22 September 2008

Liberal Plan: Most Urgent Issue Left Out

As I wrote on my blog a couple of weeks ago, electoral reform is the most pressing issue facing the electorate - both Canadians who still vote and those who have given up and no longer do.

Yet nowhere in the Liberal Party's 66-page plan is there mention of electoral reform or proportional representation.*

How could a party claiming to care about making this country a "fairer Canada," about "enabl[ing] every Canadian to realize their full potential" omit electoral reform?

How can it not see that a disenfranchised electorate means more and more citizens becoming disillusioned about and disengaged from their political institutions?

Under an eroding democracy, only the few can realize their potential - the corporate backers and moneyed lobbyists who stand closest to and pull the strings of those (seen to be) in power.

The voices of the many, the majority who vote other than for the party which forms government, are left out.

If we had proportional representation, then all votes would matter in this federal election. And if they did, then likely more people would return to the voting booth, more would become re-engaged not just federally, but locally and provincially.

Because then, we'd see that our opinion and voices do count.

Instead, with our first-past-the-post system, there is a chance that Canadians will get the "majority" Stephen Harper has been threatening, and on the basis of less than 38% of the popular vote - not 50% + 1, as a true majority would warrant.

That the Liberal Party of Canada has left the issue of electoral reform out of its plan speaks volumes and can be related to its handling of municipalities, which I've also written about.

It's about Power.

Consider the wording in the section on dealing with municipalities and the "infrastructure deficit":
A Liberal government will be upfront and transparent about the priorities we will pursue in our discussions with the provinces and municipalities. (p12)

Not priorities as determined by community governments which are in the best position to know what their communities need most, what solutions would work best, but priorities as set by the federal government. Once again, municipalities must come with hands out, begging, rather than being empowered - by retaining one cent of the GST collected per dollar sale, for example - to determine their own destinies.

NB: The Greens include ER and PR on p. 114 of their 121-page Vision Green plan. NDP include a section on voting reform on their website. Am unsure if the NDP has released its printed platform yet or if it does/will include this issue.

NB2: The above was sent by email to the LPC (minus these notes), also to Fair Vote Canada for distribution to their email list. The full post was also published to my other blogs, including the new one at Democratic Space.

* I did the search this morning for 'elect', 'proportional' and 'reform' - nothing. Then went to the LPC's website and did a similar search. 'Electoral' comes up in a description of one of their candidates; the rest of the one-page search result yields the word in connection with financing and EDAs. 'Reform' yields nothing about how we vote. 'Proportional' comes up once, but under the subject of crime.

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