A Best System?

Is There a Best Electoral System to Make Every Vote Count?

It depends . . .

The Government of Canada office in Calgary, the Harry Hays building

The Government of Canada office in Calgary, the Harry Hays building

At the Federal level (electing MPs to the Parliament of Canada): The Law Commission of Canada report published in 2004 – Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada – states ‘While there is no single magic bullet that will instantaneously stimulate Canadians’ involvement in the political system, a consensus appears to be emerging among political parties of all stripes, experts in electoral behaviour, and grassroots organizations that electoral reform is a good starting point for energizing and strengthening Canadian democracy. . . . The Commission, therefore, recommends adding an element of proportionality to Canada’s electoral system, and that Canada adopt a mixed member proportional electoral system.(Emphasis added. The report is now out of print but available in public libraries and as a .pdf download from the Fair Vote CanadaResourcespage). Wilf Day has written extensively about the Mixed Member Proportional electoral system for Canada, particularly in his blog here.

The Law Commission’s report is now 12 years old (in 2016) and Canada has changed. The population has grown and the House of Commons has been enlarged commensurately, from 301 seats when the Law Commission report was written to its present 338 seats. Electoral District boundaries have been re-drawn. The population is now culturally and ethnically more diverse. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has made recommendations regarding the inclusion of indigenous people in Canada’s governance system. The Supreme Court has made a ruling on the status of Métis people, affecting some 600,000 citizens.

Perhaps an electoral system other than the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) recommended by the Commission would be more appropriate. The Single Transferable Vote (STV), which uses fewer but larger electoral districts in which more MPs are elected directly by the voters might better reflect Canada’s diversity. You can learn more about STV at the STV For Canada web site here.

 

McDougall School, the Government of Alberta Calgary office.

McDougall School, the Government of Alberta Calgary office.

 

In Alberta, there have been experiments in the past with preferential voting systems which were found to be unsatisfactory and abandoned, see more here.  Many of the factors that led to the recommendation of a mixed member proportional system for Canada apply at a smaller scale in the Province. Discussion is needed to develop an appropriate system that is superior to the present plurality-majority (First Past The Post or FPTP) system and the previous unsatisfactory, because it is even less proportional than FPTP, Alternative Vote or AV system. AV is also know as Instant Run-off Ballot (IRB) or Preferential Ballot, which only applies in single-member electoral districts.

 

Calgary City Hall

Calgary City Hall

Calgary elects by plurality/majority (FPTP) a Mayor at large and one council member in each of 14 wards. The public and Catholic school boards will each elect seven trustees. Each of these elections merits a proportional system rather than the present FPTP.

   Which system should be chosen for each election? These need to be developed in informed public discussion to ensure accurate results truly reflecting the will of the electorate.

    Fair Vote Canada and Fair Vote Calgary do not endorse any particular proportional representation system since each jurisdiction has particular circumstances that need to be considered in developing an appropriate system.

(Source: Original. Revised 2016 04 14)