Over ten years ago the Law Commission of Canada released a 209-page report recommending changes to our electoral system. While the Liberal government took no action at the time, numerous provinces launched their own reviews to examine the merits of electoral reform.
Without exception, the proposals put forward by each province failed to be implemented. In New Brunswick and Quebec, the proposals died in their respective legislatures. In British Columbia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island, referendums were held and the proposed reforms were resoundingly rejected by voters.
This experience clearly demonstrated that, when it comes to electoral reform, the will of the people should never be assumed. The significance of such reform demands that legislators obtain the clear approval of voters through a referendum.
I am troubled that the new Liberal government seems incapable of acknowledging this. They are intent on pressing ahead with plans to dramatically alter our electoral system without giving Canadians a say. On one hand they claim the changes will “make every vote count”, yet at the same time they refuse to allow Canadians a vote on the issue. There is an ironic contradiction in advocating that we embark on a journey to improve our electoral system while at the same time employing a process which categorically undermines the very ideals which inspire those efforts.
As an Alberta Senator, I will be supporting the right of Albertans to have a say in any significant changes to our democratic process.
Betty Unger, Senator