We wish to remind your readers that Justin Trudeau has many advisers on the electoral reform brief, not least including several among our own party’s caucus and national membership, and that while we share Mr. Asselin’s concern for our country’s growing democratic deficit, we are stymied as to why he should champion such a profoundly undemocratic alternative.
The preferential ballot is by itself widely shunned as electoral systems go, and it does nothing to improve low voter turnout, which perhaps explains why its most die-hard advocates so often attach the dismal prospect of mandatory voting to their argument. By contrast, research typically reveals dozens of democracies which boast far higher rates of voter participation and satisfaction than we do, most of them incorporating some degree of proportional representation into their electoral systems. Instead of threatening to fine their citizenry, they simply offer a superior electoral product: if you vote, no matter how you vote, you’re virtually guaranteed the representation you voted for. In New Zealand, your chances of electing your representative of choice are just under 100%. In Canada they’re a lousy 50-50. And they’d be no better using the preferential ballot alone.
Mr. Trudeau made his remarks in favour of the preferential ballot well over a year ago, before he became leader. Since then he has reserved comment while his caucus and membership have addressed the file, most recently culminating in a resolution to initiate an all-party process, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to review ALL electoral systems of merit before making specific recommendations to Parliament.
We hope that in future Mr. Asselin will take Mr. Trudeau’s implicit advice and reserve comment until he’s successfully completed his homework.
Jennifer Ross and David Erland
on behalf of Liberals for Fair Voting
Liberals for Fair Voting is a caucus of The Liberal Party of Canada and Fair Vote Canada, the national multi-partisan campaign for democratic voting. It advocates equal effective votes and proportional representation.