Today in Canada and the Yukon our present method of electing our MLAs and MPs is in trouble. We have in Canada only 40 per cent of the voting-aged people actually casting a ballot. In the Yukon the percentage of voting public is a little higher, but it is going down.
What is happening is that our young adults are not voting, because they feel completely disenfranchised from the political process. Politics in Yukon and Canada seems to be all about “power and absolute control.”
Our system of government is that of following the Westminster model that is patterned on the British system. The Westminster type of governance has changed little in Canada since we became a country in 1867. The basic premise of this type of government today is based on the “first-past-the-post” concept, in that “the winner takes all.” Even if the winning party only receives 35 per cent of the total votes cast. That means 65 per cent of the voters have no representation.
What has to change is representation for all voters in one form or another in the ongoing workings of government. There are only a few countries like Canada and England that have not modernized and updated their electoral and representation process. New Zealand and Australia have modernized their electoral process that allows for broader representation and forces the party with the most votes to work with the opposition to make government work.
What is unique in the Yukon is that we are the only northern territory in Canada following the party system, where the winner takes all. What we have in the Yukon is a very small population and what we have experienced with party politics is a form of dictatorship by some of our premiers, division amongst our people and a lack of accountability for decisions being made by the party in power.
Before I got involved in party politics, I, like, a majority of Yukoners, felt that this was the only way to elect a government. After being part of a government for a couple of years as a minister, it did not take me long to realize that our system was flawed and that we need to change.
One of the biggest obstacles to change is that most of us as voters believe that there is no other way to elect our governments. As demonstrated by most countries in the world, there are many other ways that we could modify our electoral practices so we in the Yukon could have more of a consensus type of government with parties and independents being part of the decision making.
What this could mean would be government by a majority of voters and accountability by our leaders and ministers. Both the party in power and the opposition would work together to solve Yukon problems instead of always looking for the one-upmanship approach.
Don Roberts, MLA 2000-2003