“The PM says there ‘s no consensus in the country for electoral reform”, said Communist leader Liz Rowley, “but that’s not true. Seventy percent of electors cast votes for parties that campaigned for electoral reform, including the NDP, Greens, Communists, and the Liberals who promised to make every vote count and to do it in time for the next election. That’s a clear mandate.
“What’s changed is the consensus in the Liberal Party. A year after winning a majority government with only 39% of the popular vote, the new consensus is that making every vote count would reduce Liberal seats in Parliament, and that can’t be allowed,” said Rowley, noting the Conservatives also oppose electoral reform and for the same reasons.
The first-past-the-post system has enabled an exclusive monopoly on government by the Liberals and Tories – and the corporations they represent – for 150 years. It has allowed both parties to secure majorities in Parliament with less than 40% of the popular vote, to introduce policies they campaigned against after an election, including Mulroney’s Free Trade Agreement (1988), and Trudeau’s pipelines and climate change policies (2016), on top of devastating austerity policies (introduced by both) that have slashed jobs, wages, and pensions, cut living standards, privatized public services and assets, legislated massive corporate tax cuts, imposed global corporate trade deals, and undermined labour, civil and democratic rights.
This is the real reason why Liberal and Tory governments refuse to introduce electoral reform. And it’s the reason why many working people feel obliged to vote strategically to block the election of the party with the most dangerous policies, instead of the party with the policies they want to support.
The Communist Party demands the government carry through its election commitment to deliver electoral reform before the next election, and to introduce legislation enacting Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) which has been the demand of citizens’ assemblies that have studied electoral reform across Canada, and which has the support of large and representative organizations such as the Canadian Labour Congress, Fair Vote Canada, Council of Canadians, and many others.
The Communist Party of Canada, the second oldest party in Canada, was the first to advocate a system of proportional representation in Canada. We also campaign for:
- Sharply reduced spending ceilings on parties and candidates, during and between elections
- An end to restrictions on financial contributions from trade unions and individuals
- Candidates’ and Leaders debates to include all nominated candidates and Party leaders
- Leaders’ televised debates to be regulated under the Canada Elections Act
- Right to recall legislation
- Comprehensive enumeration at every election
- Lowering the voting age to 16
- Reducing MPs remuneration to the average worker’s wage
Democracy, including democratic electoral reform, is under threat by right-wing governments and movements around the world, which aim to curb civil and democratic rights, labour rights, social and equality rights. The government’s decision to renege on electoral reform will only encourage those far-right forces targeting democracy in Canada. This is the wrong message for Canada to send.