Don Martin: Why the Liberals' electoral reform promise will be broken
Published Thursday, January 26, 2017 5:55PM EST
It may be a challenge, but stay awake for the next few minutes if you can.
Let’s talk electoral reformzzzz.
C’mon, stay with me here. It’s more important than Justin Trudeau’s private helicopter rides to visit his billionaire buddy or the latest bizarre Kellie Leitchism.
It’s a key Liberal election promise to change the way you vote and the future Parliaments that it will create – and it’s about to be broken.
This week’s release of a much-ridiculed public opinion survey coupled with postcard responses and the uncertain consensus of a summer consultation blitz create a paint-by-numbers portrait of an escape hatch for the prime minister.
Layer after layer of contradictory opinion, uncertain directions for change and partisan motivations behind each alternative give Trudeau all the cover he needs to break his vow.
That’s why, in the next week or two, probably late on a Friday, the government will deliver last rites to electoral reform.
The NDP and Green parties will be apoplectic. Radical change was their best hope for a seat surge.
The Conservatives will tsk-tsk at Trudeau in public, but quietly applaud dodging reforms which would complicate their future electability. Canadians, for the most part, will yawn.
Of course, that leaves the undeniable unfairness of electing majority governments with just four out of ten votes cast.
But what Canadians said most clearly in all the noise is that the current system is flawed, but not fatal to a fair and functional democracy.
And so, thousands of hours of listening, surveying, testifying, travelling and report-writing are about to be shelved under dust.
That’s demoralizing for the participants, but surely they knew they were pawns in a Liberal government scheme to kill their promise through excessive consultation.
The government set out to create confusion over consensus, succeeded brilliantly in their mission and will soon deliver a compelling rationale for a sheepish promise-breaking.
The public, they’ll say, made them do it.
That’s the Last Word.