Justin Trudeau is on another barn-stormy, petrol sucking national tour, popping up this past week in The North with a “Justin” branded parka that has just enough fur trim to appease the seal hunters yet not enough for the soft PETA types to scream murder outright. The ship of state sails on, straight down the centre in the ever consistent Liberal way – tacking starboard so that that Bay Street is not displeased yet occasionally veering to port to soothe the conscience of the glowing hearts of his amorphous middle class voters. He probably thought Iqaluit was far enough away from anyone who might want to keep harping on about the unceremonious ditching of electoral reform but even the Parka Plebs will not let it go.
The electoral reform promise may have been flushed but it’s still swirling around in the bowl. Justin is running out of rhetorical tricks and may need a bigger plunger soon. He’s pretty much saying that the “smaller voices” on the “periphery of our perspectives” don’t matter. They should just suck it up and join a big machine as a path to power. He’s also attempting to blame the other two large parties for his failure. The language is a bit couched but the takeaway is Proportional Representation is an NDP plot that will lead to implied loonies like Conservative Kellie Leitch having their own parties and subsequently holding the balance of power in Ottawa. The Conservative’s use of the ranked ballot system in their leadership election, a system Trudeau espouses to prefer, will likely have no real bearing as to whether Ms Leitch becomes the Tory leader or not. Ranked ballots are just a type of ballot, not a newfangled voting system. The person who is the 10th place first choice in a 14 horse race will still disappear early on.
The most productive federal government Canada has ever seen was that of the minority Pearson Liberals of the 1960s, who governed with an unofficial coalition of fringe voices, as they were propped up by the new and still somewhat socialist NDP. The Liberal’s big promises in the 1963 election were a new flag, health care reform and a public pension plan among other things. If the smaller NDP was not there to provide tacit support, effectively giving the Liberals the majority they needed, it’s possible Canada would not have seen these promises kept. The wish list probably would have been left to simmer for years, smacked down as loony fringe talk not unlike electoral reform is treated today. The then fourth party NDP, with less seats than the Social Credit (WHO?), helped make it all happen. Strong, lasting policies that are all considered planks in any Canadian Values argument were a product of the government cooperating with 17 seats worth of smaller voices.
So it looks like we are stuck with our antiquated, throw back electoral system for the time being, barring some future hung parliament situation. If you are disgruntled, please continue to vote for the fringer of your choice knowing that the Greens, Communists, Pirates or Above Znoneofthe will never, ever within this lifetime hold any power. You are stuck with J Parka and his crew until The Middle Class tire of him too and install The Other Party led by whoever the winner of their ranked ballot contest is. If the new kids end up in a minority position and are led by someone who neither zigs nor zags too far in either direction, perhaps they will get the backing of the Liberals, who will by then have started squawking about electoral reform and fairness again. If patience isn’t an official defining Canadian value, it damn well should be.