Every Canadian concerned about the quality of democracy in this country frets about the inability of our electoral system to do the thing it exists for—create a government that represents the people.
We currently have a federal government formed by a party that only received the electoral support of a third of Canadians. In fact, the main opposition party actually had more support.
Nonetheless, this was a considerable improvement over the previous Parliament. The ruling Liberals are limited to a minority government which means they must propose legislation that pleases at least one of the other parties. This in turn means the legislation will have the support of a majority of Canadians.
Consider the prior Parliament. The Liberals, who had received only 39 percent electoral support, nonetheless won a majority government. Although supported by only a minority of Canadians, they were free to pass legislation at will.
The four years prior to that were even worse. The Conservatives also won a majority government with less than 40 percent of the vote. But at least the Liberals often propose legislation that has considerable support from other parties—from the NDP, the Greens or the Bloc—whereas the Conservatives pretty well represent only … well, conservatives. With fewer than 40 percent of Canadians supporting them, they had 100 percent of the power.
This may be electoral, but it isn’t democratic. Democracy is political equality—every vote counting equally. Under our antiquated first-past-the-post system, that will never happen. In our 2019 election, over half the votes cast contributed to the election of no one. Every vote will not count until we adopt a proportional representation system, one that fits the particular characteristics of this country.
The organization leading the fight for proportional representation is Fair Vote Canada. Fair Vote is currently embarking on a major effort to further the cause and you can help. They plan on running a national poll and buying a full page newspaper ad in the Hill Times on September 23, the day that Parliament returns to business.
This is a critical time in the nation’s history. The Throne speech will include the government’s vision for the country’s recovery from COVID-19. Many interest groups will be pushing for bold changes. What bolder or better change could we have than finally making our electoral system democratic? At the very least, the Prime Minister deserves a powerful reminder that he betrayed his promise to reform the system in his first term.
If Fair Vote can raise $12,000, it can fund a national poll on electoral reform and a full page ad in the Hill Times to complement the Throne Speech. You can make your contribution here.