The Canadian electoral system is the First Past the Post. This system only permits two candidates to compete fairly in an election but in the event, there are three candidates, then a winning candidate only needs 34 percent of the overall vote since the opposition will be split into two. This is an indication that in a voting, 66 of the voters risk losing their votes to the opposition.
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In the event, there are five candidates competing, the winner only needs to garner 21 percent of the total votes cast and the majority of the remaining voters; approximately, 79 percent will risk losing their votes. This essay is a critique of the Canadian electoral system.
Canadian Electoral System
Canadians are well aware that with the present electoral system, their votes do not count most, and this has led to the higher degree of voter apathy. This kind of electoral system is considered undemocratic because it permits a political party with a little number of votes to win more than the seats that are required to form the government.
This has resulted in the leaving out of the majority of the Canadian population without adequate representation in the halls of power. This is a demonstration that minority of the Canadians controls the government due to the skewed electoral process.
The choice of an electoral system is a fundamental decision in democracy, and it has a deep effect on the current and future political life. According to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (1), the central institutions in Canada are faced with the crisis of representation, and this has eroded the legitimacy and the authority of key institutions like parliament and the cabinet.
The 1979 elections brought to fore the crisis and there is need therefore to establish the mechanism that will guarantee the representations of linguistic and regional groups. There is therefore, the need to reform the Canada’s electoral system to ensure that Quebec and the westerners are equally represented. There is a need for an electoral system that would not exclude any segment of the society from the federal government.
The reformations in the electoral system will be considered as an incentive that dictates how political parties operate; it will allow political parties to establish organizations in every corner of the country and to make them more sensitive to the wishes and aspirations of the Canadian people. As McGinley (2) argues, the current electoral system makes it difficult for conservatives and liberals to rebuild because they got weakened by the election results. The politics and the prospect electoral reform in Canada is a complicated one.
The current First Past the Post electoral system that is practiced in Canada has not provided the Canadians with a commensurate benefit, and instead it has perpetuated the erosions of democracy, distortion of voters and their choices. It has been doubted whether the FPTP is appropriate for Canada, there has also been doubts as to the reason why a progressive country like Canada has not reformed its electoral system despite noticing anomalies in the system. This form of an electoral system seeks to distort the wishes of the majority and there have been some calls for return of real democracy where the majority will have their way and minority their say. FPTP has been labeled as undemocratic and unrepresentative.
The concerns regarding skewed regional representation faded because successive governments gained a considerable national base when they adopted a policy of appointing cabinet ministers from all the regions of Canada. Two royal commissions were formed to study and recommend the amendments to the electoral system. McDonald commission recommended that proportional representation is the best way to reform the electoral system since it will have a lot of effects on the party system and functioning of the government.
The federal and the provincial governments have been advocating for a proportional representation as a replacement for the First Past the Post system. This is due to the claims that the FPTP system is a flawed one. There are various inequities and failures that are associated with FPTP hence there is the need for proportional representation that will provide a solution to all the ills of Canadian politics.
Proportional representing will put to rest the exaggerations of regional dissimilarities that characterize the Canadian political system. Both the Albertans who had been ignored by the liberals and the Atlantic Canadian’s who had been ignored by the conservative government can be accommodated if the proportional representation is adopted because it will permit all parties to seek support from all corners of the country.
Proportional representation is based on the power in numbers’ idea. It proves to the entire Canadian population that every vote count. Its ease to use and fairness in the dispensation of elections makes it suitable for voting members of parliaments into the House of Commons.
Proportional representation also provides an enabling electoral environment for representation of women that has been perpetuated by the single-member district electoral system. Proportional representation as opposed to the FPTP system will minimize voter apathy, and it will act as an incentive of high voter turnout. This is because the voters will be informed that their votes will count in the proportional system of elections.
Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Voting in Canada: the first past the post system [Internet]. Toronto: Canadian Civil Liberties Association; 2018 Jan 25 [cited 2020 Feb 6]:[about 3 screens].
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McGinley S. Canada’s election: last call for first past the post? [Internet]. London: Electoral Reform Society; 2019 Oct 23 [cited 2020 Feb 6]:[about 4 screens].