On Electoral Reform and Quitting Smoking

Making a promise is a tough thing to do. Especially when you tell everyone about it, or worse, boast about it. I waited until I was a solid month in before I started telling people that I quit smoking, and truth is I still use a vape. Some people high five’d me and others kinda half congratulated me, but getting rid of the cancer sticks any way possible was a win in my books — and since no one had any big expectations, I wasn’t ever met with any kind of real disappointment. No one said I let them down.

Our Prime Minister did himself the disservice of telling everybody that he was going to enact electoral reform before ever doing it. He was like that drunk guy at the NYE party, bragging about all the great shit he was going to do on the first (day of the new year/ year of election).

“No, seriously guys, like first past the post is so lame, I’m getting rid of it!”

And his buddies all cheered with him and he did a shot with one hand while planking on the bar and then the next morning he woke up with a pounding headache and turned to Sylvie and said, “oh, crap did I really say that?!?”

Ok, obviously that’s just my silly made-up world where our Prime Minister is a frat-boy, but here is what he said to the Canadian electorate: “I’ve heard loudly and clearly that Canadians want a better system of governance, a better system of choosing our governments, and I’m working very hard so that 2015 is indeed the last election under first-past-the-post.” He said that to the editorial board of the Toronto Star on Dec. 2, 2016. He reneged on Feb. 1, 2017.


News headlines called him a liar, indicating he took us Canadians for fools and small but furious protests took place across the country and in our region as well. On Feb. 11 there was a “Day of Action For Electoral Reform” rally at Kitchener City Hall (the Women’s March didn’t even get local representation). One of the speakers at the protest, Fair Vote Waterloo Co-Chair, Sharon Somerville brought toques that looked identical to the Liberal party swag, but had been embroidered to read “Real Betrayal” instead of “Real Change.” No one likes it when promises are broken, especially a big one like that.

In terms of the Liberals’ response, I found a rather banal and scripted letter posted by someone on who had reached out to Waterloo MP, Bardish Chagger.

“There is no clear consensus on an alternative voting system for Canada,” Chagger wrote, echoing Trudeau. To give the letter-writer some kind of analgesic she then offered that, “while our electoral system will not be changing in this mandate, this does not mean that there will be no electoral reform.” Following which she mentioned other things the Liberals are doing that are really great too but are totally not dealing with FPTP. Which is kind of like a parent saying to their child on their birthday, “no, you won’t get that pony I promised but look, I got you a goldfish!”

Why go so gung-ho from the start? Why set yourself up for failure like that, making such a huge promise instead of something like “we’ll seriously look into electoral reform?”

Ah, but the latter statement doesn’t win votes, does it? It’s not as convincing to say to someone for my New Year’s resolution I am sincerely going to think about quitting smoking!

Nope, no high fives for that one. And sadly, no high fives when someone asks, “hey how did that quitting smoking go?” and you say, “well I thought about it, I thought about it a lot. I talked to a lot of Canadians and I sent out this really convoluted questionnaire to all my friends but I just couldn’t get a clear consensus from them on whether I should actually quit because maybe some kind of fringe-type cigarette might make its way in between my fingers instead. In the end it just wasn’t feasible.”

That person would know gosh-darn well that I was making excuses and probably would think less of me, at least for a while — that is, until I wowed them with my solid handshake and posted an Instagram of me with a few thousand thankful refugees. Then they might re-consider.