GUEST BLOG: PM should ask voters about electoral reform

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GUEST BLOG: PM should ask voters about electoral reform



Regardless of one's position on electoral reform, it's hard to escape the quite obvious fact that leaving it to MPs to decide how they're elected is a fairly blatant conflict of interest.

If Toronto and Montreal play for the Grey Cup and the Argos owner is also the referee, there's a good chance the calls are going to favour the Argos. 

From this perspective, taking the decision out of the hands of Members of Parliament makes sense. 

There are some opponents to the idea of a referendum. Chief among them is the Prime Minister who famously said at an event at the University of Ottawa that referendums were a good way to end up with "no electoral reform".

That's quite an amazing statement when you break it down. The Prime Minister is assuming -- unless he has private polling that tells him for a fact -- he knows how you and I would vote, if asked for our opinion.

But it's also a very telling statement. What it implies is that we can't have a referendum because you and I may select an option that the Prime Minister doesn't like.

Therefore, the belief follows, we can't have a referendum because we can't be trusted to make the right decision -- according to the beliefs of those running the country.

In 1942, the government asked us whether we wanted conscription for World War 2. We voted in favour and it was adopted.

In 1992, the government asked us all to vote on the Charlottetown Accord, we shot down the government's proposed constitutional changes.

In both 1980 and 1995, the people of Quebec were asked by a PQ government to vote on sovereignty. Both times, they defeated it. However, the second time was a close run thing.

If the government is worried about turnout - not an unreasonable concern - make voting mandatory as they do in Australia.

On June 23 of this year, citizens of the United Kingdom will go to the polls to determine whether their country will stay in the European Union. It has been a three-month debate weighing all manner of topics from immigration to economics to housing and healthcare services. 
Both sides have taken the time to debate, educate voters about their options and convince them to vote. Turnout is expected to be considerable. Our Prime Minister even weighed in on it this week, voicing the opinion that residents of the United Kingdom should vote to remain in the European Union. 

What qualities of thought, analysis and judgment does the Prime Minister believe Britons have that Canadians do not?

With respect, Mr. Prime Minister, you're above not wanting to consult voters because you're worried you won't get the answer you like.

Alexander Campbell is a pseudonym. The actual author has asked that his name not be made public at this time.

Read More: Opinion, Guest Blogs, Quinte

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