put my money on the preferential ballot option, the one most favourable to the permanent installation of a Liberal dynasty.

Dominic LeBlanc, the Liberal House Leader, told CTV’s Question Periodon Sunday that “our plan is not to have a national referendum. Our plan is to use Parliament to consult Canadians. That has always been our plan and I don’t have any reason to think that’s been changed.”

Mr. LeBlanc, who has previously said that one party with a majority should not be able to rewrite the rules for everybody else, said the government sees “Parliament taking it responsibility and having a committee travel across the country and then having a debate in Parliament.”

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Justin and his false majority"...
Looks like that you finally saw the Light, Mound ;-)
For me it would be "Old Montreal establishment and its false majority."
A..non

The Mound of Sound said...


I don't fault him his majority, A..non. Those were the rules for everybody. You didn't hear Mulcair saying he wouldn't accept a false majority when he seemed to be within reach.

My objection is getting a system foisted on us without consulting the public, without "social licence." The approach being taken (apparently) by Trudeau would leave the next voting system vulnerable to questions of legitimacy. That, in turn, might justify any other government gaining a majority in future changing the system again to suit their interests, not the nation's, not the voting public's. How far is it to go from that situation to outright rigged ballots?

Dana said...

Either Parliament is a legitimate body or it isn't.

If it isn't - well, we're going to be having a referendum on something or other every few months eventually.

Looking forward to that, am I.

Anonymous said...

@ Dana
Current Parliament is NOT a fully legitimate body.
@ Mound
You should fault Jr. for NOT standing up to the establishment and thus stifling democracy in Canada.
A..non

Kirby Evans said...

We agree on much Mound, but I don't think we see eye to eye on this. The problem is, in large part, that I don't see referenda as particularly more legitimate than anything else. The simple fact is that democratic processes are always marred by one sort of deficit or another. For example, the Swiss experience demonstrates fairly conclusively that referenda consistently favour the ruling party and the status quo. If you exclude the status quo from any future referendum on a change in the voting system, then by all means have a referendum. But a vast majority of voters voted for a party that wants to get rid of FPTP, and a referendum could easily be perverted by conservatives to ensure that no change takes place, and for me that is a paramount issue. There are many reasons to question the legitimacy of our electoral system and the representative configuration of the House. But there are no easy solutions to any of these problems, particularly because international capitalist pressure does more to determine the agendas of our political parties as does the opinions of our people. However, even though there are no simple solutions, it seems clear to me that practically any proposed reform would be an improvement on FPTP, and without major ideological shifts no reform will bring about much change by itself. Given that fact, I really don't worry too much about which reform we get because it seems to me that any reform will be a step (albeit a small one) toward actual change. Thus it seems to me that our options are these - if we have an open (reject or accept reform) referendum, then history tells us we will have nothing. If we let the Liberals decide on their own, they will undoubtably opt for the system that favours them. But any referendum that excludes the status quo would be far too complicated to result in the actual 'will of the people.' I see no clear way out of this dilemma. There is, of course, a good change I am missing something, however.

The Mound of Sound said...


I don't think a binding referendum is essential but I think there needs to be some form of public consultation beyond the fact that most of us didn't vote Conservative in the last election, or in any previous election since before Harper took power.

crf said...

I wrote a cooment on an earlier post of Mound's that I didn't agree with a plebiscite or referendum, and that, no matter what is done, electoral reform may be constitutionally difficult to achieve.

And I think Trudeau's reasons for not holding a plebiscite are correct (even if they are, as the Globe points out, a bit hypocritical). Parliament, as a whole, should make this decision, because Parliament can undo the decision. Holding a plebiscite (which is constitutionally different from a referendum) on this issue doesn't actually advance it towards being law because Parliament will, end the end, make this call.

As for consultation: yes. But all legislation should be consulted upon, to a greater or lesser degree. There's a whole parliamentary apparatus to do consultation. It may be covered in 20 years worth of dust. But it still works. I don't think plebiscites are proven to be a better form of consultation.

Mark said...

@ Mound
The Liberals did specifically promise an all-part committee. Dominic LeBanc, in the quote you provided, also mentioned that this committee would "travel across the country;" presumably to engage in public consultation.

It will also make a huge difference whether the "expert witnesses" that are called before the committee are primarily independent political scientists, or partisan hacks from faux "think tanks." Among political scientists, PR is overwhelmingly favoured over other electoral systems.

Furthermore, the Conservative demand for a referendum on this issue is not due to some new-found commitment to democracy. Experience with previous referendums on electoral reform in Canada has shown that the biggest obstacle to PR is overcoming the misinformation spread by the status-quo crowd. And the Conservatives still have the best funded bullshit machine in Canada.

The Mound of Sound said...

