Sunny days to follow the last ‘first past the post’ election in Canada.
There has been a suggestion made to me that arrogance, hatred and contempt for any Canadian who is not a supporter of the Reform/Alliance/Cons is now a thing of the past and I am not afraid to say I just laughed at the concept.
I offer just a few snippets from Hansard re Oral Questions during the one week of December 2015 sittings of the House of Commons to back up my concept that this attitude has just changed sides in the House and not gone at all. It is also a good indication that the answers to questions they ask will not be listened to any more than the questions they were asked before they were fired were listened to. The words have no meaning to them apparently.
Hansard QP 7th Dec
Mr. Speaker, in the past 15 years, three provinces have held referenda on electoral reform. In all three, voters rejected the proposals, so it seems a bit undemocratic, or even anti-democratic, for the government to assert in the throne speech that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first past the post voting system.
Would it not make more sense for the government, once it has designed a new system, to follow the example of British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island and allow Canadians to vote directly for or against the proposed new electoral system?
Mr. Speaker, in this election, Canadians were clear that they were expecting us to deliver a change. This will be the last first past the post federal election in our history.
We have committed to listening to Canadians, not just in British Columbia but coast to coast to coast, and including them in a process and in the conversation that would change the history of this nation’s democracy.
Hansard QP 8th Dec
Mr. Speaker, some questions must be answered with a clear yes or no. Yesterday, the Minister of Democratic Institutions skated around the question when asked whether the Liberals would be holding a referendum on a proposed new electoral system.
Today I will ask a very direct question. After the consultations on electoral reform have taken place and a proposed new electoral reform system has been designed, will the government hold a referendum on that proposed new system? Yes or no.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, and I remind the 337 other members of Parliament in this House that what we committed to was an open and robust process of consultation. I will not prejudice the outcome of that consultation process by committing to a referendum.
Hansard QP 9th December 2015
Mr. Speaker, last June, the Prime Minister offered this rationale for opposing a referendum, “electoral reform has had a lot of trouble getting through plebiscites”. No kidding. In 2007, only 37% of Ontarians supported MMP. How much better if we had not let that silly referendum prejudice the outcome of Ontario’s electoral reform process?
Fast forward to last October and the federal Liberals won only 39% of the vote. How exactly does 39% of the vote in an election constitute a better, clearer mandate for a specific form of electoral reform than 51% in a referendum?
Mr. Speaker, for the first time in 10 years, Canadians are being listened to. Canadians voted for change and they voted for a change in our electoral process. We will be delivering on that commitment. I will be working with the government House leader to convene an all-party parliamentary committee to review the various electoral reform options available to us.
Hansard QP 10th December
Mr. Speaker, when a government respects its democracy and wants to change it, it consults the people. Several provincial governments, including those of Ontario, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island, have done just that. In October, just 27% of Canadians voted for the Liberal Party.
What will it take for the Liberal government to understand that it cannot change the basic rules of our democracy, which date back to the time of Confederation, without consulting the entire population?
Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate the member opposite’s new-found passion for public consultations.
Allow me to reiterate. In the months ahead, Canadians will have an ongoing conversation about electoral reform, a conversation that will answer many questions, not just one. I can appreciate that the party opposite may be uncomfortable with hearing a diverse range of views, but we are not.
Mr. Speaker, I am reliably informed that nothing is more diverse than the views expressed in a referendum.
In 2007, Ontario’s Liberal government consulted Ontarians in a referendum on electoral reform. It lost 37% to 63%, but the Liberal minister who administered that referendum still thinks it was the right thing to do. Back in June, she took issue with the Prime Minister’s undemocratic approach and said, “If you’re going to totally change the election system…I think it would have to be a referendum.”
However, what is the lesson the current Prime Minister has drawn from 2007? It is not to ask Canadians because they might not approve the system that his minions are designing.
Provincial Liberals do not fear a referendum. Why does the Prime Minister fear it?
Mr. Speaker, allow me to try it this way.
As part of a national engagement process, we will ensure that electoral reform measures, such as ranked ballot, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting, are fully and fairly studied and considered. As part of that process, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are heard.
Mr. Speaker, the minister quotes from a platform that was supported by 39% of Canadians. She quotes from a platform as if that is the only reason anybody voted Liberal. Maybe she believes that.
However, Jonathan Rose, the expert who designed the electoral reform proposals that were put to Ontarians in 2007, also disputed the Prime Minister. He said, “I think it shouldn’t be a blue-ribbon panel deciding this, or politicians…it should be put to a national referendum for approval.”
If he is not afraid of it and if the Ontario Liberals are not afraid of it, why is Justin Trudeau afraid of it?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
I know members are very spirited today. It is December and it is the season and all that, but let us remember that we do not use personal names here. We refer to titles, riding names and so forth.
The hon. Minister of Democratic Institutions.
Mr. Speaker, we firmly believe that a decision on an issue as important as this deserves a thoughtful and comprehensive process. We will not prejudge the outcome of this process. Early in the new year, I will work with the House leader to convene an all-party parliamentary committee to assess all possible options and move forward.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Order, please. As always, let us all try to restrain ourselves and listen to the other person’s argument, whether we like it or not, and sometimes we do not. However, let us try to listen and show respect for him or her, but also, more important, for this place.
The hon. member for Banff—Airdrie.
Mr. Speaker, it is clear, and the minister has made it very clear, that the Liberals are doubling down, and they will refuse to ask Canadians about fundamentally changing our electoral system.
This is the method of voting that we have used since Confederation. I am not talking about routine amendments here. There are three provinces that have all proposed fundamental change, and they all knew that it was important enough to put that question to a referendum. If the Liberals are so sure that they have the support of Canadians, why are they so afraid to put it to a referendum?
