IN THE MEDIA: Stetski 'shocked' by Trudeau's new take on electoral reform

By Eric Elliott, Columbia Valley Pioneer

After months of deliberation while travelling across the country, a special committee studying electoral reform is recommending that the Trudeau government design a new proportional voting system and hold a national referendum to assess Canadians’ support of it.

The 392-page majority report also made recommendations that the government should not proceed with mandatory or online voting at this time. Throughout the report, it noted that there was overwhelming support for a change from the current first-past-the-post system to that of proportional representation.

Last week during question period, Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef blamed the special committee for its inability to properly carry out their responsibilities — then issued an apology before the House the following day. Conservative Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards riding — who sits on the special committee and was interviewed for a story in the October 21st Pioneer — said this type of rhetoric demonstrates the Liberals' unwillingness to take the committee’s recommendations seriously.

“It seems as though it’s mainly because it’s not the answers they were hoping to get,” he said, noting the committee did demonstrate the sentiment amongst Canadians that if the voting system is to be changed it should go to a referendum.

Since being elected, the Trudeau government has been adamant in their rejection of holding a referendum on electoral reform, claiming that the referendum was held 2015 in the national election...

Instead, the Liberal Government has set up an online survey to learn what Canadians think about electoral reform. The survey is available online for 25 days as a way to further study Canadians’ opinions on electoral reform at www.MyDemocracy.ca...

NDP Kootenay—Columbia MP Wayne Stetski — who conducted a tour of the riding to gather constituents’ input for the committee report — told The Pioneer that while the survey may not be a referendum, it could provide the government a way out of having to hold one in the future if the sentiment isn’t strong enough in support of reform.

“The Liberals have been saying all along that they would not commit to a referendum so this postcard (sent to Canadians to let them know about the survey — those without Internet access can phone in) might in the end become their version of a referendum,” he said. “If people choose not to respond or if the people choose to respond and there are some people that would like to stay with the current system, that could end up being the rationale that this postcard is a mini referendum for Canada.”

During the 2015 federal election campaign, now-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that the election would be the last under the first-past-the-post electoral system. Since taking office, though, his tune has changed.

“Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people dissatisfied with the government and its approach, they were saying, ‘We need electoral reform so that we no longer have a government we don’t like’,” Mr. Trudeau said during an interview with Le Devoir. “However, under the current (first-past-the-post) system, they now have a government they are more satisfied with. And the motivation to want to change is less compelling.”

For Mr. Stetski, this is a clear example of a politician rolling back on his promises.

“Shocked and disappointed are not too strong for me,” he said. “It is really unfortunate whenever politicians say one thing to get elected and do another once they’re in power. It just shouldn’t happen and it unfortunately seems to be happening in several occasions in the last year and a half with the new Liberal government.”

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