FPTP: What if it is not broken?

As the first witness before the special commons committee on electoral reform Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef gave the committee eight principles for their task. These principles might be conflicting in some ways but they are definitely in conflict with the path the committee is taking.

The first principle promoted by the minister is to promise that Canadians can be assured of the legitimacy of the outcome. It is a puzzle as to how the minister can make that assurance when she starts with the assumption that first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting creates distortions?

That seems to conflict with the government’s second principle of assuring Canadians that they can influence politics and that their vote can make a meaningful difference. Today, Canadians have direct contact and involvement in the political process and selection of their members of parliament. None of the proposals being made to the special committee of the house have offered more direct involvement.

The third principle is that changes must ensure the inclusive politics Canadians want. It would be interesting to have each of the individual MPs on the special committee explain why their campaign for election in 2015 might not have been inclusive?

The fourth principle is that changes should not make the voting overly complex. Is there a voting system simpler than FPTP?

The fifth principle is very important, it is that voting should be accessible and user-friendly. In a computer-savvy nation, there is no excuse for us to not move to Internet voting. The trust exists, the will is there, we should move.

The sixth principle is that the system we use has to reflect the relationship between citizens and their MPs. FPTP does that best.

The security and confidentiality of voting is the seventh principle. By using existing, linked computers across the country, we can meet that challenge.

The eighth principle challenges any voting reform to find common ground, pursue consensus and include all Canadians. And just what does changing how we vote have to do with those lofty ideas?

What we know now is that FPTP provides involvement to Canadians to the degree they wish to contribute. It provides a close involvement with those who wish to lead us. It contributes to strong and effective government. And when we want to change government, we do. The only thing we have been remiss on is moving to a longer period of voting and the use of the Internet to assist everyone to participate. That is the only vote reform needed.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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