Demand a Referendum Take action, protect your vote

Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government are trying to change what your vote means – without giving Canadians a say! Liberal politicians and their insiders should not have this power. Only the Canadian people should determine how Canadians elect their governments.

Only the Canadian people should determine how Canadians elect their governments.

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No electoral reform without a referendum - period.

With a national election more than three years away, even the most civic-minded Canadian could be forgiven for having taken a seasonal break from politics over the summer. The halls of Parliament were filled mostly with tourists throughout July and August.

Except Room 237-C.

That’s where a committee of politicians gathered, without fanfare, to set the stage for a seismic shift in the way Canadians vote. In a sharp contrast with the recent federal election — when politicians were desperate for your attention — this past summer saw some of them trying to move as quickly and quietly as possible on electoral reform.

The task set by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government for these politicians was to begin rewriting the most basic rules governing how we vote, what that vote means and how Members of Parliament are chosen. And unless you are a heavily-credentialed academic, you likely weren’t invited.

At these committee meetings there have been discussions about merging constituencies, eliminating local Members of Parliament and implementing complicated voting systems like the one in use in Australia — where the outcome of a recent election was delayed for weeks while ballots the size of dorm-room posters were carefully tabulated like a choose-your-own-adventure book.

Canada is one of the most stable and admired democracies in the world. Canadians are proud of our current system, and rightly so. We’ve been blessed in the fact that Canadian troops haven’t had to fight for our own liberty for generations, even though they frequently have done so for others around the world. We have built a country and a democracy in which our differences make us stronger, one that serves as a shining example to the world.

Changing the way we vote has the potential to change everything we understand about our electoral system. That’s because it would change the incentives for voters and the politicians who seek their favour. Academics can theorize about the relative merits of different electoral systems, but at the end of the day, we simply don’t know how any of these changes will affect Canada’s democracy.

One thing we do know is that no one political party should be able to use its 39 per cent of the popular vote to rig the next election in its favour by unilaterally changing the voting system for 100 per cent of Canadians.

I firmly believe choices about the value of our vote should not be left in the hands of a small group of politicians who have a personal stake in the outcome. Any change to what our vote means can only be made with the consent of the Canadian people.

The solution is simple: If you want to change the rules of democracy, then voters — not politicians — must have the final say. To make such a monumental change without consulting Canadians would be a clear conflict of interest — one that should worry every Canadian who takes his or her voting rights seriously. And the only way to ensure Canadians are clearly heard is to hold a national referendum.

Still, the prime minister and Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef have consistently refused to seriously consider a referendum. Their arguments against a public vote — that the issues are too complex for the average voter, that Canadians cannot make difficult decisions themselves, that Ottawa politicians may not get the answer they want in a referendum — are not only arrogant and elitist, they betray a fundamental misunderstanding about the fundamental source of democratic power. That power comes from the people themselves.

During the summer, Room 237-C heard from an “expert” witness, Dennis Pilon, who called regular Canadians too “ignorant” to be entrusted with a decision like choosing a voting system. Shortly after he finished his testimony, Liberals tweeted that he did a “great job”.

If the prime minister believes that he does not need the consent of Canadians to change what their vote means, he is mistaken.

If the prime minister believes he has the power to rig the next election in his favour, his arrogance knows no boundaries.

But if he believes that what he is doing is in the best interest of Canadians, and not just in the best interest of the Liberal party, then he should not be afraid to propose an alternative, make his case to Canadians — and let them make the final decision.

It’s time for the prime minister to commit to a referendum on electoral reform.

More playing politics...

The Liberals are still failing to take electoral reform seriously!

As you now know, Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef held a quarter of her “national” consultations in her own riding.

Now, we’ve learned Justin Trudeau is playing his own political games.

Last month, Trudeau quietly held a town hall in his own riding. But why are we just finding out about it now?

Evidence of the meeting was under wraps. There were no public mentions of the meeting. Even the daily itinerary provided to reporters neglected to mention it on his schedule! Was this done so Trudeau could stack the room? Was he hoping the results he was looking for would be guaranteed? Now, thanks to a summary report submitted to the committee, some details have emerged. Comments from those who attended include a proposal “that parties no longer exist.” Another wants to impose “fiscal penalties” against those who don’t vote. When the topic about whether a referendum would happen came up.… no answer was given.

Only our party is consulting seriously with Canadians on this issue. We've heard from tens of thousands of voters. 90% of which say they want to be heard when it comes to electoral reform. Canadians deserve to have a voice in their own democracy.

Playing politics with your vote

Conservative MPs consulted widely with Canadians on how the Liberals plan to change the way we vote.

We made those consultations a priority, mailing tens of thousands of Canadians directly to ask them how they want input on any proposed changes.

