By Chad Ingram
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP Jamie Schmale and members of his Conservative caucus are promoting a petition from one of their colleagues.
That petition sponsored by Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MP Scott Reid addresses the Liberal government’s plans to change the voting system for federal elections and requests that any change be subject to a national referendum.
Fair enough. The Conservatives have a valid point. Electing parliamentarians is one of the most sacred pillars of our democracy so it makes sense Canadians get to vote on a new voting process.
Other countries considering democratic reform have put the issue to referendums and if Canada’s government is going to change the electoral system it should likely do the same.
However it’s difficult to listen to the Conservative Party of Canada over the din of its own hypocrisy.
It’s difficult not to pause at the party’s newfound emphasis on consulting the Canadian people with the arrogant smell of its recent majority rule still lingering in the air.
During the last session of Parliament the Conservatives routinely used their majority status to shut down debate in the House of Commons and to force through legislation despite legitimate concerns from the opposition parties (and presumably the Canadians who voted for them).
Chief among those pieces of legislation was the Fair Elections Act which made sweeping changes to the electoral process including but not limited to altering the rules around vouching increasing donation limits revising the role of the commissioner of Elections Canada and expanding data collection on voters.
The bill which was panned by academics and electoral experts was rammed through the House in May of last year.
So when Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose who was a cabinet minister in the Harper government makes statements like “When you change the rules of democracy everyone gets to have a say” it’s a little difficult to take seriously.
It’s too soon Rona. Too soon.
Parry Sound-Muskoka MP and former Conservative cabinet minister Tony Clement took hypocrisy to new heights of hilarity last week when he pushed the Liberals to justify an arms deal with Saudi Arabia that was inked by his government and criticized the Liberals for not releasing documents the Conservatives themselves refused to release.
“Mr. Clement acknowledges that the Conservatives are asking for information they refused to release while in office under Prime Minister Stephen Harper” the Globe and Mail reported. “But he says the new leadership of the Conservative party feels differently.”
Wow Tony. Just wow.
It’s been nearly a decade since the Conservative party has been in opposition and it’s clearly a little rusty at it.
It’s going to be a rough few years for the party.
It should be prepared to be treated the way it treated opposition parties during its majority rule.
It should be prepared to be ignored scoffed at and steamrolled.
Perhaps if the Conservatives had been more willing to listen to Canadians more of us would be willing to listen to them now.