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Michael D. Nicula Headshot

The 'First Past the Post' Elections System Doesn't Work for Canada

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Our political system has many flaws that are all but impossible to fix because nobody can gather a majority of support. Every voter has a different idea about what needs to be fixed first, and how. Add to that the fact that the political system is very complicated and most Canadians either don't understand it, or are too jaded to even care to think about it. We all flock to watch hockey and The Voice every night, leaving our destinies in the hands of the people we despise the most: sneaky, corrupt politicians.

Here's a simple and clear example showing the complexities of our political system. Canada has inherited from U.K. the "first past the post" system which is the least representative and arguably most unjust elections system that exists today. Based on this system, we currently have a majority Conservative government despite that the Conservative party has received less than 25 per cent of the Canadian vote (5.8 million out of 24.5 million voters) or 39 per cent excluding those who did not care to vote at all. At the same time, the Green Party has been represented by a decent 4% of the votes, and yet they were barely able to get a single seat in Parliament after decades of struggle. Most Canadians agree that a Proportional Representation system would be fairer and would help our Parliament serve us better. Even many politicians support it, in theory. Most notably, our current prime minister has spoken in favour of Proportional Representation while he was in opposition. How come he never mentioned it after taking office? And how come the Liberal Party now talks about it, but never mentioned it while they were in power for more than a decade?

The answer is simple: Proportional Representation reflects the actual popular vote by taking away seats from the top 2-3 parties and distributing it to the smaller parties and independent candidates. No party leader in their right state of mind would propose legislation that would diminish the power of his/her own party. And since the governing party and top opposition party are always in a position to lose seats, there is no scenario where our Parliament will ever pass such legislation. Our politicians are shamelessly transparent in this regard: they support Proportional Representation when the math is in their favour, only to abandon the idea when it is no longer self-serving.

If we switched to Proportional Representation today, the Conservative Party would lose 40 of its 160 seats. NDP would lose 30. The Liberal Party would gain 25 seats -- and we can be sure that is why they started talking about it recently. But more importantly, the Green Party would go up from 1 to 12 seats, PQ would gain 14 seats and we would see 3 independent MPs in Parliament.

Given the clear and simple math, Canadians can give up hope that they would be better represented in Parliament because the politicians have other interests. But, the beauty of a democratic system is that at least in theory we can make a change and take steps towards making Proportional Representation a reality in our Parliament. 'Action for Proportional Representation' (APR,, a non-partisan initiative that has a clear plan on how Canadians can replace the "first past the post" system with Proportional Representation. The plan is to enlist 338 Canadians who sign a legal pledge that if they are elected they will pass a draft legislation that does exactly that -- changing the elections system -- and then resign, calling for new elections immediately. Then we would have new elections and elect a new Parliament that would much better serve our interests as Canadians -- because it is fair to expect that a more representative Parliament would pass better legislation. There is hope that someday we will have an accountable and transparent government.

At first this plan may sound like a gimmick. It seems too simple. But that is what makes it more likely to work if a vast majority of voters understand it and support it. The big parties will certainly try to discredit it so they can preserve their grip on power, but the Social Media power can overcome that.

Action for Proportional Representation (APR) is ready to enlist Candidates and supporters. As a Canadian voter, you have a chance to help make this change happen. All you need to do is to support APR on Social Media (mainly through Facebook) check the news the week prior to the elections day. If APR has enough support, just vote for your local APR Candidate. If not, it means that Canadians don't really want to have a more representative political system, because there's no alternate path. There are a handful of advocacy groups collecting pledges from politicians, but haven't we had enough broken promises? It's time to make this change without 'help' from politicians.

If you read this and choose not to support the Action for Proportional Representation, you lose your right to complain that your MP does not represent you. This is your chance. Better yet, if we prove that the voters can make things happen, it will send a strong signal to politicians; either listen to us or we'll override you.

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