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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Liberals' electoral reform is based on a manufactured discontent, advanced by the players — not the voters

It is widely reported that the Trudeau Liberals are backing down on their steamroller approach to what they are pleased to call “electoral reform.” The Bloc Québécois and Green members of the government’s panel on electoral reform will now have voting rights. This means the Liberals, with five members, will hold a minority on the 12-person panel.

Nonetheless I challenge the notion that accepting a more broadly based committee qualifies as “backing down.” It should be read only as less arrogant than what they have been doing on this subject up to now.

The clamour for electoral reform is far less loud and vigorous than professional politicians and their many-handed managers would like you to believe. The system we’ve long had, the dreaded first past the post (FPTP) does not alarm people. It’s not a coffee-shop topic. It is surely not the “undemocratic,” “unrepresentative” and “unfair” system that those with a partisan interest in “fixing” it claim.

In essence, those most offended by the system are those to whom it awards the least success. The Greens, for example, would like to bundle all the dribs and drabs of votes they get in every riding into a single number and claim more seats on that basis.

The other strong motive for change comes from a party that has been successful under FPTP, believing it could even be more successful under some more complex arrangement. Or, and this amounts to the same thing, their main rivals would do worse. They foresee a structural advantage in a changed system. That’s the Trudeau government’s motivation.

None of these “advantages” are of interest or benefit to the broad mass of voters... 

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