6.1 Democratic renewal and proportional representation

The most breath-taking of Prime Minister Trudeau’s violations of his election promises was in pulling the plug on his commitment to repair our flawed voting system.
The Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform held hearings and public meetings in every province and territory between June and November, tabling a majority report on December 1, 2017. The Green Party through MP Elizabeth May and leagues of volunteers across Canada played a significant role in this effort. The majority report called for a system of proportional representation to replace the first-past-the-post voting system. 
But the 2017 committee was not the first time a parliamentary committee had found that first-past-the-post (FPTP) was not an appropriate voting system for Canada.  That first committee was in 1921. It found that any democracy with more than two parties would not be well served by a system in which the popular vote could so substantially diverge from the seat count and thus the election result. 
 
Peter Russell, professor emeritus of political science at University of Toronto, coined the term “false majority” to describe the phenomenon only experienced under majoritarian systems like FPTP, where the minority of those who vote can elect a majority of Members of Parliament.  The dangers of this are well understood by Professor Russell.  When asked pointedly in the hearings of the Special Committee what harm had ever come to Canada from a false majority, he responded “climate change.”  
Of course, he is right.  The previous administration under Stephen Harper never had the support of the majority of Canadians, and, in fact never campaigned on the promise to dismantle Canada’s commitment to Kyoto.  It was done effectively even when Stephen Harper only had a minority government.  Once empowered with a false majority of 39% support of the 60% of Canadians who voted, Canada legally withdrew from Kyoto, dismantled environmental laws put in place by previous governments, from that of Brian Mulroney to Sir John A Macdonald.
A false majority is dangerous. 
Our electoral system unfairly punishes Conservative voters in cities, Liberal and NDP voters in the west, and Green voters throughout Canada. Ultimately, it does not produce governments that reflect the diversity of people in Canada, nor does it do a good job of accurately reflecting voters’ wishes. Canada is one of the last few free and prosperous nations in the world to still use the antiquated first-past-the-post voting system. Canadians have had it with winner-take-all elections which class half of all voters as losers unworthy of representation. We are ready for democratic reform.
The Green Party of Canada believes that Canada must change, immediately, to a proportional voting system that fairly and directly translates all votes into representation in Parliament.
We also believe that democracy requires reduced financial barriers to running for political office and lowering the voter age to 16 to encourage more youth participation. 
 
Green Party MPs will:
 
  • Legislate the end of first-past-the-post voting;

  • We will empower a Democracy Commission to engage Canadians from coast to coast in a public inquiry into the interwoven and anti-democratic trends within Canada:
    1. The unhealthy power of the Prime Minister’s Office;

    2. The lack of scope for independent action of individual MPs;

    3. The use of prorogation to avoid political embarrassment, in violation of Parliamentary practice and tradition;

    4. The abuse by the Senate of its role of ‘sober, second thought’ in voting down bills approved by the House, as in the case in November of 2010 in their defeat without debate of Bill C-311 (the Climate Change Accountability Act);

    5. The recommendations of the Commission will be presented as options to Canadian voters.

  • Adhere to fixed election dates permitting political stability and fair elections;

  • Eliminate any system that allows top-down control within parties of the nomination process for candidates;

  • Slash the PMO budget by 50%.