Justin’s chorus demonizes first-past-the-post.

Nowhere in the Canadian voting handbook does it say that we are committed to voting for all the promises of the party we choose in an election. Even as a card-carrying Liberal, we have the right to tell the Prime Minister that one of his promises is foolish and should not happen. Specifically, his promise to change how we vote for our member of parliament should be shelved.

In reading the Insight Section of the Toronto Star last Saturday, we found the name of our Liberal riding president appended to one of a page of letters-to-the-editor lauding the potential demise of first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting. The riding president’s letter simplistically equates electoral reform to the historical importance of women winning the right to vote.

Sorry, buddy but that is an apples and oranges argument. Giving the franchise to women was a long overdue legal right. Change how we vote in a hurry and we can regret it at our leisure. Before you change how we vote, it is critical to understand what you are doing.

Any change in how we vote will have long-term implications. For example: proportional voting is supported by small national parties because they know that they will gain seats in parliament. It has been shown around the world to create more special interest group parties. It practically guarantees that you will never have a majority government. It means a government that has to constantly wheel and deal to get anything through parliament.

The reverse of that is preferential voting. Preferential voting would be likely to reduce the number of parties as they consolidate to add to their voter preference. With preferential voting, that October election would have given the Liberals as much as 70 per cent of the seats in parliament and a carte blanche to put through their program.

There are of course many variations of both proportional and preferential voting systems. Before you change to any of them, you need to recognize that Canada is, in its constitutional structure, a confederation. It is not structured as a single country but is the sum of its provinces and territories. Our electoral system is based on so many representatives from each province and territory. Our MPs are elected to represent an electoral district.

Now think about what Canada needs. Change is not impossible but real change requires a much broader consensus. Without the express consent of the Canadian people, Justin Trudeau has no franchise to change how we vote.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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