Electoral reform an issue after federal vote

Justin Trudeau, Liberal prime minister-designate, said in June he’d change the way parliamentarians are elected

  • Oct. 25, 2015 4:00 p.m.

KATHY MICHAELS

Black Press

The Liberals won a 54 per cent majority government Monday night with 39.5  per cent of  voters putting their support behind them.

The NDP will control 13 per cent of the House of Commons,  despite winning 19.7 per cent of the popular vote.

It’s a standard disparity given the first past the post electoral system, but the lingering question is whether or not campaign pledges of reform will be followed through on.

Justin Trudeau, Liberal prime minister-designate, said in  June  he’d change the way parliamentarians are elected, if the Liberals were voted in.

First he promised to convene an all-party committee to study the options, then enact some replacement for the current first-past-the-post system within 18 months of being sworn in. A system with ranked ballots, where second choices are counted in, was their preference.

Stephen Fuhr, who won for the Liberals in Kelowna-Lake Country, says he was behind that plan when on the stump.

“I agree that any solution to democratic reform in Canada should include an element of proportionality and I will advocate for such if I am elected,” said Fuhr.

But, says one political analyst, it’s best not to count on campaign promises once the election has been won — especially if it’s won with a majority.

“I think electoral reform may be one of the  casualties of a majority government,” said Hamish Telford, a political science professor at the University of the Fraser Valley.

“If we had a minority, we would see movement on proportional representation or electoral reform… that would have been the price that had to be paid for NDP or Green support, but now I expect to see it buried in  study.”

One way to do that without looking like he’s reneging on his word, is to bury the issue in a referendum.

Although he said he wouldn’t raise the issue in that manner, given that voters have repeatedly rejected it in provincial referendums, it might be his best move forward.

“Then he can say, ‘let Canadians kill it, not me,’” said Telford.