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globe editorial

It is amazing the lengths that the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau will go to avoid holding a referendum on its proposed reform of the voting system. Stuck with a campaign promise to make the 2015 election the last one ever held under the first-past-the-post system, but inexplicably unwilling to hold a plebiscite on what to replace that system with, the government has come up with a novel response to Canadians' understandable desire to be consulted on this fundamental issue.

Go consult yourselves, say the Liberals.

That's right. Canadians can go right ahead and consult themselves, as far as their government is concerned. Ottawa is calling on Canadians to meet in small or large groups this summer and discuss the merits of electoral reform. It could be a small gathering in your house or a neighbour's house, or a rejigged book club meeting, or a full-on town hall assembly organized by an enthusiastic local political aspirant. It's up to you. Ottawa is all, like, who cares.

But just so you know the government isn't behaving like a lazy farmer that asks his cows to milk themselves, it has produced a booklet, available online, that is filled with handy tips, informative charts and colourful illustrations related to self-consultation.

Your government will be right there beside you, advising on how best to organize a "successful dialogue on Canadian federal electoral reform." Everything you need is in the booklet, from whether or not to provide cups if you offer beverages (answer: yes) to whether you should hold the event in a bar (probably not) or provide a sign-language interpreter (will there be deaf people there?).

The results of Canadians' kaffeeklatsches on the relative merits of the FPTP system versus a closed-list proportional representation system, or whether you prefer mixed-member proportional to single transferable vote, are to be written down and sent to the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

And, voilà, you have successfully consulted yourself! No whining if you didn't get consulted about electoral reform, because it's your fault. You had the chance to air your opinion but didn't take it? Don't bitch to Ottawa about it. They'll just tell you to go consult yourself.

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