Fake voting one’s way to a better system

Tommy Douglas, Rosa Parks and Bob Marley are unwittingly running in an election this week -- too bad they're all dead.

Tommy Douglas, Rosa Parks and Bob Marley are unwittingly running in an election this week—too bad they’re all dead.

A mock vote at the Fireweed Market this Thursday with well-known historical figures will be used to demonstrate how Canada’s voting system could be improved.

“The purpose is to increase people’s interest in changing Canada’s electoral system,” said Dave Brekke, organizer for the event.

“As it is now, only 50 per cent of people have any effect on the outcome of an election.”

Brekke is referring to Canada’s first-past-the-post system which, like a horse race, acknowledges only the winner.

“I would say this is one of the worst electoral systems in the world. What kind of democracy do we have here?” said Brekke.

“In the 2002 Yukon election, there was only one Liberal elected in the Yukon even though the Liberals captured 35 per cent of the vote.”

He says that statistics like these discourage people from voting in the first place.

Brekke would know. He used to be a federal returning officer with Elections Canada and sat on an advisory committee that discussed changes to the electoral system.

No longer employed by Elections Canada, Brekke can freely say now that he favours proportional representation voting.

A proportional system awards seats to parties based on the overall percentage of votes they receive in an election, unlike the current system, which disregards votes that don’t go to the winning candidate,

This spring, British Columbia voted against introducing a form of proportional representation, known as single transferable vote, to the province. The vote was just three per cent shy of the 60 per cent approval rating needed to implement the new system.

Ontario and Prince Edward Island also voted on introducing proportional representation, in 2007 and 2005 respectively. But voters in both provinces rejected the plans.

The idea often doesn’t gain much traction with voters because it’s seen as too confusing said Brekke.

“We’re trying to work to make this simpler; it seems so simple to me but that’s likely because I’ve been doing it so long,” said Brekke.

Brekke is proposing a different form of proportional representation in the Yukon.

He calls his own brand of proportional representation “paired riding preferential proportional.” It’s a tongue twister, he admits.

Unlike other proportional-representation systems, he says his maintains the most direct contact between citizens and their government officials.

It works by pairing two adjacent ridings so that the riding actually doubles in size. One of the seats is determined by the candidate who wins the popular vote in that paired riding. And the other seat is determined by the political party that receives the greatest proportion of seats in that riding.

“The biggest problem with other proportional systems is that there are additional seats that needed to be voted on. In this system there are no extra seats.”

This won’t be the first time that Brekke and friend Ted Dean will be running a mock election in Whitehorse.

They previously held an election at the public library, but received fewer votes than they would have liked.

This time Brekke and Dean have sent out invitations to all four high schools in the city and have stationed themselves at the market where they know they’ll get more foot traffic.

“I’ve had good feedback with presenting this new system. It has lots of value if people just take the time to look at it,” said Brekke.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com