System of government we have is a good one

Ms. Wilkinson’s electoral reform letter is very misleading.

Re: “Electoral reform will save money, increase accountability”, (Citizen, Sept. 21)

Ms. Wilkinson’s electoral reform letter is very misleading. Yes Canada has had 22 elections since WWII but I would put it to her that this is a reflection of how strong and stable our system of government is.

Canada has a parliamentary system of government based upon Westminster that calls for an election, until Harper’s fixed election date decree, of every five years.

That alone would require an election every 14.2 years in Canada since 1945 if all governments were majority in nature. But they haven’t been and I would argue that that is also a good thing, because the strength of our democracy and parliamentary system of government holds poor governments to account (remember Joe Clark) by forcing them to go to the polls for public validation.

Our system also prevents potential constitutional crises — Mackenzie King, Bing affair comes to mind — something that Italy could only hope for. By the way, Italy may have had only 18 elections since WWII but they have had 65 different governments since 1945, and therein lies the problem that can arise with proportional representation.

Nothing gets done.

Why?

Because governance coalitions are necessary for power and political survival in these countries with their PR systems of government.

Unfortunately, by their very nature, they are unstable. Can you imagine the chaos in Canada if the Layton, Dion and Duceppe coalition had taken down Harper’s minority government back in December 2008? Luckily, through our strong and stable system of governance, Harper was able to prorogue parliament and thus avoid political instability in this country.

The Liberals backed down from the coalition early in 2009. Whew!

As an example of the efficacy of Italy’s PR system, here are some facts about Italy’s 2008 election for Ms. Wilkinson: “An early election was called [in Italy] when Romano Prodi resigned as prime minister in January, after the collapse of his centre-left coalition, which had been in power for just 20 months…only one Italian government has lasted a full five-year term in the last 50 years, led by conservative Silvio Berlusconi between 2001-2006 and even he was forced to resign once during that time by fractious allies.”

“Italians blame electoral laws for chronic instability that brought down the 61st government since World War Two in January. The system, still in use, mixes proportional representation with a threshold of 2 percent for parties in a coalition and 4 percent for single parties. It permitted more than 20 parties to take seats in 2006.”

And the real kicker here Ms. Wilkinson: “Both Berlusconi and Veltroni favoured altering the system to reduce the PR element and push Italy towards a two-party system.”

Unfortunately, for Italy, that hasn’t happened yet.

Who knew?

 

John Morrison

Mill Bay