The following post was prepared and posted on his campaign web site by Marlo Raynolds, Liberal candidate for the Banff-Airdrie Electoral District. The original blog post (reposted with Marlo’s permission) is here
People want their vote to count and their voice heard.
With Canadians thrown into an early summer election, people are starting to have conversations at the dinner table about their voting options. Many of those conversations are about peoples’ desire to have a Parliament that actually reflects the way all Canadians voted, not one that reflects a single party winning only a minority of votes but getting the majority of seats and all the power.
People want their vote to count and their voice heard.
The outcome of electoral reform, if it takes the form of proportional representation, or PR, would significantly change the face of Parliament by more accurately reflecting how we vote. In Alberta, for instance, a form of PR in the last federal election would have given the Conservatives 19 seats instead of the 27 they achieved under the existing “first-past-the-post” system. The NDP would have won five seats instead of one, the Liberals would have gained three seats instead of none, and the Greens one instead of none.
Recent redistribution of electoral ridings mean that the next federal election will increase the number of Alberta MPs to 34 from 28.
It is time to restore and modernize our democracy, for which many Canadians have fought.
This is why the Liberal Party is committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system. As part of a national engagement process, we will ensure that electoral reform measures – such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting – are fully and fairly studied and considered. This will be carried out by a special all-party parliamentary committee, which will bring recommendations that will allow Parliament to take action before the next federal election. Within 18 months of forming government, we will bring forward legislation to enact electoral reform.
My personal view is we need to evolve our electoral system to be inline with the vast majority of democracies around the world – one which results in the proportion of votes cast for each party to result in a similar proportion of power and seats in the House of Commons.
But we need to design a voting system that works for Canada. A system that Canadians understand and is recognized to be fair. This will take work.
If elected as the Member of Parliament for Banff-Airdrie, I will start by hosting a series of facilitated dialogues across the riding to develop our local view on how to ensure we restore trust in our democratic process and decision making in Ottawa.
The idea of PR, and how it could affect Canadians, is complex. But it’s an important and timely issue. The more we understand it, the better the consultation process – and recommendations – will be. And the better you’ll feel about voting.
It’s time for Real Change in electoral reform and the Liberal Party – working with Canadians – will get it done quickly, openly and fairly.
I encourage everyone to start their research both with Fair Vote Canada and the Liberal Party’s position. And of course, I am very interested in directly receiving your feedback, just email me or give me a call.
From Kelly Carmichael, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada:
“As we get closer to the election this group (those opposed to PR, or change, or the status quo – MH) will become more and more important.
We know many partisans will fight back in order to keep power. Some will stretch the truth, others will wield complete misinformation.
Yesterday, Ryan Campbell and I (Kelly) tried to dispel a few of the myths around ‘too much power in the parties’ but there will be more”.
The City of Calgary established a Boundaries Commission, to report on proposed changes to ward boundaries to take effect at the 2017 municipal election. The report was announced recently with an accelerated series of public information meetings to be held in the next few weeks. You can see the City Clerk’s information here. There is more information about the Commission here.
At the top of the Ward Boundary Commission page is a one-word title ‘Legislation‘. Clicking on it produces a six-page .pdf document, setting out the history of the ward system from 1960 and the rationale leading to the present situation of 14 wards, each represented by one Council member.
The product of the Commission’s work are three maps showing present ward boundaries and two scenarios showing possible changes. We are invited to one of the public information sessions to comment on sheets at those meetings or to email our request for more information to firstname.lastname@example.org . It behooves us to make sure we study these proposals and let the Commission know what we think.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the electoral system. To be fair to the Boundaries Commission it is not in their mandate to consider, and changes to provincial legislation would be necessary to allow the City to move from the present iniquitous and unfair Single Member Plurality system to a fairer proportional representation system which makes every vote count. But that’s another post on another day . . .
Liberal Party of Canada moves one step closer to Proportional Representation by committing to END Canada’s Winner-Take-All voting system!
“Fair Vote Canada is delighted the Liberal Party (of Canada) is joining us in making 2015 The Last Unfair Election. We congratulate Justin Trudeau for starting today’s announcement with the words Make Every Vote Count,” says Doug Bailie, President of Fair Vote Canada (FVC).
