Another election is upon us and the various leaders are currently crisscrossing the nation in an effort to sway our vote with unrealistic and often irresponsible promises — the most irresponsible being a promise to change the way we choose our government.
Both the NDP and the Liberal Party have declared that, “This will be the last federal election in Canada to be held under the First-past-the-post (FPTP) system”. The main complaint is that it is somehow undemocratic. The opponents to FPTP advocate Proportional Representation (PR).
The reality is that PR would subvert the will of the voters. Political parties attract voter support by offering a package of policies based on strongly held principles. PR doesn’t give a hair about principles. Historically, PR fails to elect majority governments and instead relies on coalitions to form government. Coalitions can only come about through negotiation. If the object is to gain power and form government, then various policies can be effectively weakened or outright abandoned. In this way, supposedly honest and steadfast political parties would wheel and deal away the very things that drew voter support. Therefore, principles be damned and the voters be damned. Under PR and the likelihood of coalition governments, we could easily end up with government agendas nobody actually voted for.
I also want to point out the coalitions often require the inclusion of radical and fringe parties that get to influence government policy disproportionate to their share of the popular vote. If you are uncomfortable with that idea, then consider this: FPTP encourages political parties to hold more moderate course in regard to policies and governance. They do so in an effort to appeal to the broadest possible numbers of voters. Under this system we have managed to keep extremist policies and views from exercising power in Canada while rewarding the parties that favour compromise.
A previous letter contributor would have you believe that FPTP was, “designed to allow a party with a minority of voter support across the country to form a majority government.” False! FPTP was selected by our founding fathers to ensure that people living within a political/geographic area, a riding, have a say in who represents them in parliament. In this way people choose one of their own to send to Ottawa, and they do so in the most clear , simple and expeditious manner.
Local representation is paramount to a functioning electoral process. We choose local individuals because they understand the communities they come from. Would a person raised in Montreal have the same concerns and needs as Prince Rupert? Canadians not only elect governments, but they also elect parliamentarians. PR would disregard local choice and eliminate the riding system. MP’s would be selected from prearranged lists and appointed by the leaders of the various political parties. In this way PR subverts regional representation and regional choice. When the peoples’ choice is taken away from them so to is democracy.
Unfortunately, those favouring a PR system are operating under the false assumption that the number of political parties would somehow remain static at the current handful. In actuality, a quick visit to www.elections.ca will provide a list of registered political parties which currently stands at 22. A PR system would only serve to encourage a proliferation of single interest parties resulting in a dysfunctional parliament. Such a move would only result in the political chaos we have witnessed in countries such as Israel and Italy.
On Oct. 19, say no to PR and yes to the democratic principles that built this nation.