The usual chorus is at it again. They are the ones unhappy with our first-past-the-post voting system. They think first-past-the-post is a bicycle built for just two political parties. And that is wrong. The number of parties is not the point.
The Canadian system of voting is designed to elect a representative parliament. Our parliament was created to make sure the provinces, cities and towns and rural areas and people across Canada are represented. Political parties were the afterthought.
There is a long history in our voting and a great deal of experience. At first, the idea of a parliament was to represent just land owners. That quickly became a system wherein all men voted. Later, women were included. And then we asked Canadian aboriginals to vote. More recently, we have been lowering the voting age and currently Canadians, 18-years and older, can vote. Canadians have a well-run and secure system of choosing our representatives.
Our system is also open to improvement. For example, we could save a good deal of money by moving to a computerized voting system. There are still concerns about security and ensuring that the voter is whom he or she claim to be. As these considerations are resolved, we can continue to innovate.
One of the concerns of those who are asking for change is the growing number of political parties. There are differing views in Canada and they all have the right to be heard. There is no limitation on the number of political parties but there are conditions to be met. In addition, any citizen can pay the same fee as a party candidate to have their name on the ballot in an election.
With the growing number of parties, we have seen the lowering of the number of votes required to win a plurality. There are a variety of ways to ensure that the ultimate winner has majority support. The very best is run-off elections for the top two or three candidates. The worst is the practice of preferential voting which nobody seems to take seriously.
But until Canadians can address the question of electoral reform in a citizens’ forum, we are best to stick with the first-past-the-post system we know.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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