Greens pan Liberal choice of Alternative Vote
OTTAWA - The Green Party of Canada is panning the Liberal convention’s choice to endorse an Alternative Vote system as their party policy. “Alternative Vote is not Proportional Representation and will not result in a fair voting system that ensures parties get a share of seats in Parliament that is equal to their share of popular vote,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands
Alternative Vote is similar to the current First Past the Post system and has been rejected by independent commissions in Canada and the UK as well as in a referendum in New Zealand. Also known as preferential ballot, ranked ballot, or instant run off, rounds of voting occur with each voter indicating their first choice candidate. Candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated in each round and their votes are redistributed. Eventually a winning candidate receives a majority of the vote. The results tend to reinforce the dominant viewpoint, rather than giving voice to traditionally under-represented groups in parliament. “The problem with Alternative Vote is that the results may not represent voter preferences and it tends to favour larger parties,” said May. “Greens believe that MPs should be elected through a fair voting system that ensures parties get a share of seats in Parliament that is equal to their share of popular vote. This way, everyone’s vote counts.”
The current electoral system unfairly punishes Conservative voters in cities, Liberal and NDP voters in the west, and Green voters throughout Canada, failing to accurately reflect voters’ wishes. Canada is one of the last few parliamentary democracies in the world to still use the antiquated first-past-the-post voting system.
Green Party policy advocates for the creation of a Citizens’ Assembly, like the one struck provincially in Ontario, to study electoral systems used around the world, with a view to designing several models that are proportional and fairer than our current system. The recommendations of the Citizens Assembly would then be presented as options to Canadian voters in a referendum, paired with an effective education campaign.
In the 2011 election, the Conservatives emerged with 167 seats, the NDP with 102, the Liberals with 34, the Bloc Quebecois with 4 and the Greens with 1. If the number of seats were in proportion to the votes that were cast, these numbers would change to the Conservatives with 122 seats, the NDP with 95, Liberals with 59, Bloc Quebecois with 10 and the Greens with 13.“Our current system is in desperate need of reform to become proportional. The Harper government has the majority of seats while only receiving 39% of the vote. If 61% of citizens did not support the majority party, there is a problem in the system,” said May. “Alternative Vote does not go far enough to fix these problems.”
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