Pulling the plug on electoral reform is anything but amusing for millions of Canadians who pushed for proportional representation.
But South Okanagan-West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings does liken the Liberals’ failed campaign promise to a popular vignette from “The Peanuts” comic strip.
“A lot of people feel like Charlie Brown, when Lucy pulled the football away from him,” Cannings told the Trail Times Wednesday afternoon.
“A lot of people voted for the Liberals because they made this and other promises that they are now reneging on. So I am sure there’s a little buyers remorse out there, how this will affect the results in the next election remains to be seen, but certainly I am getting a lot of people contacting me today and over the past few weeks we could see the back pedalling after that ridiculous online questionnaire over Christmas … people are angry.”
NDP MP Richard Cannings
Electoral reform was a hot topic in SOWK last fall. Cannings hosted town halls about the matter in Castlegar and Penticton, and says each meeting drew an audience of at least 100 people. On top of that outlet, the NDP politician mailed a brochure to every household in his riding that explained electoral reform, then asked his constituents for a response.
While he heard from both sides, one being that electors were satisfied with the system status quo, and the other being adamant about change, it was the latter group that represented about 80 per cent of the popular opinion.
“A strong majority of people who responded said they wanted proportional representation,” he emphasized. “The NDP collected information from all the NDP MPs across Canada, and they basically had the same results everywhere,” Cannings added. “Of course, some people are busy living, working and putting food on the table to be thinking about it.”
Cannings says electors not well versed in the topic, would often change their stance after a sit down session – because everyone wants their vote to count.
“When you sit down and explain to them why we think it’s important, they would say, “Yes, I want my vote to count no matter who I vote for,’” he said. “They’re tired of strategic voting under this system we have now, and they are trying to figure out how best to vote to make sure their voice is heard.”
A proportional system would provide that opportunity and create a better Parliament, he continued.
“To work more hand-in-hand, government would have to listen to all viewpoints,” Cannings said. “And once you explain that to people, they agree this is important.”
With a certainty the system will remain intact for the next federal election in 2019, Cannings isn’t giving up on reform though he admits other matters are currently pressing as well.
“The NDP went into this saying this was the most important Parliament issue we would look at because it would have affected elections from here on in … looking at my emails from staff there’s many more people wanting to talk to me about this,” he concluded. “Of course there are other issues going on like Trump’s immigration ban and a number of issues people are very concerned about right now … but certainly this has people are sitting up and taking notice.”