Saturday, January 14, 2012

Regarding Dion's Electoral Reform Concerns

Dion raises a few concerns about Harper government senate reform initiatives and how to bring Liberal reform ideas to the table without suffering from shades of the past.
Dion says Senate Reform Bill Will Weaken...
Mr. Dion said all the government’s bills to reform the Senate have been bad, including the most recent, Bill C-7 to reform the Senate with tenure limits and elections, which he called "the worst one." He said the bill will weaken Canada's democratic system.

"At the end of the day, you will have two elected Chambers, the House and the Senate. I'm not against electing Parliamentarians. I think it's dangerous to do that if you don't have a dispute mechanism between the two Chambers," he said.


"I'm interested in all of these proposals under discussion and I'm supportive of them, but I wonder about how they're going to be perceived in presentation," said Jeff Ravetts, a delegate from the riding of Scarborough Southwest, Ont. "As we talk about doing government differently, electing government differently, we're still under discussion as the 'natural governing party of Canada' so, if we make demands that are different from the way we governed for a number of years, as we request transparency, which we didn't necessarily provide, as we ask for proportional representation when we spent so long benefiting from a lack of a proportional representation and democratic reform, how do we present that without assuming an air of hypocrisy?
First, I don't think there is much that can be done about whatever the conservatives choose to do with respect to senate reform. Their have been enough appointments to the senate recently that whatever this particular ship is carrying it's probably going to sail.

However, there is plenty of time to come up with a better plan and replace any legislation that was apparently flawed after a resounding election win. Yes, I know, you'll hear a lot of scoffing today, but something to keep in mind is that whatever bad news comes down the pipeline before then, it won't have been the fault of the liberals because there aren't any in power.

Recently, I wrote a post about revamping the election process. Calling for proportional representation in the house, based on the current riding system, with the current system's allocation of house members being used to fill the senate instead.

Based on recent concerns I'd simply add that we give the house, as the proportional body, the pants in the family. The senate would be subservient, performing a similar role to now, unless it were to muster a 66% threshold in which case it could stop a piece of legislation.

To flesh things out a bit -- the proportional system that I've proposed would reward those that best represented the will of the people locally. Not voting on issues that suit local needs would quickly find someone else elected for the riding in question. At the same time parties would still have to find ways to work together to form and maintain a government.

Perhaps less obvious is the fact that it would allow people to cast their vote exactly how they wished. Under the current model people have to be concerned that votes can be split -- giving a riding to a candidate for which the majority of the people voted against. This would broaden the discussion and allow less mainstream views to be heard.

These are things we need.

However, the big question is whether or not we have enough courage to stand up for what is right even if it risks the ability to win the election. Put a plan on the table, suggest it will involve a referendum to implement, and then lay down a platform of governance independent of the plan. Do both based on principles and beliefs and simply let the people decide.

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