The Liberals, however, decided to go one step further in eschewing conventional political practice: Instead of stacking their side of the table with wily veteran MPs, they assigned four first-timers to the task, while the other parties took the opposite – and, arguably, far more sensible – approach.
For the Conservatives and the New Democrats, that meant putting their respective democratic reform critics Scott Reid and Nathan Cullen on the job, with the remaining spots going to high-profile front-benchers like Jason Kenney, Alexandre Boulerice and Gerard Deltell, who, while also a newcomer to the Hill, had extensive experience on the electoral reform beat during his stint on the Quebec political circuit.
With just one spot each, the Bloc Quebecois and Greens had considerably less room to manoeuvre, and in the case of the Greens, literally only one MP eligible to take it: party leader Elizabeth May.
The fifth Liberal spot did go to a veteran MP, Quebec caucus stalwart Francis Scarpeleggia, but as he was tapped to serve as chair, he wasn’t able to offer much assistance to his new colleagues.
Looking back now, it seems obvious those four Liberal members never had a chance.
Not only did they have comparatively little practical experience on the Commons committee circuit, but after the initial flurry of organizational sessions, they didn’t seem to be getting much direction from the government at all, and seemed to have even less of an idea of what Team Trudeau might be expecting from them beyond the general sense that Trudeau himself had a preference for “instant run-off” ranked ballots.
Given the importance to Canada's democracy, the Trudeau decision to put inexperienced first-timers on the electoral committee is a blunder of some magnitude.
The inactivity of the LPC during the first 8 months of its tenure as government, also meant time was running out to deliver on Trudeau's promise to deliver meaningful electoral reform, and to make every vote count.
Now the LPC is scrambling to catch up with this important issue, and to repair the damage. It Trudeau fails to deliver on this promise, he will run the risk of being seen as inexperienced, gullible and perhaps not as trustworthy when it comes to his solemn promises as he wishes voters to see him.
Trudeau will need to put together a Hit Team, of experienced, tough-minded, and competent MPs, to rescue this botched job.