House of Commons Hansard #137 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

Government ServicesOral Questions

3 p.m.

Kings—Hants Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, businesses, consumers, all Canadians benefit from government services. We want to strengthen the transparency and oversight of user fees that pay for some of these services. Everyone, including big businesses, should pay their fair share so middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join the middle class do not get stuck with the bill.

We are going to treat all Canadians fairly. That is what our government does.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, reaction in Quebec to the so-called assistance the government is providing to Bombardier has been unanimous: cheap. Everyone agrees that it is too little, too late, and that it is disappointing.

Apart from the government itself and the Conservative Party, no one in Quebec believes that 38 times less than what was given to the auto industry is sufficient to support the flagship of Quebec's aerospace industry.

How can the Minister of Transport, a Quebec MP, justify waiting until Bombardier was gasping for its last breath before finally granting some support, which everyone in Quebec sees as vastly insufficient?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be part of a strong team of about 40 MPs from across the province who are working hard for Quebec.

This incredible team made sure that we put forward a proposition that will help Canadian families, that will create good-quality jobs, that will benefit our communities, and that will strengthen the aerospace sector. This investment is about the future economy of Canada. It is about growth and jobs. This will benefit Quebec. Two-thirds of the jobs will be in Quebec.

This is exactly what we want to do. We want to create jobs, and we want to create growth.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Xavier Barsalou-Duval Bloc Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, when ageing sectors such as the auto and oil sectors need help, Ottawa has its chequebook at the ready, but when it is time to help the economic development of Quebec's cutting edge industries, Ottawa becomes a cheapskate. The government would rather see our plants suffer than to give us our fair share.

How can the government justify offering Bombardier help that is 38 times less than what it offered the auto industry? Was the government afraid of how English Canada might react?

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Mississauga—Malton Ontario

Liberal

Navdeep Bains LiberalMinister of Innovation

Mr. Speaker, the aerospace sector is one of the most innovative and export-driven sectors in Canada. It accounts for more than 211,000 high quality jobs in Canada.

This announcement will ensure that 4,000 jobs are maintained and will create roughly 1,300 jobs. In Canada, Bombardier is the largest private-sector investor in research and development. Our government is committed to growing our economy and the middle class.

Aerospace IndustryOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I realize that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is rising on a point of order. I know that the Minister of Democratic Institutions also has a point of order. I am going to ask them both to wait a moment while we have the Thursday question, if they do not mind.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

February 9th, 2017 / 3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, would the government House leader tell us about the business of the House for the rest of this week and next week?

Business of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, we will be continuing today to debate the NDP opposition day motion.

Tomorrow we will call Bill C-31, the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement, for debate at third reading.

Monday, we will resume third reading debate on Bill C-30, the CETA legislation.

In the coming days we will give priority to Bill C-37 on safe injection sites.

Next Thursday, February 16, shall be an allotted day.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order arising out of question period. I have the O'Brien and Bosc citations, which I know you are familiar with and which I will not cite here today.

In a previous incarnation, we saw the Minister of Democratic Institutions make disparaging remarks about the electoral reform committee, which she later, and later I believe the Prime Minister, apologized for.

Today in question period, in response to a question I raised with respect to our motion today about the Liberal promise on electoral reform and the need to apologize, the minister, in response, made disparaging comments about my ability to perform my job as a member of Parliament and to listen to Canadians on the issue at hand.

I do not think this does anything for decorum in this place, nor does it raise the level of debate with regard to our democracy and the ways we can collectively improve it.

I would ask the minister now to respectfully withdraw those remarks.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Karina Gould LiberalMinister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Speaker, I understand the importance of collegiality and respect for all members of this House, and for that reason, I am happy to withdraw those comments.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. I thank the member for raising the issue and the minister for her response.

The hon. member for Carleton is rising on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister is not the only one who will apologize today. There has been a grievous procedural error, of which I am the author. The other day I raised a point of order in the House of Commons with respect to redacted documents, documents that would show the impact of an increased carbon tax on the most vulnerable people. I failed to table those redacted documents, and as a remedy, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table them now.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Is that agreed?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

There is no unanimous consent.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is such a great honour to stand in the House representing the people of Nanaimo—Ladysmith. I must say, I had really, honestly believed that one of my responsibilities as a member of Parliament was going to be to bring in a new electoral system. New Democrats, Liberals, and Greens all campaigned on a commitment to change the voting system, and I truly believed, how naive of me, that this was something this Parliament was going to do.

