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A General Election Should Be As Proportional As A Political Convention

“…How does FPTP look when it comes to this balance? Because it enables a party to form a majority government with less than 50 per cent of the vote, FPTP does very well on stability. By the same token, it also tends to ensure clean lines of accountability: voters know who to hold responsible, and to punish or reward as they see fit come election time. But FPTP is seen as doing less well when it comes to values such as deliberation and effective representation….” excerpt from an column in National Post by Andrew Potter.

Potter refers to a book (one of several) written by C.E.S. Franks (B.A., M.A., Phd (Oxford) Professor Emeritus Queen’s University) for support for the point that proportional voting systems encourage narrow issue parties that the FBTP voting systems encourage ‘big tent’ parties.

That is a highly debatable point.

Political parties, when they choose a leader, use a proportional voting system or runoff which involves several ‘ballots.’ Why can’t the rest of us have an election at least as proportional as parties do? Parties in Canada are big tent parties even if the smaller parties have a reputation around singular issues. Look at the Green Party Platform and observe their positions on a wide range of issues. (you can find it online)

There is just as much incentive for parties to embrace a wide electorate in a proportional voting system as there is in a FBTP system.

The key advantages of proportional voting far outweigh the disadvantages. The distribution of seats in the House would reflect the collective will of voters as determined in the popular vote derived in a general election.

Depending on the proportional voting system used, majority governments could be abolished so that a PM would be forced to cooperate with one or more of the other parties in the House to pass any legislation. A majority government for anyone would be mathematically remote or impossible.

We have lived through a decade ruled by a Conservative Majority that possessed nearly absolute power to pass any legislation and the only institutions that could offer any effective opposition were the Senate, limited to authority to amend or return legislation received from the House, and the Supreme Court.

We were not ‘well served,’ whatever your political leanings may be, by a political elite that may have thought it knew what was best for the rest of us.  The Harper administration took cases to the Supreme Court which it must have anticipated it would lose and it did lose.  Legislation was hidden in omnibus bills based on the assumption that MPs would not have time to read them, then limited debate to force the omnibus bills through the House and, despite being a ‘big tent’ party, the focus of Harper Conservatives on security, at the expense of civil rights, became an obsession.

Proportional voting will not be a ‘fix’ for the ignorance of voters or ensure that all legislation passed by the House is good legislation or that politicians will be honest but it will prove to be no worse than our present voting system and ensure that the will of the electorate is reflected in the House of Commons.

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Professional. Retired. Canadian.

2 replies

  1. Hi,

    Well, of course!!!! (Comment to your piece about proportional representation!

    Hugs, Dawn:)

    P.S. A bit of serendipity here…I looked at your blog site and found that beautiful painting of a woman making bobbin lace. Amazing, because just this afternoon, I took my first class in english bobbin lace! How nutsy is that?

    Hugs, Dawn:)



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