12.01.2016 03:29 PM

Two big things to do with democracy

One in Ottawa, one in Toronto.

The federal one:

The government should develop a proportional voting system and hold a referendum to ask Canadians whether they want a new system, a special parliamentary committee says.

The special committee on electoral reform also recommends Elections Canada conduct a public awareness campaign on the current first-past-the-post system and a new one.

The Liberals, in their own report, however, recommend a further engagement process on the federal voting system that “cannot be effectively completed before 2019.”

“We contend that the recommendations posed in the Majority Report regarding alternative electoral systems are rushed and are too radical to impose at this time,” stated the five Liberal members of the committee in a statement.

The Ontario one:

Ontario has passed a sweeping set of campaign finance reforms to clamp down on cash-for-access fundraising, end corporate and union donations, impose tighter caps on individual contributions and put restrictions on SuperPAC-style third-party advertisers.

The Election Finances Act – which was prompted by a Globe and Mail investigation into pay-to-play fundraising – passed its final vote in the legislature Thursday morning with all three parties voting in favour.

The new law leaves a handful of loopholes, but still represents the most substantial campaign finance reform for the province in a generation. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.

It will prohibit all provincial politicians, candidates and senior political staffers from attending fundraising events; ban corporations and unions from donating; cap donations from individuals at $3,600 per political party annually, down from more than $30,000 under the current system; and third-party advertisers wishing to influence elections, who currently face no spending restrictions, will be capped at spending $100,000 during a campaign period and $600,000 in the six months prior.

Both of these reforms are huge, historic and – sorry, Tories and Dippers – mostly to the credit of the Grits.

The federal one sees the Trudeau Liberals acknowledging what some of us have said for quite some time – a change to democracy needs to be democratic.  It can’t be rushed.  And it can’t be legitimized by four vague sentences in the Liberal election platform.

The Liberals have accepted that, and are now saying this can’t be rushed.  It is the New Democrats and the Conservatives – with the majority on the committee – that are now trying to push through an ill-defined referendum.  Shame on them.

The Ontario political finance reforms – soon to be matched by Alberta, New Democrat friends out there tell me – are equally significant.  They approximate what my boss Jean Chretien did in 2003 – but they actually go a bit further.

The reforms allow partisans like me to appear at fundraisers (and I have done that for years, from B.C. to Ontario, and I will continue to happily do that for candidates and causes I like), but not anyone else in day-to-day politics.  That’s big.  Also big: the third party election spending stuff.  So long, Working Families.

Whenever a politician does something that is directly against their own self-interest, they should be applauded.

I therefore applaud the Trudeau Liberals and the Wynne Liberals.  It’s a good day for democracy, Canada.



  1. Ron says:

    Will any future Ontario PC government dare to trifle will with the new expense rules ? Even though they voted in favour of the EFA ?

    Film at 11.

    As for the federal voting system, just don’t make it confusing. Confusion means lack of trust in the new system too, accomplishing nothing.

    • Matt says:

      Yes, I hope a future Ontario PC government would restrict them further. Bring the personal donations limits in line with what the federal rules are.

  2. dave constable says:

    Too radical? Too rushed?

    Election of 2015 was said to be the last FPTP election, but the Lib leadership is getting their turn in power, so…don’t rush. Libs have the right person to reflect their sleazy cynicism, that’s for sure.
    A year ago when I read what the Libs were doing with marijuana, I figured they were setting up a year long auction. Now, I am more certain that is exactly what they have been doing.
    A balance budget? Piffle, we will run a $10 billion dollar deficit. …well, maybe a bit more.

    The 2015 election turned on getting rid of the previous Prime Minister, no matter what the cost. We are finding out the cost.

    • dave constable says:

      Just to add, I watched on tv the questions asked by opposition, and later by reporters, and listened to the minister’s responses. I almost think that in our present system, the PMO and party discipline really can destroy a person’s political career.

  3. Michael Bednarski says:

    Since the Liberals on the committee did not agree with the opposition’s proposal, which specific voting system would the Liberal Party have recommended?

    • Matt says:

      Probably should have figured that out before they made the promise to change the way we elect the government 15 months ago.

