Mel Arnold’s self-serving assertion that, “Canadians want a national referendum to allow voters to say yes or no to changing Canada’s system of democracy,” is misleading in the extreme and is a conclusion contrary to the national results of the 2015 federal election. The election campaign of last fall elicited at least three themes of interest to Canadians on topics that were debated extensively across this country amongst competing candidates of all parties.
Well reported debate topics that I recall receiving extensive press coverage were assisted death, legal marijuana and electoral reform (some type of proportional representation herein referred to as PR). The last item (PR), was supported by every party with the sole exception of the Conservative Party (NDP, Liberal, Green, Bloc all support PR and represent a clear majority in Parliament). It is clear that for a long period of time, federal political parties that have achieved majority government have imposed such majorities based on receiving a minority of the cast ballots. That is true now with the Liberal government and it was true with the past majority Conservative government and prior Liberal or Progressive Conservative governments. It continues to be the case that Canadians to not receive fair representation based on votes cast per party.
The frequently noted flaw with such minority-imposed majority government is that the views of most of the population are not fairly represented in Parliament. That fact that can only serve to discourage voter participation in our elections (“My vote doesn’t count anyway…” – a view not without some merit unfortunately).
Mr. Arnold expressed his intention to, “Press the government for a referendum that (a majority of respondents want).”
While I accept it as true that Mel’s questionnaire resulted in 74 per cent of respondents in favour of a referendum, it is worth noting that the 2,627 positive responses to his problematic survey represents only 2.06 per cent of the 94,179 eligible rlectors. Put another way, Mr. Arnold should report to his parliamentary colleagues that most people (close to 98 per cent) in his riding did not support his call for a referendum. They either did not respond to his survey in the affirmative or did not respond at all. Mr. Arnold needs to recognize and take advantage of a very useful characteristic of our representational form of British-style democracy.
Our representatives are hired to make these decisions after hearing expert testimony on the pros and cons of PR systems. Listen to the testimony, review the data and cast your parliamentary vote. That is your job Mr. Arnold and you wanted it.