Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 2, 2017
Trudeau drops pledge to reform Canada’s electoral system
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has abandoned his longstanding promise to overhaul Canada’s voting system.
Trudeau made the dramatic reversal of a key platform plank in a new mandate letter for Karina Gould, his newly named minister of democratic institutions.
“Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate,” reads the letter.
“There has been tremendous work by the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform, outreach by Members of Parliament by all parties, and engagement of 360,000 individuals in Canada through mydemocracy.ca,” Trudeau wrote.
“A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest.”
That clearly contradicts a report submitted by a parliamentary committee to the government last fall.
Trudeau had long said the Liberals would ensure the 2015 election was the last one held under the current first-past-the-post system, under which the party that wins a plurality of votes gets to form government, even if it doesn’t win a 50-per-cent-plus-one-vote majority of the popular vote.
In a town hall in Belleville three weeks ago, Trudeau admitted he was “on record” as personally in favour of a ranked ballot system. But he insisted at that time he would not back away from its plan to change the way Canadians vote and elect their governments.
Instead, Trudeau set out a broader goal — with some new marching orders — for Gould.
“As Minister of Democratic Institutions, your overarching goal will be to strengthen the openness and fairness of Canada’s public institutions. You will lead on improving our democratic institutions and Senate reform to restore Canadians’ trust and participation in our democratic processes,” he wrote.
Gould told reporters her priorities will be to legislate changes to boost transparency for cash-for-access political fundraisers, and getting the government’s key electronic signals spy agency (CSE or Communications Security Establishment) to assess the risk posed by hackers to Canadian political and electoral activities.
On the defensive in her first major news conference, Gould said that the government undertook major consultations and listened to Canadians on electoral reform but “we realized there was no consensus to move forward with electoral reform.” (Source: Toronto Star)