  4. Jackal says:

    The Ontario Liberals have had their noses in the trough for so long and have taken so much flack for it in the media that trying to spin these reforms as some kind of vindication of Kathleen Wynne or the OLP’s integrity doesn’t pass the laugh test. The same goes for Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals, who are now trying to walk back their unconditional promise that 2015 would be the last election under the FPTP system. Suddenly turning around and declaring that the overwhelmingly popular choice — some kind of PR — is too “radical” a change to implement reflects poorly on the Liberals, not the opposition parties.

    Neither of these decisions reflect particularly well on the Liberals. I’m especially concerned that the Trudeau Liberals will do the same thing the Ontario Liberals did in 2007 and intentionally try to sabotage any referendum on reform.

  5. Charlie says:

    Federal One: Absolute lunacy from the onset.

    As someone who has studied various electoral methods, my opinion is that while the FPTP system isn’t the greatest, it prevents the fracturing of political parties, ensures stable governments as opposed to perpetual coalitions, reduces the possibility of fringe characters hijacking political parties through balance of power circumstances and imposing ridiculously one-dimensional ideologies on pragmatic parties. In other words, FPTP is a system that doesn’t over-reward losers and produces stability. I could go on and on about this, but suffice it to say, I’m fine with our current (not 100% purely democratic) system. [Full disclosure: I’d be okay with a ranked ballot system if it meant more Liberal governments than not, but thats the dirty partisan in me speaking.]

    As a Liberal, I’m completely pissed off at how Trudeau has approached this entire endeavour.

    Firstly, why in the hell would he make an explicit promise about the 2019 election if he didn’t intend on getting it done, hell or high water? The politics of this whole charade is so ludicrous. If you’re going to go that far, you need to make sure it happens.

    Secondly, I think Trudeau was naive (if not stupid) to trust the NDP and the CPC during the formation of the committee. Parliamentary practice indicates that the make up of a committee is relative to the presence of your party in the House. I don’t give a shit about how much Trudeau wanted to make nice with the other parties, relinquishing Liberal majority control of the committee was shortsighted — if the intention was to succeed. We know that the NDP want a PR system and the CPC wants to kibosh the whole thing with a referendum, why would you give them control to work together to tank your agenda?!

    Thirdly, Maryam Monsef needs to be moved out of cabinet like yesterday. The file, possibly not entirely her fault, has been a catastrophe and the public-relations has been worse. She’s failed to foster the kind of relationships needed to move forward and has failed to communicate effectively.

    Fourthly, now that the CPC and NDP have evidently colluded on the committee, its obvious that the Liberals won’t get the result they want from said committee. So Monsef has travelled across the country to do “consultations” and yet, one year of consultation is still “inconclusive”. If you are neither comfortable with the committee not satisfied with consultations, then you need to maneuver yourself out.

    Fifthly, perhaps the thing that angers me most is the Liberal’s complete blindness to the strategy behind this charade. You’ve been given an off ramp since day one: You gave the other parties control of the committee and know the Conservatives want a referendum — if you can’t get the system you want, why not kill in its tracks? This is an opportunity to say “Okay, we’ll give you what you want — lets ask Canadians”. Canadians, in turn, will most definitely vote down your intentionally vaguely phrased question. Instead of spending all this time taking it on the chin and looking like you’re waffling, throw the onus on the Opposition when you go back to Canadians in 2019 and say “Hey, it was those guys who didn’t want to you have your change — not us”.

    This is so profoundly frustrating that it almost feels like the Liberals don’t know what they want to do anymore and are playing it by ear. They are useless spending political capital on something that doesn’t matter and are giving the NDP and CPC the opportunity to lambaste them.

    Ontario one: Smart politics.

    Distracts from other controversies and looks like a genuine effort to clean things up. Time will tell if thats what happens, but the optics are good.

    Having said that, Canada is still leaps and bounds ahead of the US in getting money out of politics. However, politicians need to stop throwing mud when ever the issue of fundraising arises. Politics requires money; fundraisers are a huge component of that. If the object here is to tamp down on donations and appearance of preferential access then we need to be careful as to how that effects engagement. Yes, I’m in favour of making money less of a factor in politics, but anyone who’s been involved in politics knows, one does not necessarily need money to sway decisions of cabinet. Relationships, pre-existing friendships and vote-delivery can be just as relevant as a $1500 donation. On the other hand, I’ve seen people donate shit-tonnes of money thinking they were going to have the leader’s personal cell number but ended up with the same lame t-shirt as the guy who donated $15.

