A failure to communicate.

After a lifetime of communicating with government, we blew it. We really wanted to help the Trudeau government solve its problems with the leader’s promise that 2015 would be the last federal election using first-past-the-post voting. And dammit all we tried.

When we knew that the MP for Peterborough would be holding that portfolio, we offered our help. We communicated with Minister Monsef at her office in Ottawa and offered assistance. We were ignored. From a time when Mayors, MPs, MPPs, Senators and Cabinet Ministers were often welcome guests in our Toronto home, we were now ignored.

But maybe it was an error. We followed up with the chair of the special commons committee on electoral reform, asking how we might be of assistance. He at least responded. He sent us down the rabbit hole of asking the committee for an invitation. Nobody on the committee seemed to know this guy who claimed some expertise. He must not be important. Forget him.

It was not as though many of the points we would have made were not made by others. We were looking at the questions from a different perspective. We are hardly opposed to change. We were just concerned about the kind of political parties, the type of candidates attracted and the quality of government that Canadians could expect from proposed changes.

Having looked at government in different parts of the world, studying voting methodology and actively participating in all aspects of Canadian elections for many years, there was something to impart. We have observed the cheating, the manipulation and the corruption of electoral processes as well as the challenges facing newer electronic voting systems. For example, it has always proved amusing that officials would keep the individual voting process off line while the real danger of hacking the system was in the eventual electronic accumulation of the total vote.

It was interesting to study the reports on the special committee’s hearings. And it was also easy to concur with experts throughout the committee’s hearings who admitted that no system of voting is perfect. People can always find something to complain about.

But you cannot look at the voting systems in isolation. Proportional voting looks very simple until you get deeper into the parties’ involvement, the selection of candidates, the powers of the political leaders and the possibilities of recall. You have to be able to follow through and you have to know where you want to go.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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