From April 8 to 10, the Liberal Party of Canada is holding a virtual convention. I have been campaigning for 5 years to advance the cause of basic income, a program I would like to see implemented in my lifetime. At least 6 resolutions are competing to be presented to the virtually assembled members. Even the Liberal caucus has come up with one. The hype is everywhere but where it counts. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not keen on the idea.
To think that we can change his mind is to believe in the tooth fairy.
Look at the power of this man. He has full authority over the executive. He appoints ministers, tells them what to do, promotes them and dismisses them at will. The Prime Minister's office runs the parliamentary proceedings, the legislative branch where party discipline prevails. He appoints judges to interpret the laws and does what he wants in international relations. He holds all the economic levers. His ability to run deficits allows him to spend almost endlessly.
It is this very real fairy tale that the basic income activist that I am comes up against.
Let's take two examples. Mr. Trudeau promised in 2015 to legalize marijuana. Was there any great debate, any scholarly studies? Not that I recall. The change was carried out with great speed and in the most complete disorder. In one year it was done. The introduction of the marijuana distribution system was a monumental failure that ended up being more or less successful.
The future Prime Minister also promised that the 2015 election would be the last time Canadians were called to the polls in a system where it is common for the winner to receive fewer votes than all his opponents combined. For example, you can be elected with 34% of the vote even if two-thirds of the voters voted for other candidates. Then one morning the Prime Minister tells us that electoral reform is off the table.
Historically, in our parliamentary system, a major broken electoral promise leads to a resignation or a referendum. Nothing happened.
Welcome to the fairy tale.
I will be at the virtual convention in April. I expect a very tightly run webinar. All interventions will be filtered. Yet the process of developing the resolutions that will be voted on at the convention is a model of participatory democracy that involves real people at the grassroots.
It is once the party program is adopted by the grassroots that the process becomes nebulous. I asked the question 5 years ago: how do you get from the program to the election platform? I never got an answer.
I think the tale-end of the process rests with Justin.