High time for electoral reform

Election night saw a bunch of my friends, my partner Penny, and I all gathered at our house with munchies and a big screen TV to watch the action. Before the results even began to trickle in I was predicting a Liberal victory.

Vote for COPE Independents!I don’t take much credit for my prognostication abilities, however, as all the polls had been pointing to a Liberal victory for more than 10 days. The only question up in the air was whether it would be a Liberal minority or majority.

With our “first past the post” electoral system, I was very hopeful it would be a Liberal minority and not a majority. This is because of the number of times I’ve been disappointment by politicians running on a platform of proportional representation only to abandon this promise once they’re elected. A case in point — when Tony Blair first sought office in the UK he promised that if elected he would bring in PR. However, as soon as he was securely ensconced in office with a majority, we never heard the words “proportional representation” escape his mouth again!

My dream scenario for election night was, therefore, a Liberal minority supported by the largest possible NDP caucus and the Green Party under Elizabeth May making a breakthrough at last by increasing its number of MPs from the one seat it held going into the election.

You can imagine my disappointment as the Maritime results rolled in. Within minutes of the polls closing in this area, the Liberals were leading or elected in all 32 Maritime ridings, leaving not one seat to any other party. On my way home from work, with this news coming in, my partner, Penny, went out on a limb and predicted a Liberal majority. I was still not even close to being convinced this would be the outcome, so I bet her a beer it would be a Liberal minority. I’m told one should never bet with one’s partner — I lost the bet!

I went to bed election night convinced that Canada had lost a once-in-a-generation chance of changing our outdated electoral system to one based on PR.

It turns out my disappointment may have been premature. I was so pleased to hear on the news today that in listing his priorities, Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has included bringing in proportional representation in time for the next federal election in 2019. He promises that Monday’s election will be the last federal one ever to use “first past the post”.

Let’s hope that we don’t see a repeat of what we’ve seen so many times before — the federal Liberal party campaigning from the left but governing from the right.

Let’s also wish Canada’s best MP, Elizabeth May, every success in pushing the Liberals into bringing meaningful commitments to the November climate change talks in Paris at COP 21.

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