COLUMN: Making a clear choice for electoral change

Voters made clear choices for change in the federal election, and one of those choices was for electoral reform.

Dick Cannings

Voters made clear choices for change in the federal election, and one of those choices was for electoral reform. The Liberals, NDP and Green parties all loudly pledged that the 2015 election would be the last held in Canada under the first-past-the-post voting system, and those parties collectively received nearly two-thirds of the popular vote in the election.

Why did these promises resonate with most Canadians? Because too many feel that their vote doesn’t count in the present system. The recent federal election resulted in a large Liberal majority, despite the fact that the Liberals only received 39 per cent of the popular vote. Coincidentally, this was the same level of popular vote that gave the Conservatives a strong majority in Ottawa in the 2011 election. The time for an electoral system that better reflects the views of Canadians is long overdue.

The NDP ran on a promise to bring in proportional representation a system that would combine the geographical riding representation we have now with a selection of MPs based on overall popular vote. This would create a parliament where the proportion of MPs from each party would match the proportion of the popular vote received. While some are concerned that this would create more minority parliaments, it can easily be shown that minority governments generally promote cooperation and collaboration among parties and work well in most democratic countries around the world.

The Liberals ran on a promise to simply change the electoral system, stating that they would consult Canadians in some manner to select an alternative to first-past-the-post. Justin Trudeau says he personally would like to see a preferential ballot, even though that system would create more false majorities instead of fewer. We can only hope that the consultation process will settle on a new method that will be a significant improvement on the old one.

Before the House of Commons broke for Christmas, the Conservatives repeatedly called for the government to hold a referendum on this issue, claiming that this would be the only democratic way to choose a new electoral system. And in a truly ironic twist, they recently threatened to block any electoral change bill in the decidedly undemocratic Senate.

I think Canadians have already signalled that the government should move ahead on electoral reform, joining over 90 per cent of the world’s developed countries that have abandoned first-past-the-post. They want a new system that will make every vote count and fight political cynicism across the country. People are naturally skeptical even afraid of changing a system they know well. I like Nathan Cullen’s suggestion to let the people decide whether to keep the new system after a couple of elections then they’d be choosing based on knowledge, not on fear of the unknown.

On the office front, phones have been installed in Penticton and Castlegar. If you’d like to get in touch with me and my staff, the numbers are: Penticton, 250-770-4480; Castlegar, 250-365-2972.

Dick Cannings is the MP for South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

Just Posted

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Nelson to send two musicians to provincial Festival of The Arts

Lucas Alexander and Nico Bucher will compete in Chilliwack later this month

Police investigating felling of old cedars at Cottonwood Lake

One of the cedars was 300 to 450 years old

Safe boating event planned in Nelson on May 25

The event coincides with the National Safe Boating Awareness week

Help make Nelson the most active community in Canada

The Better Community Challenge launches May 31

Kelowna RCMP interrogation video brings home reality in ‘visceral way’: former TRC chairman

Video of Mountie interrogating young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse under fire

Update: Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Full-scale search underway for missing kayaker on Okanagan Lake

Kelowna Paddle Centre member Zygmunt Janiewicz, 71, failed to return from his ‘daily kayak’ on the lake

ICBC urging drivers to slow down this May long weekend

Speed is number one cause of car crash fatalities: ICBC

Bucks hammer Raptors 125-103 to take 2-0 playoff series lead

Toronto heads home in a hole after second loss to Milwaukee

Most Read