Canada should test drive a new voting system

Canada’s Parliament has collaboratively established an all-party Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) to engage with Canadians on the development of a new electoral system

Canada’s Parliament has collaboratively established an all-party Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) to engage with Canadians on the development of a new electoral system. This new system is to be implemented in Canada’s next election. Many thanks are due to Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef for the work done to date in keeping this election promise. What a pleasure it was to see and to collaborate with Minister Monsef, her team and all of the Whitehorse participants searching for the best electoral system for Canada.

Some people are calling for a referendum prior to implementation of a new electoral system. Fair Vote Yukon, of which I am a member, believes that a referendum is unnecessary and inappropriate.

A referendum is unnecessary because the current Liberal government made this a key campaign promise: to make this the last unfair election, to make every vote count. There is, of course, irony in the fact that the Liberals won a majority government with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote. Sixty per cent of Canadians votes went to parties or candidates with relatively little say in policy development and governance. On the flip side, many citizens voted strategically to ensure that 2015 would indeed be the last unfair election.

A referendum would be inappropriate because people can only vote on what they know and there is an important element missing. Canadians will not be ready for a referendum on change to the electoral system until they have experienced the inclusiveness of a proportional representation system. Fair Vote Yukon agrees strongly with Minister Monsef and the committee, who are both calling for Parliament to be responsible for the deciding on, and implementing, the new system.

Only by participating in two elections would Canadians have the experiential readiness for a referendum. The next election’s system has a great effect on governance. The mandate of the ERRE is to determine which model of proportional representation would suit Canada best. There is plenty of information available to those who feel under-informed. Fair Vote Canada (fairvote.ca) has an excellent array of discussion papers, videos, short summaries of recommended systems.

Locally, my own proposal of Preferential Ridings Proportional (PRP) is available at electoralchange.ca. PRP is as inclusive, collaborative, and accountable as other suggested forms of PR while offering voters the opportunity to know and connect with the MP their vote elected.

Time is short for this educational process to take effect. Fair Vote Yukon believes that experiential education is the best way to ensure that Canadians have an adequate knowledge of what they are voting for. All PR systems have been shown to have superior representation and accountability, as well as increased policy innovation, better environmental management, and a greater tolerance for diversity. Let’s do it now.

Dave Brekke

Member, Fair Vote Yukon

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