Ditch first-past-the-post vot­ing

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

The time for elec­toral re­form is now. Our cur­rent vot­ing sys­tem does a dis­ser­vice to democ­racy and all but ig­nores voter in­ten­tion.

As a re­sult of our first-past-the­p­ost vot­ing, all 32 MPs from At­lantic Canada are Lib­er­als. The Lib­er­als re­ceived 100 per cent of the seats dis­miss­ing the votes of tens of thou­sands who voted for the Con­ser­va­tives, NDP, Green and other par­ties.

Here in New­found­land and Labrador, a re­cent poll found that the provin­cial Lib­er­als have solid sup­port and are in line for a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment. Ac­cord­ing to that poll, ap­prox­i­mately 35 per cent of the elec­torate have said they in­tend to vote for ei­ther the PCs or the NDP. Yet it is pos­si­ble that the Lib­er­als could win all the seats un­der the cur­rent sys­tem.

A pro­por­tional vot­ing sys­tem bet­ter re­flects the wishes of the over­all elec­torate. If a party gets 20 per cent of the vote they should be en­ti­tled to 20 per cent of the seats.

If At­lantic Canada had fol­lowed pro­por­tional vot­ing, we would have six NDP MPs, six Con­ser­va­tives, one Green and 19 Lib­er­als. Yes, the Lib­er­als would main­tain their ma­jor­ity, but now there would be a le­git­i­mate op­po­si­tion. As of now, there is no one to ask the tough ques­tions or of­fer other ideas and pol­icy con­sid­er­a­tions. Isn’t a healthy de­bate the ba­sis of democ­racy?

One of the big­gest com­plaints about the Harper gov­ern­ment was that they ruled in an au­to­cratic fash­ion de­spite be­ing elected by 39 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote.

One of the big­gest com­plaints about the Harper gov­ern­ment was that they ruled in an au­to­cratic fash­ion de­spite be­ing elected by 39 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote.

The re­cent fed­eral elec­tion has now pro­vided the Lib­er­als a ma­jor­ity with the same 39 per cent, mean­ing 60 per cent of Cana­di­ans voted for other par­ties and in­di­vid­u­als.

The good news is the Trudeau Lib­er­als have promised to end first-past-the-post elec­toral vot­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the Lib­eral plat­form, we can ex­pect to see an all-party com­mit­tee es­tab­lished very soon, and within 18 months we can ex­pect new leg­is­la­tion on elec­toral re­form.

The provin­cial Lib­er­als, in their plat­form, say they are com­mit­ted to demo­cratic re­form and ex­plor­ing other meth­ods of vot­ing. Of course there are no specifics nor timeline for ac­tion.

Green Party Leader El­iz­a­beth May is more straight­for­ward: “The vast ma­jor­ity of mod­ern democ­ra­cies use one form or an­other of pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion that gets higher voter turnout, higher lev­els of women in po­lit­i­cal of­fice, and more di­verse eth­nic­ity within Par­lia­ments. First-past-the-post is a per­verse sys­tem. It is tear­ing this coun­try apart.”

We need a com­mit­ment from all the par­ties that they will re­place the cur­rent un­fair sys­tem with a mod­ern vot­ing sys­tem that bet­ter re­flects the in­ten­tion of in­di­vid­ual vot­ers and vot­ers as a whole. We need a vot­ing sys­tem that en­sures we have a strong op­po­si­tion.

We need elec­toral re­form now. Bill Hynd co-chairs the NL So­cial Jus­tice Co-op­er­a­tive

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