    In other words, political socializing can be very fickle.

    • doconnor says:

      “prevents the fracturing of political parties”

      More parties mean more choice and allows people to send a more nuanced message to the government.

      “reduces the possibility of fringe characters hijacking political parties”

      Unless a fringe character hijacks one of the major parties and collect enough votes from party loyalists to when power, like Trump.

      “FPTP is a system that doesn’t over-reward losers”

      Instead it give these losers who represent a mere 60% of the population no power.

      “why in the hell would he make an explicit promise about the 2019 election if he didn’t intend on getting it done, hell or high water?”

      Because he it a 100% normal politician.

      • Charlie says:

        “More parties mean more choice and allows people to send a more nuanced message to the government.”

        – Right, and that nuance is like kryptonite to pragmatic governance. In an ideal world, more voices would produce legislation that better caters to the needs of citizens. However, in practice, the more voices that exist within government creates chaos and results in jockeying for often extreme/one-dimensional ideologies. For example, Israel uses a PR voting system and has a government formed of several coalition parties due to the fact that the majority party amongst those couldn’t form government on their own. Thus, a mildly right of centre party allies itself with a smaller, but extreme right party and suddenly the agenda of government has to placate that component.

        “Unless a fringe character hijacks one of the major parties and collect enough votes from party loyalists to when power, like Trump.”

        – Absolutely, and Donald Trump has succeeded in crushing all preconceived notions of consensus building within political parties. However, the American political system itself was already vulnerable to fringe characters, way before Trump showed up. Its a whole other discussion for another time, but rise of fringe characters like Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachman and now Trump has been because of the fact that the Republican party has had non-existent leadership for nearly a decade; the power vacuum was made to exploit. Bernie Sander’s wasn’t even a Democrat until a week ago, but again, the political infrastructure in the US is ripe for hijacking.

        “Instead it give these losers who represent a mere 60% of the population no power.”

        – Your statement here is misleading. If your main contention is that a party can win an election based on 40% of the vote while two other parties split the remaining 60% then wouldn’t it be wise for the losing parties to form a coalition themselves, thereby combining their total votes? This criticism seems to ignore the political party’s role in democratic process and educating voters. If there are a majority of voters that sit on one side of the political spectrum, and a minority sitting on other, why wouldn’t the majority not simply join together? I’ll touch more on this below.

        “Because he it a 100% normal politician.”

        – My main issue is that as a politician, you don’t back yourself into a corner like that unless you have your hand close to a knife or your eye on an exit. In this case, it seems like Trudeau is neither willing to fight for reform nor willing to walk away from the whole situation and blame the Opp. like a normal politician would. The coyness is baffling to me.

        Look, the question here could basically come down to:

        Are we willing to do away with the FPTP method that produces majority governments in our Westminster system, that in turn allows a governing party to implement their agenda without the constant fear of being brought down by a vote of confidence; or are we willing to adopt a system that creates pure(er?) representation, perpetuates constant minority governments that would succeed in curtailing over-bearing rule by a single party but would also erode the pragmatism of centrist governments and significantly slow the process of legislation through constant inter-party squabbles?

        Fundamentally, I see our current system as an imperfect, but justifiable fit for our Canadian political landscape. The last thing I want to see are emboldened parties with single issues on the left and right exert more power over legislation just because they were able to string a series of seats together from some corner in Canada and hold the balance of power in the House. I am willing to look at systems that can adequately address concerns relating to democratic representation, but maintains the political stability we seem to be taking for granted.

        I’d recommend reading Stephane Dion’s fantastic piece on voting systems and how to protect the integrity of political parties and leadership.

        • doconnor says:

          If you’ve studied electoral methods you would know Israel and Italy are exceptional because they have a very low threshold in their PR system, which create some of their problems that don’t exist in all the many other countries with PR.

          “wouldn’t it be wise for the losing parties to form a coalition themselves”

          That would lead to the the two party system that the US has that was absolutely terrible even before Trump.

          Canada’s minority government have been quite productive, having produced Medicare. With PR there wouldn’t be the desperate push to get to 40% and absolute power which would help stabilize minorities.