I feel very sad to be having to participate in the debate today on the Prime Minister misleading Canadians when he promised to change the current voting system to make every vote count.

We have heard the history today. The Prime Minister promised it repeatedly during the election campaign. He even appropriated the Fair Vote slogan “Make Every Vote Count”. He repeated the commitment in the throne speech that he would take action to ensure that 2015 would be the last federal election conducted under the first past the post voting system.

I want to read to the House just a fraction of the mail I am getting, which illustrates the depth of this disappointment.

Kimberly Krieger is a constituent from Nanaimo. She writes:

I am a constituent of yours from Nanaimo. I write to express my sense of disappointment. Actually, “disappointment” does not begin to describe how I felt this morning after hearing that the Liberal party has reneged on its promise of electoral reform. “Betrayal” comes somewhat closer.

...the government... is quite simply shirking their responsibility to make the changes they promised, while trying to use Canadians as a scapegoat not to make difficult policy decisions. It is shameful.

Our world is in turmoil because of a man who was not elected by the majority of voters in his nation. Canada deserves better than a system that would allow that.

This was such a strong theme in our election campaign. On Vancouver Island, there was not a single all-candidates meeting that did not talk about changing the voting system.

I knew personally what an opportunity this was. When I was elected to the Islands Trust Council, which is a regional government in my region, I was fortunate to be able to travel to Norway with a delegation of oil companies, government departments, provincial reps, and local and indigenous leaders. Thirty of us Canadians went to Norway to learn how it is managing its oil spill risk. However, the lessons I learned there about democracy were stronger than anything.

This is a country that elects more women than Canada does. It elects more minorities. It has an indigenous parliament embedded within its parliamentary system. There were very diplomatic embassy people travelling with us who let us know that decorum in the Norwegian parliament is something to aspire to. They said that they had seen our legislatures and parliaments in Canada and that theirs is nothing like that. It is a country that governs co-operatively.

Norway enacts policies for the common good. It does not have deep swings in ideology from one election to the next, because the parties are elected together and co-operate together. There are shifts, of course, in those coalitions over time.

No one would describe Norway as an unstable democracy. It elects more women. It has higher voter turnout. It has more diversity. Its parliament represents the diversity of the country, and they are elected in a proportional representation system.

I would have thought that this government, especially having received feedback from across the country, would continue to believe in innovation. It would continue to want to elevate people of colour, minorities, and women to positions of decision-making. I would have thought it would want to get higher voter turnout and more youth engagement. No.

Instead of reforming our outdated and unfair voting system to ensure that all Canadians are truly represented in Parliament, the Liberals decided instead to keep the current system, because it benefits them. There is no other explanation.

Especially disturbing to me has been the government's claim, in the week since it broke its promise, that there is no consensus on electoral reform.

First, during the election two-thirds of Canadians voted for a party that promised to implement a form of proportional representation to make every vote count. Second, during the work of the committee, 90% of the experts and 80% of the members of the public who testified called on the government to adopt a proportional electoral system. Third, when the Liberals undermined the whole process by launching their ridiculous MyDemocracy.ca survey, they did not even ask Canadians what kind of voting system they wanted.

In my own riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, I have received several thousand letters and emails on this matter. We convened a town hall session in the summertime, not an easy time to get people out to meetings and not constructive of the government to leave it until summertime to initiate town halls. However, I am very thankful that almost 200 people came out to Vancouver Island University to a forum that was extremely well attended and very thoughtful. Eighty-four per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that a party's seats in Parliament should reflect the percentage of the votes that it wins. A super-majority of the constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith who participated in that town hall and in our own survey in our mailing to every household said they prefer proportional representation and want to see the system changed quickly but properly. They demonstrated strong support for taking action to change our voting system.

Here is a quote that illustrates the kind of feedback that we got. This is from Barbara in Nanaimo, “I am 78 years old. I voted in every election since I was eligible. I'd like to feel like I am represented at least once before I die.”

New Democrats co-operated in this process. We tried again and again to help the government keep its promise to change the voting system and make every vote count, by proposing a proportional electoral committee; working with the government; and trying to find ways to bring this forward speedily, even after the government let the issue languish for eight months. This has been well documented in the debate today and in the record in the House.

Genuinely, we wanted this to win. We were happy for the government to get the credit. We genuinely wanted to change the voting system to make every vote count because we know that this has worked again and again around the world. Of countries that score higher than Canada so far as gender equality in its parliament, every single one of them uses a form of proportional representation in order to get people elected. We have extremely stable governments. All of the Scandinavian countries, Germany, New Zealand, and multiple examples of countries have had multiple decades of experience with proportional representation, and none of them would be described as fractious with strong right-wing, radical elements. None of them would be described as unstable.

