Although the Trudeau Government seems to think ERRÉ will go away if they keep their fingers in their ears long enough, nothing could be further from the truth. For the first time in my life, Electoral Reform is on the Canadian radar. Even though most of us don’t understand all the ins and outs, we know there are alternatives to a voting system that requires far too many of us to vote “strategically” if we’re to have any chance of casting a vote that counts. And far too many Canadians who did just that in hope of electing a government that would introduce a fair system have learned a #WinnerTakeAll “majority” government can thumb its nose at voters as they cavalierly choose to break a promise repeated thousands of times during the 2015 election campaign (and after).
A majority of voters in Prince Edward Island voted to adopt Mixed Member Proportional Representation in their referendum last year, just as a majority of BC Voters voted to adopt Single Transferable Vote in 2005.
The thing to remember about Canadian referenda is that they actually aren’t a part of the Westminster Parliamentary System, they’re voluntary. It is entirely up to the government of the day whether or not to hold them. This generally means governments never embark on a referendum they think could be lost. That’s why the support of 57.7% of BC voters wasn’t enough to “win.” And why the BC Government was able to design the next referendum to fail more definitively. That’s why the PEI Government believes they can ignore their results and do it again, this time with a referendum more effectively designed to fail.
But times have changed. British Columbia actually has a government that wants Proportional Representation to win the referendum. Granted, the referendum question hasn’t even been announced and the defenders of the status quo are already working hard to spread misinformation.
This is so important because once we get a Proportional Representation government anywhere in Canada, we’ll be able to see for ourselves that it isn’t any harder to vote in a Proportional system. More importantly, we’ll see that the sky doesn’t actually fall. Instead of having to take anybody’s word for it, we will know (as 90+ countries already using Proportional Representation know) that it is better to vote in a system designed to provide most voters with representation. For starters, it will mean government policy that most of us will be able to live with. When votes count, elected governments are accountable to voters. We’ll be able to see with our own eyes what a difference real representation makes.
Electoral reform is inevitable, it is just a matter of time. Sadly Canada is not the only country to have such problems.
Our UK cousins have been striving for Proportional Representation in the United Kingdom for well over a century. That’s why they had an electoral reform referendum in 2011. The only problem was that that referendum didn’t actually include Proportional Representation on the menu; the question was whether to keep the winner-take-all First Past The Post or adopt another (arguably worse) winner-take-all system known as Alternative Vote. [This, by the way, is Prime Minister Trudeau’s preferred system, the one our Liberals tried to rebrand as “Preferential Vote” or “Ranked Ballot.”] Fortunately UK voters chose to keep FPTP
Perhaps what’s most incredible is how many people who ought to know better think it was a Proportional Representation referendum. I was surprised to hear one of the ERRÉ electoral reform experts from Scotland suggest that was a Proportional Representation referendum. Although the UK continues to use First Past The Post, the devolution governments of Scotland, Wales and Ireland all use some form of Proportional Representation.
Canada’s E-616 petition garnered more than 130,000 signatures. More than any other Parliamentary e-Petition in Canadian history. There was some thought that this would lead to an actual Parliamentary Debate on the Electoral Reform process promised by the Trudeau Government. But like everything else in Canada’s colonial government, there is no such guarantee; the party with 100% power can completely ignore such a petition. Which is exactly what the Trudeau Government did.
But it’s different in the United Kingdom. When a Parliamentary e-petition in the UK exceeds 100,000 signatures. it triggers an actual Parliamentary Debate. Recently an Electoral Reform Petition resulted in just such a debate the other day. It was quite interesting, and if you’re interested in taking a look, it is still online, although I am not sure for how long. For now at least you can see it at http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c52f8c49-55ac-44c8-bf23-b1705afadaf8 or choose to download the mp3 to watch at your leisure.
But even if the video is no longer online, you’ll still be able to read it in Hansard here:
[Of course you won’t get to see the Minister squirm in the text version 🙂 ]
It is good to see support for Proportional Representation growing in the UK as well.
• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
• Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q
• The Poll’s The Thing
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
• #ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
• FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
• PEI picks Proportional Representation
• There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
• Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
• Sign the Petition e-616
• #ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals
• UK e-petition 168657 #ERRÉ
and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!