          Also when you say FPP producers “stable” government, it is because the governments are not accountable to Parliament as our system is designed to be.

          • Charlie says:

            “If you’ve studied electoral methods you would know Israel and Italy are exceptional because they have a very low threshold in their PR system, which create some of their problems that don’t exist in all the many other countries with PR.”

            – I have studied electoral methods, but thanks for that back-handed comment. Perhaps if you’d looked into those higher-threshold jurisdictions you’d see that the same problems that are produced in the Israeli PR still exist in these other countries. Turkey, for instance, has a much higher threshold than Israel and still sees exacerbation of regionalism and the over-rewarding of single-issue parties that can cluster together a certain amount of seats in particular regions of the country. So, in Canadian terms, imagine the Bloc Quebecois getting 10 more seats in the 2015 election from Quebec. This is what a PR system does; it makes an already existent problem in FPTP, worse.

            “That would lead to the the two party system that the US has that was absolutely terrible even before Trump.”

            – Stop comparing our system to the American one. They are not comparable. Our system is fundamentally better than the American one, in my opinion, and equating our issues with American issues does nothing for this discussion. While their two-party system is desperately in need of reform, there are much deeper problems in American politics than just this.

            “Canada’s minority government have been quite productive, having produced Medicare. With PR there wouldn’t be the desperate push to get to 40% and absolute power which would help stabilize minorities.”

            – And nowhere have I dismissed the productivity of minority governments. But you do know that there is a political difference between strong-minorities and weak-minorities, right?

            “Also when you say FPP producers “stable” government, it is because the governments are not accountable to Parliament as our system is designed to be.”

            – Thats not even remotely accurate. A stable, majority government is still accountable to Parliament just as a minority government would be. Our system wasn’t designed to give anyone free-rule; each individual Member of Parliament retains the prerogative to hold the government to account. Whether thats the government side of the benches or opposition side. More importantly, Parliamentarians are accountable to the electorate, and if voters are displeased with majority governments — they bring them down. You make it sound as if we live under an autocratic system with no checks-and-balances.

            I’m not going to continue this discussion any further. I know we disagree on the matter, and I sincerely respect that you have your own opinions regarding the efficacy of our democratic system in Canada. You have valid arguments to make, but this blog doesn’t do the discussion justice.

          • doconnor says:

            Turkey’s threshold is too high, set to keep the Kurds from being represented and has now resulted in a authoritarian gaining power. 3-5% percent would be a good level for Canada. You keep picking atypical examples to show the flaws of PR.

            FPP is known for helping regional parties. The BQ may have done poorly in 2015, they where massively over-represented in 1992 and 1995.

            While the two party system isn’t the only problem in the US, it is one of many we don’t want to copy in Canada.

            In an majority the government controls committee investivations and won’t force the production of documents. They barely even answer Question Period questions and vote down montions to make them answer,

            “You make it sound as if we live under an autocratic system with no checks-and-balances.”

            Between elections, we pretty much do.

            We can continue this on my blog, if you want. https://doconnor.transsee.ca/blog/

  6. dave constable says:

    Here is a hobby horse I have been riding for well over a year. I am having a hard tiem getting a Canada wide consensus, broad approval, so I am having a values based converstaoin with Canaidans.
    Here it is (again):
    We want to distance money form our democratic process.
    So, ban all contributions to Parties and candidates.
    Set up The Democracy Fund.
    Anyone, or any organization (or state) that wants to contribute to democracy in Canada can put their money into The Democracy Fund.
    The Democracy Fund will be an arm of Elections Canada, and Elections Canada will be given the powers to administer and enforce the use of the fund.
    The parties and candidates will draw their funding from The Democracy Fund, which will fund so as to encourage a level playing field for analysis and proposed solutions to our issues, and for ideas.

    A few details to work out, but The Democracy Fund will give us fair elections and encourage more access to our diverse experiences and ideas.

    • redraven says:

      the only fair election would ban politicians. your democracy fund is analog thinking in a digital age. we already have good goverment. it’s the fucking parties that are the problem. today’s kids are never going to buy into the concept of party politics at least not for much longer. better smell what the rock is cooking or you’ll be going hungry if you’re even slightly vested in the current way of doing things.

