Referendum Needed

After more than six months of secrecy and delay, the Liberals have only managed to say “No” to a referendum, create a shifting set of contradictory principles, and cook up a process rigged to ensure the Liberal Party gets what it wants.

Last week, the Liberals put forward their plan for a special committee to overhaul our voting system, and to have that committee report back to the House by December 1, 2016.

After more than six months of secrecy and delay, they have only managed to say “No” to a referendum, create a shifting set of contradictory principles, and cook up a process rigged to ensure the Liberal Party gets what it wants.

The government could have chosen to make the votes of all Canadians count when forming this committee. Instead, the Liberals chose to entrench their majority and deny committee voting rights to fully half of the opposition parties.

It is clear from the government’s actions that the fix is in: they have a specific outcome in mind, one that they will ensure emerges from this process, and one that will serve only the interests of the Liberal Party.

There can be no other conclusion based on this government’s words and deeds.

I will continue to insist that Canadians must have the final say, in a national referendum, on any proposed changes to how you elect your federal government.

A near-consensus of editorial and opinion commentary has urged the government to put any proposal to a referendum. Recent polling confirms that Canadians want the same thing: they want a vote.

When a government wants to change the basic rules of democracy, everyone must have a say.

All options should be on the table, and Canadians should not be denied the choice to say “No”.

Our best examples of voting system consultations in Canada—the citizens’ assemblies of British Columbia and Ontario, and the in-depth studies in Prince Edward Island—all concluded with a referendum. That’s the standard of behaviour that Canadians now expect.


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