COLUMN: Reform of the electoral process requires dialogue

How can you impose a new electoral system on a democratic country without giving citizens a voice to determine the outcome?

There is a serious disconnect in the Trudeau government’s plan to make the recent federal election the last one to rely on first-past-the-post voting.

It’s not that the government intends to change the way we vote. That was in the Liberal platform and Trudeau is just keeping an election pledge – a more representative system that would be less likely to generate an outcome like the Liberals winning a majority even though they received only 39.5 per cent of the popular vote.

There are enough legitimate concerns about first-past-the-post to warrant a national discussion, debate and ultimately reform. But reform to what? Some prefer ranked balloting — the instant run-off model. Under it, the voter gets a ballot listing the candidates and marks off her first, second, third choices and so on.

If no candidate gets a clear majority, the candidate with the lowest number of votes gets dropped, and those votes get divided between the remaining candidates based on which candidates most voters named as their second choice. That goes on until one gets a clear majority.

Another option is national proportional representation, also confusing. The Liberals probably don’t favour it because had a system like that been in place they would have won a minority and the Green party would have something like 10 seats instead of one. Proponents argue it is most accurately representative and allows more voices to be heard.

Others advocate a mixed member proportional system. Under MMP you would vote for two representatives, one for your riding and a second from a party list. Complex? Just a bit.

Trudeau has said in past he likes the instant run-off model. But his preferences can’t dictate which option wins.

That has to be a national discussion, and that’s where the central disconnect comes in. The Liberals don’t plan to have a referendum on which voting system is best for Canada.

How can you impose a new electoral system on a democratic country without giving citizens a voice to determine the outcome? Where is the credibility if the government imposes its own preference, especially if it favours the incumbent government?

Referendum critics argue a new voting system is too complex to be decided by average Canadians through a simple vote. So do a better job of engaging and consulting Canadians so they are more engaged and informed.

But the idea of unilaterally imposing a new system of voting from the top down in the hopes that it will increase inclusivity and engagement is ludicrously contradictory. You don’t improve democracy by imposing unilateral decisions, certainly not on something as important as the way we vote.

– Black Press

 

Just Posted

Sooke School trustee and VIHA both call for vaccine education in schools

A renewal of cultural memory is needed, says trustee

Greater Victoria teachers experienced more than 30 incidents of violence from students in one month

Shuttered behavioural programs, lack of resources creates challenges for local schools

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

MISSING: 32-year-old Heather Limer last seen in Victoria

Limer was last seen in the 800-block of Johnson Street on Feb. 18

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Writing contest for teens

Students in grades 8 to 12 are invited to enter the Vancouver… Continue reading

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read