Government delivers PR, but it’s the wrong kind

The following press release was just released, and is also here.

OTTAWA – In public opinion polls, provincial referenda and the recent Citizens’ Assembly in Ontario, Canadians continue to make it clear that they have one priority for democratic reform: scrap the current antiquated and inequitable first-past-the-post voting system and replace it with PR – Proportional Representation.

This week, in its much-heralded “Week of Democratic Reform”, the federal government has delivered PR – public relations.

“It would be laughable if it wasn’t so worrying,” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May. “What we are seeing is a government so deeply committed to deflection and avoiding the real issues that they are starting to believe their own spin.”

Ms. May said that the so-called Week of Democratic Reform was really a week of gimmickry and housekeeping: new rules on loans to political parties; more seats in parliament for growing provinces and an extra day of voting.

“Meanwhile, the government happily stands by and watches our electoral system teeter on the shaky foundation of an unpopular and fundamentally unfair voting system that most countries abandoned years ago.

“On the occasion of Democratic Reform Week, I call on all parties in the House of Commons to stand with the vast majority of Canadians who believe that our current electoral system produces unfair results and that proportional representation needs to be explored.”

Green Party democratic reform advocate Chris Tindal said that any conversation about democratic reform that does not include proportional representation is a joke.

“Does [minister responsible for democratic reform] Peter Van Loan really believe that adding another day of voting is going to arrest the slide in voter turnout?

“People have stopped voting because they’re disillusioned with politicians, and because they don’t think their vote makes a difference. Real democratic reform would make every vote count.”

Ms. May repeated her call for an open and transparent nationwide consultation on the issue of proportional representation. “Ontario’s Citizens’ Assembly is a great model,” she said, “and the fact that it has come out overwhelmingly in favour of the change to proportional representation proves that this is an idea whose time has come.”


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