  7. Bill Templeman says:

    Warren, you are a lawyer. And an author. And a media spokesperson. You are certifiably a very smart guy. Lots of neural pathways and buzz in your cerebral cortex. And we on this site benefit immeasurably from all them smarts in your noggin. What you say about a “change to democracy needs to be democratic. It can’t be rushed” is no doubt true. And there may not be time to get an alternative voting system in place by 2019. But most of us who live further down the IQ food chain don’t have the where with all to sort all that stuff out. Take me as Exhibit A. All I know in my reptilian medulla oblongata is that some leadership dude told me “This will be the last FPTP election”. That’s all I remember. My brain can’t hold much more complexity than that. So I voted for him. Another smart dude, I thought. So when the same leadership dude now instructs his Minister for Sacrificial Lambs to take one for the team and slow the process down, my reptilian brain screams bullshit. Why did that impressive smart leadership dude –whom I voted for– say that this (2015) election will be the last FPTP election if he didn’t mean it? My reptilian brain screams bullshit again. You are correct. But so am I. Why does any of this matter? Because sooner of later we will be in another election campaign. And if the same smart leadership dude starts promising anything, thousands of dolts like me will rise up and scream bullshit. And we may not vote for him.

    • dave constable says:

      He will keep the promises that he intended to keep.

    • redraven says:

      so say you.
      ” But most of us who live further down the IQ food chain don’t have the where with all to sort all that stuff out.” If that’s true then someone has a vested interest in keeping it complicated when it isn’t. I’ve read Churchhlil had Dday down to a one page document.
      If the parties can’t make it simple then get rid of the parties or at least don’t pay them until they can simplify things. I for one will never consider myself IQ deficient to any politician or their proxies. We’ve seen enough of Mr PissInCups, Ms Auschwitz and the Senator from Baja to laugh/last a lifetime . I’ll give you that are far more corrupt but smarter.. not so much.

      • Bill Templeman says:

        Actually, redraven, I was comparing myself to our gracious host on this site. I cannot pretend to have developed as complex an understanding of Electoral Reform as WK. Ergo, I am prone to remembering sound bites like “This will be the last FPTP election”. Warren may well be right in that there is not sufficient time to adapt the electoral systems by 2019 (although I and others may disagree). All I am saying is that when Trudeau breaks a commitment and does so by getting his youngest minister (I voted for her as well) to take the hit in the House for him, it doesn’t look good and I will remember it. Maryam Monsef was put in a no-win situation by her party. And yes, she goofed. But so far I would vote for her and her boss again compared to the other options in this riding (Peterborough Kawartha).

  8. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Am I nuts but isn’t it obvious that if you propose a new electoral system and FPP, vs. proposing two competing new electoral systems, that voters will do what comes naturally and opt for the safe status quo? In short, waste the taxpayers money on a referendum with the inevitability of the status quo as the most likely end result.

    • Vancouverois says:

      New Zealand held not just one, but THREE referenda on the subject. And all three passed.

      There’s no real alternative: it’s obvious hypocrisy to say that MPs are illegitimately elected, so they have legitimacy to change our democratic system.

  9. redraven says:

    Thanks Warren for so many reasons to get rid of parties altogether. Democracy and politics as currently practiced will move to the cloud within five or ten years max. It’s a digital world now and there is no room in it for dictatorial top down hierarchies. The kids know this and how it works and would gladly vote for any movement that napsterizes the old and gives them a level playing field.
    The only way an existing political party can stop the future distribution of democracy in the cloud will be the one that uses the state to induce all out fascism. Not an impossible task if you look south and no shortage of candidates currently swimming in the swamps up here.
    AS the bobster so famously said
    “those not busy being born are busy dying.”

  10. Steve T says:

    The backlash against Trudeau is less about electoral reform, and more about holding him to his blustery election rhetoric. For the same reasons I detested Trump’s matter-of-fact bullshit (that we new couldn’t come true), I detested Trudeau’s matter-of-fact “this will be the last election…” bullshit.

    Stop staying crap that you know can’t come true (or you don’t have the balls to make come true).

    • Steve T says:

      * knew * not new

    • doconnor says:

      You would think the kind of politcal junkies who post here wouldn’t be surprised when a politician doesn’t fully live up to thier promises after seeing it happen every single time after an election.

