When Ontario voters were asked in 2007 to approve a change to the current voting system the idea was soundly defeated by 63 percent of voters. If the Trudeau government were to submit a similar proposal to Canadian voters there is no reason to think the result would be any different. Those who suggest we should make the changes but wait for a couple of elections before consulting voters are elitist idiots.
The biggest proponents of change to our current first-past-the-post system are typically supporters of parties that traditionally do not win elections. They reason that if a party obtains, say 20 percent of the national vote, they are entitled to 20 percent of the seats. But such logic ignores the fundamental nature of the Canadian electoral system. In essence we do not hold a single national election—we hold 338 local elections and the leader of the party either with a clear majority, or who can form a coalition with enough opposition members to secure a working majority; becomes prime minister. That is why the party leaders’ names do not appear on any ballots except those in their home ridings. To change the system in a manner that would have the effect of upsetting a local result, would surely outrage voters in the ridings.
The only rationale for overhauling the electoral system would be if there were a widespread public perception that the current system lacks legitimacy. But that is not the case. Indeed, we have countless examples of public acceptance of electoral results at all levels of government, no matter how narrow. In US politics we have the narrow victories of John Kennedy and George W. Bush—in both cases there were even allegations of chicanery—but even that fact was insufficient to cause the voting public to rise up in any prolonged protest. In the Canadian federal election last year four seats were won by a margin of less than 100 votes. In each case the second place finisher received a recount which confirmed the result—and that was the end of it. The same thing occurred in the 2014 Provincial election when the riding of Thornhill was won by just over 100 votes. A recount reconfirmed the winner and everyone moved on. In Hamilton in the recent Ward 7 by-election, Donna Skelly won by less than 100 votes, and her nearest opponent did not request a recount.
Given the widespread public confidence in the current electoral system, it would be dangerous to try to adopt a system that seeks to turn losers into winners and vice versa. Changing the current system is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem—a fact that would become clear if the scheme were submitted to the electorate as indeed any such plan should be.

Providing a fresh perspective for Hamilton and Burlington

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