Saturday, September 18, 2021

The NDP Did NOT Sabotage Electoral Reform


Glenn Head is the Cartoonist

Some of the panic noticeable from Liberal partisans is dissippating what with the fall-out from Erin O'Toole and Jason Kenney's insane pact to implement COVID restrictions according to a political timetable. There's less shrieking and caterwauling about NDP voters "splitting the progressive vote."

But when they were crying about vote-splitting, these Liberal hacks were claiming that it was the NDP which scuppered electoral reform by joining up with the Conservatives on the Special Committee on Electoral Reform to demand a referendum on the topic. (The NDP also favoured proportional representation over Trudeau's preferred, Liberal-friendly, "ranked ballot" scheme.)

Trudeau then used the asshat excuse that the country was too divided on this topic for him to impose changes with a good conscience. (As if popular opinion is the only thing that ever guides Liberal policies! It is to laugh!)

The fact of the matter is that Justin Trudeau's Liberal had a massive majority. The fact that the Special Committee didn't reflect this majority is our first clue that Trudeau and his handlers were looking for excuses to not implement electoral reform. Because the massive majority they then possessed reminded them why they like our shitty "First-Past-the-Post" (FPTP) voting system.

But the Special Committee's desires were, in reality, entirely irrelevant to what could have happened. The Special Committee was only meant to study and debate the idea of electoral reform and to propose a way forward. Trudeau could have disregarded it entirely and proposed legislation for whatever version of voting he wanted, sent it to a different committee dominated by a Liberal majority, and had it passed. 

For Liberal partisans to continue to spew this drivel about how the NDP's asking for a referendum somehow tied Justin Trudeau's hands is the height of either delusion or cynicism or ignorance. And, more sickening, is for Liberal hacks to support Trudeau's betrayal on electoral reform while simultaneously wailing about the dangers of vote splitting, which only remains a danger because of our continued subservience to FPTP.

One could argue that FPTP provides stability, or that people voting under proportional representation regimes aren't always happy and better served, but for me the strike against FPTP is the way it disenfranchises people unhappy with the two major parties. Study the nightmarish reality of the USA's two-party/FPTP system to see just how anti-democratic this voting system can get. But the reality is bad enough here in Canada. Under FPTP, the votes, aspirations, values of a socialist in Canada are almost effectively zero. In many ridings they are, in reality, zero. Any electoral system that denies representation to significant members of the political community is, by definition, anti-democratic. It shouldn't be tolerated to exclude specific demographics (by race or gender or income level or whatever) and it shouldn't be tolerated when socialist votes or environmentalists' votes are denied representation either. 

Personally, I would not hold a referendum on electoral reform. Support for either the Liberals and the Conservatives often reaches about 30% of the electorate. In times of deep unpopularity, support for either of these parties will fall to around 20%. This means that any referendum on electoral reform will have to contend with anything like 40-60% of the voters being automatically opposed to change based on partisan self-interest and the anti-democratic desire to continue to deny representation to other viewpoints. On top of that barrier there are the ignorant people who have no ideas and therefore no opinions on the issues being debated and who probably vote to keep things the way they are not out of any considered reflection but from laziness and indifference. Implementing a new form of voting won't take away any of these people's rights. It WOULD improve the situation for supporters of ideas outside of the narrow, capitalist-dominated parties of corruption and imperialism.

If Liberal hacks are going to make excuses for Justin Trudeau's betrayal of electoral reform they cannot simultaneously shriek about "vote-splitting." But being goddamned hypocrites, they will. But un-fuck 'em when they do that.

This artist is Kim Deitch

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