Response to Bill Tieleman and other Electoral Reform naysayers
Canadian society is incredibly diverse. However, we currently use an antiquated electoral system that was designed in the 13th century for a country that had only two political parties. As such, Canada’s House of Commons is overwhelmingly dominated by a small number of political parties – usually just two. This lack of variety fails to represent the multitude of voices and opinions in Canadian society.
Tieleman slights the federal Green party, whose seat count remains low due to the current voting system. Does Tieleman think that smaller parties such as the Greens shouldn’t have a voice in our parliament? I can’t help but think of 1990s provincial politics, when the leader of the BC NDP, the party Tieleman once served as an advisor to, labeled environmentalists as the enemies of B.C. Or again in the 2000s when the BC NDP opposed the province’s incredibly progressive carbon tax.
Having a party like the Greens, even if just on the periphery, has ensured that the more regressive policies of the BC NDP have been challenged. The party had to adapt to such criticism, and become a more progressive political party for it. Sometimes even opposition parties need to be opposed.
Tieleman wants us to believe a greater diversity of voices will mean racism and intolerance in Canada’s parliament.
New Zealand, a country that uses proportional representation, shows that exactly the opposite can happen: Indigenous people have a louder voice in parliament, which encourages tolerance, cooperation and respect. The Māori party regularly wins seats (even outside of the seven electorates set aside for Māori candidates) and is part of New Zealand’s current coalition government. Of the eight political parties that contested New Zealand’s 2014 election, three of them had leaders of Māori heritage.
Coalition and minority governments can be extremely productive. Lester Pearson’s minority Liberal government was one of the most fruitful governments that Canada has ever had. Pushed to cooperate with the NDP, we saw the creation of public healthcare, Canada Pension Plan, Student Loans, a Canadian Flag, the 40-hour work week, two weeks of vacation time and a new minimum wage. So when detractors of proportional representation warn of parliamentary gridlock, be skeptical. The exact opposite can happen when parties work together.
When was the last time that a federal Canadian political party with seats had a non-Caucasian leader? Certainly not during my lifetime, if ever.
Read the entire Article: Proportional Representation Leads to More Diverse, Cooperative Politics | The Tyee