There appears to be no relief for the confused in the hearings of the special commons committee on electoral reform. It has been heavy going to just watch the recorded sessions and read transcripts of those sessions not televised. Even in the odd bit of wisdom among the chaff of the academic opinions so far, there are few solutions to the hollow promise of Prime Minister Trudeau that willy-nilly, we will change how Canada votes.
Not even the grandiose theories of the academics and special interest groups include information on how this promised change is going to happen. And the upcoming public hearings of the committee across the country are hardly going to give the committee any answers. (Did you know that the one entire day is to be allowed for citizens of Ontario to speak to the committee? While Quebec gets three days?)
In listening to academics and people with vested interests who want to see change, there is no clear understanding of the how or why of making it happen. The three countries that the committee is studying more closely (New Zealand, Scotland and Republic of Ireland) are each less than 20 per cent the population of Canada. They have different histories, far more homogeneous populations and very different electoral requirements.
Very few of the academics have even noted that Canada is a federation and there are major constitutional considerations that cannot be ignored. Prince Edward Island still has to have four members of parliament. We can hardly have an election in 2019 under new rules that could be taken to the Supreme Court to verify.
If Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really wanted reform in this country, how we vote would not be high on the list of things to change. We have a senate that is not only an embarrassment but it is 150 years out of date. We have an all-powerful prime minister whose office needs some checks and balances. We have a judiciary that are politicized. Our largest province now holds a third of the country’s population. We need to look at restructuring.
We can no longer apply band aids to all our constitutional problems. This is a country desperate for leadership into the future. It needs an elected constitutional conference with no constraints. It will then need the knowledgeable consent of the Canadian people
We cannot continue with the elitist patch-work solutions of Justin Trudeau. We hardly need to be appointing quasi-independent elitist senators. Nor to have elitist appointments to the Supreme Court! Canada must reach out to create the democracy that we promise newcomers. Elitist solutions are not the answer.
Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry
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