Simple solutions for simple minds.

It’s tough enough for politicians to get people out to vote in elections without confusing them. Yet here is New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair telling people that they are being cheated by our First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) election system. That will certainly confuse them. What he wants them to do is to elect people to parliament that are chosen by the political parties not the voters.

What Mulcair and his New Democrats are really complaining about is that despite their usually gaining about 20 per cent of the votes across Canada, they do not always get 20 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. That is just a quirk of how FPTP voting works. If we are going to have more than three political parties, we are often going to be electing people with less than 50 per cent of the vote. Our system works on a plurality basis, not a majority.

While the smaller political parties kick and shout about the supposed unfairness of FPTP, it has worked for us since Canada became a country. We use FPTP in municipal, provincial and municipal elections. We trust it.

Smaller parties might feel cheated but the reality is that the public are not going to buy into some method of voting that they neither understand nor control. Transferable votes, preferential votes, mixed member voting or other variations are just not on the public radar. And until there is greater trust in the Internet for large scale voting, simple run-off elections are too expensive and time consuming to consider.

The problem for Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats is that they should think more before coming out with policies such as one of these other voting methods. They should remember that Bob Rae’s surprise NDP victory in Ontario in 1990 and Rachel Notley’s amazing recent win in Alberta were because of FPTP voting. Neither of those Premiers were elected with a majority. Notley’s NDP at least got 41 per cent of the popular vote and a majority of the seats in the legislature and Rae had just under 38 per cent.

If Mulcair and Company were really interested in serving the middle class in this country, they would be negotiating now with Trudeau’s Liberals and thinking of a new social democratic party for Canada. Add Elizabeth May’s Greens and you would have an unbeatable combination.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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