What’s in it for us?

That is not a selfish question. It came up the other day when reading another boring presentation to the House of Commons special committee on electoral reform. “What is in it for us” is likely to be the cri de coeur of Canadians when they see what the months of gestation of the electoral reform question have produced.

An official report is in the offing.

For months we have been told of a democracy deficit, the false majorities, the policy lurches of alternative governments, how your vote does not count and how magically your vote can count if Canada just had proportional representation in parliament. We have been told of making every vote count, how to transfer our vote and how to ensure every minority is represented in parliament. We have had Canadians standing, waiting at alternative microphones to tell the committee of their alternative system of voting.

And we have also been told that nobody cares.

In Canada’s largest city, we were told that the news media did not bother to come to see democracy in action. And if the media are apathetic, are the citizens far behind?

But we are becoming increasingly convinced that the real problems are in Ottawa. The problem is in the all-powerful Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The problem is in an elitist, non-elected Senate of Canada. It is in electing gutless, sycophants of a party leader instead of people we would be proud to have as our member of parliament. It is the rigid control of parliament’s agenda by the PMO. It is the hand-in-glove relationship of our leaders and big business. It is in the increasingly complex and legalistic free-trade relationships that leave the people concerned in confusion.

This does not excuse the role and manipulations of the provinces that make up the Canadian federation. We are lucky today that we get the first-past-the-post winners from the provinces in Ottawa. We hardly need or want the malcontents of provinces that proportional representation would bring to Ottawa. And we are not just thinking of Quebec.

Maybe we wasted our time following this common’s committee process. It looks like whatever is reported will be an eight to three split. The Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc and Green are likely to agree on something while the Conservatives will hold out for a referendum.

The Liberal government will then have to decide just how much of its political capital it wants to spend on a foolish election promise by its leader.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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