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Systematic misrepresentation

In an opinion piece titled "We did not get 'the wrong government'" published in the Ottawa Citzen on May 11th, Paul Tuns makes quite allot of misinformed statements about proportional representation and the movement advocating for it.

He first paints the electoral reform movement as a bunch of left-wing sore loosers. The broken electoral system is not a left or a right issue, it is a Canadian issue. Chrétien won a majority government with 38% of the vote in 1997. At which time it was the right that was most advocating for electoral reform. There have been no majority government that has received a majority of voters approval since 1984. PR advocates include what public might consider right of center : Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, former president of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation Walter Robinson and Maclean's editor Andrew Coyne.

Mr. Tuns then admits that "Support for PR is not limited to a quirky, radical element on the Internet.". Most democracies around the world use Proportional representation. It is the UK, US and Canada that are the odd element.

Mr. Tuns then tried to argue that because there have been fewer votes for the NDP or the liberals, then they should not hold power. But there has been cases under first past the post that the governing party received fewer votes than the opposition. As Ernest Naville wrote in 1865, "in a democratic government the right of decision belongs to the majority, but the right of representation belongs to all." Our current system accomplishes neither and to defend the current system is to defend a lack of democracy.

Mr. Tuns then tries to argue that because there is coalition bargaining, the link between the governing and the governed is weakened. But the link is already pretty week if non-existent under our current system. In the 2008 election, 50,9% of all votes did not go to a winning candidate. Most Canadians were represented by someone they did not vote for. Canadians should be ruled by laws enacted by governments that have the support of the majority of the population.

Mr Tuns then brings the example of Israel, a case favorite by defenders of our outdated first past the post system. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland. They all have proportional representation and they are doing just fine.

Proportional representation is a solution to a very broken system. Our current Winner Take All System was a fine upgrade from feudalism. But it was invented when people still thought the Earth was flat and like the dinosaurs, it should be on its way out.

Julien Lamarche
Ottawa chapter
Fair Vote Canada