What is the cost of this broken promise? I am hearing from a lot of young people who engaged in the election in good faith that they are feeling extremely cynical and saddened about the electoral process. I am very concerned that anybody else who might want to participate in a government consultation might say, “Why bother?”

I am encouraged by the numbers on the online petition. I checked right before my speech started. I bet that during the course of this speech it has clicked into the 95,000 count, an astonishing response from Canadians asking that the government keep its promise and change the voting system to make every vote count.

On Sunday, I was honoured to stand on the steps of Parliament with many young Canadians in a day of action to call for democratic reform, and I will be out again on Saturday in front of Parliament at two o'clock for a national day of action. This is happening across the country. People are calling out strongly for the government to keep its word, and for the benefit of all Canadians, for democracy, for minorities, for women, for young Canadians I implore the government to reconsider its betrayal of its election promise, its great betrayal of Canadians, and to please make every vote count.

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I take strong exception to this resolution that is being debated today, that “the government misled Canadians on its platform and Throne Speech commitment”.

That is absolutely not my experience. The intention of the Prime Minister was genuine. I was part of a small group of members of Parliament who were invited to sit with the Prime Minister in his own home, as the Liberal leader, to discuss this matter in a way that was real, genuine, and with interest all around the table.

The Prime Minister is exceedingly committed to a co-operative Parliament. We have seen the benefits of that. We have seen the benefits of the change in tone. We have seen the empowerment of parliamentarians at committees. We have seen Senate reform that is completely changing the partisan divisive nature of the Senate.

I would like to ask the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith what evidence she has that there was intention to mislead Canadians on this platform commitment. Secondly, if the member who campaigned on balancing the budget, given the fact that there was—

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

I have the floor, Mr. Speaker.

I would urge the member to follow the lead of her fellow member of Parliament from Kelowna—Lake Country who says, partly because he negotiated with a member of the Green Party that the Green Party not be on the ballot, that he won because of his electoral reform promise. He has apologized to his constituents and voters for the government breaking its promise.

I cannot pretend to look inside the Prime Minister's mind. The member is quite right. I had never met him or been invited to his dinner table. However, from anybody on the outside, a solemn promise right up until December was still being repeated, hand on heart, by the Prime Minister, saying that this will be the last election under first past the post. He did not say he would consult and consider and weigh it. People came out to vote for his party on the basis of that solemn promise.

I could have read 20 more heartfelt letters that say exactly that. The problem here today is the election platform on which the Prime Minister and the government was elected. It has been dishonoured and thrown away in what I would say is an extremely cynical way. I think the government is wrong. I think it has broken faith with voters. I think it would do very well to reconsider its ill-advised decision.

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the words from my friend opposite.

I have two quick questions for her. The first is on her comment about a change to proportional will increase voter turnout. I am curious to know if she has any examples on specific countries. I know that in New Zealand, when they changed their voting system, according to the Australian Journal of Political Science, it was true, voter turnout in the first election after they changed the system to proportional was high, but in subsequent elections after that it slowly phased out and went back to kind of the normal rate.

My second question is on her comment about getting more women involved in politics. I think that is a good thing. My question to her is, instead of overhauling the complete system, would it not be easier or even a better idea if political parties got more engaged in getting more women involved in politics?

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud the New Democratic Party has policies in place that say a nomination contest cannot be held until efforts are exhausted, as a riding association, to recruit women onto the nomination ballot and also to recruit equity candidates.

In the past election, of our election slate, New Democrats ran 43% women. We elected women as 40% of our caucus. Liberals recruited 30% women as candidates and roughly got 30% female MPs. For Conservatives, who do not have a proactive plan, it is sort of 16%.

That is something political parties can do within a broken electoral system. Proportional representation across the board, of the stats that we have seen at committee and that Fair Votes provided, elect more women, more diversity, and more minorities, with a higher voter turnout.

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Hull—Aylmer.

I strongly believe that every Liberal MP came to the House in 2015 believing that that year's election results really would be the last time first past the post would be used in a general election. We believed, naively perhaps, that we could have an honest conversation across the country about an incremental change that everyone would accept, knowing that the system we have has significant failings.

In a spirit of compromise and to see what the electoral reform would look like, we agreed to strike a committee along proportional rather than representative lines, giving the majority to the combined opposition, a committee mandated to talk to the country’s population and propose a real path forward. The solution that the committee finally arrived at consisted in bartering a referendum that would be contrary to proportional representation.

