Electoral Reform - restoring Integrity to Canada's Electoral System.
A Statement for Discussion by Canadians, the Progressive Canadian Party
Newmarket, Ont. - We elect Members of Parliament to the Parliament of Canada, not parties, movements or prime ministers. Canada's parliament is based on the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. We, the people in each community or riding in Canada, choose by election to the Parliament of Canada representatives from our community to debate and to vote on national affairs and to hold the government of the day accountable to Parliament. We call it responsible government, and the manner of election of our Members of Parliament is by single member pluralities or majorities of riding voter choices. Our electoral system is fair, democratic and the way forward. Sometimes it is referred to as first-past-the-post.
The new Justin Trudeau government wants to change Canada's electoral system. Among the many Liberal promises in the recent election campaign was a statement that should they be elected, 2015 would be the last election run under the first-past-the-post electoral system. No alternative was presented, nor was the merit of any other system debated or shown to be better than our existing electoral system, or constitutional. It cannot be said that the Liberal government was elected because it said it would change how we elect MPs. It was suggested simply that other systems are fairer because they better represent party support. But we do not elect parties, we elect MPs. Government ministries are formed when enough MPs support the government ministry formed by an MP with the confidence of the House and at the pleasure of the monarch's representative, the Governor General of Canada.
Over time our electoral system has been distorted by excesses of party interest and movements, and by prime ministers who have forgotten that they are responsible to parliament and rely on the confidence of the Members of Parliament we elect. Increasingly party, movements, and prime ministers have imposed themselves on voter choice and on MP independence.
We can restore integrity to our electoral system and to restore the independence of MPs in parliament significantly by reconsidering some of the previous "electoral reforms"Â and practices which limit the role of parliament as the people's house.
If there is to be electoral reform of any kind it must begin by repeal of Bill C-16, the fixed date election law that neutered the Opposition and tightened party control by all parties and party leaders, including through the Prime Minister's Office. Canadians must continue to elect Members of Parliament to the Parliament of Canada, not parties or movements or followers of unaccountable party leaders.
If there is to be electoral reform it should take the form of election finance reform to prevent doubling of the per candidate expenditures of new longer campaigns in the new fixed date election period of the kind witnessed in the 2015 General Election. The October 19, 2015 fixed date election began its first phase effectively in October 2014, went into high gear when parliament rose for the summer in June 2015 and witnessed unlimited pre-writ campaign expenditures followed by writ period expenditures increased from an average $100,000 permitted per candidate to $200,000 and the cost of the election increased by an estimated $125,000,000 while increasing party subsidies.
Elections Canada should be empowered to establish and moderate pre-writ period and writ period spending limits per party and per candidate. Elections should be about who we elect in each riding to be Members of Parliament in the Parliament of Canada, not about parties and money.
If there is to be electoral reform it should end selection of constituency candidates controlled without cause by the corporate political party. Political parties have become incorporated entities where they were once communities of shared principle. Ending the recent practice of limiting party candidates chosen in ridings to party machine enforced candidates without cause via party 'leader' endorsement.
Restoring the importance of the MPs we elect by taking party names off of the ballot, a practice first adopted in the 1970s in Canada, would better encourage selection of Members of Parliament as constituency representatives, chosen to exercise their enlightened judgment according to the principles enunciated by Edmund Burke, paraphrased thus: your representative should be slave to neither party or constituent in the exercise of their enlightened judgment in fulfillment of their duty of service to you and to Canada.
We must ensure passionate but ill-considered campaigns by party and electoral reform advocates are countered by understanding of the merits and deficiencies of our electoral system and of the alternatives. For example, party proportional representation denies democratic voting rights within each community, encourages grievance and separatism in regional minorities, and changes the very nature of parliament - ending our parliamentary democracy and favouring party oligarchies. Regional minority disenfranchisement under PR legitimizes regional grievance even separatism to some, ending Canada's parliamentary democracy by the people represented in parliament in favour of control by party oligarchies - these are fundamental changes to the very nature of parliament.
We must understand that talk of national party vote is only a reference point concerning party interest or appeal and must always be an irrelevance to choosing Members of Parliament to represent each constituency in Canada because the duty of the MPs we elect is to Canada, through the monarch and parliament, and to the service of ALL of the electors in the riding they represent rather than to just their party supporters.
Our electoral system, sometimes referred to as "first-past-the-post", freed of distortions of earlier electoral reforms is clear, simple, and democratic - unlike the alternatives, which are arbitrary, and commonly blindly party partisan. We elect Members of Parliament to the Parliament of Canada, not parties, movements, or prime ministers. Canada's system of riding elections by single member pluralities or majorities, sometimes referred to as first-past-the-post respects this principle of Canadian parliamentary democracy.
Reference: Electoral Reform - open mandate or subject to Supreme Court Reference & Referendum? Australian example?
Electoral Reform - restoring integrity to First Past the Post. The Progressive Canadian Party
For more information contact:
The Hon. Sinclair Stevens,
Leader, PC Party
PC Party candidate-of-record, South Surrey-White Rock