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  • Writer's pictureMercer Lawrenson

Why I'm not bothered the Liberals won't do Electoral Reform

First off, let me be clear. I am a reformer. I don't think that we can just send the right people to Ottawa and everything will be good. I know that Canada needs a massive constitutional overhaul. Restructuring the nation's government at the local, provincial, and the federal level would be a great thing for our confederation. I have some very specific ideas on how that should be done, and careful changes to the way members are elected to the House of Commons is part of that.

That said, I am not a starry-eyed proponent of progress and change. One thing that the House of Commons has delivered, both here in Ottawa and in Westminster, is stability. Whatever your take on the way this country has been governed, no one can deny that we have had predictable, moderate, and slow changing lawmakers and executive. To change the way the house is elected would set this stable system loose. All of the government's power is in one house. The Senate will not resist in its current form. There is no check on power, but at least we know what the governments will look like. If the composition of the House of Commons was changed without moving towards a truly bicameral system, one could not predict what would happen with our government's. If majorities in the House of Commons became hard to reach, legislation would not suffer as much as the executive. Prime Ministers and administrations would fall far more often, potentially creating an unstable executive branch of the government's, while having diverse and fractured parties that got no reward for coming together. It would be good to have more diverse views represented in the House of Commons, but only if the executive was no longer dependent on the support of the lower House, and the Senate was empowered to push back against legislation. So to state my position plainly, although I think what we have now is bad, if we're not going to have a complete constitutional restructuring, electoral reform in the House of Commons will make Canada's government worse. We cannot afford to have a worse government. And so I am pleased that at this time we will remain without the former and long lasting first past the post system of local representation in the House of Commons. This may not produce good governments, but it will produce predictable and moderate governments, which will do what has been done in the past. No surprises, just drab majorities of Liberals that switch to majorities of Conservatives and vice versa. We may not be free, but there will not be total tyranny.

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