      • bluegreenblogger says:

        Yes, but this particular promise was a game changer in the last election, and will only grow with the passage of time. There will be a huge price to pay if reform is not achieved.

        • Vancouverois says:

          Was it? I’m not convinced.

          It’s something they threw into the platform when the Libs were still just third in the polls, and it was ill-defined from the start. It was deliberately vague about the proposed alternative to FPTP, and very obviously intended as a Rorshach policy into which people interested in electoral reform could read whatever they wanted. They certainly didn’t run on it as a major issue in 2015 – they just put it in the platform, and then talked about it as little as possible.

          I’m sure they’d be going ahead if they’d managed to get a recommendation to force ranked ballots through Parliament without a referendum – that was obviously the only “reform” the Liberals ever intended to accept. Now that the committee has recommended the opposite, I expect the Liberals will just walk away. We’ve already heard their odious and dishonest talking points in Monsef’s speech yesterday – they’re going to blame the committee, and pretend it didn’t do its work, when it actually did exactly what the Minister asked of it.

          The Liberals’ political calculation here is that only a vocal minority of Canadians care enough about this issue to let it sway their vote – and I think they’re correct.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:


            I would put it to you that drip, drip, drip, has a highly corrosive effect on a given government’s popularity — and more importantly, its insidious nature is not necessarily revealed at the time, but its ultimate effects are simply incredibly devastating.

            Just ask Harper. Trudeau needs to change course now, what with three unforced errors already in a row, namely Cash for Access, Castro and Electoral Reform. The government absolutely has no choice but to seriously up its game going forward or risk ultimately paying the most serious political price possible.

          • Vancouverois says:

            I think you’re quite right that this is another item that chips away at the government’s credibility. But that isn’t because of the issue itself – it’s how they handled it.

            If they’d formed the committee six months earlier and agreed that a referendum was necessary before any major changes could be made, they would have looked like they were actually going ahead in good faith. Or if they’d said straight out that it was a rash promise and that they would take whatever time they needed instead of trying to force something through in time for 2019, they’d at least get credit for belated honesty.

            As it is, they’ve very obviously been acting in bad faith from the very beginning. It’s been very clear throughout that their only goal has been to force a ranked ballot on the country if they could; or if they couldn’t, to worm out of the promise by pretending it was the fault of the opposition parties for not finding consensus. When the opposition parties actually did come to a consensus, the Liberals simply pretended that they hadn’t – which fooled nobody.

            I don’t think many Canadians particularly want to change FPTP – the Liberal calculation is correct as far as that goes. but Monsef’s performance throughout the process has been shameful; and her behaviour last week, when she accused the committee of having not worked hard enough to fulfill their mandate when they in fact did EXACTLY what she asked of them, was despicable. THAT is what people are going to remember.

            So in this case, it isn’t the issue itself. It’s the way the Liberals are increasingly making themselves look both incompetent and treacherous.

        • The Doctor says:

          A game-changer? That’s a bit much. Actually that’s way too much. Polling data clearly shows that electoral reform issue was some way down the list of voters’ priorities. Most people who voted Liberal simply wanted Harper gone, and Trudeau and the Liberals came to be seen as the most viable vehicle for accomplishing that. Furthermore, economic issues like the deficit/stimulus promise and the middle-class tax cut were far more important for most voters.

          Justin made a huge laundry list of promises (e.g., inquiry on MMIW, tanker ban, census, NEB reform, Canada Post delivery, yada yada yada). The electoral reform promise was but one of zillions of promises made. It had a particular appeal to political wonks, keeners and junkies, but those people are hardly representative of your average voter (never mind your average Canadian).

