It's beginning to look like electoral reform is dead in the water. In the end, Chantal Hebert writes, our political parties could not rise above partisan self interest:
The Conservatives came into this discussion riding the referendum horse, and they come out of it more firmly in the saddle.They have not budged an inch from their sense that the first-past-the-post system remains the best option. But they have found support from the other opposition parties for their contention that any change should clear the hurdle of a national vote.That support is more tactical than principled.Even as they are part of a pro-referendum consensus, the New Democrats, for instance, continue to argue that it is not necessarily essential to put a reform to a national vote prior to its implementation.If the Liberals set out to put in place the more proportional voting system the New Democrats crave, the government could find support on their benches for dispensing with a referendum.
But it's the Liberals who have truly bungled this file:
As for the Liberals, they have managed to turn a secondary policy front into a field of ruins.With the logistical clock ticking on moving to a different voting system in time for 2019, the government waited eight months to set up a process to follow up on the prime minister’s election promise.It never articulated a set of principles that might guide its management of the file.The Liberals went into the debate with a known preference for a ranked ballot but could not be bothered or could not find a critical mass of intervenors to advance that option.The Liberal committee members ended up rejecting the time frame set by their own leader to achieve a reform as unrealistic and the notion of a more proportional system as too radical.
Electoral reform is an idea whose time has come. But it looks like it's an idea that will end, not with a bang, but a whimper.
Image: Ottawa Citizen