Today over half of all voters are unable to elect a representative who reflects their views. A new electoral system should not only end First-Past-The-Post but firmly commit to moving away from all winner-take-all voting systems. Fair Vote Canada supports Justin Trudeau’s statement that “promoting partisan interests at the cost of public trust” must stop. Absolutely, we should aim for the best system for Canadians and not compromise our values by favouring partisan solutions.
Kelly Carmichael, FVC’s Executive Director reminds us, “Federal election results exaggerate regional divisions, under-represent Canadian diversity and treat voters unequally. We are confident that when Liberals examine the vast store of research with the best interests of Canadians in mind, they will conclude that a system which includes an element of proportionality is the only way to go. We trust that the timeline laid out by the Liberal party will provide ample time to study and implement the best system for Canadians.”
A fair system makes first choices count, provides better governance thorough consensus, supports more women in politics, builds stronger economies, implements better climate policy and puts Canadians in the driver’s seat. Building an electoral system that entrenches good governance and puts citizens first by eliminating winner-take-all politics is a healthy step forward.
Fair Vote Canada is a grassroots organization representing over 57,000 Canadians calling for equal and effective votes for all citizens through the use of proportional representation.
Dr. Max Anderson has researched and discussed with Elections Canada an option for election financing which reduces the iniquity with which Independent candidates are treated (compared to party candidates). Read the discussion.
That’s the headline in DeSmog Canada’s latest on-line edition. You can read the article here.
Emma Gilchrist, author of the article and now Executive Director of DeSmog Canada, is a former Calgarian. Emma initiated the Herald’s Green Guide several years ago.
I have received calls and emails asking how would the result have been different under proportional representation? In my earlier post below ‘New Democrats Must Fix the Voting System’ I offered a very simple version of what might have been, just converting the Elections Alberta Interim Results into seats. Wilf Day has written a much deeper analysis and sophisticated projection in his blog.
It is clear that proportional representation would end the false majorities we have been experiencing in many recent federal and provincial elections. Instead of the FPTP ‘winner’ being able to ride roughshod over the opposition and push through whatever policy or legislation it wanted in a ‘winner takes all’ result, debate in the legislature or parliament would have to change. The legislature becomes a debating and negotiating chamber. Policies and legislation reflect what all Albertans want. If every vote were a free vote (I can dream!) the end of each debate would be reached in a consensus or group decision. Democracy wins.
Congratulations to the Alberta New Democrats on ‘winning’ the 2015 Alberta general election. Everyone put in a tremendous effort, led by new NDP Leader Rachel Notley and a Notley Crûe of candidates, volunteers and eventually voters who turfed the 44 year Progressive Conservative dynasty. Another ‘orange crush’. Democracy is great, when it works.
What Alberta voted for is not what Alberta got because of the archaic First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system we continue to use. While the television reporters and pundits were wondering at the magnitude of the NDP ‘win’, others were looking behind the numbers on the screen.
There are about 2.5 million ‘electors’ in Alberta and about 58% turned out to vote, according to Elections Alberta which also says 1,162,877 votes were cast. My Vote Should Count says 797,564 votes did not help to elect anybody. That’s 797,564 / 1,162,877 (53.82%) wasted or ‘unrepresented’ votes. So if just over half the electorate voted, and less than half of those votes served to elect someone – was democracy served? Since the NDP obtained 41% of the popular vote, did they really ‘win’ the election?
Because of inherent bias in our FPTP system (which was designed for two-candidate elections), the results are a grossly distorted ‘false majority’ (as were the 2012 provincial general election, the 2011 federal general election, and most others before that).
The MLAs we voted for if we had province-wide proportional representation [PR] would have been:
NDP: 36, PC: 24, WRP: 21, ALP: 4, Alberta Party: 2 seats.
What we got was:
NDP: 53, PC: 10, WRP: 21, ALP: 1, Alberta Party: 1 seat.
That assumes that everyone would have voted under PR the way they did under FPTP, which is unlikely. Under PR there would probably have been a larger turnout of the electorate since more votes would have helped to elect someone.
FPTP leads to strategic voting which further distorts the results of an election: ‘I have to vote for A (who has a better chance of winning) so as to defeat B (who I don’t like and don’t want to win) when I would prefer to vote for C (whose policies I really agree with and want to see implemented)’. How many voted like that on May 5, to ‘punish’ the party or candidate that ‘misbehaved’ in the eyes of a voter? Would a different result have come about if no-one ‘had to’ vote strategically? That is the biggest advantage of PR. A voter can be confident that the candidate, or at least the party they represent, will be elected to the legislature in proportion to the popular vote so everyone’s voice is heard to some extent.
