LETTER: First past the post, a derogatory term

I hear a lot of fanfare lately about the new federal Liberal government’s plan to change our electoral system.

I hear a lot of fanfare lately about the new federal Liberal government’s plan to change our electoral system. The supporters of this change have successfully named our current system as the “first past the post” system.

Perhaps I am a complete dolt who cannot grasp the appropriateness of this new name, but to me the first past the post system would crown the fleetest candidate in the race as the winner.

Our system does not do so…our current system declares the person in each riding in the country as the representative of that riding. It’s a system that I have been taught to recognize as democracy.

It is true that the winning candidate does not often get more than half the votes, but the only way to fix that is to have a run-off election between the two top candidates, an onerous and expensive process which would be unlikely to change much.

Most people who are lobbying for change wouldn’t be satisfied with this though, they want a system where the Green Party can have more MP’s because nationally they get a few percent of the vote. According to their way of thinking, a party that gets 5 per cent of the vote nationally should get 5 per cent of the seats.

In order to achieve this Green party MPs would have to be given seats in ridings where they did not get the most votes, and the voters in those ridings would have to accept a representative who did not democratically win that riding’s seat. I think that would be highly unfair to the people in that riding who actually elected someone else.

I think this movement is being used by the Green party to hi-jack our democracy for their own political gain.

I believe our current system is a good system, not perfect, but the fairest available, and I wish the media would stop falling into the trap of referring to it as the first past the post system. This new name has become a highly derogatory term.

Some people think we can have a system where every vote counts. I believe that every vote counts in our current system, but counting is not necessarily winning. A system where every vote “wins” would mean that everyone who wanted to be an MP gets to be one, and that is not reasonable.

We currently have a good, strong locally democratic system. We should think very hard before we decide to tinker with it. Some other countries in the world have made the mistake of demanding change without really considering the consequences. Better we learn from their mistakes than our own.

Rod Retzlaff, Glade

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