Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2017/ Proportional Representation Rally: Feb 11

Proportional Representation Rally: Feb 11

Electoral reform in Canada is dead. The new Minister of Democratic Institutions received a mandate letter that explicitly prohibited electoral reform:

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 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.

In other words: this was an expensive farce doomed to fail from the beginning. We all played along and we all got suckered. There is never a "broad consensus" on any political issue, and expecting one on electoral reform is the same thing as saying that the government never had any intention of keeping its promise. Once again the Liberals have sabotaged the process.

In response, there apparently is a last-ditch rally in support of proportional representation: . This event is still tentative and may not even happen, but for the facebook-averse here are the details as I have them of this writing:

I will attempt to update this information if I learn of changes.

This rally is probably a bad idea. If only the electoral reform nerds show up then the Liberals will know that they have won. They want the electoral reform issue to go away, and they are betting that most people will not hold them accountable for it.

That means the Liberals and their friends can trot out the electoral reform promise again and again, and break it with impunity.

That means that in the next election and the election after that and the election after that, you will face the false dichotomy of voting either for the Liberals or the Conservatives. Any other option will be a betrayal because you are splitting the vote.

That means that Kellie Leitch or Kevin O'Leary or whatever crazy populist leader the Conservatives nominate has a good shot of winning by microtargeting ridings the same way that Harper microtargeted ridings to win his majority.

You may not realize that you care about electoral reform. But if you have been frustrated the week before and the week after an election because your choices seemed forced and your vote seemed futile, then you do care. The Liberals are cynically exploiting your ignorance to waltz away from their election promise, and in so doing they further undermine our trust in democratic institutions. This is bad news.

So what do we do? Our options are limited. The Liberals know they have won. The only recourses we have now are to express our discontent and follow through on our threats. Promoting big turnout at rallies like this one is one mechanism for expressing our discontent. (Another is to call or write your MP, as I have.) Actively working to punish our local Liberal MPs is a mechanism for carrying out our threats. The Liberals know that they have alienated a lot of democracy nerds who care a lot about politics. They know that some of those nerds will refuse to support them politically and will no longer work on their campaigns. They think this won't make a difference to their chances of winning the next election. I think they are correct, but maybe we can collectively prove them wrong.

Thus, I am asking you to attend this rally if it happens, and to participate in other protests against this Liberal broken promise. This seems like a small thing (especially in this era of populism and polarization) but the long-term consequences are not small.