Today, after sending out his new rookie Minister of Democratic Institutions to deliver the news his electoral reform promise was officially dead , Justin Trudeau stood in the HoC and said:
"As people in this House know, I have long preferred preferential ballot..."Yes. Here he is in 2014 explaining that preference at length. Jump to the 24:09 mark.
"First of all on first-past-the-post, you’re absolutely right that it doesn’t matter if someone gets 31 percent of the vote, and the other parties only get you know 26 and 20 percent, and it’s all divided up, then they get to represent one 100 percent of the community, and that’s why I entirely agree that it has to move beyond first past the post.The problem with preferential or ranked ballot, also known as Alternative Vote, is that it's the only electoral system worse for voters than what we have now. As the second party of choice for supporters of the Cons, NDP, and Greens, the Liberal Party would be the obvious benefactor of a ranked ballot in a single member riding and would likely form the government in perpetuity. This point was driven home by expert after expert to the ERRE committee, some 88% of them, despite hopeful entreaties by the Liberal MPs to the 4% of experts they could cobble together in support of it.
“But how we do that is very important. I personally and the Liberal Party has adopted a format of a preferential ballot, where the person who would be elected gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the community, so they represent the majority of the community.
I think that a ranked ballot, a preferential ballot, is a strong way of changing our electoral system that I’ve been pushing and I’ve committed to look at once we form government.”
We had some earlier inkling the choice would be between preferential ballot or nothing.
On December 1 2016 after Monsef's math meltdown, the four Liberal MPs on the ERRE committee announced at their presser that they believed any change to our electoral system would be too "radical". Liberal Chair Francis Scarpaleggia explained :
"Perhaps if we chose preferential ranked ballot we could do that tomorrow.
Yes, the PM made that commitment but a lot of people thought he was talking about a ranked ballot. You could do a ranked ballot like that. [Snaps fingers] Nobody wants ranked ballot, so what does that leave us?"Apparently nothing.
Two weeks later on December 13 2016, an ERRE motion was up for a vote in the House. Approved by Scarpaleggia, it proposed to add the committee's own previous electoral reform e-consultation, which included specific questions on voting systems preferences including proportional representation, on to the Liberals absurdly vague and misdirecting MyDemocracy VoxPops quiz :
That, in relation to the questions on democratic values that the Minister of Democratic Institution intends to make available for Canadians' response on the websitemydemocracy.ca, the Committee encourages the Minister to reproduce and include in its entirety the questions within this Committee's e-consultation survey, either as a replacement for the other planned questions, or in addition to any other questions that the Minister wishes to include;
Final vote : 173 No to 131 Yea. Justin Trudeau was not present.
Yet out on the hustings the past few weeks, he continued to reassure us that he had stated in 2015 that "our electoral system is broken", alongside a promise to make that election the last one under First Past the Post, and he was fully committed to keeping that promise.
So it looks like this was just a vote-grabbing campaign promise borrowed from the NDP and Green platforms to outflank them when the Libs were the third party in the House.
Vote strategically for us this one last time, they said, and we'll make sure you never have to vote strategically again. Desperate to ditch Harper and excited at the prospect of an end to cynical party politics, Canadians did.
When the Liberals got a majority in 2015, it looked like they could both keep that promise and control of parliament as long as electoral reform was restricted to their preferred preferential or ranked ballot option, but when that was no longer a credible choice, they scuttled the whole thing.
I wonder if they'll promise it all over again in 2019. This page below is still up on the Liberal Party website.
Excellent satire piece from Andrew Coyne: It’s not the Liberals’ fault for lying about electoral reform, it’s yours for believing them.
Liberal’s abandoned electoral reform
And congrats to Liberal ERRE committee obstructionists Matt DeCourcey and Sherry Romanado on your recent appointments as parliamentary secretaries at an additional $16,800 a year.