On Aug. 17, I attended our local MP Jati Sidhu’s town hall meeting on climate change and electoral reform.
There are a number of observations I’d like to pass along to our community.
Our riding has almost 100,000 citizens in it. Holding a meeting at the height of summer is begging for a low turnout, which of course we duly got – I counted roughly 30 people there.
To call these summer town hall meetings a process of “consulting Canadians” is preposterous – “insulting Canadians” would be more like it.
I’ve been to three of these meetings now. The largest in Surrey probably had about 100 people turn out, then about 70 people in Maple Ridge’s around, and finally Abbotsford’s at 30.
So if there’s around one meeting per riding and, say, an average of 100 people at each, that means 338 (ridings nationwide) X 100 = 33,800 people will have been consulted. Heck, let’s be generous and round up, call it 100,000 even.
Out of 36 million Canadians. Let that sink in for a moment.
And some people actually argue against holding a referendum on this issue because of lower voter turnout. If only half turned out for a vote that would be 18 million Canadians having their say.
Of the three meetings I attended, I’m proud to say our Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon one was the only one that actually called for votes. About 15 of the 30 wanted to change to a proportional representation system and only four wanted a ranked or preferential balloting system (where the voter marks the candidates in order of his preference).
The reason I think those meeting votes are important to note is a unique quirk of our Canadian makeup: voters for our main opposition parties (the NDP and Conservatives) would likely both pick the Liberal candidate as their second choice.
So while many NDP voters are supporting the Liberals’ bid to change our voting system, I don’t think they realize they’re about to cut their own throats. When both opposition parties have the same second choice, that latter party will always form government. By changing to a Preferential system, we would ensure perpetual Liberal governments.
So now the haze lifts and we know the following: Why Justin Trudeau is on the record as wanting a preferential system, although he pretends to be ambivalent; why the government won’t hold a referendum; and why they’re going through this charade of dead-of-summer town hall meetings.
Mark my words, the final piece of the puzzle will fall into place in the coming months when some excuse is given as to why proportional representation just won’t work. ‘It’s too complicated’ and ‘there’s not enough time to implement it’ are two of my current favourites.
And then it will be checkmate: preferential voting and a one-party state till kingdom come.
History does not report favourably on one-party countries.
– Marc Vella