          • bluegreenblogger says:

            If you want to believe polls about the one thing they typically get completely wrong. You are missing what everybody, even actual campaigns miss all the time. At the outset of campaigns, everybody in the room agrees that millenials (variously called ‘kids’ ‘slugs’ non-voters’, `youth vote`) will never vote. Everybody already has a set of assumptions ready to roll with, they are politically futile to pursue. So traditional non-voters do not get any resources. Every time any campaign anywhere succeeds in reaching beyond their ‘base’, the world howls that pollsters got it all wrong. Well duh! The pollsters all measure based on past patterns. They adjust and shape their samples to try and replicate the past, in order to predict the future. But that does not look at the available vote for real. What I am argueing, is that this is a very large group that is outside the box. Sooner or later, they are going to climb inside the box, and when that happens, you shall find that traditional non-voters can in fact be motivated to cast a ballot. (it happened for Trudeau) The reason I call this particular group the one that matters is because it is a very large and explicit group, formally organised somewhat outside `normal`political channels. They are very approachable, and ready to influence and be influenced. Eager to be. Begging politicians to do so. Joyce basically said `Here I Am`and they self recruited by the tens of thousands. Am I the only freaking person in Canada who noticed that FACT? The ONLY group like it is If you sit around the board table at any progressive organisation, there will guaranteed be people in the room, and probably at the head of the table who are Fair Vote members, or the like. The issue cuts across all political affiliations, and it is a stronger motivating factor than partisanship. In other words, those new Liberals are not actually Liberals yet, and will never be Liberal (or Green or Dipper) first, they will be vote reformers first, and joiners in a party second, or more likely never. Now I could be wrong. I have many a time tried to get out the vote with mixed success. It is hard because as a group they do not respond predictably, and you have to try new things. But I don`t think i am wrong, Trudeau pulled them in last time, to my great pleasure. For some reason, they believed his promise. If he keeps his promise, they will ALL be fair weather Liberals by the next election. Who knows, maybe from fair weather Liberal to someone with a home within the Party. IMHO. Anyway, I did not mean to write a whole screed here. Just pointing out that Fair vote types represent the margin of victory in maybe half the country, and that there are reasons they did not vote before, reasons that can be changed.

        • doconnor says:

          The promise may have been a big deal to us electorial reform fans, but I suspect most Canadians are only dimmly aware that it was made.

          • bluegreenblogger says:

            I am certain they don’t. that is one of the reasons I read comments here, to feel the pulse of political junkies who for some reason play nicely on this blog (er website). Mostly a somewhat older crowd of my peers I think.

  11. Matt says:

    Maryam Monsef’s performance in the House of Commons today was an absolute embarrassment. Trudeau needs to boot her out of cabinet, if not at least remove her from her position as Minister of Democratic Reform.

    She proved today she is the Liberals version of Paul Calandra.

    Won’t accept the report. Says there will be no referendum. Her little mailout of a postcard inviting Canadians to answer an online survey is good enough. Says the committee “failed to do their job” to select the specific system to replace FPTP despite the fact it was not the committee’s mandate to select a specific system, not to mention the fact the Liberals election promise of reform didn’t mention a specifc system to replace FPTP.

    Even the husband of Ruby Sahota one of the Liberal members of the committee ripped Monsef on twitter before it was taken down, but not before many people saved the screen shot. It read “My son saw his mom for a total of 6 hours over three weeks while #ERRE committee toured Canada, so try again Maryam – Tej Sahota

    She tried to hold up some mathematical equation claiming that would be the referendum question. Her quote: “The honourable member wants us to have a referendum on the following: Would Canadians like to take the square root of the sum of the squares of the difference between the percentage of the seats for each party and the percentage of the votes passed?” She called it an “incomprehensible formula.”

    To that Nathan Cullen tweeted a photo of Monsef outside the HOC holding up the same equation but it had been photoshoped to remove the equation and was replaced with a pic of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.

  12. Matt says:

    Yeah, this sounds so much better than a referendum:

    Monsef to send 15 million postcards to consult all households on electoral reform

    “Every Canadian household all 15 million are going to receive a postcard in the mail inviting them to be part of the conversation and before we introduce any legislation to the House we’re going to make sure that we hear from as many Canadians as possible.

    “I come from Peterborough riding, and I know that not every Canadian has access to the Internet and that every Canadian feels comfortable online.

    “To that end what the postcards will include is a telephone number for Canadians to call, those in rural and remote communities, that I’ve heard from them clearly, will have an opportunity to have their say in the conversation…

    “We hope to introduce legislation in the House this spring so that elections Canada have the time to implement those changes.’

    Ok where to begin.

    15 million households – is it one opinion per household, or does every person in the household get a chance to “join the conversation”

    Do non citizens and those under voting age get a say? Or will it just be, as it should be registered voters?

