Re: “Put vote reform to referendum,” editorial, Sept. 30.
Justin Trudeau promised that if the Liberals formed the government, 2015 would be the last election under the first-past-the-post system. This promise was clear, and consistent with NDP and Green party platforms. The election results confirmed Canadians’ interest in change.
The editorial argues that a referendum should be held on recommendations of the all-party Special Committee for Electoral Reform, curious since the committee is still receiving testimony and Canadians’ input — recommendations are due in December. A separate referendum will cost up to $30 million, and a referendum with the next election will delay implementation for many years.
The editorial also suggests that Canada’s chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, recommends a referendum. In fact, he said it’s up to the elected officials to determine the best way to legitimize any significant change. “They have the support of Canadians and they should be making those decisions. Agreement should go across party lines, not just one party’s support,” he said.
Only the Conservatives express opposition to electoral reform; the other four parties appear in favour. Experts suggest that a referendum on this complex issue will likely fail, as per the British Columbia and Ontario experiences, due to fear, uncertainty and lack of understanding of the proposal.
Rational minds suggest implementing the recommendations for two election cycles then holding a referendum. Asking most Canadians to vote on a complex proposal not fully understood will likely result in a no vote, and this is exactly what the referendum proponents are hoping for.
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