Every vote should count

Every vote should count Open letter to Yukon MP Ryan Leef: To begin, thank you for submitting Yukon's Fair Vote Canada petition signatures to Parliament. After our positive meeting with you in your Whitehorse office on Jan. 22, we understood that you agr

Open letter to Yukon MP Ryan Leef:

To begin, thank you for submitting Yukon’s Fair Vote Canada petition signatures to Parliament.

After our positive meeting with you in your Whitehorse office on Jan. 22, we understood that you agreed with our expressed need for Canada to change its present First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system to a system that would result in fair electoral representation.

In 2011, under the FPTP system, half of the votes (from all parties) elected nobody. The MPs who make up the majority government were elected by less than 30 per cent of the votes cast.

We were shocked to see that the Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act had no mention of giving inclusive meaning to almost all votes for fair electoral representation. Were you involved with the development of the proposed act?

We appreciate the concern expressed by Minister Pierre Poilievre for putting the “focus back on honest people taking part in democracy,” but without changing the current electoral system it is impossible.

One of the desired outcomes of our meeting was your commitment to put forward a motion to Parliament to establish a committee focused on having an electoral system that would result in truly representative democracy, and to try your best to bring this forward before the next election. What happened to your commitment?

We have many concerns with the proposed Fair Elections Act and now it appears that your government is rushing it through Parliament. This is not the kind of democracy that our children want to experience.

Did you discuss electoral reform with Peter Braid, Stephen Woodworth, Scott Reid and any other interested members? As you may know, 170 Conservative MPs have now had similar meetings with constituents about electoral reform, like we did on Jan. 22. We are sure Ottawa is abuzz with the idea of fair elections. Canadians certainly are!

Fair Vote Canada’s frequently asked questions give us some important insights:

“What’s wrong with the candidate with the most votes winning? With just one winner in each riding, half of Canadian voters don’t actually elect anyone, and our parliaments and legislatures don’t actually look anything like us. We believe that ‘[i]n a democratic government, the right of decision belongs to the majority, but the right of representation belongs to all.’ (Ernest Naville, 1865)”

How bad can it be? In 2011, the votes of seven million Canadian voters elected no one. Conservatives in Quebec, New Democrats in Saskatchewan, Liberals in Alberta, and (almost) all Greens (not just the five per cent of them in one riding) all deserve to be represented by someone they voted for. Each of Canada’s regions is actually much more diverse than our voting system suggests.

It’s an election. Doesn’t someone have to lose? Candidates and parties can lose, but voters never should. In their 2011 election, 97 per cent of New Zealand voters cast a vote that elected someone to represent them. In Canada, less than 51 per cent of us did.

We came to you with our concerns in good faith. We hope that we can continue to work together for a democracy that includes us all.

Dave Brekke, Whitehorse

Sally Wright, Kluane Lake