Time to move beyond first-past-the-post

We do need a new voting system. The one we have now FPTP [first past the post] is out of date and has been for quite some time.

We do need a new voting system. The one we have now FPTP [first past the post] is out of date and has been for quite some time.

When it, FPTP, came into being in the United Kingdom, there were not many voters. Voters were restricted to a certain class of people, men with property assets over a certain value — as long as they were not Catholics, Jews, Quakers or any other non-protestant. There were two parties, mainly decided by whether you were for or against the monarchy.

When Canada was allowed to set its own voting rules, it adopted most of the UK rules. We have changed those over the years, too slowly in many cases. Most citizens over a certain age are now permitted and expected to vote.

There are a lot of us now and we all would like to see our vote mean something. Our voting turnout shows that many don’t think it does. Less than 60 per cent voted in 2008, the lowest ever since confederation. A parliament which only represents 40 per cent of the people is not a democracy. The last government had a majority with only about 25 per cent of eligible voters voting for it.

It is argued that only a majority government can be efficient. Efficient at what? Efficiency is a quality of something, not a goal in itself. A majority government can make quick decisions. If the decisions are wrong for the people, is that efficient?

Dictators can be very efficient. They don’t have to waste time or money consulting others.

A government which represents the views of all the people will take longer to make decisions. I expect them to. Representatives from all parties must be able listen and discuss other policies, just not dismiss other ideas. If they can’t, they shouldn’t be there.

It’s up to all of us to take part in choosing those who represent us; those that can decide what is best for all citizens, not just for those who think like you. You just might find out you have been wrong about something, or maybe you can convince the opposition that you do have a good idea.

There are several systems for proportional representation and we must decide which is best for our country. It is up to all of us to help in deciding which one.


Trudy Thorgeirson


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