Canadians favour electoral reform

In a time with shrinking voter turnout, studies show that proportional representation raises voter participation and satisfaction

Re: Trudeau and others proposals for electoral reform. Polls indicate the majority of Canadians favour electoral reform, including proportional representation (PR) – having the percentage of elected members in each party closely reflect the actual percentage of voters support.

In 2004, The Law Commission of Canada published an extensive study of these matters looking at many countries of the world and made recommendations supporting proportional representation. A number of advocacy groups, such as Fair Vote Canada, have worked for years to emphasize the need for electoral reform as a multi-partisan effort and to educate the public about our antiquated first past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. FPTP is good for deciding leadership contests and horse races but not for governing a modern democratic country. It results in phoney majorities, increases polarization, reduces voter participation, doesn’t reflect diversity and minority perspectives, rewards regional interest parties and ignores broad-based, smaller parties. In the last federal election, half of the votes cast were wasted, resulting in no representation for seven million very discouraged voters.

In a time with shrinking voter turnout, studies show that proportional representation raises voter participation and satisfaction, ending the need for negative/strategic voting. You can vote your conscience and know that you will have representation. PR better reflects diversity and minority perspectives, requiring candidates to court the vote of all constituents and not just their loyal base and a few ‘swing’ ridings. Studies have shown that over the long term, PR leads to better quality of life for citizens (democracy, income equality, environment, economic growth, etc.).

It is noteworthy, that the only party not willing to look at proportional representation is the Conservatives, elected in 2011 as a phoney majority. Garnering less than 40 per cent of the vote with voter turnout barely over 60 per cent, they in fact had less than 25 per cent of the eligible voters of this country supporting their ‘majority’.

It is time for Canada to become a truly democratic country.

Mark Jeffers



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