electoral reform canada

People are calling for a complete overhaul of Canada's voting system

Based on the results of this week's federal election, Canada is more politically divided now than it was before voters took to the polls on Monday — but there are still some things most citizens can universally agree upon.

Electoral reform is one of those things.

In the wake of Canada's 43rd general election, which saw Justin Trudeau's liberal party maintain power — but as a minority government — Canadians are once again calling for our "first past the post" voting system to change.

It's something Trudeau promised he'd do while vying to be elected Prime Minister in 2015, though he has since broken that campaign promise.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called attention to the system's flaws earlier this week after his party was defeated by not only the Liberals, but the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois in terms of how many seats they won.

"I believe this election has shown the problems with the current system," said Singh to reporters on Tuesday.

"I think that the results show not a broken Canada — the people, in a lot of ways, share so many values, share far more values than they have separate. But the results show a broken electoral system, and it's certainly clear we need to fix it."

As the Canadian Press points out, it wasn't the Liberal party that earned the most votes on Monday night. Andrew Scheer's Conservative party scored 34.4 per cent of the popular vote while Trudeau's camp got just 33.1 per cent.

Because of how the electoral system works in Canada (and The U.S., and The U.K.), Liberals ended up with 157 seats nonetheless. The Conservatives, with just 121 ridings voting in their favour, came in second.

Singh's NDP party got 2.8 million votes total, while the Quebec-focused Blog Quebecois got just 1.3 million. It was the latter party that came in third, however, with 32 seats across the country to the NDP's 24.

"Under straight proportional representation, the Liberals would have won 116 seats (45 fewer than they actually won), the Conservatives would have won 112 (five fewer than Monday’s result) and the NDP would have received 54 seats, which would have translated to 30 more NDP MPs in Ottawa," wrote CP's Teresa Wright in an explainer.

"The Bloc, which represents only the interests of Quebec, would have had 26 seats rather than the 32 they now have and the Green party, which won only three seats in Parliament on Monday, would have had 22 under proportional representation. Five seats would have gone to the People's Party of Canada and the remaining three to other parties."

It certainly makes one think about how much their vote actually counts.

"In most elections with first-past-the-post, about half the voters cast a ballot which elects no-one and has no impact on the election result. This can make voting feel futile," reads the website of a Canadian organization that is fighting for proportional representation.

"When one party has 100 per cent of the power with 39 per cent of the vote, there's no need to take anyone else's views into account — even when voters want them to do just that," continues fairvote.ca.

"With proportional representation, parties must work together. Cooperation between parties in a coalition or other cooperative agreement — shared credit and shared accountability — becomes the norm."

Lead photo by

Can Pac Swire


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