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Disproportional Misrepresentation

Web posted on October 13, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

Now we come to the final instalment on electoral reform: what must not happen. The idea of proportional representation must be put down with extreme prejudice. This silly idea comes from a bunch of whiners on the fringes who could never get anyone elected any other way.

Let's just think about this for a moment from a completely different perspective. If we were to have proportional representation it would have to be based on all eligible voters. The opinion (or lack thereof) of the people who did not vote would have to be taken into consideration. With a current turnout of 68.5% of eligible voters in the last election, we would have a lot of empty seats in parliament. Perhaps they could put mannequins (at least they would not get pensions etc.) in those seats, so as not to be confused with all the other empty seats. Just have a look at our parliamentary channels an see how many empty seats there are on any given day.

Voter turnout has been on the decline since 1993, with the lowest in 2008 at 58.8%. Our best voter turnout was between 1958 and 1963 (the Diefenbaker/Pearson era) with an average turnout of just slightly above 79%. It would be nice to get back to those numbers. Our last election was somewhat of an improvement in voter turnout. Was it a temporary bump, or start of a new trend?

As I said in my series about changes needed, the most important thing to do is to get more people to vote. One other change I would like to see is one that should encourage more people to vote would be a voter tax deduction. This would be very simple, when you cast your ballot, you receive a receipt for a given amount (to be determined based on the size of the riding, for time and travel) that would then be deducted from your taxes federal or provincial depending on the election. As this would happen once every four years, the cost would be quite reasonable compared to some of the silly spending by all governments. I really don't know how this could be worked into local elections.

Proportional representation would give us MPs without a constituency to represent, chosen by the party elite for favours done. (you know it's the only way it will happen) This just expands patronage to a whole new level, giving us representatives with no accountability to the electorate, just to their party bosses. We won't know who we are voting for. Do we really want to have this kind of a mess. We do not need any more costs associated with adding more members with their pensions, and other perks who were simply appointed? This would be like the worst of the Senate on steroids. Do we want more fringe parties, thinking that they could have a voice, when they could never get it any other way? This cannot ever be allowed to happen.

Imagine the gridlock that would occur in Parliament. We would be stuck with never ending minority governments, or even worse, the dreaded Coalition Government. (something that must be outlawed) That is the true definition of disproportional misrepresentation. It does not reflect the will of the voters, only that of the professional politicians willing to do anything to either stay in power, or get into power. Do we really want to have elections every other year? Look at the mess some of the European countries are in, Belgium, Spain and Italy come to mind.

There is only one acceptable change to the way we elect our Members of Parliament. This would be to have a run off election with the two top vote getters in any riding where no candidate got more than fifty percent of the vote. This would be done two weeks after the initial election. No further campaigning would be allowed. This would give the voters a chance to think about what they are going to get. With the way our voters turnout, this could be a disaster if enough voters chose not to participate in the run off. The costs of this would also be prohibitive, not to mention the logistics.

All of the other suggested alternatives have serious flaws. Most importantly, they change the value of the individual vote. In my case, I know who I want to vote for long before voting day. Based on previous elections, there is never an acceptable second choice. If I had to put in a second choice it would be for the candidate who has the least chance of winning, or the one with the most outrageous promises. (that won't work because some of the most outrageous promises came from the guy who got elected) Of course, if everyone did that, think of the consequences, perhaps a Rhinoceros Party (remember those guys?) majority government. (hmmm, maybe I should start the Curmudgeon Party) I also know that there is always at least one party in every election that I would like to cast a negative vote for. That might be an interesting option. A ballot with a vote for the candidate of your choice and a second space for a negative vote.

The more I read about all the alternatives (some of them so complex as to confuse even most Mensa members) to the current system, the more I believe that we must not change. Our current system has worked just fine since confederation. It still works in England. The system is far from broken. If there is to be any change, it MUST be put to a national referendum (and you know what I think of referendum(b)s) and it must pass by at least 60 percent of eligible voters, not just votes cast. (remember my formula?) Let our MP know that you cannot accept change without approval by the voters. Just because they got a majority, it does not mean that we voted for every promise. Remember, many people voted to get rid of the last guy, and they will continue to do so in the future including the character currently in power when enough people get fed up. This is a time honoured Canadian tradition. For any leader to believe otherwise shows unmitigated arrogance and utter contempt for the voters. Unfortunately, that is another time honoured Canadian tradition. No wonder some people have given up on voting.

To all those people who think we need to change, you just might just get what you wish for, and the rest of us will regret it.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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