Parliament Video: Jenny in the House: Why has the government put partisan interests ahead of improving our electoral institutions?

On October 23, 2018, Jenny rose and asked this question:

Jenny Kwan (NDP) Vancouver East, BC

"Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House on May 25, in regard to the government shutting down debate on Bill C-76. This week, Bill C-76 returns to the House for debate at report stage.

We are three years into the Liberal majority mandate. Canadians trusted the Liberals to follow through on their big democratic reform promises. We all remember the big promise from the now Prime Minister that the 2015 election would be the last under the first-past-the-post system.

In Vancouver East, like many MPs, I held a town hall and consulted with my constituents. Overwhelmingly, the people of Vancouver East wanted to see a new voting system. They wanted every vote to count. They wanted to see proportional representation. This was echoed through the extensive consultation the committee undertook.

Sadly, after the election, the Prime Minister suggested that Canadians, "have a government they are most satisfied with” and “the motivation to want to change the electoral system is less urgent”. ln a truly disappointing show of brazen partisan bias, the Prime Minister then abruptly abandoned the promise to Canadians.

That is not what democracy is, and I hope that this broken promise, an insult to Canadians, is not forgotten in 2019.

As I said, after three years, we are only now reaching the report stage of a democratic reform bill. One may wonder what took so long.

Stéphane Perrault, Canada's Chief Electoral Officer, made it clear that any major electoral reforms needed to be passed by the end of April 2018. The 230-page Bill C-76 was not even tabled until April 30.

The Liberal government is treating democratic reform like stereotypical procrastinating high school students that no one likes working with on an important group project. They show up at the last minute. They do not do what they told everyone that they were going to do. Then they have the audacity to impose things on the rest of the group so that the work will fit into their schedule.

That is exactly what the Liberals did when they broke another democratic reform promise to Canadians by shutting down debate on an election bill.

Now that the bill is back in the House to be debated at report stage, my colleague the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has informed me that the government continues to be the group partner nobody wants.

Bill amendments are like editing our legislative work. Unfortunately, the Liberal government, after showing up at the last minute and not completing the work it said it would do, refused to accept edits to fix the holes and missing pieces in its work.

My colleague, a tireless champion for improving Canada's democracy, tried to ensure that Bill C-76 protected voter information. He tried to strengthen privacy protections to prevent election meddling in the digital age. Those were rejected.

He tried to push the gender equality initiative of Kennedy Stewart, my former colleague and now mayor of Vancouver. The government would not even talk about it.

Why has the government broken so many promises to Canadians on this issue? Why has it put partisan interests ahead of improving our institutions? Why has it failed to move on legislation on electoral reform for so long?"

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