NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice isn’t ready to either forgive or forget. Not even after Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef apologized to him and the other members of the electoral reform committee for “insulting” comments she made last week in the House of Commons.
The minister flabbergasted opposition parties on Thursday with a dismissive, hostile response to the majority report of the opposition-dominated committee, which recommended a new proportional voting system and a national referendum to gauge public support for it.
“What has been said has been said. It was insulting, quite frankly,” Boulerice said Sunday on The West Block with Tom Clark. “Not only for the members of the committee… but also for the thousands of citizens who participated in the process.”
Another committee member, Conservative Scott Reid, said considering the minister’s apologies Friday, it’s time to move on to the substance of the debate – how, or even whether, to reform Canada’s electoral system.
“I take her apology and what she said at face value,” he told Tom Clark.
The special all-party committee is recommending that the Liberals design a new proportional voting system and hold a national referendum to gauge how much Canadians would support it.
The report also recommended the government not proceed at this time with either mandatory or online voting.
In a dissenting report, however, the committee’s Liberal members – the party does not support a referendum – essentially recommended Trudeau abandon his promise to change the system before the next election.
Trudeau – who promised that the 2015 federal election would be the last conducted under the current, so-called first-past-the post system – has already suggested that public enthusiasm for electoral reform has waned since his Liberals won power last fall.
In an attempt to explain his minister’s outburst in the House of Commons, parliamentary secretary to the democratic institutions minister, Mark Holland, said Monsef’s outburst was born of frustration.
“I think what the minister was hoping for was a recommendation that was going to be specific system and we could move forward with that,” Holland said on Sunday. “What happened, unfortunately, is we got sort of a construct and there’s still a lot of work left to be done. So maybe there was a bit of frustration being expressed about that.”
With a file from The Canadian Press