I am first and foremost a rural member of Parliament. I grew up in a rural community and I live in a rural community. My family largely lives off the bounty of the land. Anyone looking for my house on Google Maps—which cannot really be done from my house because we don’t have much in terms of Internet connection—has to zoom far out to find any roads. It goes without saying that, over my lifetime, not a lot of politicians have come knocking at my door, although we are only two hours from here.

My riding is large, but not the largest. There are 45 ridings larger than mine, and even under the most elementary proportional models, my riding would have to be partially or totally merged with the neighbouring ridings. There are many communities of 400 or even only 40 people in my riding, and they are already having trouble getting adequate representation. I visit all of them as often as I can. It is a lot of work, representing over 60,000 kilometres a year in travel for my wife and me, not to mention for my staff in the riding.

To merge my riding with an adjacent riding, will we be merging with the one that is a suburb of Montréal, will we be going north to Rouyn-Noranda, or maybe east to Trois-Rivières or west to Gatineau? If the bordering ridings are merged and I am asked to share representation with four MPs, where do you think the MPs are going to go? To the towns with populations of 400 or 40, or to the big urban centres?

Proportional representation is inevitably bad for rural Canada, whether we are talking about merged ridings, lists or additional seats. One sometimes sees a drawing of three persons of different heights trying to look over a fence, and there are three boxes. That which is equal is not equitable. Let us ask ourselves: do we want equal representation or equitable representation?

Everywhere in the world electoral reform is a fight between those who tend to win and those who tend not to. It is not a left-versus-right issue, it is not a progressive issue. In this country, progressives would be more likely to be upset. In another country having a similar debate, it may be the conservatives. In proportional countries, the parties that perform poorly want single member plurality; in single member plurality countries, the parties that perform poorly want proportional. The demand for reform the world over has less to do with democratic principles than it does pursuing an advantage on the path to power.

Princeton political scientist Carles Boix has shown that, historically, political parties, whether of the left or the right, almost always support the electoral system that most benefits them. That the NDP has governed six provinces and a territory under single member plurality and never once brought forward electoral reform is proof positive of this paradox.

We hear sometimes that first past the post resulted in the current situation south of the border and, therefore, we must switch to proportional. We can look at France, that has had two-round elections since the 1950s, except for a single election in 1986, where the socialists thought they would benefit from a proportional system. Those who benefited most were the Holocaust-denying Front National, that went from zero seats to 35 and gained the credibility it needed to become a real contender for power.

The point is that every system can be manipulated. Mixed member proportional is a very rare system, and for good reason. Albania, Italy, Venezuela, Lesotho, and Romania have all experimented with it and then abandoned it because it is the easiest system of all electoral systems to manipulate.

By using two votes, one for the candidate and one for the party, particularly manipulative parties split into two registered parties. Sub-party A focuses its efforts on the candidate ballot and sub-party B focuses its efforts on the list ballot. The two parties, respectively, win, say, 40% of the constituency seats, with 30% of the popular vote, and because the list party in the partnership did not win any constituency seats, it is granted 30% of the seats through the top-up system. The two together now have around 60% of the seats, with only 30% of the vote. Of all of the systems available, mixed member proportional takes all that is bad about the two leading electoral systems and combines them.

We are often directed to other countries for examples, so let us take a quick look at a few more of them. Australia is the only country to use both mandatory voting and a preferential ballot, but nobody can tell me with a straight face that this has resulted in a permanent, stable, centrist government. It has a government that alternates between a left-wing party and a right-wing coalition, with no centrist party ever doing well. Finland and Israel use very similar pure proportional systems and these produce very different outcomes. The political culture is more important than the electoral system.

Belgium is credited with creating proportional and is principally known in this respect for its inability to get anything done, setting a world record of 589 days without a government just a few years ago as the parties could not reach a compromise to even form a government.

Ireland uses multi-member STV similar to what was proposed in B.C., but its reality is vastly different from Canada's. The whole country is only three times the size of my riding.

If our problem is that our local representatives are too often elected on the basis of a strategic or split vote, then let us tackle that problem. If voting for a candidate who has our tepid support in order to prevent a candidate we cannot accept at the expense of the candidate who best reflects our actual views is the normal situation in Canada today, then let us solve that issue.

A preferential vote would do that. It would give us the option to vote for who we legitimately want, without benefiting the candidate we cannot accept to see as our representative. It would empower voters to empower their MPs, because they would have a genuine representative. Giving voters the right to specify second, third and fourth choices takes away the horse race narrative and makes the conversation about who will actually represent us as electors.

