Letter to the Editor – Voting

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24th. June 2022

After the debacle of what was known as the last provincial election here in Ontario, I have seen many calls to change our current non-democratic system of voting, known as first past the post, (FPTP). Our current voting system does not respect one of the core tenets of democracy – namely, that legislative decisions should be made by representatives elected by a majority of voters. 

What would fix this travesty of FPTP would be Proportional Representation. (PR). However, you won’t be getting that anytime soon while we keep electing either Conservatives or Liberals, because FPTP works far too well for them. We should also not get fooled by Trudeau’s suggestion of his version of PR, as the system that he wants is skewed towards his own Party. 

There have been a few instances where PR has been studied here in Canada, but it has gone nowhere due to failure to agree on which version to use. Generally, in the systems that have been studied, electoral districts have to be redrawn, and there would be an extra person to vote for, not only the person to represent your riding, but another for the Party that you support.  As things can get a trifle convoluted, and maybe to ease people into the idea of PR, we could start with a simpler system that everyone can understand. I would like to suggest Single Member, Party Proportional, or SMPP. There are no extra persons to vote for, and no redrawing of electoral boundaries. Under SMPP, if a Party gets 40% of the vote, then a members vote in the Legislature, (or in Parliament), is only worth 40%. Therefore, to get any legislation passed, which must be by a majority, that Party will have to seek out the support of another Party with more than 10% of the vote to get the majority that it needs.

With this system, every vote will count, and you won’t get two Party’s with the same percentage of votes where one gets 4 times the seats of the others, as happened in the last Provincial election. I keep hearing from people that voting for smaller Party’s is just a wasted vote. Well, guess what? 2.5 million voters in the last election also “wasted” their votes, as they didn’t elect anyone either.

PR means that everyone’s vote counts, so no vote is “wasted”, although we would be some work to do to convince those who “did not vote” that they no longer have that concern. Of course, there won’t be any support from those who vote for the two main Party’s, because they don’t want to change a system that is working for them. That the current system is unfair doesn’t faze them. It is all about what they want, which seems to be the way that much of society is currently moving.

The rise of the Right, ever since Donald Trump appeared on the scene, is changing our relationship with each other, and with the world around us. When a well organized minority can shut down international trade, as well as sections of a major city, simply because they object to what they see as an infringement on their personal freedoms, (with no thought nor caring about the impact of their actions upon the personal freedoms of others), then things are getting out of hand. You have to wonder if we aren’t heading down the road towards anarchy.

There is a counterpoint to this, and a totally different way of interacting with our planet and each other, in a book that I am currently reading called “Braiding Sweetgrass”.  It is all about our First Nations, and how their beliefs include living in harmony with the planet around them. It stands in sharp contrast to our settler mentality, where wealth and power are the goals, with the result that our planet is getting plundered with no thought about what we are leaving for future generations. First Nations recognise that resources on our planet are finite, something that does not seem to be considered in our endless quest for “stuff”. For example, the harvesting of resources is done with the thought that you only take what you need, and leave sufficient for the survival of the resource, whether it be plant or animal, for others.  They are thinking for 7 generations ahead, which is part of what guides their decisions. The book makes you think “what if”, and is a sobering, and beautiful, read, which resonates with me like no other.

I will leave you with the same quote that you would have seen in my last letter, as it bears repeating. It is from the Lorax in Doctor Seuss. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not”. That also resonates with me. 

Colin Creasey, Kemptville

 

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