A Vote Is A Vote: A Plea For Proportional Representation

2852 words - 11 pages

Step back and observe the configurations, compositions and driving cogs of today's democratic societies, and one will find that there is one repeating theme; the sharing of power. Corporations, religious sects, universities, unions, and hospitals make decisions through committees, conferences and compromises. Why is it then that when it comes to running our country we still entrust power to a single select group and expect them to make the most auspicious decisions for Canadians every time? The Canadian government is a concentrated power structure out of step with other aspects of society. For our democracy to keep pace with the developing world, Canadian citizens must face these facts, as citizens in other countries have, and restore our political structures to mirror the broad range of political dispositions in today's diverse communities. This goal can only be achieved by abolishing the current electoral system of plurality and implementing proportional representation.The current political electoral system in place in Canada today is called the plurality system or first past the post. Under this system adopted from the British, the country is divided up into 301 single member districts. In each riding the party who wins the most votes, regardless if it's a majority or not, elects an MP to the House of Commons. A party may win by one vote, yet those who finish second and third receive no reward whatsoever. As a result their votes are wasted. Under this system there have been endless examples of unfair party representation. For example, in Prince Edward Island in 1993, Catherine Callbeck's Liberal party won 97% of seats (31 of 32) with a mere 55% of the vote. This left 40 % of the voters who voted for Tory with one MLA and 5% of the voters who voted NDP with none. In the 1979 federal election the Conservatives formed the government with 36% of the votes and earned 136 seats while the liberals won 40 % of votes but only 114 seats. This is an obvious injustice and a blunt indication that our current electoral system is ineffective at producing a government that is a reflection of the desires of the populace.One of the weaknesses of the plurality system is that it hurts small national parties with support dispersed across the country and it favors those whose supporters are concentrated in one area. The NDP, for example, won more votes than the Bloc Quebecois in the 1997 federal election, but earned less than half as many seats in the House. An even more ridiculous delineation of the plurality system's ineffectiveness occurred in 1968, when the Social Credit party in Quebec won a mere 4.6% of the votes but took 20% of the seats. To put the numbers in more lucid terms; it took on average "31,233 votes to elect a Bloc Quebecois MP; 31,817 votes to elect a Liberal MP; 41,501 votes to elect a Reform MP; 67,733 votes to elect a New Democrat MP; and a preposterous 121,287 votes to elect a Conservative MP." How can we call ourselves a true democracy if...

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