Wednesday, February 15, 2017

So this was a *free vote* then, was it?

From the Liberal Party Platform:

For members of the Liberal Caucus, all votes will be free votes with the exception of:
• those that implement the Liberal electoral platform;
• traditional confidence matters, like the budget; and 
• those that address our shared values and the protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Unless you'd like to argue that *not* implementing anything *is* the Liberal electoral platform.

So which argument from Trudeau was so compelling that all 173 Liberal members in the HoC voted No
The first one where we could not have electoral reform because there was no consensus among Canadians? 
Or the second one where we could not have electoral reform because there was too much consensus for an electoral reform you didn't like because a party like the one which just held power for the last 10 years might win a couple of seats?
Which argument really sold all 173 of you to vote NO and then send out letters explaining how really really disappointed you all were with the way things turned out?

Monday, February 13, 2017

See, first-past-the-post is working again now

In June 2015 the Liberal Party released a position paper :
“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.”
and Justin Trudeau took that campaign promise on the road.

At the time the Liberals were 3rd in the polls :
NDP - 32.6%    CPC - 28.6%   LPC - 26.3%
The Liberal majority now rests on 43 MPs whose margin of victory is less than 5%.

Before the election Fair Vote Canada asked all MPs to pledge that campaign promise. NDP did because it is part of party policy; CPC did not because it is not.
The following list of Liberal MPs, some of whom campaigned aggressively on that issue, answered ‘Yes’ when asked before the election if they feel :
"the number of MPs elected to Parliament from each party should be roughly proportional to the number of votes cast for that party’s candidates.":
Cabinet ministers in bold: 

Candidate                            Riding                                         % Margin of victory 
John Aldag                        Cloverdale-Langley City, B.C.          10.7
Terry Beech                       Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C.          6.5
Ken Hardie                         Fleetwood-Port Kells, B.C.              17.6
Joyce Murray                     Vancouver-Quadra, B.C.                  32.9
Carla Qualtrough              Delta, B.C.                                       16.3
Harjit Sajjan                      Vancouver-South, B.C.                    14.9
Jonathan Wilkinson            North Vancouver, B.C.                     29.8 
Jody Wilson-Raybould     Vancouver-Granville, B.C.               17.0

Omar Alghabra                    Mississauga, Ont.                           21.1
Leon Alleslev                       Aurora-Richmond Hill, Ont.              2.1
Shaun Chen                         Scarborough North, Ont.                20.8
Neil Ellis                               Bay of Quinte, Ont.                         16.4
Nathaniel Erskine Smith      Beaches-East York, Ont.                 18.6
Karina Gould                      Burlington, Ont.                                3.5
Patty Hajdu                         Thunder Bay-Sup North, Ont.         21.8
Andrew Leslie                      Orléans, Ont.                                   28.8
Lloyd Longfield                    Guelph, Ont.                                    22.8
Karen McCrimmon              Kanata-Carleton, Ont.                     12.1
David McGuinty                   Ottawa South, Ont.                         48.5
John McKay                         Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.       33.5
Catherine McKenna           Ottawa-Centre, Ont.                         4.2
Maryam Monsef                 Peterborough-Kawartha, Ont.          8.7
Jennifer O’Connell               Pickering-Uxbridge, Ont.                12.1
Rob Oliphant                        Don Valley West, Ont.                     16.2
John Oliver                           Oakville, Ont.                                    6.9
Anthony Rota                       Nippissing-Timiskaming, Ont.         22.6
Kim Rudd                             Peterborough South, Ont.                 2.9
Raj Saini                               Kitchener Centre, Ont.                    18.4
Sonia Sidhu                         Brampton South, Ont.                     17.1
Marwan Tabbara                  Kitchener South-Hespeler, Ont.        5.6
Anita Vandenbeld                Ottawa West-Nepean, Ont.             25.9
Arif Virani                             Parkdale-High Park, Ont.                  1.8

David Lametti                      LaSalle-Émard-Verdun, Que.          14.9
Alexandra Mendès              Brossard-Saint-Lambert, Que.        25.7
Greg Fergus                        Hull-Aylmer, Que.                            19.9

Wayne Easter                      Malpeque, P.E.I.                               44.5
Lawrence MacAulay          Cardigan, P.E.I.                                48.8
Bobby Morrissey                 Egmont, P.E.I.                                  20.3

Amarjeet Sohi                     Edmonton Mill Woods, Alta.             0.1
Robert-Falcon Ouellette      Winnipeg Centre, Man.                    26.5
Jim Carr                              Winnipeg South Centre, Man.         31.5
Matt DeCourcey                  Fredericton, N.B.                              20.9
Darrell Samson                    Sackville-Chezzetcook, N.S.           13.6

Ironically, it is first-past-the-post that allows these MPs to now ignore that campaign promise.
h/t Anita Nickerson and Kelly Carmichael at FairVote for poster and stats respectively.
Hill Times : Liberal MPs concerned about PMO’s handling of electoral reform and cash-for-access issues, say Grit sources

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Emperor has no shirt

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.

Excerpted : 
"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.

“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.”
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.

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, 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; 
Five minutes later, all 173 Liberal MPs in the House had unanimously voted it down, including the four Liberals on the ERRE committee - Ruby Sahota, John Aldag, Matt DeCourcey, and Sherry Romanado, plus the Liberal Chair Francis Scarpaleggia - while the Cons, NDP, Bloc, and Green all voted in favour.
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.


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