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Electoral Reform

Hon. Linda Frum (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The design of Canada's electoral system is fundamental to our democracy. Surely, leader, you would agree that any alteration to a system that fundamentally changes the rules of our democracy requires a legitimate mandate to do so.

Instead, and shockingly, the Trudeau Liberal government has stacked the deck by appointing a Liberal-dominated committee empowered to make unilateral partisan changes to Canada's voting system. This is a serious affront to our democracy.

I want to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Does the Prime Minister that he serves really believe that the Liberal government has the right to alter our country's historic voting system without consulting the people of Canada in a national referendum? Or, instead, does he believe that the Canada Elections Act can be altered unilaterally at the whim of the Liberal Party by and for the Liberal Party for the perpetuation of the Liberal Party?

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question, honourable senator.

Let me simply remind the chamber that this was an issue in the last election where the position of the now Prime Minister was clearly articulated. The position of the government, through the establishment of this special committee, is designed to ensure there is an appropriate parliamentary process for this engagement and consultation period, and the government has been exceedingly transparent that it will proceed in the fashion of engaging multiple stakeholders in this important issue.

Senator Frum: If it's true that the Prime Minister's position on electoral reform was clearly articulated in the election, can you tell us exactly what his plan for electoral reform is right now?

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Senator Harder: Honourable senators, I think it's safe to say that the Prime Minister has been careful not to say which precise reform he would personally support. What he did indicate was a desire to ensure that the last election which was fought on the first-past-the-post system would be the last election fought on that system. As a result of gaining office, he is fulfilling that commitment through the process I've just outlined.

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