The Conservative Party is vowing to use any means necessary, including a Senate blockade, to keep the Liberal government from forcing through electoral-reform legislation without first holding a referendum. “The entire Conservative caucus, both in the House and the Senate, will be opposing any radical changes to the electoral system without a referendum” Don Plett, the Conservative Whip in the Senate, said in an interview Wednesday. “We would look at all avenues” to stop such a bill, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose said. “My hope is that the Liberals will come to their senses.” The Conservatives are up in arms over a recent declaration by Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc that electoral reform, which would replace the existing first-past-the-post system of electing MPs with some form of proportional representation or a ranked ballot, will simply be passed as a law by Parliament.
The Liberals won a majority in the House of Commons in the past election, but the Conservatives currently have a majority in the Senate. The question is whether the Tories, who may no longer be in that position by the time the bill reaches them, will be able to persuade other senators to join their cause.
However, the non-partisan approach that the Liberals are taking to choosing senators could lead to some new arrivals joining with the Conservatives to block the bill, along with at least a few former Liberal senators whom Mr. Trudeau expelled from caucus.