  13. Pat. T says:

    After all, why trade 54% seats for 39% seats until you are below 39% votes? Even the cynicism works to your favour by generating voter apathy. Well played sir. Dare one say, touch of Fidel Castro – campaign on democracy, rule by quite the other thing.

  14. ottawacon says:

    I think you are ignoring the cynicism with which the Liberals have conducted themselves on this. They wanted ranked ballots, and ranked ballots alone. They fought tooth and nail to ensure that the committee’s findings would not be an endorsement of PR, notwithstanding that being the overwhelming consensus of the information in front of them – and I say that as someone personally opposed to PR. Then, having ensured that the simple and obvious conclusion would not be stated because it ran against party interest, Monsef turned around and condemned the ambiguity and complexity of where the committee was allowed to come out.

    It is nothing more complex than a spoiled kid taking his ball and going home because the other kids don’t want to play by his rules.

    • Vancouverois says:

      I agree with every word of this… except for the last sentence. Because it implies this wasn’t premeditated, when I’m pretty sure it was.

      The Liberals must have known how this would turn out the moment they agreed to give up their majority on the committee: every word Monsef said yesterday was a carefully crafted talking point that the Liberals will repeat in the months to come (even though she did fauxpologize for them today). They never intended to go ahead with any change unless it was to a ranked balloting system.

  15. Mark says:

    Federal level:
    The government has not yet done anything praiseworthy here except to admit that the initial campaign promise was ill thought out. Having decided that internally, their public strategy for moving away from that position has been pretty disastrous. If it continues to be mishandled in such a sloppy manner it may cause lasting damage to the cause of election reform. There needs to be enormous trust from the public involved in any such reforms, and right now that trust is being squandered.

    The Campaign Finance reforms are excellent. But unfortunately they come too late after too many pay-for-play stories in the press. The perception will be that the government is distracting from ill deeds, rather than taking bold initiative. So I think it will be unlikely to alter public support for the Liberal government, and Wynne specifically. Complicating things further – whatever positive press the new law gets will get muddled and confused in the public consciousness by the emerging stories at the federal level of alleged Trudeau pay-for-play fundraisers with Chinese businessmen. “Liberal Pay-for-play” will remain in the headlines for some time to come.

    So, to turn around one of your lines above, Warren:
    Both of these stories will remain huge, and – happily for Tories and Dippers – mostly to the detriment of the Grits.

  16. bluegreenblogger says:

    My personal opinion regarding electoral reform does not matter much. I would like to see a ranked ballot system, and would never support a straight PR based on Party lists. But I am one of me. Over the years, I have come to know numerous Electoral Reform advocates in Green Party circles, and beyond. I was always fascinated by the movement, because conventional wisdom said millenials did not care about politics, and wouldn’t vote, yet this political movement is almost universal amongst some pretty large demographics of supposedly uncaring non-voters. Now I know that a great many such people joined the Liberals for Joyce, and supported Justin Trudeau because of his promise. For every joiner, a dozen voted that way. Until yesterday were pretty supportive of the Government. Not totally, not trustfully, but beginning to trust. This is the actual future of the Liberal Party, in my opinion, and a big disappointment will not be overcome this generation. Seriously, these are perhaps a million people who’s only substantial electoral interest is for vote reform. They are NOT ignorant or uncaring of electoral politics, they just tend to put their efforts and attentions elsewhere, out of our sight and hearing. Trudeau must really NOT screw up their one and only thing.

  17. bluegreenblogger says:

    Ontario fundraising reform is 10 years overdue. It smells like, looks like, and feels like, exactly what it is, and I wouldn’t want to step in it.

  18. Terry Brown says:

    On the Ontario amendments, I’m less inclined to be congratulatory given Wynne et al seem to have been dragged kicking and screaming to this new religion. Bear in mind they had what seemed very suspiciously like quotas for MPPs, especially Cabinet Ministers, to raise cash, which they defended vociferously until it became too ugly. Then they introduced some wishy-washy ‘fixes’ for which they were roundly thrashed again. Suddenly, on try # 3 or 4, they’re leading on the issue? Uh, ok. I guess it’s a case of figuring out which way the parade is going and getting in front to pretend to be leading it, but it might have been better if it didn’t seem a patently obvious switch in the face of horrible PR.

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