The School Mistress’ Lesson.

This lady does not beat around the bush about to-day’s lesson. She is from an organization called Leadnow.ca and she and her organization think that our present voting system is broken. That seems to be a common theme among the do-gooders who come out to talk about electoral reform across Canada.

But fear not folks, you can also have a say at public meetings being held by your local Member of Parliament or at meetings of the Special Commons Committee on Electoral Reform. Between September 19 and October 7, the committee hopes to hold 15 meetings in cities across Canada. (The trip to Iqalit, Nunavut is tentative.)

The committee has been much more relaxed listening to academics and other supposed experts in Ottawa this past summer. The school mistress type presentation from Leadnow.ca was one of these ‘experts.’ Like many other opinionated witnesses, she started by stating that her organization’s members think “it is absolutely vital that Canada replace our broken first-past-the-post voting system with some form of proportional representation.”

She further claims that our present system “does not allow people to adequately and fairly express their preferences.” She thinks that under FPTP the people who do not vote for the winner have wasted their votes. Any thinking politician could tell her that no vote is ever wasted as the results of one election can be the basis for the hopes of a coming election.

What FPTP has really given Canada for the this nearly 150 years of being a nation is the stability that makes it one of the best governed countries in the world. Our system encourages national political parties that form around policies and political ideologies that offer a broad choice to the voters.

These national political parties are mainly ‘big tent’ parties that argue policy ahead of elections and build their platforms under the party’s big tent approach. The school teacher presentation claims that Canadians would want more opinions in parliament. She sees it as more fair. She wants all voices to be heard in parliament. We could get that by reforming parliament rather than how we vote.

She also wants a more inclusive parliament. While we can never be totally satisfied with the diversity that is already there, we would have to have hundreds more MPs to accommodate all. And nobody wants to spend the money that would cost.

Proportional representation would see a proliferation of narrow interest and regionally based parties. It would also cause more parliaments without majorities and Canadians would only find out after elections which direction the coalition parliaments want to take.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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