Monday, September 5, 2011

Proportional Representation Perverts the Will of Canadians

My editorial published on June 13, 2011 in The Hill Times

RE: First-past-the-post system perverts will of majority, says letter-writer ( May 30, 2011, p. 8 )
I am confused as to why Mr. Dale’s preference is to switch to a proportional representation (PR) system, when it is clearly that system which would pervert the will of the citizens of Canada.

PR is a dangerous system which rewards losers running for office. Let’s say, for example, that Party A wins 20% of the vote but that this only translates into 10% of seats. PR inevitably says to make things proportional, the added 10% will come from losers.

Is that the kind of politics we want to encourage?

I could only imagine living in a riding under such an undemocratic system, where the second-place candidate actually becomes the Member of Parliament to reward that party for their national vote percentage. Parliament would be filled with second- and third-placed losers sitting next to democratically elected MP’s. It would clearly be this system which would pervert the will of Canadians.

First-past-the-post is effective and straightforward: it allows voters to easily elect their representative without having to resort to complex national vote percentage calculations. This is by no means to suggest that Canadians are simple; merely that we would overwhelmingly prefer to be able to know our representative won because he or she received more votes than the other candidates.

Let’s also not forget that PR proposals have been presented to the Ontario and British Columbia electorate. Every time PR proposals failed miserably.

It was also an election promise of Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King to bring in proportional representation if elected in 1935. We see that promise never happened. These are just three instances of attempts to bring in proportional representation. Every time PR has been proposed it fails.

First-past-the-post is certainly not perfect, but it’s better than the alternatives. Mr. Harper and the incumbent Conservative government received their mandate because they received more votes, 5.8 million, or 40%, than the second-placed Party, the NDP, with 4.5 million, or 30%. It’s time to stop complaining about this fact and accept that this government was democratically elected by the will of a larger percentage of Canadians than any other Party.