Late last week the House of Commons adjourned after a raucous final few weeks of vigorous debate. One of the contentious subjects that arose again was on the subject of electoral reform. As many will know, the Prime Minister famously promised that "2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system"- a campaign promise that has since been abandoned by the Liberals.
The reason why this subject has again surfaced was due to the Prime Minister commenting to reporters this week at the end of sitting press conference that the opposition was to be blamed for not providing a path forward on electoral reform. A comment that most Ottawa observers and many MPs alike agree was absurd and inaccurate.
It is important to understand that the all-party Parliamentary committee studying electoral reform traveled in excess of 30,000 kilometers over a 4 month time frame and held roughly 60 different meetings hearing a wide range of input and opinion on this subject. The findings of that study were very similar to what I heard here in our region. Of those who did support democratic reform, there was overwhelming support for proportional representation. Likewise there was also a strong consensus that a formal referendum was necessary on the subject as ultimately democracy in Canada belongs to Canadians and not elected officials.
I mention these points as there most certainly was a path forward for the Prime Minister to proceed on electoral reform, unfortunately that path was of no interest. Why? Ultimately the preference of the Liberals was a ranked ballot and not proportional representation, as a ranked ballot system politically most benefits the Liberals. Unfortunately at the time the Prime Minister made his promise for electoral reform he offered no disclaimer that it would only apply for a ranked ballot system, an omission that has angered many in Canada who support proportional representation.
Regrettably the approach of "ranked ballot or nothing" essentially means the all-party committee studying electoral reform spent $600,000 on a report that ultimately was never going to be accepted unless it fit the Liberals preference. As much as I strive to be non-partisan in these weekly reports, the behavior of our Prime Minister in this particular area was regrettable. Increasingly Canadians see broken promises and I am of the opinion that if a leader has to break or go back on an electoral commitment, that he or she should state compelling arguments as to why these campaign promises are no longer possible or not in the national interest. Rather than taking responsibility, we see instead the blame being cast at others, in this case at the opposition who proactively worked together hearing the concerns of Canadians.
As I like to end my reports on a positive note I would like to take a moment to thank the many volunteers who will be putting on Canada Day events across our great country. In any democratic society there will always be those times where we agree to disagree. As Canadians we do so respectfully but more importantly on July 1st we will set aside those differences and we will collectively celebrate our love for Canada and the diversity we share as a nation. Please have a safe and enjoyable Canada Day!
I welcome your comments and questions and be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.