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STEPHEN FUHR HOSTS A DEMOCRATIC REFORM TOWN HALL WITH PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY MARK HOLLAND
The Conservative Party’s former national campaign director, Guy Giorno, is helping to spearhead a push to bring proportional representation to Canada. He says it is simply the right thing to do.
“Proportional representation is the only principled approach which is not built to work for parties or politicians, but built to work for individuals and to make our House of Commons or legislature provincially reflect the diversity of their views,” Giorno told Rosemary Barton on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.”
We do not support a referendum for the following reasons:
– Most major decisions in our country have not been carried out by referendums; these include patriation of the Constitution, implementation of the Charter of Rights, the change from open oral voting to the secret ballot, allowing women to vote in 1918, and extending the vote to non-property owners and to Japanese and Chinese Canadians and all First Nations people.
– The issue is too complicated for a simple ballot question. When people do not have the time, interest, or understanding to become informed they will automatically support the status quo.
– With no restrictions on spending, wealthy people or organizations, able to purchase large amounts of expensive media advertising, will have a disproportionate influence on the outcome.
We do support an all-party, nation-wide, consultative committee whose recommendation would be implemented by Parliament. We note that parties representing 67.3% of the popular vote in the 2015 election support electoral reform.
First Past the Post is a voting system which originated in 12th century England, and is used throughout the former British Empire (except for New Zealand). On the other hand, among OECD members, 85% use some form of proportional representation; this includes most long-term democracies, most European countries (e.g. Germany, Switzerland) and most of the major nations in the Americas.
Proportional representation supports three basic principles:
– Fairness: a party that receives 39% of the popular vote receives 39% of the seats in parliament. With our current First Past the Post system, in 2011 Conservatives received 39. 6% of the popular vote and received 53.9% of the seats in Parliament; in 2015 Liberals received 39.5 % of the popular vote and received 54.4% of seats in Parliament.
– Diversity: political players with real constituencies but with supporters scattered across the country gain representation.
– Democracy: we all believe that all votes should count. In the 2015 election 9 million voters did not vote for a member of Parliament. When citizens know their votes count, they are more likely to get out and vote.
The advantages of proportional representation include:
– Giving all voters a reason to vote, regardless of political beliefs or place of residence
– Electing a parliament that truly represents all Canadians, including women and visible minorities including First Nations
– Giving all geographic regions representation both in the government and opposition benches.
– Encouraging inter-party co-operation through coalition governments
Criticisms of proportional representation are often inaccurate. For example:
– “PR would create instability – just look at Italy and Israel.” There are many variations of PR. No one is proposing the exact system used by other countries, but rather a made in Canada solution. In reality, since Italy reformed its system in the 1990s, Canada is now the most unstable of the major democracies with 21 elections since WWII compared to Italy’s 17.
– “Small extremist parties might gain a foothold.” Parties could be required to win a certain percentage of the nationwide popular vote before they are allowed a seat. Germany, the horrors of the Nazi Party behind them, has implemented a system where parties who gain less than a 5% fraction of the vote get no seats.
– “MPs would have no local accountability, and some MPs would be appointed by the party rather than elected by the voters.” This could be an issue, but in 2004 the Law Commission of Canada, after extensive nation-wide consultation, proposed a made-in-Canada solution that addressed both these concerns.
Unlike the Liberals, we do not support Alternative Vote (sometimes called preferential ballot in a single member riding) as this would further distort parliamentary composition in favour of the Liberals.
You may be interested to know that in a paper written by Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan entitled “Our Benign Dictatorship” the authors said:
“Many of Canada’s problems stem from a winner-take-all style of politics that allows governments in Ottawa to impose measures abhorred by large areas of the country. The political system still reverberates from shock waves from Pierre Trudeau’s imposition of the National Energy Program upon the West and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms upon Quebec. Modernizing Canadian politics would not only be good for conservatism, it might be the key to Canada’s survival as a nation.”
A number of options are on the table for the Liberals as they move to fulfil their promise of changing the way Canadians elect their MPs. But based on an analysis of October’s federal election results, the system that is the party’s preferred option would have delivered Justin Trudeau an even greater victory than he won a month ago.”
“No matter who you are, first-past-the-post has a negative economic impact on your life.” – Hugh Segal, PR advocate
This is exactly what he was talking about. The policy lurches of winner-take-all voting cost us all, and not just in money.
Many people who opposed the last government are celebrating these reversals now, but will they be celebrating in 5 years? In 8 years? Do we want to see more rounds of strategic voting so we can keep landing back where we started?
Research shows that over time, countries with proportional representation outperform those who use winner-take-all systems in part because of the two C’s: Collaboration and Continuity.” Fair Vote Canada
Check this out: What Leadnow is doing.
Send an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau: https://secure.fairvote.ca/en/action/open-letter-to-justin-trudeau
Sign the declaration of voters’ rights: https://secure.fairvote.ca/en/declaration
In the North Okanagan Shuswap 60.7% of voters voted for unsuccessful candidates. In other words, those points of view will not be directly represented in the new parliament.
As summarized by the Law Commission of Canada report on electoral reform issued in 2004:
- being overly generous to the party that wins a plurality of the vote, rewarding it with a legislative majority disproportionate to its share of the vote;
- allowing the governing party, with its artificially swollen legislative majority, to dominate the political agenda;
- promoting parties formed along regional lines, thus exacerbating Canada’s regional divisions;
- leaving large areas of the country without adequate representatives in the governing party caucus;
- disregarding a large number of votes in that voters who do not vote for the winning candidate have no connection to the elected representative, nor to the eventual make-up of the House of Commons;
- contributing to the under-representation of women, minority groups, and Aboriginal peoples;
- preventing a diversity of ideas from entering the House of Commons; and
- favouring an adversarial style of politics.