A couple of months ago the Federal Governing Party withdrew from changing our voting system. That despite that it being one of their major policies platforms of the last election.
The current leader’s father was of a different breed. Whether you agree with Pierre Trudeau, he led. When he repatriated the Constitution, which had been talked about for years but never done, he did it, got the legislation passed and we now have laws where the final decision are made in Canada. Previously, the British House of Lords was the final arbitrator of Canadian laws, not the Supreme Court of Canada.
Moving forward to today, the all-party committee did have recommendations for changing first past the post system of elections. Why does that system need to be changed? Well, if first past the post was so wonderful, why is there no leader of any Canadian Party elected by first past the post, why was the Quebec Referendum requiring 50% +1 to pass. The reason is that first past the post disenfranchises many voters. How is it that a party with a popular vote in the high 30% to low 40% end up with the majority of seats in the House of Commons. We have chosen to ignore the wishes of 60% of the voters. We also bemoan the lack of voting turn out, other systems give us more reason to vote.
We had a few choices for the alternative to the present system:
Ranked Balloting (Preferential Voting) – you chose your preferred candidate then your second choice and so on. The second choice of the bottom candidate is giving to the remaining candidates until someone reaches more than 50% of the vote.
Proportional Voting – If a party wins few seats than the popular vote should give it, additional seats are giving from an already established party List.
One choice we weren’t giving was Run Off-you drop the least vote-getting candidate until you come up with a winner of more than 50%. The likely reason for that was cost.
The Prime Minister did not lead the charge to amend our voting system. He sat back and argued over the makeup of the Parliamentary Committee that would come back with recommendations. When it did to that, he said there was not enough consensus to change the existing system.
Let us examine the legislation that has been passed that are important to Canadians, Repatriation of the Constitution, Abortion, NAFTA, and Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Milk Marketing Boards, the Creation of the Canadian Flag, to name a few. None of them had consensus of the Canadian Public, yet leadership made them happen and the parties that passed the legislation won or lost in the next election as a result of their actions.
It is strange that the marijuana legislation has been brought before the House despite the lack agreement throughout Canada how this should be done, yet the ability to have the wishes of the majority on a ballot was discarded out of hand. For most of us, the closest we will ever get to have a say in how we are governed is at the ballot box. Yet, legalizing a drug that does have harmful effects in the same way as cigarettes have harmful effects is more important to the current government than giving the voters a bigger stake in the electoral process.
In my opinion, the current federal government leaders have their priorities wrong. Being able to have a toke is not as important as ensuring the Canadians get the governments that they want. As one General once said, ‘Let’s see where my army is going and then I will go in front and lead’. This appears to the be the state of this Federal Government. Oh leaders, why have you forsaken our Parliament?
W.A. (Bill) Chapman