Now is the time to change the voting system, to Make Every Vote Count and ensure that 2015 is the last unfair election. The New Democratic Party has made proportional representation its policy, both federally and provincially, so here again is an opportunity for the NDP to show that Alberta is a progressive place and become the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce PR – and catch up to most of the modern democracies in the rest of the world. In a poll conducted for LeadNow and Fair Vote Canada in 2013, 70% of Canadians were reported to be in favour of PR. All the many commissions conducted over recent years have recommended PR as the new, right way to go. It hasn’t been adopted because politicians in power have obfuscated and rejected change; the system that got them into power is just fine for them! We mustn’t let the NDP adopt that position. Now is the time to initiate this change in Alberta. There are four years ahead of us to assess and design a system which would be used in 2019.
The Calgary Herald called for letters advising the (at that time unknown) Premier what should be task #1after the election. My letter said:
• Imagine a legislature which reflected the members that Albertans voted for and wanted to see there!
• Imagine not having to vote strategically to ensure someone you didn’t want was elected, to be sure someone you really didn’t want was defeated.
• Imagine an electoral system where every vote counted to electing a legislature member.
• Imagine a legislature where the membership reflected the popular vote.
• Imagine a legislature where debate was collegial, not adversarial, in the best interest of all Albertans.
• Imagine, and work for, a proportional representation electoral system;
• Make 2015 the last unfair election.
It is up to Albertans to make sure their MLAs know our priorities and pressure them now to introduce this up to date electoral system.
We have had so many new supporters sign up in the last few months, that we’re offering this webinar again!
Are you new to Fair Vote Canada and want to help us Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election? Join us for a live presentation and conversation about the Make Every Vote Count 2015 campaign!
Sunday May 10, 7:30 PM EST
We have an historic opportunity to achieve proportional representation in Canada. Learn:
- important background about why we need PR in Canada
- how you can get involved to help Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election!
This webinar will include a presentation and a chance for participants to ask questions of the presenters.
Joining us as part of the webinar will be:
Professor Dennis Pilon, Canadian Electoral Reform Expert, Member of FVC’s Advisory Board, Author of “The Politics of Voting: Reforming Canada’s Electoral System” and “Wrestling with Democracy”
Anita Nickerson, Action Coordinator, Fair Vote Canada
Please share this email with anyone interested in learning more about PR and Fair Vote Canada’s campaign to Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election!
Volunteers Needed: Tell Canadians Why You Care About Proportional Representation
We’re looking to develop a series of Facebook posters of Canadians sharing why proportional representation is important to them. We need Canadians to understand that making votes count isn’t a dry, mathematical issue – that the desire for proportional representation comes from deeply held, shared values – that it comes from the heart. If you have a short quote and a picture we could use on Facebook about why achieving PR matters to you, please let me know.
On a similar note, do you have direct experience with proportional representation from another country?
Are you a Canadian who has lived and voted in a country that successfully uses proportional representation, such as Sweden, Norway, Scotland, New Zealand, Germany etc? Would you be willing to tell fellow Canadians a bit about that experience, compared to voting with first-past-the-post in Canada, and why you think we should choose a more proportional system? We’re looking for a few people who would be willing to provide us with a photo and quote for a social media poster and a summary of your experience which would go on a new page on our website. It’s not so much the mechanics of PR in another country that are most important, as every country has their own system design, but how proportional representation makes democracy more meaningful for voters, and politics different.
If you can help. please get in touch with anita(dot)nickerson(at)fairvote.ca
Sincerely, Anita Nickerson FVC Action Coordinator
Rob Lewis – a 34 year old junior high science teacher, hasn’t voted for many years. The CBC Eyeopener is asking people to persuade Rob to vote — here is Fair Vote Calgary’s effort.
Rob – your vote is important, even if it doesn’t serve to elect someone. What?
By NOT even going to vote, you are signalling that you accept the present state of affairs, which you clearly don’t. Your comments about not finding someone suitable to vote FOR are fine, but you can more effectively register a protest by going to the poll, registering to vote, and declining to accept a ballot.