Unsurprisingly, 90% of those we asked said they wanted a vote on any changes to the democracy that has served us well for 150 years.

And the Liberals? They claim they held small meetings across the country. But we know now what some of those actually looked like:

  • Only 15 residents attended one of these meetings in Nunavut. Not only was it not scheduled well but it lacked proper translation for everyone to participate. One resident called the Minister’s visit “disappointing.”
  • A stop in Yellowknife had an audience of only 20. Residents said the sessions appeared more “self-serving rather than authentic.”

That’s just some of what we’ve heard about from the media.

Furthermore, the Minister that Justin Trudeau put in charge of changing all of Canada’s democracy held one quarter of her consultations in her own riding.

Toronto - Canada's biggest city - got one small town hall meeting. Many rural communities across the country have been ignored. Yet the Minister's own riding got seven.

While the Minister has yet to share her "nationwide" consultation data, we’ve made the results from our mail campaign fully public, attached a detailed report, and any Canadian can now go read it.

The Prime Minister must be honest with voters about his intentions on democratic reform.

Huge survey shows 90%+ support for a referendum!

Over the summer and early fall, Conservative MPs consulted with Canadians on Liberal changes to our elections and to our democracy. We knew our process of mailing Canadians directly, would engage many more people than the government’s town hall meetings.

More than 81,000 Canadians from 59 electoral districts took the time to respond to surveys sent to them by their Conservative MP! Canadians who responded voted overwhelmingly in support of a referendum. As of Thursday October 13, 2016, just over 90% of respondents, 73,740 of 81,389 Canadians, told us they wanted a referendum.

The response rate to this mail-out was four to five times higher than what we would expect to see from a typical mail-out. The results of this consultation speak for themselves. Regardless of what province they lived in, or whether they were rural or urban voters, respondents to our surveys voted overwhelmingly in favour of a referendum. Support for a referendum across Canada has been shown to be both broad and persistent. The response to our surveys simply follows what we’ve come to expect from the multiple public opinion polls showing Canadians want the final decision on any new voting system.

Between February 9, 2016 and September 28, 2016, public opinion polling firms Ipsos, Insights West, Forum Research, and EKOS Research all released polls showing that consistent majorities of Canadians, ranging as high as 73%, think that a national referendum is necessary before changing how Canadians elect their MPs. Six of eight such polls show that a majority of Canadians in every province think that any change to how MPs are elected should be put to a referendum. Five of eight show that between 65% and 73% of Canadians support a referendum at the national level.

Support for a referendum is consistent across genders and age groups, and while it is true that support for a referendum is higher among Conservative supporters than among supporters of the NDP and Liberals, a clear majority of supporters of both parties also support a referendum.

To see our whole report – click here.

Monsef's road to electoral reform may not be able to bypass referendum

Other than Liberal MPs, everyone agrees.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

... with very few exceptions, virtually every expert witness to testify before the House committee charged with studying the issue seems to agree... that any attempt to change the vote-counting formula without widespread public support would be spectacularly ill-advised and politically risky, although almost certainly not actively unconstitutional.

Read more here.

“Expert” laments “ignorant” Canadians

You’ll actually have to watch this to believe it:

Yes, that is a real clip. It is democratic reform “expert” Dennis Pilon making the case for changing our electoral system without giving Canadians a say.

According to him, regular Canadians are too “ignorant” to have an opinion on the issue.

He thinks demanding a referendum shows a “sense of entitlement”.

Surely the Liberals will condemn these incredibly pretentious and outright false accusations, right?

Wrong – they think “he’s doing a great job!”

This is what the Liberals think of ordinary Canadians who want a say in how they elect their governments.

They’d rather unilaterally change the meaning of your vote and they’d rather do it without ever being held accountable. They have a fixed outcome they want and it’s one that only benefits Liberal politicians.

As this clip shows, and the Liberal cheerleading of it, they want us all to take our opinions and just go away so they can do whatever they want.

But we’re not going away.

Sign up and join the fight for a referendum now!

Did Canadians vote for electoral reform?

Liberals claim to have a mandate to change our electoral system without a referendum on the issue because they won the last election.

In reality, they believe a one-line, vague platform promise that offered no details represents the full consent of more than 17 million Canadians to completely change our system.

Simply put, if you’re going to change the rules of Canada’s democracy, every Canadian deserves a say.

Even if you buy into the faulty idea that the Liberals’ election win gives them carte blanche to run wild with our electoral system, consider voters’ intentions: the CBC and Forum Research did polls, and found that the number of people that identified “democratic reform” as an “important” issue in deciding their vote barely registered.

The Prime Minister doesn’t believe he needs the consent of Canadians to change what our vote means because he thinks Liberals know better than everyone else. If you call yourself a supporter of democracy, then you believe in voting on an issue as fundamental as this. Demand a referendum!

