Tag Archives: Justin Trudeau

I’m Glad Justin Trudeau Broke His Electoral Reform Promise

In the last election Justin Trudeau stated unequivocally that if the Liberals were to form the government that he would end our traditional first past the post system. He said that it wasn’t fair that the Conservatives should have a majority of the seats in the House of Commons when they did not win a majority of the votes. After the Liberals won a majority of the seats with less than 40% of the votes, Mr. Trudeau discovered that the first past the post system wasn’t quite as bad as he originally thought. Upon further reflection, he decided that the first past the post system was not without its charms and that we would be better off sticking with it for now.

This was the most blatant breaking of a promise since Jean Chretien decided he didn’t really want to abolish the GST, and I am more likely to vote Liberal in the next election because of it. I like the first past the post system. I was OK with the Conservatives having a majority government with less than half of the votes and I’m OK with the Liberals forming a majority with less than half of the votes. I’m not alone in this. Justin Trudeau didn’t win because of his electoral reform promise; he won because a lot of Canadian swing voters with tired of Stephen Harper and/or were turned off by their barbaric cultural practices snitch line.

Canadians, with good reason, are largely satisfied with the first past the post system. We have been consistently ranted at or near the top in all the global standard of living rankings. Even if you hated the Conservatives and Steven Harper you will have to concede that the country didn’t fall apart after almost a decade in power. The country isn’t going to fall apart if the Liberals are in power for the next decade either. The fact is that first past the post forced all candidates to seek a broad consensus. If you are unable to attract at least a large minority of votes you are not getting elected. Opponents of the system often point that the NDP and Green parties tend to be underrepresented in Parliament in relation to their vote totals. That may be true, but first past the post also prevents a potential “Keep Muslims Out” or “We Hate Gays” party out of the House of Commons. Proportional representation proponents like to talk about how the Green parties get more seats in Europe, but they gloss over how the fascist, anti-immigrant parties also get representation. Canadians are happy with the status quo and for good reason.

The only people who feel betrayed are the NDP voters who switched at the last minute in the hope that Trudeau had the best chance of defeating Harper and would bring in proportional representation that would give the NDP a greater presence in the House of Commons in the future. They can get as mad as they want because Justin Trudeau doesn’t need them anymore. If he does a good job in the next few years, or even if he does a bad job and the Conservatives elect a terrible leader, he’s going to win again next time around. If he has a rough couple of years and the Conservatives elect a sensible candidate, he’s going to lose.

The NDP knifed their respected, competent, and moderate leader in the back after the election but almost a year after deciding they don’t want him to lead them into the next election they don’t have a single candidate lined up to replace him. That’s not a good sign that they are going to have a superstar candidate next time around. The NDP have no leadership candidates, and the Conservatives have a bunch of unelectable candidates with a chance of becoming leader, so Justin Trudeau will pay absolutely no price for breaking his election promise.

The 2015 General Election Will Be Decided by Game Theory

This is the most bizarre federal election in the history of Canada. Anyone who wants to accuse me of hyperbole should look at the polls showing the NDP leading in the polls first. It isn’t just that the NDP are transforming from their traditional role as perennial third place protest party, it’s that all of the parties seem to have drifted off from their traditional roles.

The NDP, the erstwhile political wing of public sector unions, is promising to balance the budget. The Liberals, who strung together the longest string of balanced budgets in living memory during their most recent stint in power, are now promising to run big deficits and are criticizing the NDP for promising austerity. That’s right, the party that hacked billions out of provincial health and education transfers to balance the budget during a recession is now criticizing the NDP for promoting austerity. Amongst all this, the Liberals put Paul Martin at a podium to tout the Liberals credentials for prudent fiscal management. So what if Justin Trudeau is advocating diametrically opposed fiscal policies than Paul Martin? As for the Conservatives, both other parties have been attacking them for running deficits. The Conservatives have responded by avoiding interviews and promising a tax credit for service club memberships.

I am someone who Conservatives would consider a target voter. I’m married, have two young children, I’ve worked in the private sector my entire life, and I was at one point in my life a member of the federal Progressive Conservative Party and the Conservative Party after that. I voted for Scott Brison in the PC leadership campaign and then voted for Stephen Harper in Conservative election when he ran against Belinda Stronach and Tony Clement. I still think he deserved to win that election, yet I won’t be voting for the Conservatives in the election.

That primary reason why I don’t plan on voting Conservative is that with the latest round of redistricting I am now in the district of Avalon, where the Conservatives are not even bothering to field a candidate after rejecting Ches Crosbie. That’s a pretty good reason not to vote Conservative. But even if there were a Conservative candidate to vote for, I would have a hard time voting for them after running all those deficits, the refusal to answer questions, and all the petty, cynical politics that were blatantly obvious even before the Duffy trial took a magnifying glass to it.

So if, like me, you are right leaning in your economic and fiscal views, what do you do? The Liberals did balance the books the last time they were in power, and Ralph Goodale, who was a key member of the those governments, would almost certainly be the finance minister should the Liberals form government, yet their leader is advocating the least fiscally conservative policies of all the candidates. I am asking myself if he is lying with all the talk of radically increased spending. Strangely, the more confident I am that he is lying, the more likely I will be to vote for him.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I have voted NDP in the past, not in the last election, but the one previous (I was out of the country during the last election and had not cast an advance ballot), but that was more a vote for local candidate, Jack Harris, than for the party. Jack Harris is as solid and centrist a candidate as you will find in the NDP, and at the time I knew there was no risk of my vote actually leading to an NDP government. With the recent redistricting, the NDP candidate is some person I have never heard of, and there is a chance that if I vote for the NDP that my vote could actually result in an NDP government.

