Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef found herself in the hot seat during Thursday’s Question Period in the House of Commons as the Opposition hammered her on the government’s electoral reform plan.
At one point, Monsef seemed to suggest that Canadians did not need a referendum to determine the new shape of the electoral system, because they have access to modern platforms like Twitter to make their views known.
“Yesterday, the first day that we brought forward the conversation on electoral reform, the hashtag #electoralreform on Twitter alone garnered nearly 12 million impressions in one day.”
Monsef argued that by consulting Canadians using a variety of methods, including town hall meetings over the next few months and online tools, the government will be able to gain insight from “those who aren’t normally included in this conversation.”
That includes young people, women, indigenous people, Canadians with disabilities and those living in isolated rural areas, she said.
But Conservative MP Jason Kenney argued that Liberal governments in B.C., Ontario and P.E.I. held referendums on electoral reform, and that Monsef “wants decisions to be made by Twitter.”
“Why does this Liberal government have so much less confidence in the common sense of Canadians?” Kenney asked.
Monsef and government House Leader Dominic Leblanc did not explicitly rule out the idea of a referendum on electoral reform during a press conference on Wednesday, but their pledge to introduce a new voting system by 2019 would mean that holding a referendum would be extremely difficult in the time allotted.
WATCH: Tom Clark discusses the complex debate over our voting system.
In addition to pushing for a referendum on the question of electoral reform, the Conservatives have also criticized the government for appointing a review committee that includes a majority of Liberal members.
The NDP’s Nathan Cullen added his voice to the chorus of criticism of the plan on Wednesday, saying the government is trying to “stack the deck” in favour of its own vision for a new voting system.
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