I am writing to take issue with (Nickel Belt MP) Claude Gravelle’s idea of changing our “first past the post” system of government to some fuzzy form of proportional representation.
It is true that what we have now isn’t perfect. But if we had a system of proportional representation, Ontario would have never had a majority government from the end of the Second World War to the present.
Federally, also since the Second World War, the winning party would have garnered more than 50 per cent of the popular vote only twice — the Progressive Conservatives under John Diefenbaker in 1958 and Brian Mulroney in 1984.
How would the seats in such a system be distributed? Would constituencies where no candidate received a majority of the votes cast have expensive runoff elections until somebody got more than 50 per cent of the votes?
Mr. Gravelle seems to conveniently forget that Bob Rae and the New Democrats won a majority government in 1990 with only 37.6 per cent of the popular vote.
The same can be said for most of the dozens of CCF/NDP governments that have been elected over the years in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. The reason being, of course, we have more than two political parties.
It is true many people vote for parties such as the Green Party that rarely win a seat in the legislatures.
But if we had proportional representation, small parties would have power far out of proportion to their share of the popular vote; enough power to control or bring down governments, sort of like Italy and Israel. No thanks.
Mr. Gravelle writes the system is broken. Maybe it’s not the system but the people who are elected who are broken, because they are unable or unwilling to make the inevitable hard choices needed to keep us from spiralling into a very troubling political and economic abyss.
Mr. Gravelle seems disturbed by the low voter turnout in recent byelections. That is regrettable, but this is a free country, and voting is not compulsory and certainly not a reason to throw out a system that has served us pretty well for nearly a century and a half.
William E. McLeod