Up until now, I would have never have considered voting for the NDP if I thought they could win, but I’ve recently read some stories about how Thomas Mulcair may not be as left wing as everyone thinks. I read one article about how he praised Margaret Thatcher, was in favour of privatization while in the Quebec government, and even that he considered joining the Conservatives before joining the NDP. These stories were all ostensibly critical of Mr. Mulcair, but it actually made me more likely to vote for his party.

I’ve always hated when politicians are blatantly lying to the electorate. It has always made me feel like they are insulting my intelligence. As much as that bothers me, I find myself in the strange position of trying to figure out who is the biggest liar so I can then vote for that person. Luckily I also have an independent candidate in my district, albeit one who was kicked out of his party after allegations of sexual harassment. If I am unable to determine who the least honest candidate is between now and October, I may end up just voting independent. I actually think we need more independent candidates, so even though the independent candidate has virtually no chance of winning, a stronger than expected showing may encourage independent candidates to run in the future. My head hurts just thinking about this election and there is still almost two months to go.

Stephen Harper to Rename Controversial Victims of Communism Memorial to Victims of Liberalism

After months of intense pressure from critics on the government’s plan to build a memorial to victims of communism in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to scrap his original plan. Critics of the planned museum are unlikely to happy with the news however, as the Prime Minister, in a rather bold, if not shocking, move has decided to create a museum to the victims of Liberalism in its place.

According to some well-placed sources, the museum replace the exhibits focused on the horrors inflicted by Mao and Stalin, with those focused on Liberal atrocities here in Canada. The museum will focus primarily on the federal Liberal regimes, but will also have a large exhibit dedicated to the Bob Rae premiership in Ontario. The Chretien/Martin years will receive particular attention, with focus given to all the displaced workers as part of their brutal cost cutting measures in the mid-nineties, though there will also be smaller exhibits that deal with all of the pepper spraying by police during the APEC conference as well as all of the civilians that Jean Chretien choked with his own hands. Also, in a move that critics say is designed to damage Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the wing that was originally set aside to document Stalin’s brutal confiscation of land from the Kulaks will now be dedicated to Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Policy.

Sources close to the PMO say this change in direction was driven by a desire by the Prime Minister to extend his middle finger to both his political rivals and the mainstream media. There are rumours that Mr. Harper wanted to announce another 500 job cuts at the CBC at the same time, just for the hell of it, but was apparently persuaded otherwise by some senior advisors.

When asked if the Prime Minister was worried about being perceived as arrogant or outright trolling of his political enemies, sources said that after almost a decade in power, Mr. Harper no longer gives a damn what people think. The way he sees it, if people cared about having an arrogant prime minister he wouldn’t be in a position to win his fourth term. In any case, he is comforted in the fact that the rise of Thomas Mulcair and return of Gilles Duceppe should produce enough splitting of the anti-Harper vote to return him to power.  The fact is that the Conservatives could well win a majority government with around 35% of the popular vote. Even if they find themselves in a minority government, there is no chance of a coalition if the Liberals end up with fewer seats than the NDP, as the Liberals would rather be the third party in opposition than play second fiddle to the New Democrats.

*Editors Note: None of the above is actually true. 

Canadians Would Hate Proportional Representation

This week Justin Trudeau announced that if he were to become Prime Minister he would end our first past the post electoral system, whereby Parliament is made up of people who won the most votes in their districts, and replace it with some form of proportional representation.  This was touted as a way of making our political system more democratic, as it would help prevent a party getting less than 50% of the overall vote but more than 50% of the seats, which has happened repeatedly in the past several decades (with both the Liberals and the Conservatives). The only problem with that proposal is that most Canadians would absolutely hate it if they actually looked at all the details of what that would entail.

One of the biggest complaints you hear about Parliament is that MPs are too often just pawns of the party leaders and blindly do as they are told. Do you think having MPs allocated based on the share of the national vote will make that better? Proportional representation will not fix that problem, it will exacerbate it, as it puts far more power in the hands of party leaders. Though Mr. Trudeau could come up with his own unique style of proportional representation, in such a system the seat belongs to the party as opposed to the MP, which would typically eliminate the possibility of floor crossing. While MPs switching parties is often viewed negatively by voters, the ability for an MP to pack up his things and leave does help keep a party leader with autocratic tendencies in check.

Though you could make the argument that first past the post is less democratic on a national scale, it is without question the most democratic at the local level. If you don’t think your MP is adequately representing the needs of your district you can vote him or her out of office in the next election. On the other hand, if the national leader really dislikes a local candidate, he can still win the local party nomination, or failing that, can run as an independent. Though it is difficult to win as an independent, it does happen (Yvonne Jones was once an independent MHA in her early days) and in minority government situation, independents can actually wield disproportionate power.

One of the virtues of the first past the post system is that if forces politicians to enact policies that appeal to a large number of voters. Though it is possible for a government to form a majority government with less than half of the total votes, it is also impossible to win any seats by having policies that 90% of the country find morally reprehensible. Not only is that possible under a proportional representation system, it is common.

Under a proportional representation system, you could literally form a party whose primary platform involves blaming immigrants for all of our problems and actively advocates for getting rid of recent immigrants and drastically cutting the number of new ones, at least from non-white countries. Because proportional representation makes minority governments more likely, these fringe groups can find themselves wielding a disproportionate amount of influence. Even the most progressive countries in Western Europe often have outrageously extremist parties on the far right and left holding significant numbers of seats.

The first past the post system may be flawed, but it is likely still the best one for Canada. Much like Thomas Mulcair’s empty promise to abolish the Senate, the promise of proportional representation sounds great in a soundbite on the election trail but is completely unrealistic in practice. The simplest solution is usually the best one. Let districts be represented by the person with the most votes in each district.