Many are wondering how Trump could win. In the aftermath of a win for a candidate who couldn’t be less presidential if he tried and who didn’t capture the majority of votes, we must examine our own country’s attempts at making our voting system more representative of the popular vote.
Justin Trudeau promised Canadians that 2015 would be the last election in which the First Past the Post method of voting would be used. Canadians like me were ecstatic. My vote has rarely counted and for the last twelve years, my views and values have not been adequately represented in our legislative assemblies.
In May of this year, the federal Liberals announced that they would create an all-party committee to study electoral reform; they also encouraged MPs to hold town halls about this over the summer and early fall. The Minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, held 22 Democratic Reform Tour stops from coast to coast and dozens of citizen-organized town halls on the issue were held. Now, they have just announced that every Canadian household will receive a postcard in the mail to find out how people feel about the way they elect MPs.
When you receive your postcard in early December, you need to tell your elected representatives, as the majority of Canadians speaking at these forums already have, that some form of Proportional Representation (PR) is what you expect. Here’s why:
In a representative democracy, every vote should count. In the last federal election in 2015 over 9 million Canadians voted for losing candidates, and therefore their votes didn’t count.
Of the 17 majority governments we have elected federally since WWI, only four of them have had at least 50% of the vote. In the last two elections in 2011 and 2015, we elected majority governments that had only 39% of the vote.
Although Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, and Greens have support across Canada, regional imbalances emerge under our present system making our country look regionally divided.
The discrepancy between seats and votes means that Canada’s demographic diversity, including women, is not fully reflected in the House.
Our present system creates short-term thinking and forces parties to focus their policy decisions on the four year electoral cycle. This hampers governments from doing the best thing for taxpayers if they know that it will be unpopular. It also hampers long-term planning.
88 per cent of the academics, experts and community groups who appeared before the Electoral Reform Committee as witnesses with an opinion on the voting system spoke for PR.
I have done what I can to convince my elected representative to consider some Canadian-made form of PR so that each vote counts equally.
Now, I am asking my neighbours and friends and all those Canadians who will receive a postcard in the mail in December, to please tell your elected representatives that you expect the government to fulfill its promise to make every vote count.