Wednesday February 8 2017
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday February 8 2017
Why the electoral reform sham will breed cynicism
By killing electoral reform, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has damaged more than just Canada’s prospects for releasing itself from the clutches of moribund first-past-the-post elections. He has cut down the democratic aspirations of hundreds of thousands of young Canadians, tacitly teaching them to expect less from government and dream smaller political dreams.
The most revealing and dangerous aspect of the reform boondoggle was the timing of this announcement, shoehorned into the week of President Donald Trump’s executive orders and travel ban, when so many eyes were transfixed on the American political horror show. Shortly after Gould’s announcement, Trudeau dodged a scrum in the foyer of the House with a drive-by soundbite: “Canadians expect us to do the right thing for the country and focus on the things that matter.”
But the irony of the Prime Minister’s comment is that in the age of Trump, we should be learning that it is democratic integrity and public spirit that matter above just about anything else; that doing the right thing for the country means, at the bare minimum, not blaming citizens themselves when one’s promises can’t be kept.
Conservative commentator David Frum’s startling piece in The Atlantic claims that the primary cause of Donald Trump’s rise has been the “inculcation of cynicism.” He asks how one builds an autocracy and answers: “demoralize potential opponents by nurturing the idea that everybody lies and nothing matters.
[…] Believers can be disillusioned; people who expect to hear only lies can hardly complain when a lie is exposed.”
We are not yet teetering on the precipice of a maple tea party or Northern Trump. Still, the creeping doubt and disengagement that the electoral reform saga is spawning even now should give the Liberal government reason to pause, get its bearings and rediscover true north on its moral and democratic compass. (Source: MacLean’s)