Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau unveiled a 32 point plan for making democracy in Canada better.  If elected he will among other things: place an equal number of men, and women in his cabinet, allow more free votes, and appoint Senators via an ‘independent advisory body.’

The biggest point in his plan concerns the First Past The Post (FPTP) system.  It’s  how we choose our governments.  We vote for a candidate, and the party with the most members elected gets to form government.  Trudeau will form an all-parliamentary committee to study options including ranked ballot, proportional representation, mandatory voting.  He promises to introduce legislation within 18 months of being elected in order to get rid of FPTP.

It’s an ambitious plan, and it presents a vision for Canada that gets the imagination going.  But it leaves some questions unanswered.  F.P.T.P. is fundamental to our democracy; wouldn’t you need a constitutional amendment to change it? If the answer is yes, it lengthens the process.  Mixed Member Proportional Representation is where voters cast two votes: one for a candidate, and a second for a party has already been rejected in 2007 by Ontario.  Could that be dismissed out-of-hand?

The fact is our voting system isn’t the only problem.  The Senate spending scandal, and Mike Duffy have done nothing for the reputation of politicians in general.  People view them as entitled liars much to the detriment of the many good ones out there.  There’s the whole “robo-calls” scandal, where voters in a couple of ridings were misdirected to their polling stations on election day. And the allegations against the Ontario Liberals they tried buying off a candidate in order to win a by-election.

Voters look at all of this and wonder why they should bother.  It isn’t about the voters and how to make lives better it’s about winning at all costs.  Until politicians acknowledge this attitude and change it, nothing will change no matter the system.

Read more about Justin Trudeau’s plan in Maclean’s magazine

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