National Post (Latest Edition)

Vot­ing ben­e­fits ques­tioned

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Re: The case that could prove Cana­dian elec­tions were un­con­sti­tu­tional all along, Colby Cosh, Sept. 25 (On­line)

I am skep­ti­cal of Colby Cosh’s ar­gu­ment that Canada’s non- pro­por­tional vot­ing sys­tem ben­e­fits In­dige­nous peo­ples. His logic is that seats in the House of Com­mons “are dis­pro­por­tion­ately al­lo­cated to re­mote parts of Canada,” and some of th­ese ar­eas “have a lot of In­dige­nous folk.”

First, it is ques­tion­able that Cana­di­ans in re­mote ar­eas have more vot­ing power than Cana­di­ans in metropoli­tan ar­eas. Our cur­rent sys­tem causes par­ties to pri­or­i­tize vot­ers in rid­ings with tight elec­tion races. Th­ese rid­ings are of­ten clus­tered around ma­jor ur­ban cen­tres. Adopt­ing a pro­por­tional vot­ing sys­tem would make par­ties re­spond to vot­ers in all rid­ings.

Se­cond, more than half of In­dige­nous peo­ple in Canada live in metropoli­tan ar­eas, not re­mote ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to Statscan. When the courts as­sess whether the cur­rent vot­ing sys­tem is con­sti­tu­tional, they will have to con­sider the Char­ter rights of all Cana­di­ans. This in­cludes In­dige­nous peo­ple in all parts of the coun­try.

Third, the role our non- pro­por­tional vot­ing sys­tem has al­ways played is to limit the di­ver­sity of views that get rep­re­sented in Par­lia­ment. What­ever our rea­sons for con­tin­u­ing this prac­tice, we should not tell our­selves it is for the ben­e­fit of In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. Rhys Gold­stein, Toronto

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