Proportional Representation: UK says “NO” to electoral reform

How many times did we hear and read during the recent federal election campaign that what Canada needed was a proportional representation (PR) electoral system. Why? Because, supposedly the “first past the post” system is antiquated and not really fair.

To whom is it not really fair? Usually it is not fair to the political parties who want to increase their representation in parliament. Although, surprisingly, as this Google page indicates, that is not always the case. In fact, as Straight.com reports, most leaders were in favour of PR when they weren’t winning, including both Stephen Harper and Jean Chretien.  For those who are interested, fellow Blogging Tory,Paul MacDonald’s, had an excellent post up yesterday on the ins and outs of PR.

  • Be that as it may, in Canada at this particular time in history, the main argument in favour of PR, is from those who did not vote  for the Harper led Conservative minority governments in either the 2006 or 2008 federal elections. The argument goes something to the effect that, since they were rejected by 60% of the Canadian electorate, they were not legitimate governments.

Interestingly, we are still hearing that refrain, only this time it is that the Harper led Conservative “majority” was also rejected by 60% of the voters. For instance, just this week, only a day or two after the May 2nd election, I personally heard newly elected Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May, tell the CBC’s Evan Solomon that the Conservative win was an “illegitimate majority.”  Similarly, she is quoted as referring to the win as a “false majorityin this Nanaimo Daily News column.  And, this is the newly elected MP who says she wants to improve the tone in the House of Commons?

  • Perhaps May should look at her own numbers. In most cases, winners earn a plurality of the votes, as opposed to a true majority of 50% + 1%. Specifically, according to this source, May got 46.26% of the vote.  A good outcome as far as I am concerned, and certainly a commendable win, but false if she equates 51% as a majority. In reality then, Elizabeth May won because her numbers were first past the post in her riding.

Then, of course, there is the issue of double standard. As I have written before, when it was the Liberal Party winning 40% of the popular vote, we heard no such complaints. A double standard? Absolutely. But, the argument is always, “yes but the 60% represents the centre and centre left in this country.” Fine, but that 60% also represents several different political parties and that is the reality.

Lastly, if all other arguments in support of PR fail, we hear that Canada is an embarrassment because it is lagging the rest of the Western world in terms of electoral reform.

My conclusion? Canadians who did not vote for their Conservative Party of Canada candidate, need to get over the fact that the Conservative government under the leadership of Stephen Harper, just won a four-year mandate by the Canadian people. Fair and square. End of story.

Regarding our electoral system? We don’t need any more political chaos than we’ve got. As the saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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Endnote: Readers will no doubt see that, apart from most mainstream media sources (the exception being the CBC who now want bloggers to pay to use their copy), I have started to use general topic “Google Page” links. I am doing that to avoid any problems with links that may be considered as promoting hate or libel. Today, however, I did link to the Green blog, Victoria Vision, having noted it was a very positive site.

5 thoughts on “Proportional Representation: UK says “NO” to electoral reform

  1. PR only gives disproportionate power to fringe parties such as the Green Party. Why do people keep blaming political problems on our institutions? Our institutions work fine. It’s the people in them that are the problem.
    I would recommend reading a book called “Against Reform” by John Pepall.

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