Canada’s largest unions join campaign for proportional representation



Big boost to the Every Voter Counts Alliance just as federal government gets set to launch electoral reform consultations

OTTAWA — The country’s largest unions are joining the fight for proportional representation to make sure every voter counts in the next federal election.

Unifor, United Steelworkers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Public Service Alliance of Canada are among the newest supporters of the Every Voter Counts Alliance. Together, they represent over 1.3 million people.

Launched in February with 16 organizations showing wide, multi-partisan support for proportional representation as the only way to fix what’s wrong with Canada’s broken voting system, organizational support for the Every Voter Counts Alliance has more than doubled in just six weeks.

Thirty-six organizations have now signed on to the campaign for proportional representation, including the National Pensioners Federation, YWCA, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Institut du Nouveau Monde and the Canadian Labour Congress.

“We are very pleased to join the campaign to bring a fair, equal and engaging voting system to Canada. We know our current electoral system is unfair. Proportional representation is the only way to fix the problem. It's that simple,” said Jerry Dias, president of Unifor.

The Liberals campaigned to make "every vote count" and have promised to reform Canada’s voting system so the 2015 election is the last one to use the current first-past-the-post system, a majoritarian winner-take-all system in place since before Confederation. The Liberal government has cited proportional representation and ranked or preferential ballots as options to consider.

“Adding ranked ballots to our winner-take-all federal system, as some are suggesting, would actually exacerbate the problem with our current system by producing larger false majorities and making the House of Commons even more unrepresentative of the popular will,” says Mark Hancock, president of CUPE. "We can’t get this wrong. That’s why we look forward to participating in the consultation process.”

A system of proportional representation is based on the straightforward principle that the seats a party has in a legislature should reflect the percentage of votes cast for that party and that all citizens deserve representation. There is a family of voting systems based on this principle. Countries can design or alter a system of proportional representation to meet their unique needs, such as ensuring that voters can elect a local representative in their home riding.

Over 90 countries use a proportional voting system, including 85 per cent of OECD countries, such as Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark. Among the Top 10 countries in The Economist’s Intelligence Union rankings, eight have built proportionality into the voting systems used in their main legislative chambers.


For more information about, please contact Alliance spokesperson Willy Blomme, 514-699-4636, or media[at]everyvotercounts[dot]ca.