Election 2015: Will electoral reform pledges be forgotten?

It's best not to count on campaign promises once the election has been won—especially if it's won with a majority.

The Liberals won a 54 per cent majority government Monday night with 39.5  per cent of  voters putting their support behind them.

The NDP Party will control 13 per cent of the House of Commons,  despite winning 19.7 per cent of the popular vote.

It’s a standard disparity given the first past the post electoral system, but the lingering question is whether or not campaign pledges of reform will be followed through on.

Liberal Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau said in  June  he’d change the way parliamentarians are elected, if the Liberals were voted in. First he promised to convene an all-party committee to study the options, then enact some replacement for the current first-past-the-post system within 18 months of being sworn in. A system with ranked ballots, where second choices are counted in, was their preference.

Local MP-designate Stephen Fuhr said he was behind that plan when on the stump.

“I agree that any solution to democratic reform in Canada should include an element of proportionality and I will advocate for such if I am elected,” said Fuhr.

But, says one political analyst, it’s best not to count on campaign promises once the election has been won—especially if it’s won with a majority.

“I think electoral reform may be one of the  casualties of a majority government,” said Hamish Telford, a political science professor at the University of the Fraser Valley and an author of several books on Canadian politics.

“If we had a minority, we would see movement on proportional representation or electoral reform… that would have been the price that had to be paid for NDP or Green support, but now I expect to see it buried in  study.”

One way to do that without looking like he’s reneging on his word, is to bury the issue in a referendum.

Although he said he wouldn’t raise the issue in that manner, given that voters have repeatedly rejected it in provincial referendums, it might be his best move forward.

“Then he can say, ‘let Canadians kill it, not me,'” Telford said.

 

Seats and popular vote: 2015

338 seats, 17,552,402 votes

Conservative won

29 per cent of the House of Commons, with  99 seats.

That amounts to 31.9 per cent of the popular vote or 5,597,565  ballots cast in their favour.

NDP won 13 per cent of the House of Commons, with 44 seats.

That amounts to  19.7 per cent of the popular vote or 3,460,288  ballots cast in their favour.

Liberals won 54 per cent of the House of Commons with 184 seats.  That amounts to 39. 5 per cent of the popular vote  or 6,928,514  ballots cast in their favour.

Bloc Quebecois won three per cent of the vote, amounting to 10 seats in the House of Commons.

That’s 4.7 per cent of the popular vote, or 818,652  ballots cast in their favour.

The Green Party won below one per cent of the popular vote with one seat in the House of Commons. They earned

3.5 per cent of the popular vote, with 605,637 ballots cast in their favour.