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The Federal Government cannot change the electoral system

The Federal Government cannot change the electoral system

TORONTO – I enjoy reading the Corriere Canadese. In fact, I read it every day. 
 
Unfortunately, I do not [participate in the debates it generates] as often as I would wish to. But sometimes I am compelled on occasions like the one on “electoral reform”, to put other matters aside and weigh in.
 
I write because, as a constitutional lawyer, I have been inundated with questions and requests to be retained on the issue of the “constitutional right” to “proportional representation”, and like reform.
 
The CC, along with the mainstream media, has been wasting its time bantering about the “electoral reform” issue promised by the Liberals during the election, and quickly abandoned by them.
 
The Federal government CANNOT change the first at the post (riding) electoral system because it is entrenched and set out in the Constitution Act, 1867. 
 
To change it, in my professional view, constitutional amendment, with the consent of the Provinces, would be required.
 
As a citizen, I view the election promise of electoral reform, on the scale promised, as nothing more than an election snow job. If this government had one competent constitutional advisor, they would have been told that the Feds could not go it alone. This should have been publicly put on the table, day one.
 
So why is the issue not framed as a constitutional amendment issue? Because most citizens attached to a political party, would rather take on a high ratio mortgage, and the government itself triple the national debt, than go down the road of constitutional amendment.
 
Why? Not primarily because it is too difficult and does not make sense to improve the system, but because none of the parties want true proportional representation, which would guarantee Italian or Israeli- Coalition type governments forever, and because this would require the difficulties of compromise and consensus.
 
Rocco Galati is a Constitutional lawyer. The text of this 
article has been edited. 
 
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