telephone- by Dieter Heinrich

Anyone who listened in on Larry Miller's tele-forum Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, was treated to a Miller kiss fest and a merry orgy of misinformation. Larry got what he wanted. Sure enough, one hundred percent of his constituents were opposed to proportional representation. No doubt we'll hear him trumpeting this "fact" soon enough.

Perhaps all the supporters of PR were smarter than I was and just stayed away knowing it would be a farce. Or they were, like me evidently, screened out by Larry's operators, with only clapping seals who wouldn't challenge him being let through.

I was waiting in the queue for 40 minutes. At one point toward the end, we heard him say, "I see another call has come in," and he took the other person. What about the queue? My call was already in. Why wasn't I next? Was it because his operator had earlier asked me what I intend to say and I foolishly blurted out the truth that I wanted to provide some information about proportional representation?

Fortunately the results are so lopsided that they shoot him in his own foot. That not one person was heard to support PR advertises the lack of credibility of the whole vain exercise. Like those third world despots hated by their people who are elected with 99 per cent of the vote every time.

What is especially troubling is that Mr. Miller is actively misrepresenting proportional representation to his constituents. He led off by saying PR means there will not be an individual member of parliament to represent a riding, that the ridings will be represented by a group of MPs appointed by the parties. This is false, yet he has been saying this for a year already. Surely his error has been pointed out to him many times. Yet he repeats it, Trumplike.

Could he really be this stunningly misinformed as an MP about such a vital current issue pertaining to his job? Is he not doing his homework? Does he have a selective hearing disability that tunes out corrective information? The only other possibility is, he is engaging in flat-out deception to dumb down his constituents.

The reality is that there are many models of PR, and some of them most definitely do have individual MPs in the ridings. The reality is, we don't know yet which model of PR is going to be put before the Canadian people. That is being debated by a Parliamentary committee that, in a display of Solomonic wisdom and fairness on the part of the majority Liberals, is itself modelled on proportional representation, with Liberals ceding their parliamentary majority on the committee to reflect their actual share of the election vote.

What I heard in the tele-forum was person after person with their minds already made up. Comments like, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and "the present system has served us well." This is exactly what we are used to from Conservatives — planting both feet on the ground and holding fast to the past with no interest in thinking or in the facts. A fact to these people is something that supports what they already believe. So it is a fact that proportional representation is a "disaster" for New Zealand, said Larry Miller, quoting a single contact in NZ, because they had to rebuild their parliamentary chamber. Never mind that after PR, New Zealand's government was suddenly for the first time able to deliver balanced budgets.

Ironically, these folks so indignant about the Liberals pushing PR through were actually the model victims of what is broken with our first-past-the-post system. This system gave the Liberals 100 per cent of governing power on the strength of 40 per cent of public support. Now they complain the Liberals aren't listening to them. Well, guess what guys, you were consulted in our first-past-the-post election. The Liberals ran on electoral reform and won, and you lost, and because Larry Miller is not a member of the governing party, that's all the say you get, except for what the Liberals deign to give you as a matter of charity. So tell us some more about how great this system is, and how represented and included it makes you feel. Because that's how the rest of us felt under the tyranny of Harper for a decade. And that, by the way, is why we are talking about this, since so many of you asked, and which I would have pointed out, had I not been held in queue limbo.

I really would urge Mr. Miller's supporters to recognize that their leader has been misinforming them, and to do some independent research, and above all to keep an open mind until we see what the parliamentary committee actually proposes. Given the proportional nature of the committee, and a new evidence-based approach to legislating on the part of a mercifully no-longer-Conservative government, we have every reason to be optimistic.


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