Like many Canadians, I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like my vote doesn’t count. If you’re not in a competitive riding, what’s your choice? I can’t remember the last time I got to vote for that party I wanted to. Why can’t we have a democratic system where our vote means what we believe.
Our democratic institutions are increasingly susceptible to populism, divisive rhetoric, and protest votes. Not in the sense that citizens spoil their ballots, or vote for a third party candidate; but votes that reflect a negative sentiment, an anti-vote. Did Americans vote for Trump because he embodied their values? Or was it a vote against nepotism and the status quo? (See points 8 and 12).
We are not immune to it in Canada and the repercussions would be even worse. The Kevin O’Learies and Kelly Leitches of the world are taking a page from our southern counterparts: divisive rhetoric wins. And why wouldn’t they, when it takes as little as 38.5% of the vote to secure a majority government. This, in a system that ensures party discipline, allocates the entirety of power to a government that can get less than 40%. Canadians are particularly susceptible to minority rule.
And yet, MyDemocracy.ca showed us (See 4.1 Priorities) that we value exactly the opposite:
- 1st Priority: 63% of Canadians – a clear majority – expect that governments should consider all options before making a decision.
- 2nd Priority: 58.6% of Canadians want to be able to hold their governments accountable.
- 3rd Priority: 55.7% of Canadians expect that “governments collaborate with other parties in parliament.”
None of these priorities are reflected in our current voting system. Under a majority government FPTP empowers one party to make the majority of decisions unopposed. FPTP claims that accountability through direct representation is its chief strength. But this is only true if citizens are able to vote for their preferred choice without fear of splitting the vote. This fear of the candidate you most dislike winning is a powerful motivator and makes politics a poll based popularity contest.
But the real threat of the Liberals turning their back on democratic reform is the constant decline of credibility for politicians. Why should we believe what is promised in a campaign by a “career” politician? When time and time again they don’t have the leadership to execute what they promised. It erodes confidence in our system, in our democracy, and it paves the way for the demagogue. Say whatever you will about Trump’s policies and humanity, he is doing what he said he would. To many Canadians that would be an appealing proposition.
If we don’t want Canada to have our own Trump, we need to let the Liberals hear that turning their back on electoral reform is a deal breaker. Sign a petition; organize or attend a local event; march on Parliament Hill; call, e-mail or tweet your MP; get loud and take action. Make your vote count again.
Want to learn more about the other voting systems? Check them out here:
The author of this post has chosen to remain anonymous.