Cross-partisan support for a referendum!

Politicians and commentators of all political stripes are calling for a referendum. In fact, it seems that just about the only people who are against a referendum now are sitting Liberal MPs!

Here are just a few of the names to speak out recently:

Rona Ambrose (Conservative)

When you change the rules of democracy, everyone gets to have a say. If the Liberals want to make a fundamental change to our country’s voting system, the process must not be dominated by one political party’s interests. A committee comprised of a select number of parliamentarians studying electoral reform is not, and never will be, a substitute for all Canadians having their voices heard directly. This Liberal committee scheme is simply a vehicle through which they can impose their own pre-determined agenda without any meaningful way to restrain them.

Bill Tieleman (NDP)

How we vote in a democracy is a fundamental question requiring Canadian voters to give their approval through a binding referendum because it will affect every election in a way far more important than any budget or policy decision.

Ujjal Dosanjh (Liberal)

Any change to the electoral system can’t be a partisan endeavour. It has to be a nation-building project. If the Trudeau government wants to remain true to its commitment to democratic electoral reform it has only two options. Either it must seek and find interparty agreement on the proposed changes and approve them with a unanimous or near unanimous vote in the House of Commons. Or it must place the proposed changes before the people in a nationwide referendum.

Scott Reid, M.P. (Conservative)

I have been advocating a referendum on this subject since 2001, for a reason that I stated years ago, and still strongly believe: If politicians are left in charge of designing a new electoral system, they will be unable to resist the temptation to choose a system which will, based on the dynamics of Canadian voter behaviour, have the effect of benefiting the party in power.

Warren Kinsella (Liberal)

There are ten reasons I can think of, off the top of my head no less, why they are wrong to ram this through, as they seem intent on doing.

Michael Taube (Conservative)

This is an unbelievably foolish strategy. You can’t strongly support a democratic principle, and then implement it in the most undemocratic fashion imaginable. By doing so, this important exercise in improving Canada’s flawed electoral system has already been defeated at the starting gate… Here’s my advice to the Liberals. Hold a referendum on electoral reform, and let the Canadian people decide. It’s the democratic thing to do.

Tim Harper (Toronto Star)

The Liberals will consult Canadians in a “thoughtful and thorough process” through an all-party committee, Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef maintains, but it is difficult to see how a fundamental change in the way we choose government can be put in force without a referendum.

Mark Bonokoski (Toronto Sun)

Despite outcry from the opposition, threats of a Senate blockade, and constitutional experts and editorialists urging them to reboot their thought process, the Liberals will change our electoral system essentially by coup, using their majority as a truncheon and locking out the public as if inconsequential to the outcome of their unilateral treachery.

Broad media consensus on need for electoral reform referendum

Rarely do you see as broad a consensus in the media as this - The National Post, Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and Postmedia Network have all penned editorials calling for a national vote on this important issue:

Toronto Star

Referendums on voting change have already been held in three provinces, setting a precedent of sorts. All failed, and some reformers are so hell-bent on dumping first-past-the-post that they are urging the Liberals to be “brave” and move ahead on their own hook. That makes no sense. The lesson of past referendums cannot be that the people are too blind or foolish to see the light; it must be that those who want change have to do a better job of persuasion. - Source -

Sun Media

The opposition is mounting to the Liberal government’s electoral reform plans. Sooner or later, they’re going to have to give in and call a referendum. It’s the only politically sensible option. It’s the right one, too. - Source -

The Globe and Mail

Mr. Trudeau is mistaken in arguing that a change to the foundation of Canadian democracy can be treated as just a regular piece of legislation. He cannot seriously believe that a promised special parliamentary committee on electoral reform, its government members drawn from a House where MPs have traditionally taken daily dictation from their party leader, will really be independent and non-partisan. Nor can any member of the government assert with a straight face that euphemistically “consulting” the people is the same as actually consulting them democratically, with a vote. That’s just politics as usual, isn’t it? - Source -

Postmedia Network

It seems sensible that Canadian voters should have the final say on something as fundamental to their democracy as the manner in which they elect their political representatives. And yet, in recent days, Trudeau and Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc have rejected mounting calls for a referendum on any future changes to the electoral process. - Source -

Former Liberal MP supports a referendum!

Ujjal Dosanjh, former Liberal MP, has come out in favour of a referendum on electoral reform:

Any change to the electoral system can’t be a partisan endeavour. It has to be a nation-building project. If the Trudeau government wants to remain true to its commitment to democratic electoral reform it has only two options. Either it must seek and find interparty agreement on the proposed changes and approve them with a unanimous or near unanimous vote in the House of Commons. Or it must place the proposed changes before the people in a nationwide referendum.

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