First, a disclaimer: I am not a politician. I do not have a background in political science, and comparatively speaking, I haven’t spent a great deal of time thinking about the things I’m writing about here.
However, I am a voter. As a Canadian citizen, I have a right to vote for the political party whose values I align with, and whom I feel will best represent my interests in parliament. Which is exactly what I did.
Unfortunately, my vote was probably wasted, and that’s NOT ok.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to discourage anyone from voting, as I believe it’s incredibly important. But there is one political issue that stands out to me as being vital for the future of our government and our country: electoral reform.
Canada is a beautiful country built by an amazing democracy. I’m very thankful to live here, and to have the liberty and power I have as a Canadian citizen.
That being said, I’m realizing more and more that our electoral system is broken, and we need to fix it.
The Canadian electoral system is one in which many votes do not count toward the government that is formed. Parties can gain proportionally much more power than the total votes they received, and in some cases, the party with a lower number of total votes can win the election. (In case you haven’t figured it out, the US system is no better.)
This is unfair, and non-democratic. A government in which the winning party has 54% of the power in parliament having only received 39.5% of the people’s votes is not a government that accurately represents the interest of Canadians. I’m not making these numbers up: this was exactly the case in the 2015 election.
I believe that instead, our electoral system should be one in which every vote counts. If one party gains 39.5% of Canadians’ votes, they should have a proportional amount of power in Parliament. To put it another way, if the Green party does not win in my riding, my vote should still contribute to the power that the Green party has when Parliament is discussing issues and voting on bills.
Instead, my vote is simply discarded if my Green Party representative doesn’t win.
Our so-called “First Past the Post” system is not the only option! There are other electoral systems in other countries that are fair and representative of people’s votes. And I’m not just talking about a proportional system which removes regional MP candidates. There are other options.
New Zealand, for example, uses a mixed-member proportional system which essentially combines the two ideas. They started the same way we did: as a British Dominion which inherited the empire’s “First Past The Post” system. The difference is that they changed it in search of a better system. We didn’t, and it’s about time that we did.
So why did I vote Green? Well, there are a few reasons.
- The Green Party cares deeply about climate change, which is probably the most pressing crisis that we are facing today.
- The Green Party is progressive, and aligns closely with many of my values when it comes to political issues.
- In particular, the Green Party cares about electoral reform. Not only is it in their platform, but the Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, gave a really informative TED talk about that exact subject, which I highly recommend watching.
- I was very impressed by May’s answers and composure in the electoral debate this year. She was a breath of fresh air, and a voice of reason, amongst all the sparring.
In short, the Green Party earned my vote. Yes, I know that the progressive vote is splintered among several parties. I know that I should really vote Liberal if I don’t want the Conservatives to win. I know that the Green Party has a very low chance of winning my riding. And I know, as per the above, that this effectively means my vote was wasted.
But I can only hope that it makes a difference for the future of the party, their ability to see positive momentum, and hopefully their ability to gain some small amount of power in government. Hopefully they will be able to influence governmental decisions in some small way, and move their position forward in the years to come.
And hopefully, we can fix our electoral system, so that in the next election, my vote will count, regardless of whether it is for the winning party.