Realpolitiks with . . .
Our government continues to be elected through an unfair advantage without a proportional representation voting system.
The-first-past-the-post system is an awful way to make people’s votes count. Instead of allowing equal representation of individual voters, it crushes any attempt for smaller parties to win seats.
In short, if you vote for someone other than the two main parties, you’re essentially throwing your vote away.
A look at the last general election shows what I’m talking about. The Bloc Quebecois party received almost 10 per cent of the vote and took 49 seats in the House, meanwhile, the Green Party received about 7 per cent of the vote but was still left out of Parliament, in the cold.
It boggles my mind how a Quebec separatist party could have more say in Canadian politics than a party who believes in grass-roots democracy.
Elizabeth May obviously represents a certain portion of Canadians, yet a lack of seats prevents her party from being taken seriously by parties and media outlets alike.
It scares away potential voters when we cooperate with a system that doesn’t give equal representation between parties.
It took me three years to decide to vote because I always thought my vote wouldn’t make a difference. I still know my vote won’t mean shit if I vote for any party other than the Conservatives or the Liberals, but at least I’m trying to show my support against the system.
Not only does our current voting system create a sense of uselessness when supporting smaller parties, but it also encourages people to vote for parties they might not believe in.
Even if someone supported NDP policies, they would be more likely to vote for a Liberal candidate just so the Conservative’s won’t get the vote.
‘Tactical voting’ becomes nothing but a cold, calculating way to encourage political debate within society.
Proportional representation would give our government a better way to decide elections. Instead of the Conservative party receiving 46 per cent of the House from 37 per cent of the vote, they would be represented by the exact amount of people who voted for them.
The whole idea that two provinces hold more seats than the other 11 seems unfair to me.
Changing how our government is voted in won’t cause our society to fall to pieces. Some of the countries with the highest qualities of life — Norway, Australia and Sweden — use proportional representation for their voting system, and they’ve done pretty well so far.
Allowing smaller populations of voters to be represented in government is a smart idea because you are able to see the bigger picture in today’s society.
The 50 people in Canada who want to represent the Marxist-Leninist party won’t change significant policies and laws, but they will give a different opinion to how our country should be operated.
Equally representing the population seems like a pretty sensible idea, yet Canada is left with basically a popularity contest for an election.
I hope to one day see our government controlled by any other party than the Liberals or the Conservatives, but even that’s a stretch in my lifetime.
Kevin Penny is a 21-year-old, second-year journalism student at Grant MacEwan University. As a tenderfoot journalist, he looks to give some straight sense in the world of politics by defending truth, justice and the freedom of choice.
The modern world is full of a wide variety of democratic models and systems in which the people choose their governments. In Canada ,we have a Parliamentary democracy which selects candidates from 308 different ridings and in most cases, the party with the largest number of members forms government.
The system is also first-past-the-post (FPTP), which means candidates in any given riding only have to pick up the highest number of votes in the seat to be declared the victor.
For several years, there have been complaints our system is outdated and that Canada should adopt what several European countries have, which is a proportional representation system (PR).
A PR system elects its members of parliament as a percentage of the total nationwide vote. If a party receives 20 per cent of the vote, their party will receive 20 per cent of the available seats.
While PR appears to be more democratic, there are reasons — good reasons — Canada uses a FPTP system. FPTP reduces the amount of fringe parties within a democracy by forcing parties to be mainstream enough to win a high concentration of votes from several small areas instead of a broader national collective as PR.
As European examples show, PR tends to elect radical right- or left-wing parties. Not only do polarized parties appear in parliament, several different parties tend to be elected which means majority governments are rare and coalitions governments become the norm.
Coalition governments are technically legitimate, but also have tendencies to be unstable. As well, when crucial votes are needed, the fringe parties in parliament tend to hold too much power in the final decision making.
PR is also a less-localized system of representation. While there are different models available to make the candidates selected come from local ridings, the system usually selects candidates from general lists. People select a party instead of a person to represent them.
FPTP, on the other hand, directly elects a representative. In Canada there are 308 individual elections where each riding selects its own representative. Several seats in our current government elect members, not based on party affiliation, but based on the trust and support of the constituency.
This is an important aspect of democracy. To lose what personal connection the electorate might have with its elected member by nationalizing the election, instead of maintaining our current localized system, would be a backward step for Canada. Our electoral system should remain local. Elected representatives must be held accountable to the people they represent. That aspect is lost in a PR system but maintained within FPTP.
Government must be controlled and operated at a local level. Similar to economics, local is more efficient than national. Grand, overarching, national electoral systems, such as PR, take the personal aspect of governance out of the system and it weakens our democracy. Canada’s FPTP system is not perfect, but it represents the people of 308 individual ridings the best and allows for stable mainstream governments to govern our great nation.
Mitchell Cooper is a 22-year-old, third-year Grant MacEwan University political science student with ambitions to attend law school. He’s worked two years in government, and on several political campaigns. He hopes to have the privilege of holding public office one day.