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Letter: Changing voting system would benefit Canada

By: Letter to the Editor

 | Aug 15, 2014 - 10:18 AM |
Re: Recent letters to the editor by Tony Sottile and William E. McLeod about proportional representation.

You have to love freedom of expression which allows anyone to speak out on a topic, no matter how little they know about the subject. This was demonstrated admirably by two recent letters opposing proportional representation.

One letter said proportional representation would make our governments unstable.

Yet Canada has had more federal elections over the last 60 years than any other democracy, including those paragons of instability, Italy and Israel.

That’s because our winner-take-all system encourages parties to call an election any time the polls suggest it might get them a phony majority (most of the seats with far less than half the votes).

Moreover, despite the letter writer’s assertion that this is because we have more than two parties, I note that in the United States, the Republicans control the House despite having received far fewer votes than the Democrats. This is a feature of winner-take-all systems no matter how many parties are involved.

He seems to not know even how proportional representation elects people, confusing it with decidedly non-proportional run-off systems. Proportional representation elections are generally like our current ones, except voters have more choice and more control.

The other letter writer repeats the claims that proportional representation is unstable, but compounds that error by asserting that it would give rise to a proliferation of small parties in our Parliaments.

In fact, the U.K. and India, which use first past the post, lead the world in terms of the number of parties elected, while Israel and Italy usually have no more than Canada when you count independents.

No system is going to be all things to all people, but our current system is one of the worst and serves us badly. It needs to be replaced with a proportional system and quickly for the good of the nation.

Gary Dale

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