In fact, they did exactly the opposite. They made a promise in order to get elected, and once they got our vote, they cynically manipulated the issue until they could shrug their shoulders and say that nobody wanted it to happen, anyway.
The honeymoon is over, folks. Canada’s “natural governing party” has fallen back into their pre-Harper arrogance, assuming that what’s good for them is what’s good for everyone, and that the public is too stupid to notice.
Well, speaking of stupid, I have rarely seen a more transparent bumbling of an issue than the way the Liberals throttled the electoral change promise. They sent out a committee, then attacked the committee. They completely ignored the public, then sent out a useless “questionnaire” that told us nothing. And now Mr. Trudeau comes out and says “The will wasn’t there.”
The will wasn’t there, all right. In the Liberals.
Something like electoral change is not an issue that will arise from the people by itself. Like all important and complex matters, we trust our elected officials to take a stand, get elected because of that stand, and then use their time and our money to find out the details and present them to us in terms most of us understand. Then we can make an informed decision, or at least understand it when they make an informed decision for us.
Where’s the Leadership?
I was very careful to keep track. As a member of the voting public, the very first time I received any information at all about the various proposed forms of voting was as an add-on to the ersatz online opinion poll. Other than that? Nothing.
Which is a message in itself. Usually a referendum on electoral change is defeated simply because too many people don’t understand either the need for it or the way the new system will work. That’s what happened when BC had a referendum on the subject in 2009.
Check out the CBC report and see how complex the new system sounded.
If the federal Liberals really believed that a new system would be more democratic than the old, First-Past-The-Post serial autocracy we have now, they needed to get behind the idea, present us with the information, and do everything they could to make sure it happened. That’s how we get important, nation-changing legislation passed. We could even forgive them if they had a preferred system. It gives people something to discuss and keeps the matter in the media.
Well, Canada, Dream On
What we got instead was a cynical, manipulative if bumbling attempt to avoid fulfilling an important promise by blaming it on everyone else. And it won’t wash. There have been too many similar issues in the past year.
And sending Justin Trudeau out to charm us all is losing its lustre as well. His personal veneer is beginning to wear thin, and the old Trudeau arrogance is showing through. It may be normal practice, when your class in school isn’t lining up properly, to physically help them into position. It is not acceptable behaviour in the House of Commons when you don’t get your way. Trudeau’s “Look how I associate with important historical figures” eulogy of Castro has now been topped by his “Look how I fly around in private helicopters to visit the rich and famous” Christmas holiday.
In an era when the hoi polloi has been taking its revenge on the elite, this kind of behaviour is rather risky. Ask the US Democratic Party.
Don’t think I’m throwing the term around loosely. After all, the members of every government come from the elite. Yes, even most of our NDP leaders. They are more intelligent, better off and better educated than the average voter. They have to be, in order to rise to power. There’s nothing wrong with that. I expect my doctor, my dentist, my lawyer, and my MP all to be superior people.
Who Are The Elite?
Well, on the conservative, right-wing side, they’re usually business leaders. Their objective is self-interest. They want government to be business friendly, because they believe that what’s good for them is good for everyone. This is serious arrogance, but they get away with it by dangling the Canadian Dream in front of everyone. “Don’t argue against us. Support us and maybe you can join us.” As if.
On the liberal left side we have people from the service industries, mainly lawyers (and even teachers!), who want to govern because they have to good of all of us in mind. This seems to be a much more palatable reason to want to govern, but don’t be fooled; the drive to rule is a siren song. In order to make these wonderful policies happen, first it’s necessary to win. And when the balance of objectives tips from “getting into power so we can do good things,” to “getting into power so we can be in power,” then the Left is no better than the Right.
And there’s nothing the electorate hates more than arrogance on the part of their elected servants. Nobody likes holier-than-thou condescending do-gooder telling us what’s best for us. So when the smarmy do-gooders turn out to be smarmy manipulators, we chuck them out pretty fast. As the US has recently proved, many voters are much happier with an underdog “devil we don’t know” than they are with a “devil we know far too well:” a smug member of the governing elite.
And Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party have just crossed over that line. I can’t find the reference, but media report has it that in the fall of 2015 Trudeau himself said of the issue, “Now that we’ve won the election, we don’t need electoral change anymore.” And they proceeded to act that way.
Not that we’re surprised. Every party wants a “more democratic system” until they get a majority government, and then those compromise governments start to look pretty ugly.
Well, I hope the electorate will remember this broken promise until the next election. The Conservatives are embroiled in such a mess of Trump wannabes that I doubt they will be able to present a united front. The best outcome would be to give Trudeau the minority government he so richly deserves.