In his recent letter to the editor, Martin Barker states he didn’t hear any talk of voter reform in the last federal election. That’s odd since it was a major platform point for both the Liberals and the Greens. It’s why the Liberals are currently following up on their promise that 2015 would be “the last first-past-the-post election.” If Barker didn’t hear any of this, he must not have been listening.
Barker also goes on to say that proportional representation “favours fringe parties and special interests.” That doesn’t make sense though. If 10 per cent of Canada votes Green, and the Green Party then receives 10 per cent of the seats, how does that “favour” the Greens? It doesn’t give them an inordinate amount of power. It only gives the voters and that party a political voice that is proportional to their numbers. To me, that sounds completely fair.
Barker also points to Spain and Australia as reasons everyone should be terrified of proportional representation. I think he should mention how terrifying it was that Harper’s Conservative party had a majority government with less than 40 per cent of the vote and basically did whatever they wanted for four years. And gee whiz, now the Liberals have that same absolute power. I find that pretty frightening, personally. I don’t think any party should have absolute power.
In fact, in contrast to Barker’s comments, I would like to point out that all seven countries ranked above Canada and the U.S. in the Human Development Index (a.k.a. the Standard of Living Index) use proportional representation: Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland. I think that helps illustrate that proportional representation is not merely the pipe dream of hippies and fringe weirdos. It is a legitimate system that works in the most successful, sophisticated countries in the entire world. Perhaps it’s time we consider trying it.