If nothing else, this Yukon Party government of ours, by its blatant abandonment of the democratic process since taking office, has galvanized
many of us into action. After recovering somewhat from the shocking display of what passes for a majority government in our legislature on opening day, I find that very reassuring.
I have to confess, that afternoon at the legislature – along with the Yukon Party’s complete rejection of the results from the Peel Watershed Planning Commission – has shown me how naive I’ve been. Previously, I would have assumed such an action (going against the stated desires of almost 90 per cent of the constituents) could not happen. Obviously, it is undemocratic. I mean, we do live in something called a democracy, don’t we? After the actions of this government, I don’t see how we can refer to it as such anymore.
My Canadian dictionary defines democracy as “government by the whole people of a country, especially through representatives whom they elect.” I think it quite clear in that definition that our (the whole peoples’) desires are expressed “through” our elected representatives. A government cannot knowingly go against the wishes of the majority and still be defined as a democracy.
I’ve now come to see there is a very large problem within our governing system. I was aware that we could elect a government to a majority with far less than 50 per cent of the vote, but never did I consider how serious the consequences could be. The Yukon Party, having acquired 100 per cent of the power with only 40 per cent of the vote, can now ignore the wishes of us all and run away with its previously hidden agenda.
Apparently, it is perfectly politically legal (however unethical), but in no way shape or form can I see it meeting even the broadest definition of democracy. If there is something I am missing here, I would be very glad to hear about it.
Although I have a great fear we could lose the Yukon we all love so much to rampant and unnecessary development over the next four years (we already have a thriving economy), there is a solution to prevent a government from ever having the power to manipulate an election like this again. And that is the proportional representation, or fair voting system.
A brief investigation has revealed to me some very encouraging facts of this system. Most importantly, never could a government be elected to a “false” majority again, with less that 50 per cent of the vote. If a party receives 40 per cent of the vote (as did the Yukon Party in our last election), it would receive approximately 40 per cent of the seats (instead of a majority with 100 per cent of the power). The NDP and the Liberals (and independents) would receive a proportional number of seats reflective of the percentage of the vote that they acquired.
Because a majority of voters seldom support a single party, rarely under such a voting system is a party elected to a majority. Thus, parties have to negotiate, compromise and co-operate to form a government and pass legislation. This means the will of most of the people (because all elected parties are represented and participating) is being expressed – something, I would think, that more closely meets the above mentioned definition of democracy.
One of the most beautiful things of this voting system is that there are almost no wasted votes. Everyone can point to someone in government that is representative of their vote and actively participating for them. This means our participation does not end at the ballot box, as when the candidate we voted for did not get elected. This encourages a much stronger voter turnout, something that has been steadily dropping in Canada, at least since the 1980s.
It was surprising to me to find how widely used this voting system is around the world. Seventy-five democracies have adopted a proportional representational system, including most European countries and the major nations of the Americas. In fact, Canada is one of only three Western democracies that has not adopted this more advanced and fairer system.
I realize change can be intimidating, but isn’t it time we too took the really very simple but huge social evolutionary leap, and left this antiquated voting system behind?
Let’s let this Yukon Party government, certainly the most undemocratic in recent history, be the catalyst for change. Let’s ensure it is the last one that can get away with the deception that got them elected so they could then carry out their own hidden agenda. It is a governing style that belongs on the trash-heap of history. It is not democracy and it does not have to be. There is a better voting system that prevents such political connivance and betrayal.
One more beautiful aspect of the fair voting system is, although they all follow some basic models, they are crafted with public participation to meet the specific needs of the local jurisdiction and populous at large. Time to get busy folks!
I encourage everyone to check out Fair Vote Canada’s website at www.fairvote.ca, and watch for the advertised meetings of Fair Vote Yukon.
And in the meantime I encourage everyone to not give up. Please keep up the good fight, folks. I know I’m not the only one that experienced some dark moments after opening day at the legislature and, although I still harbour some fear that our very special Yukon is in peril, I’ve come to see there’s still hope. And that’s precisely because I know I’m not the only one.
It is truly impressive, the concerted and sustained effort of so many like-minded souls. The heart-felt expressions of so many individuals in the media; the coalescence of so many groups, formally and informally, seeking and finding direction; the petitions and protests. I know of more than just a couple of you that have actually invested your own hard-earned savings into this noble effort. Congratulations. I feel like we are all becoming an extended family in this good fight and you are our heroes. Thanks to everyone involved.
In every human being is the capacity of the greatest and worst of any and all of us. With that reasoning I believe there is still the real chance of Premier Darrell Pasloski and Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers seeing the error of their political ways. Let’s not give up. Write another letter. Keep the discussion going. Phone your MLA again. There is still hope.