Re: Editorial, ‘Proportional representation’s ship has sailed”
While I normally agree with your “take” on political matters, this op-ed piece provoked such a strong negative reaction that I cannot help but present a contrary viewpoint.
Allow me, first, to address the federal landscape before commenting upon the provincial history and current situation. Mr. Trudeau, as a central plank of his campaign, promised Canadians that, if he was elected, this would be the last election decided by the obsolete first past the post system. Once elected, he established a committee to examine, research, and listen to Canadians, on the issue of electoral reform and report to Parliament.
Initial efforts to “stack” the committee with partisans were rejected by Parliament and by Canadians. After conscientiously fulfilling its mandate, the committee produced a report to Parliament unambiguously expressing the wish of the majority of the committee, and of Canadians consulted, for replacement of the current system with a system based upon proportional representation.
Mr. Trudeau, defied the democratically expressed wish of Canadians and betrayed those who accepted his promise before giving him their vote and callously broke his promise for strictly partisan reasons. There are many of us who cannot, again, cast our ballots for someone who demonstrates so little regard for democracy and the value of his own word.
On the provincial front, the history of efforts at electoral reform demonstrate that a majority of the electorate supports the replacement of the current “first past the post” system with a system based upon proportional representation. The will of the people, in this respect, has been defeated, on more than one occasion, by political maneuvering involving the presentation of poorly crafted referendum questions and the requirements of super majorities.
Proportional representation is systematic change. Those who benefit politically from the status quo will not effect systemic change, despite holding out the prospect of such change in a cynical effort to attract voters. Only when the electorate demands an end to this cynical game, will systemic change come about and bring the Canadian electoral system into the modern era, in line with the majority of functioning democracies in the world.
Until then, we will continue to cling to an outdated system that cedes near dictatorial power to a party that the majority of citizens did not, and do not, support. To use the word “democracy” to describe such a system is to pervert the true meaning of the concept.
Electoral reform is not “a ship that has sailed.” It is an absolute minimum requirement to produce functional democracies at both the federal and provincial level. “We, the people” know this. It is long past time that our choice be respected.