Referendum is not the way to make serious decisions

To think, however, that holding referendums is the answer is to fly in the face of the evidence

Martin Barker makes an impassioned case for the need for a referendum before changing Canada’s electoral system. He describes “partisans from across the political spectrum making efforts to exclude everyday Canadians for the decision making process”, and this is certainly true. It was true of Mr. Harper’s government, and it has been true of the opposition.

To think, however, that holding referendums is the answer is to fly in the face of the evidence that referendums are all too often influenced by lies, vitriol, and very short term vision.

California is still suffering from the effects of Proposition 13, which 40 years ago lowered property taxes and had the unfortunate side effect of turning the best public school and university system in the United States into one of the very worst, while simultaneously gutting almost all other public services. This led to a rapid increase in homelessness and many other social problems that have yet to be solved. The irony of this situation is that property taxes on expensive homes are now much, much higher than they would have been had Proposition 13 not been passed.

The United Kingdom is now embroiled in great chaos because the people of that country were fed a pack of lies by Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and their ilk. Those lies were parroted unceasingly by the press, which abdicated its responsibility to conduct rigorous research before reporting on complex issues, and this chorus of untruth led even the farmers in Wales, whose livelihood has been dependent upon subsidies provided by Brussels, to choose to vote to leave the EU.

I agree with Mr. Barker that we need much more well-informed discourse that is as free from fear mongering as possible, before making a decision about the way we elect our representatives. I do not, however, think a referendum has any place in this decision.


Mark Hazell