It is also most ironic that a movement to change the electoral system should arise from a belief that votes cast for everyone but the winner do not really count. As soon as a threshold is established beneath which no seat is awarded, the same fallacious argument suggests that those votes are wasted. Consider how hypocritical that is. Why should his vote count but not mine?

At the national level, according to MyDemocracy.ca, two thirds of Canadians are satisfied with our democracy, and of all the priorities presented, increasing the presence of small parties in Parliament garnered the least votes by far.

Out of the 70,000 or so surveys sent to all the households in my riding, we received about 100 responses to the question on electoral reform: 46.5% of respondents preferred the current system or a preferential system, 37.9% of them wanted a partially or totally proportional system, and 43% of respondents would like voting to be made compulsory.

Clearly, there is no more of a consensus in my riding than there is anywhere else, and the low response rate is a clear indication that this is simply not a priority for the people in my constituency. They are faced with far more important issues, and they are certainly making me aware of that fact.

In their daily lives, Internet access, lake management and related environmental concerns, and the infrastructure investment rate are much more important to them than checking a box on their ballot.

I personally believe that voting should be nominally mandatory; that is, a symbolic enforcement mechanism such as a $20 tax credit for voting or tax penalty for not doing so. Our campaign strategies now, across party lines, are to identify our voters and ensure they go out and vote. Low turnout advantages one candidate and high turnout advantages another.

Elections should be concerned with choosing among philosophies, ideas and the planning of our future, rather than with tactics and strategy. It is said that politics is war using different weapons, and that is true.

When political parties spend money defining and attacking other parties' leaders instead of debating the direction of our country, that is when the system moves away from democracy and enters a state of conflict, a war waged with different weapons.

When I was very young, I read an article which said that, if Wendy's announced that McDonald's hamburgers are made of mouse meat and if McDonald's responded that Wendy’s hamburgers are made of worms, in the end, people just would stop eating hamburgers. That is an excellent metaphor, and one that accurately represents our current political process.

In a post-truth, strategy-driven era rather than one guided by facts and philosophy, those whose ideas are the least saleable are working hard to suppress the vote. This is not a uniquely Canadian phenomenon, in spite of the unmitigated attack on our democracy that was deliberately and ironically called the “fair elections act”.

Making voting mandatory puts the onus on the state to ensure every citizen has the ability to do so. It is one of Canada's great democratic ironies that, of all the pieces of identification available for Canadian citizens to identify themselves at a voting booth in a federal election, it is virtually impossible to use only documentation issued, without charge, by the federal government in order to vote.

That there is no consensus on electoral reform is clear for all to see and I will strongly and unequivocally defend the decision of our government to abandon it unless and until all parties put their narrow partisan interests aside and figure out what is genuinely best for the voters rather than the party leaders of our country.

Indeed, there is tremendous irony to telling Canadians that we need to change our electoral system because some votes cast do not, in some ways of measuring, count, and that we therefore need to change the electoral system to accommodate these votes without the consent of the near unanimity of Canadians. Why would an election reform advocate's vote count more than one who is satisfied with the status quo?

If the problem is that some voters' opinions are seen not to count, it must be the case that any change not leave anyone's opinions out. That is the very essence of consensus.

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech, even if we do not agree on his argument against proportional representation. However, that is not the essence of today’s discussion.

My colleague is arguing against reform, even though his prime minister mentioned during the campaign that this would be the last election under the current system. Not only did the Prime Minister say that during the campaign, but he continued to repeat it until just recently. My colleague himself was elected on the basis of that platform.

The objective of today’s debate is then not to make speeches in favour of one system or another, but quite simply to ask my colleague to apologize for having betrayed Canadians. For years the Liberals said they were going to reform the voting system, and today they are saying, “No thanks”.

It is a simple matter to apologize. There is no need for big speeches on voting systems. It would suffice to simply take a moment to apologize to Canadians for having betrayed them.

Is my colleague prepared to do that?

Opposition Motion—Commitments Regarding Electoral ReformBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, in principle, most of the time in a parliamentary democracy, there is no need for a consensus in order to make a decision, since one can always backtrack in a future Parliament. When it comes to changing the electoral system, however, the whole game has to be changed. That requires a consensus verging on unanimity in the House.

When the unanimous consent of the House is sought and half the members say yea while the other half say nay, the NDP says that consensus has been achieved. That makes no sense.