Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Liberal Party Convention: The Most Important Policy Resolution

In my view, the single most important policy resolution at this week’s convention in Montreal is the prioritized number 31, which should significantly reduce our democratic deficits.

That resolution reads:

31. Priority Resolution: Restoring Trust in Canada’s Democracy*

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Liberal Party pursue political reforms which promote:
  • Open, democratic nominations of candidates;
  • Fewer “whipped” votes in Parliament and more “free” votes requiring individual MPs to assume full responsibility for their decisions;
  • Stronger Parliamentary control over public finances, including an annual deadline for the budget; accounting consistency among the Estimates and the Public Accounts; more clarity in voting on Estimates; a costing analysis for each government Bill; and a requirement that government borrowing plans must get Parliament’s pre-approval;
  • A truly independent, properly resourced Parliamentary Budget Officer;
  • A more effective Access-to-Information regime with stronger safeguards against political interference;
  • An impartial system to identify and eliminate the waste of tax-dollars on partisan advertising;
  • Careful limitations on secret Committee proceedings, Omnibus Bills and Prorogation to avoid their misuse for the short-term partisan convenience of the government;
  • Adequate funding, investigative powers and enforcement authority to ensure Elections Canada can root out electoral fraud;
  • Pro-active disclosure of parliamentarians’ expenses, a more transparent Board of Internal Economy and better audit rules;
  • A truly independent Senate not based upon partisanship or patronage;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, an all-Party process be instituted, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent Canadians more fairly and serve Canada better.
Liberal Caucus

(*) The democratic reform agenda described in this resolution represents a compilation of ideas developed by the Leader and the Caucus over the past year. Canadians want their Members of Parliament to be effective voices for their communities in Ottawa, and not merely mouthpieces in their communities for an all-too-powerful Prime Minister. Our goal must be greater transparency, accountability and participation in Canada’s political system, and fewer abuses which undermine the confidence of citizens and voters in the quality of their democracy.

The provision for an all-party commission to review significant electoral reform is the single most substantial step our country will take since the 1981 Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At long last, we have a chance of moving into modern democractic practices.

Please consider supporting this resolution in any way you can.


  1. This is hilarious. This looks exactly like Trudeau's previous democratic reform platform, except it abandons the commitment to ranked ballot voting (which Liberals made in 2012 when a third place party.)

    The funny part is that provincial Liberal governments went through the exact same process. In the end they brought in designed-to-fail referendums that were overwhelmingly rejected by voters (by over 60% in BC, ON and PEI.)

    So if Trudeau is behind this resolution, this is actually his way of abandoning his commitment to electoral reform with his eye on a fake majority in 2017 (after winning a minority in 2015.)

  2. I will agree that the referendums were disingenuous and designed to fail, however the landscape is changing. The various social media groups are doing a good job at informing disenfranchised voters about pr but need to coalesce into a united front and explain the Law society recommendations in 140 chars or even excuse me, dumb it down to a meme. The best that could be hoped for is that the Liberals form a minority. Majorities are such arrogant brutes. As for the Conservatives, I think it may have been Churchill that said 'governments don't get unelected, they take themselves by the lapels and hurl themselves from office'. Here's hoping. In the mean time if I may borrow a phrase Agitate, Educate, and Organize.

  3. Just wait till you get a load of the old corporate media stomping all over PR claiming it will destroy the economy and democracy. People will have better odds playing the lottery. If they win, they will like that the Cons have become Canada's natural governing party and that the only way to stop them -- i.e. voting-reform ensuring the actual will of the people is carried out -- has been eviscerated.

  4. Keep in mind what Trudeau wrote of PR in his previous democratic reform platform:

    "3. Enact Electoral Reform: I do not support proportional representation because I believe deeply that every Member of Parliament should represent actual Canadians and Canadian communities, not just political parties. I support a preferential ballot because I believe it will lead to a more substantive and civil debate during elections and a more representative government afterward."

    So why would he have a change of heart with Resolution 31, which he put forward himself as his updated democratic reform platform?

    The most likely explanation is that he wanted to abandon his commitment to ranked ballot voting because he really supports First-Past-the-Post (he wants the easy fake majority on 39% of the vote.)

    What better way to do that than with an omnibus policy resolution that negates the 2012 resolution supporting RBV which was passed by 70% of Liberal party members?

    All that Trudeau has to do to kill PR -- which obviously most Liberal party members are against -- is insist on a 60% threshold, which is the established tradition. Fact is a 60% threshold would've killed PR in New Zealand.

    This is clearly a case of the fox in charge of the chicken coop, just like provincial Liberal PR initiatives that went down in flames.


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