Letter to the Editor – Voting

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Dear Editor,

The recent provincial election brought into stark relief just how badly we need a new voting system.

Ford and his “Progressive” Conservative Party, with just a 0.34% increase in the vote, gained an extra 7 seats. If anyone doesn’t find this totally absurd, then they cannot be paying attention. 

Consider this; the Liberal Party earned slightly more of the popular vote than the NDP – 23.85% versus 23.73%, yet the NDP voters elected 31 MPP’s, while the Liberals elect only 8 MPP’s. To add insult to injury, and despite the support of almost one quarter of Ontario voters, the first-past-the-post current system means the Ontario Liberal Party will again be denied official party status in the legislature, making it even more difficult for the party to represent its voters. The Green Party increased their popular vote share from 4.6% in 2018 to 5.96% but still elected only one MPP (Mike Schreiner) to represent the 279,265 people who voted Green in Ontario.

The Conservatives current “majority”, with just 40.84% of the vote x 43.54% turnout, means that this government is supported by just 17.78% of eligible voters, less than 1 in 5.

If so many of the eligible voters hadn’t stayed away in droves, we wouldn’t now be facing 4 more years of more private health care, more farmland paved over, more jails and highways that we don’t need, more students in front of computer screens, no significant action on poverty or the climate crisis, real wage cuts for many workers, more “market solutions” in areas like housing, even though the market itself is the problem.

So for all of you eligible voters who “don’t do politics”, thanks a lot. Your apathy has brought us to this place. People in other countries are literally dying to try and get what you take for granted, and two world wars were fought to assure that you have an open and free society. To not vote, in my opinion, is to sully the memory of those who died so that you could be free.

You have allowed yourself to be manipulated by the narrative put out that all politicians are either crooks or opportunists, or both, and are not worthy of your time. You get your news from social media, (scarcely the best source of real information), and are not prepared to take the time to find out which political parties might reflect your beliefs. In a winner-take-all electoral system, many people feel they must vote for the lesser evil, or are discouraged from voting at all. 

Only 40.84% of Ontario voters supported the PCs, yet the voting system has handed Doug Ford’s PCs 67% of the seats and 100% of the power. It is beyond time for Proportional Representation, (PR), like they have in New Zealand. Here, under the first -past- the-post system, 54% of voters, 2,531,087 voters, cast wasted votes that elected no-one. Under PR, that number would have been 8.6%. 

If we had a PR system in place, and assuming that we would use a threshold of 3% of the vote, the results would have been;  Progressive Conservative: 53, Liberal Party: 31, NDP: 31, Green Party of Ontario: 8, Independent: 1

Of course, while we keep electing either of the main 2 parties, nothing will ever change, because the current system is to their advantage. Though maybe not for the Liberals, in this particular case, though I wouldn’t hold your breath expecting a policy change. It is time for you who are disillusioned with the system to step up and do something about it. Walking away will not solve anything.

As the Lorax from Doctor Seuss says “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not”. And now we have yet another case in point.

Colin Creasey, Kemptville

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