When Canadians first opened their MyDemocracy.ca surveys early this December, I imagine their emotions were similar to receiving an early Christmas gift from an aunt or uncle. They must have thought, “Finally some positive political change after an overall frustrating and emotionally taxing year.”
Instead however, like most gifts from an aunt or uncle, they were disappointed, confused, and even insulted by what they saw. “What is this?” thought Canadians as they squinted perplexedly at their screens, “they don’t even know me.”
In other words, to many Canadians, the MyDemocracy.ca survey that they opened this December has proven to be the policy equivalent of a $10 gift card from your aunt and uncle for their overpriced at-home hair salon.
In response however, Canadians broke with tradition. They did not politely grin and pretend to be delighted, nor did they give Maryam Monsef and Justin Trudeau half-hearted side hugs. Instead, they spoke out.
Across Canada people took to social media to express their distaste for this disappointing, and frankly insulting, early Christmas gift from the Liberals. Caitlin Urquhart, a lawyer in St. John’s, is one of the many people who were put off by the Government’s MyDemocracy.ca survey and their approach to electoral reform in general.
“I was mostly just confused,” she said when asked about her experience with the MyDemocracy.ca survey, “and by the end of it I was just sad.”
Urquhart has seen first hand that people want election reform in Canada and in many ways can be seen as one of the unsung leaders of the Canadian election reform movement.
Shortly after the 2015 election, along with Labrador-based physician Andrew Bresnahan, Urquhart decided to start a Facebook event called “Trudeau Promised Electoral Reform” calling on the Liberals to implement their promise to change how Canadians vote.
To date, over 9,400 people say they’re going, 1,400 people are interested. In the event’s discussions, plans are beginning to come together for demonstrations to take place in major cities across Canada sometime in the new year.
When asked about how the Facebook event came to be and why it was so popular, Urquhart said, “I think there was a sense of momentum on doing something to fix [our electoral system], and Justin Trudeau had said that within eighteen months they would introduce legislation to propose electoral reform. So I thought ‘I want to remember that date, I want to have it in my calendar,’ I needed to remind myself. So I created a Facebook event and I invited a couple of friends and it just took on a life of its own…It obviously tapped into a sentiment that a lot of people were feeling.”
Back in October, Trudeau suggested that Canadians were less motivated to implement electoral reform because they are more satisfied with their government, which is like saying “because we’re your favorite aunt and uncle, time with us is the best Christmas gift of all!”
Facebook events like the one started by Urquhart point to the fact that many Canadians don’t think that time with Trudeau is a good enough gift. Canadians want an electoral system that represents them better, and if their reaction to the MyDemocracy.ca survey is any indication, they are well prepared to have a big old hissy fit if they don’t get what they want by next Christmas. As they should.
Article by Cory Funk