I appreciate all the comments. Good to have a discussion of this thorny problem.

Anonymous said...

Anon...your personal issues with the results of the recent election do not make this Parl't illegitimate. All Parl'ts are legitimate, even the Harper Parl't was legitimate. Maddeningly undemocratic and authoritarian as the Harper *government* was that did not make *Parl't* itself illegitimate.

Learn the distinctions.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:25
People who reason like you are part of the problem.
Current Parliament as well the previous, or the Chretien's (all majorities with 35-39% popular vote) do not pass a test of a FULLY legitimate body.
Generations of Canadians were conditioned to accept a sub-democratic system, a system which was ditched out and replaced in more enlightened democracies.
A..non

Bill Longstaff said...

There's no false majority if the choice is a PR system. Both the Greens and the NDP supported proportional representation.

Anonymous said...

You still can't/don't/won't understand the difference between a Parl't and a government will you, numb nuts?

Scotian said...

MoS:

Mark went where I was going to go. I'm also in agreement with Kirby Evans pretty much as well.

What I am waiting for is to see exactly what kind of Parliamentary hearings are done, whether they are taken "on the road" through the Provinces to allow for average Canadians to not only see them but to speak to them, and through this method help create the needed social license for any such change. I think that will go a long way towards showing whether this is an issue getting more than just lip service consideration versus public participation.

the salamander said...

.. you make a very valid point there, Mound. And I know many with similar feelings.. Personally I believe we need changes elsewhere before any drastic changes to how MP's end up in Ottawa. Here's my point. We don't understand - as a Country or as Canadians, what happened during the 2011 election. Live & Robo Call Fraud + undoubtably - vote moving and other gaming of the system. When it came down to solving the crime - we accomplished little or nothing aside from wagging a finger at Michael Sona. Yet after such a dubious 'win' the victor immediately attacked the environment via Omnibus Budgets, enacted the Fair Elections Act.. and ensured that Big Oil got its wish list filled by the late Saint Flaherty - who later received a state funeral for loyal service to Stephen Harper's needs as relayed to him via one Ray Novak. We also got a PMO on ego steroids who prob snorted micro dose LSD to 'get up' for their 7 day week @ 14 to 18 hours per day of doing dirty work for Jenni Byrne or listening to Arthur Hamilton.. or Stephen Lecce or... ugh.. Jason the Kenney

In short.. an analogy. If we go to the grocery store for the simple ingredients of say - a steak or roast beef dinner. Choose some special package deal promising potatoes for baking, beans to steam. and an affordable roast or a sirloin that serves 2 etc.. we don't expect to find our dinner in waiting has morphed into frightening inscrutable alien creatures resembling lamprey eels. If the f'n eels threatened me 'in a nicer tone' I would still be sure to extract the ugly suckers.. and in future hand pick after very careful examination, my ingredients for a healthy and satisfying dinner.. individually.

We need to reinvest Elections Canada as well as divest it from political party interference, especially the political party of a current government. We need to clean up the RCMP and ensure investigations are prompt, transparent and useful. What's the point of elections if they're unstable, tainted & the participants have 'privilege' from testifying? Harper et al made fools of us.. importing American GOP tactics, technology, technique - adapting them to Canadian elections then buffaloing all of us. Creeps like Flanagan and Boessenkool - the vaunted Calgary School are just acolytes like the Great Haroer himself to some twisted distant off key evangel trumpets and the simplistic mealy dogma.. a step above the current thin Republican grool or drool? Maybe.. and maybe not. Perhaps they're actually worse.. because we allow them to persist.. Perhaps thugs like Poilievre serve a purpose.. when we see a smug disgusting greasy face like his it should set off alarms in airports or voting booths.. Warning Warning - White Old Snot Partisan Evangel - Warning Warning...

Scotian said...

sal:

Can't disagree with anything you jus wrote. Well said.

The Mound of Sound said...

What this discussion has helped me realize is that a referendum is not needed. We had one of those in B.C. and what I learned from that is that a good many voters didn't judge on merit but simply objected to the idea of change. In other words the concepts didn't get a proper airing just because people had a ballot.

That said, I still object to proportional representation because I don't want someone who has not been directly elected, some party appointee, voting on matters affecting my life. Because of that I would favour a preferential ballot where if my first choice wasn't successful I could at least have the chance of electing my second choice. If neither choice prevailed then a contrary will of my fellow constituents has decided the issue and that I can live with.

Anonymous said...

Mound, you can have your cake and eat it too...
Check 5.1.3 - Local List paragraph
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation

Re: preferential ballot...
STV, a form of a preferential ballot, reduces plurality and introduces high electoral threshold. For me, STV is still better than FPTP, but I would be happier with PR.
A..non