Team Players and Federal Electoral Reform, August 2016
There is currently a parliamentary committee meeting to chart the way forward for electoral reform in Parliament, and specifically with respect to representation in the House of Commons. The reason for the consideration of reform is that Parties’ shares of voting power (representatives) does not correspond to the shares of votes that Parties received in the Election (vote proportionality) nor to the relative number of people living in each riding (population proportionality). Proportional representation is an important aspect of democratic governance, as it moves towards a situation where every vote everywhere counts equally – a state of electoral equality.
This paper describes an alternative way of selecting representative that will to keep the process of voting in ridings for national elections exactly as it is now, but change how the results of riding voting are used to populate seats in the House of Commons. Rather than directly select people to sit in the House on the basis of first-past-the-post election in each riding, the results from all the ridings in the country are used to a) select the parties who will have representatives in the House, b) determine the number of representatives each party will have in the House, and c) rank the potential representatives from each party for selection to the Party’s Parliamentary team.
This system, the Party Election and Team Selection (PEATS) process, will precisely fulfill the goals of vote-proportional representation and of every vote everywhere counting. In 2015, the national vote results dictated that five parties had a sufficient number of votes to earn at least one seat in a 338 seat House: the PEATS process achieves this result. The national vote indicated that the Green Party would have 3.5 percent of the representation in the House (12 seats), the Bloc Quebecois Party would have 4.7 percent of the representation (16 seats), the New Democratic Party would have 19.9 percent (67 seats), the Conservative Party would have 32.2 percent (109 seats) and the Liberal Party would have 39.8 percent (134 seats) of the representation: the PEATS process achieves this result. The vote provided a ranking of the ridings in terms of relative strength to contribute to each party’s team in the House of Commons: the PEATS process reflects these results. It precisely meets the voters’ intentions without changing how Canadians vote by changing how the results of their voting are used.
In the PEATS concept very vote counts, and every party in every riding would be deeply engaged in getting every voter out, even if it knew that it was not going to win on a first-past-the-post competition in that riding, because every vote would help their team qualify for a seat in the House of Commons and to determine the Party’s team strength in Parliament. This would provide not only a reason for people to vote, but also a reason for people to consider elections in a truly national perspective. Thus this approach not only achieves vote proportionality, it would enhances voter turnout, and engages everyone in the reality of a truly national election.
While the proposed electoral reform would achieve vote proportionality, the Constitution precludes the achievement of population proportionality: every vote everywhere can count, but they cannot count equally without Constitutional change.
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