Trudeau's truthiness tries to recast electoral reform debate
By at least mid-November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was implementing a political strategy to scuttle electoral reform....
By at least mid-November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was implementing a political strategy to scuttle electoral reform.
December 1, 2016 was going to be a big boost for proportional representation – and Trudeau was ready to launch a disturbingly cynical and dishonest political strategy to sabotage it.
Trudeau knew that on December 1, the parliamentary committee studying electoral reform was going to report a historic multi-party consensus recommendation – that Canada should adopt proportional representation, subject to some form of popular vote. NDP, Conservative, BQ and Green MPs all supported the consensus.
The all-party committee had heard from Canadians. A detailed analysis shows almost 90 per cent of expert witness to the committee supported proportional representation. And 88 per cent of public testimony at town halls backed it. But oddly, although Trudeau had – over and over and over – proclaimed his support for electoral reform, it was the Liberal MPs who didn’t support the consensus.
Oddly, they didn’t support any reform recommendation.
On the day the consensus report was made public, Trudeau had his Minister of Democratic Institutions carry out an absurd, humiliating and silly performance with props and math equations meant to confuse citizens. Maryam Monsef berated the committee, falsely claiming it hadn’t reached consensus. The sheer zaniness of the performance pushed news of the committee consensus off the front page and to the tail of newscasts. The goal was to prevent Canadians from learning there was a consensus recommendation favouring proportional representation – and it was successful.
But one absurd press conference wasn’t the end of Trudeau’s dishonest political style. Phase two was the infamous mydemocracy.ca website which launched three days after the committee report. No doubt it had been under development for weeks – since at least mid-November.
Mydemocracy.ca asked a truckload of bizarre questions – but avoided asking Canadians about the actual matter at hand: which electoral system they wanted. The website, just as it was supposed to, lead to an instant brouhaha of ridicule for its irrelevance, condescension and pointlessness. But it served its goal – to create enough political noise and fog so Canadians forgot the key facts of the plot – that, on December 1, an all-party committee had reached a consensus on electoral reform.
We can’t know when Trudeau decided he would break his promise on electoral reform. But clearly, by mid-November he was actively sabotaging it.
Yet, from then right until he brought the whole farce to an end, Trudeau smoothly repeated that he was committed to electoral reform. Over and over he told an outright, bald-faced lie.
He was dishonest at a meeting with the Toronto Star editorial board on December 2, telling them he remained committed to electoral reform. And he made it personal. He wouldn’t give up, he said – “that’s not the way I was raised…regardless of how difficult.”
And, of course, when Trudeau brought the whole sham to a close, he capped it with one more heavy dose of dishonesty. His reason for killing electoral reform – never to be revisited – was because there was no consensus. Horsefeathers.
Not only was there consensus, there was near unanimity. But instead of making the consensus unanimous and fulfilling his election pledge, Trudeau instructed Liberal MPs to vote against electoral reform.
Political dishonesty isn’t new. It’s why Canadians grew so weary of Harper. And to differentiate himself from Harper, Trudeau made his electoral reform commitment. It was a personal personal pledge and symbol of his new political style for Ottawa.
Trudeau has taken the very core of his election proposition and gutted it – in an abhorrently dishonest political style.