The Council of Canadians has long supported proportional representation.
We have consistently stated over the years that proportional representation is more democratic than our current first-past-the-post electoral system. It ensures a fairer representation of votes cast and prevents a governing party from holding total power after earning only a small percentage of the popular vote.
The day after the May 2, 2011 federal election, Fair Vote Canada stated, “The Conservatives have won 54.22 per cent of the seats with only 39.62 per cent of the votes, one of the least legitimate majorities in Canadian history. …If the seats were won in proportion to the votes that were cast, the numbers would look like this: Conservatives 122 (45 fewer seats than they won under our current electoral system and below what is required for a majority government), NDP 95 (7 fewer seats), Liberals 59 (25 more than what they now hold), Bloc Quebecois 19 (15 more), Greens 13 (12 more).”
Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow highlighted later that year, “Now Stephen Harper and his Conservatives – the most right wing government we have ever had in this country – have a so-called majority. I say so-called because if we add the number of people who did not vote for him and combine it with the number who did not vote at all, he has the support of less that one quarter of Canadians.” Barlow has also commented, “We have to find a way, either through proportional representation or an alliance of progressive forces, to form a government that truly represents the views of the majority of Canadians.”
Given our current electoral system produces an unfair reflection of the overall vote, many people feel their vote doesn’t count and so don’t vote. We are profoundly concerned that a low voter turnout could mean another Harper majority government. Duncan Cameron writes, “The 25/60 rule says when only 60 per cent of Canadian citizens go out to vote, 25 per cent of the voters can deliver a majority government. In 2011, the Conservatives received 39 per cent of the vote, and won 53 per cent of the seats, because only 61 per cent of Canadians made the effort to vote. …The disengagement from the electoral process is the key to the success of the Conservatives in Canada and of right-wing politics elsewhere.”
With less than a year now until the October 19, 2015 federal election, it’s instructive to remember that NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has said, “Canadians are well aware of the pitfalls of our electoral system. …When we get elected, we will get elected with a strong mandate to address those shortcomings.” Green Party leader Elizabeth May has commented, “[Democratic renewal] may mean forging ahead with proportional representation and taking lessons learned by other countries who have done the same to come up with an electoral process that is truly meaningful and engages all Canadian voters.” Unfortunately Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has stated, “Too many people don’t understand the polarization and the micro issues that come through proportional representation.”
In April 2010, the Council of Canadians commissioned an Environics poll that found that 62 per cent of Canadians support “moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections.” At that time, just prior to the May 2011 federal election, we encouraged people to sign Fair Vote Canada’s Declaration of Voters’ Rights.
Now, just prior to the anticipated October 2015 election, we call on you again to support the Declaration of Voter’s Rights campaign. The Declaration calls on federal parties and candidates to commit to conducting a citizen-led consultation process immediately following the next federal election and implementing the model in time for the following election.
To add your name to this Declaration, please click here.
Guelph chapter sponsors forum on electoral reform (April 2014 blog)
Council of Canadians supports proportional representation (May 2012 blog)
Council affirms support of proportional representation during Democracy Week (September 2011 blog)
National Day of Action for Electoral Reform, May 14 (May 2011 blog)
Brockville chapter calls for proportional representation (January 2011 blog)
The Council and proportional representation (September 2009 blog)
Support mixed member proportional representation (September 2007 action alert)