Some people choose to spoil their ballot. This doesn’t tell anyone anything – you might have made a mistake in marking the paper, or you might have written ‘None of the Above’, or marked the ballot in a preferential order. None of that will be recorded – just that the ballot was spoiled and discarded.
Under the present First-Past-The-Post system only the votes for the candidate who gets the most are counted toward electing someone. In a four-candidate electoral district, that could be as low as 30% of the vote. That means 70% of the votes cast did not elect anyone – they are ‘wasted’. No wonder even those of us who DO vote are dissatisfied with the present system; there IS a better way!
Proportional representation works to make every vote count toward electing someone; the way the ballots are designed and the way the votes are counted makes all the difference. The goal is to ensure that the representation in the legislature or Parliament reflects the provincial or national popular vote. Get 39% of the vote – get 39% of the seats; not 60% of the seats (and 100% of the power!) This is not unique to the present federal government – in 2012, in Alberta, the PCs got 44% of the vote, 61 of 87 (70%) seats in the legislature, so 100% of the power.
So, Rob, carefully evaluate the parties’ policies and support — that is, get out on Tuesday (or in an advance poll) — and vote for a candidate who will support the introduction of proportional representation, regardless of political colour or stripe. You can find out a lot more on Fair Vote Calgary’s web site here and here. In Alberta, we need a simple majority, 44 of 87 MLAs (50.6%), to support proportional representation, and then you will have helped make 2015 the last unfair election.
Leader, Fair Vote Calgary – a Fair Vote Canada Action Team
Make Every Vote Count! Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election!
Dear Alberta Liberal Party Calgary Area Candidate:
I tried to write to you individually but regrettably your web sites do not provide email addresses so I am compelled to address you openly, in the same manner as I have emailed individually all other Calgary area candidates of all political parties.
Please excuse the impersonal addressing . . .
I’m writing on behalf of Fair Vote Calgary to seek your signature to the Declaration of Voters’ Rights — Politician’s Pledge, which in short says that you will work toward getting proportional representation (PR) introduced in Alberta. The Pledge is attached; I ask you to print, sign, scan and return the document to me (or mail it back to me at the address below). Please keep a copy to display in your campaign headquarters. I have created a page on the Fair Vote Calgary web site on which I will publish the names of candidates who are in favour of PR and who have signed the Pledge.
I am in the process of contacting all Calgary area candidates from all parties for this information. The goal is to tell all Calgary area voters which candidates are in favour of PR so their voting intentions are informed. From the Alberta Liberal party’s web site, the policy seems not to be in favour of PR since it states under Better Democracy: “Change Alberta’s electoral system to instant-runoff (preferential) voting.” This of course is not proportional representation – it is in fact a more severe form of the present undemocratic form of First-Past-the-Post, where 50% plus one would see a candidate elected, leaving 50% minus one who would not be represented at all.
PR seeks to ‘Make Every Vote Count’ and Fair Vote Calgary’s intention is to ‘Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election’. Under PR, almost every vote would help to elect a candidate, and the resulting legislature would reflect the popular vote rather than the distortions which now result from FPTP (and would be aggravated by Instant Run-off or preferential voting, unless the preferential system incorporated a measure to achieve PR).
PR is used in advanced democracies world-wide; only a few countries still use our present outdated First-Past-the-Post majoritarian-plurality system. In a national poll conducted for Fair Vote Canada and LeadNow by Environics in 2013, 70% of Canadians strongly or somewhat supported the adoption of PR. 77% of Liberals strongly or somewhat supported the adoption of PR. If the 2012 general election had been conducted under PR, by my calculation the legislature would have “ … had nine MLAs from each of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties and one Alberta Party MLA. Most interesting of all, there could have been 30 Wildrose and 38 Progressive Conservative MLAs …” (before the by-elections and floor-crossings last fall; from my personal blog at http://hambridge.com/index.php/conservative-alberta-elections-and-fair-voting/).
There is much more information in the documents also attached ‘Why PR – Review of Evidence’ and ‘Fair Vote Canada FAQ’. I also ask you to consider the questions on Qs for Candidates and add your brief thoughts or questions. If you return them, we will do our best to address them for you before the election.
Leader, Fair Vote Calgary – a Fair Vote Canada Action Team
Make Every Vote Count! Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election!
1003-4555 Varsity Lane NW Calgary, AB T3A 2V6
Phone +1 403 239 5516