Fair Vote Canada strongly encourages proportional representation (PR) as a better way to elect MPs (or MLAs or municipal councillors) than our present pluralitarian system, more commonly known as Winner Take All (WTA) or First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). That sort of electoral system produces distorted results. In the 41st Canadian General Election in 2011 where only 61% of the electorate voted, 39% voted Conservative and won 54% of the seats in Parliament. When you have 54% of the seats, you have an absolute majority so 100% of the power. Sixty-one percent of the votes cast, including many Conservative votes, were wasted and served to elect no-one. Put another way, 23% of the electorate gave the government 100% of the power.
The Alberta general election produced a similar result in May 2015. Albertans voted 40.6% for the NDP which won 61% of the seats in the legislature and 100% of the power. Only 54.2% of electors actually voted, so 22% of the electorate gave the government 100% of the power. It is the voting system that is broken, not party politics at work, since the WTA or FPTP problem seems to apply to all elections.
Fair Vote Canada and Fair Vote Calgary have been trying to find out where parties and candidates stand on PR. The results are encouraging, and in keeping with the polls that have been conducted over the last few years – about 70% of Canadians want to see PR introduced to replace our WTA system, and many candidates support electoral reform and possibly the introduction of PR.
This graphic shows where the parties stand (click to enlarge image):
Fair Vote Canada has developed a Canada-wide listing of candidates who have responded to a questionnaire about PR and you can find it here.
Fair Vote Calgary has done a similar exercise focussing on candidates south of Red Deer. You can see here which candidates and parties have declared support for PR.
There are further details of all local candidates (where their position is known) in a table which you can download here.
So, in answer to the question ‘Who should I vote for’ the reasoning works like this:
• The greatest threat we have in Canada is to democracy itself which is under serious attack from our politicians. Since the 1970s politicians have progressively been taking more and more power from the people and adding it to the party leadership and government, particularly recently to the unelected and not-answerable-to-Parliament Prime Minister’s Office.
• The first step to correct this issue is to now elect MPs who have committed to introduce PR so that every vote counts toward electing an MP. In future, membership of the House of Commons would reflect the popular vote. Decisions by Parliament should reflect the wishes of the electorate. (There’s much more work to do to achieve that goal, outside the scope of the present election and Fair Vote’s mandate).
• In this election, each of us should vote for a candidate who if (no, when!) elected will work to introduce PR. A majority of MPs (170) could ensure PR is introduced by the next scheduled general election in 2019.
• Check out the information referenced above and make your candidate choice, or perhaps select alternative candidates you might vote for.
• In some electoral districts, it may be preferable to vote strategically for a candidate who is likely to win if he or she attracts enough votes and who supports PR but is not necessarily your first choice.
Most important of all – Just Vote!
Don’t be among the 40% of the electorate that stays away from the ballot box.
Make sure you are registered to vote, don’t find out at the last minute you need extra information under the new identification requirements. If you are registered to vote, you should by now have received a Voter’s Card with the information you need. If you haven’t, contact your local Elections Canada office as soon as possible. You can find it’s address on their web site.
There’s little to no excuse not to vote – you can go now to the Elections Canada office in your electoral district (the address is on your voter’s card), until 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday 13 October.
You can go to an advance poll (the days, place and opening times are on your voter’s card).
You can even go to your polling station on Election Day, Monday 19 October (the address is on your voter’s card – but also check Elections Canada’s web site).