Editorial: Electoral reform/proportional representation

Canada needs to reform its electoral system to properly represent the multiple parties in Ottawa.

In a democratic society, the people have a say in who governs the land. Every vote is equal; every vote counts.

But considering the way our electoral system is set up, it’s not hard to see why going to the polls on Election Day might feel like a waste of time.

On Oct. 19, too many eligible voters won’t head to the polls, believing their votes won’t matter. And many of those who do vote, will cast their ballot for the candidate they consider the “lesser of evils”, rather than for the candidate who best represents their own ideals.

The current electoral system has existed since elections first started in Canada in the 19th century, when there were essentially two parties to vote for. The “first past the post” electoral process (which is currently in place) meant the candidate who received the most votes in “his” riding (because women weren’t even allowed to vote back then, let alone run as candidates) won a seat in parliament.

Today, however, depending on your voting district, there are a plethora of candidates running for different parties and different platforms for whom to vote. In the Kootenay-Columbia district alone, there are five candidates representing different ideals and perceptions of what Canada should look like.

The millions of Canadians who can vote no longer fall under one of two political parties. We come from different upbringings, different races and religions and different socio-economic backgrounds. It’s no wonder parties like the NDP, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party continue to gain ground each time an election comes around; they speak to parts of the population the original two parties (now known as the Conservatives and Liberals) aren’t reaching.

The political landscape in Canada is evolving, and so, too, must the electoral process. The first-past-the-post structure no longer facilitates the multitude of views Canadians have, so it seems logical that our electoral process should reflect those views.

Proportional representation is an electoral system that works when there are multiple parties. The percentage of the popular vote would be reflected in parliament. For example, if 30 per cent of Canadians, regardless of their riding, voted for Party “X”, under a proportionally representative electoral system, Party “X” would then have 30 per cent of the 338 seats up for grabs in parliament, or 101 seats.

It’s difficult enough getting two parties to decide on something, let alone four or five. But just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it’s not worth implementing.

We live in a country that celebrates diversity; that opens its doors to immigrants and refugees, while embracing their religions and cultures. Part of our national identity is being a mosaic of different parts of civilization.

It’s time those differences were represented in Ottawa, and the only way for our welcomed differences to be represented is by changing the system under which we vote. When people start believing their votes matter, they will become more engaged and involved, and they will find a reason to show up to the polls on Election Day.