Editorial: Empty promises
Canadians expressed themselves clearly in last week’s federal election, although largely by not taking the time to head to the polls or complete a mail-in ballot.
Voter turn-out was low at 62 per cent and a smaller percentage of those people (32.62 per cent) voted for the Liberal party than in the past two elections. Seat results mirrored those from the 2019 election, confirming there was no valid reason to hold a $600-million distraction in the middle of a pandemic, and Justin Trudeau’s government has ended up with another embarrassment to defend. It’s not that the government is a bad one by any stretch of the imagination. It has numerous achievements to be proud of, but the promise of what should have been back when the Liberals won a majority mandate under Trudeau in 2015 and the reality after six years in power is woefully mismatched.
One of the first acts of Trudeau’s government that got the cynicism tumbleweed rolling was the half-hearted treatment of electoral reform. Trudeau boldly promised on election night in 2015 that it would be the last election held under the first past the post system. Despite a parliamentary committee recommending some form of proportional representation be presented to Canadians in a national referendum, the subject was dropped by the Liberals in 2017. It was a sign of things to come, with lofty words sometimes not matching actions, which a politician can only get away with for so long.
Calls for electoral reform were not silenced after that disappointment, however, and interest in revisiting the concept was shown as recently as this past June. That’s when the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs recommended a study on creating a national assembly for electoral reform be done. All participating party reps except the Conservatives were in agreement. While the Green party is not on that committee it obviously supports the concept of proportional representation.
Fans of local MP Elizabeth May and the Green party may be disappointed in the drop in voter support received, but as May said on election night, the fortunes of one political party are not important to her as long as serious advances on climate change are made. May’s Green voice has been influential in parliament for years despite the current electoral system, but it could have been even more so if Trudeau’s 2015 election night promise had been kept.