Electoral reform was Trudeau’s failure — and he’ll wear it

This is what comes of promising far more than you can deliver

It’s official: electoral reform is dead. In a mandate letter sent to Karina Gould, the newly-minted minister of Democratic Institutions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote:

“There has been tremendous work by the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform, outreach by Members of Parliament by all parties, and engagement of 360,000 individuals in Canada through mydemocracy.ca … A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest. Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

To borrow a quip from Trudeau’s late father: Zap — you’re frozen. With a stroke of the pen Trudeau the younger has completely reversed his promise that a Liberal government would “introduce legislation to enact electoral reform” within 18 months of taking office.

One wonders why he bothered to send Gould a mandate letter at all. It would have made more sense if he’d simply sent her a pink slip and dissolved a ministry which now has no reason to exist.

Beyond Trudeau’s pledge, however, there are several casualties of the government’s botched attempt at electoral reform. The first is the former minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, who made a hash of the file and then blamed the Special Committee for it in her now-infamous exchanges in the House of Commons. Monsef was unceremoniously shuffled off to Status of Women this January.

The second casualty is the NDP. The party has been campaigning for electoral reform for over a decade: New Democrats wanted proportional representation, which could give them the balance of power in what likely would be perennial coalition governments. That’s not going to happen now — leaving them gnashing their teeth as they await another first-past-the-post election.

Read the full article on iPolitics.

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