Justin Trudeau and his party swept into power in October’s election on a series of big promises, including a pledge 2015 would mark the last election under first-past-the-post. Since the Liberals have formed government, enacting some of those plans — whether it’s a pledge to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees or withdraw fighter jets from the battle against Syria — is turning out to be harder than expected. Now, the sunny plan to create a more democratic democracy is casting a shadow over those lofty ambitions. Despite calls from both the left and right that any changes to how Canadians elect their government require the direct input of the people, Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc said Sunday that’s not in the cards. “Our plan is not to have a national referendum, our plan is to use parliament to consult Canadians,” Leblanc said during an interview on CTV’s Question Period. “That’s always been our plan and I don’t have any reason to think that’s been changed.”
He said he would work with democratic reform minister Maryam Monsef to strike a committee to consult with Canadians and come up with a plan for reform.
But his dismissal that a referendum is required is also a negation of recent precedent. Three provinces have held recent referendums on electoral reform: Prince Edward Island in 2005, Ontario in 2007 and B.C., which has held two recent referendums on change the ballot, in 2005 and 2009. In all three, voters rejected a massive alteration to the status quo. In B.C. support for the status quo actually grew during those four years.