The last six federal elections have produced two "majority" governments with less than 40% voter support, and four short-term minority governments. Yet, our two major parties continue to claim that our first-past-the-post electoral system is stronger and longer lasting than PR governments. That view is challenged in this Sept. 4th member's letter to the Telegram.
One more argument for proportional representation
The Trudeau government has called an election less than two years into their mandate. Why?
Probably, because they want to get rid of their minority government status at a time when they believe they are popular in the polls.
In spite of the fact that four of the last six federal governments in Canada have been minority governments, our two major parties will likely continue to call snap elections, simply to avoid having to collaborate in any way with other parties. According to Wikipedia the average duration of minority governments at the federal level in Canada has been a mere 479 days. This is both indulgent and disruptive.
Clearly, the time to opt for proportional representation (PR) is overdue. Even in Britain, the birth place of our first-past-the-post system, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have now chosen to use PR in their regional parliaments or assemblies. In doing so they have embraced the concept that the percentage of seats a party holds should match the percentage of votes it receives.
Contrast that with Canada where the two recent “majority” governments (2011 & 2015) were both won with less than 40% of voter support.
Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish citizens are also at ease with the idea that the different parties will work collaboratively in the coalition governments that proportional representation systems so often produce. What’s noteworthy with respect to the duration of these UK coalition governments, is that almost all have lasted a full term.
This raises questions for us. Given the regularity of short-term minority governments, why does government continue to resist the formation of a Citizens’ Assembly to look at the merits of switching to a proportional representation system? Whose interests are being served here?
I don’t believe it is that of ordinary citizens.
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