Students filled the University of Winnipeg’s Convocation Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to hear Stephane Dion, the former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and member of parliament for St. Laurent-Cartierville, deliver an impassioned speech on democratic reform.
In response to several audience questions, Dion candidly admitted to his shortcomings as Liberal leader, including his inability to convince Canadians that the 2008 Green Shift, an integral part of the Liberal election platform, was both an economically and environmentally sustainable policy.
However, the former Liberal cabinet minister and author of the Clarity Act spent most of his time discussing the reform proposals of the current Conservative government in the House of Commons.
The two Conservative reform measures are, first, that the number of House of Commons seats should increase in order to correlate with the principle of representation by population and, secondly, that the Senate should become an elected body.
In opposition, Dion argued that 30 new MPs is unnecessary and incredibly costly, arguing that population growth should result in further seats and that populations that stagnate or don’t increase should receive fewer seats, with a minimum threshold when it comes to the number of seats in parliament.
He also argued, contrary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that Senate reform should only be done if there are constitutional mechanisms that prevent an American-style system.
The lecture was part of the U of W politics department’s ongoing Visiting Lecturers series.
Published in Volume 66, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 9, 2011)