OTTAWA — The Every Voter Counts Alliance launched Thursday -- showcasing wide, multi-partisan support for proportional representation as the only way to fix what’s wrong with Canada’s broken voting system.
The Alliance brings together organizations and individuals in support of a fair voting system in which every vote counts, independent of party interests. Supporting organizations include ACORN-Canada, Broadbent Institute, Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Labour Congress, Council of Canadians, Democracy Watch, Équiterre, Fair Vote Canada, Groupe Femmes, Politique et Démocratie, Institut du Nouveau Monde, Leadnow, Mouvement démocratie nouvelle, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Unlock Democracy, and YWCA Canada.
Guy Giorno, former Chief of Staff to Stephen Harper, Alex Himelfarb, former Clerk of the Privy Council, and Col. (Retired) Pat Stogran, former Veteran’s Ombudsman, have already signed on in support of the Alliance, which is encouraging groups and people to add their name as supporters at www.everyvotercounts.ca.
“We come from different parts of the country doing different work, but we all agree on this simple idea -- Canada needs a fair voting system that provides all citizens a real opportunity to elect a candidate according to their values and reflects the choices of voters without producing skewed results with false majorities and exaggerated regional divisions. Only proportional representation can achieve this,” said Willy Blomme, spokesperson for the Alliance.
Added Himelfarb: “Proportional representation has real advantages that would improve Canadian politics. It creates incentives for parties to work together and as a result the policies that get adopted are more durable.”
“YWCA Canada celebrates gender parity in cabinet, but three out of four MPs are still men. We’ve been advocating for women since before the first group of women won the right to vote in federal elections. We know the journey to women’s equality isn’t finished. Proportional representation can help elect more women. It’s one more step on the long road to women’s equality,” said Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada.
The Liberal government has 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. It has cited proportional representation and ranked or preferential ballots as options to consider.
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.
"Electoral systems must be judged by how well they mirror voter choice. Proportional representation starts and ends with a focus on the voters and its purpose is to ensure that everyone's values and views have full and fair representation in Parliament,” said Giorno.