Mr. Speaker, Canadians entrusted us with a mission to restore the integrity in our electoral process, to restore fairness, and to ensure that every vote counts. We will deliver on that process, and we have committed to engaging the people of our country, young and young at heart, in this engagement process.
Hansard QP 11th December
Mr. Speaker, I just hope that Mr. Coderre’s friend was not there and on the clock.
As it stands now, the only vote the Liberals are planning to hold on changes to the electoral process is a vote in this House where they can use their majority to get their preferred outcome. Only 184 Liberals will get the final say on how 30 million Canadians choose their next government.
The Prime Minister has used language like “strong” and “broad consultations” when talking about electoral reform. We all know that the ultimate way of consulting Canadians is through a referendum where every Canadian has the right to be heard. Why would the government settle for anything less than the best, and not hold a referendum?
Mr. Speaker, as I have been clear in this House all week, we will convene an all-party committee to review the process and to ensure that it is a collaborative one and a thoughtful one. We believe decisions on this issue deserve to be approached in such a manner, and I look forward to working with my colleagues opposite to make sure that the next electoral system we introduce makes sure that every vote counts.
Mr. Speaker, the member for Ajax said this week that to presume the outcome of consultations on electoral reform is nonsense, but that is exactly what the Liberals are doing.
They have already decided for Canadians that one option is not on the table, and they will not commit to giving Canadians a say in a referendum. Even if Canadians do want change, there is no consensus on what it should look like. All Canadians should get to make that choice.
Why is the government scared to let Canadians choose in a referendum?
Mr. Speaker, if we want Canadians to trust that their votes really matter, we must be willing, as members of Parliament, to set aside party preoccupations and undertake a serious examination of the way elections work.
We want to explore this issue in the right way. That means that, before taking action, we are going to engage in a thoughtful and thorough process about the various electoral reform options available. Unlike the previous government, we have every interest in making sure that the voices of Canadians are heard throughout this process.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal plan for electoral reform without a referendum has been universally panned in the media. For example, theToronto Star states that the “government’s approach displays unprecedented arrogance.”
The Star is right for the following reason. If first past the post gives false mandates as the Liberals claim, then surely 39% of the vote under first past the post gives the Liberals a mandate to put options before Canadians, but nothing more.
Canadians themselves must make the final choice, and only a referendum represents a true mandate for any particular change to the present system. Is that not so?
Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we begin a conversation with Canadians and parliamentarians about how we will bring our voting system into the 21st century. That is why we are bringing forward historic changes to the electoral system. We will engage Canadians in an open and transparent dialogue, and those in the House. The government has no intention of prejudicing that debate. We have every interest that all voices be heard.
I hope all my colleagues across the aisle will join us in this effort.
So what does all this mean ?
On the face of it some indignant people demanding that things be done differently than planned by a new government because they themselves didn’t do it that way!
Let us go back just a bit and look at the doings of the last government – the Harper Government, a one man band government and certainly not the government of Canada.…
1st session 41st parliament re 30 new ridings
Were the Canadian people asked if this decrease in representation, but increase in costs to the tune of some $11 million annually, was what they wanted? No they were not, and remember this was one of those time limited debates as well, and what was the real reason for adding these extra 30 MPs in most likely conservative areas? To bolster their ranks of course and they anticipated winning 26 of the 30…..just how well did that work out?
2nd session 41 parliament
C23 re new voting rules, also known as the unfair elections act.
This Bill was introduced with no consultation with anyone outside of Harper’s caucus, and quite likely not even some of them. Elections Canada was not consulted, the opposition parties were not consulted, the Canadian people were simply and totally ignored, committees were a travesty with witnesses being harassed and badgered – a normal tactic of Poilievre, who as usual was as arrogant as he could be in the House of Commons telling falsehood after falsehood and encouraging Brad Butt to outright lie in the House twice in one day in support of this monstrous bill. The purpose of this Bill was not fair elections at all but to deprive thousands of voters of the right to vote. Big increase in the number of voters in October so how well did that work out?
C37 new riding names
Well when the deed is done we might as well get the new names, but again how much consultation was done even on this simple process? It was a fractious mess all round.
C50 re Restriction of Canadians overseas voting ability.
I guess Poilievre was getting nervous that he hadn’t done enough to stop Canadians from voting so now he comes up with this lulu to stop or at least make it very hard for any Canadian living outside of Canada to vote. This would include Embassy workers (yes we had a few left), Canadians who worked abroad including in the USA ( hockey players for instance), and construction workers for the famously corrupt and criminally destructive mining and banking companies. Consultation? What for when you have an established course you are following? That course was of course to steal another ‘first past the post’ election.
In all these a examples of Harper’s conservatives new election laws, lack of consultation looms over all of them, and the blind support of the puppets on the back benches. Of those perhaps the loudest of all were Scott Reid, Brad Butt and Gordon Brown. Scheer was just treated like garbage b y his own party when he, as Speaker, tried to support the sending of Butt to a committee to explain his open outright lies to the House, and yet here he is parroting the party line!
So what kind of a message is this? From MPs who didn’t, wouldn’t or couldn’t listen to the Canadians who lived in their ridings and who had hired them to be their representatives to Ottawa, who are now crying foul within minutes of being put into opposition. The sunny days government is attempting to reassure them that not only Canadians but they too will be consulted and yet because they couldn’t or wouldn’t do it themselves they are incapable of believing that a new group could be any different from them.
Any referendum is only as good as the question posed, and if there had ever been any thought by Harper’s bunch of even talking with Canadians they would know that. It is not so much the question asked but more the way it is asked.
Have they not learned anything at all from what happened on 19th October 2015?