Changing federal voting system needs to be debated

Dear Editor,
Some comments in the article titled “Changing how we vote”, pg 6, Feb. 11 demands a response.

Some of the policies of Pierre Trudeau are debatable on their merits but policies should be dealt with and not the leader who proposed them.

Trudeau was not a communist sympathizer, in my opinion.  To call him such is to copy the American politicians and media who a few years ago saw a communist around every corner and now see a terrorist.

Canada is a parliamentary democracy in the British tradition.  This means that the people vote for members of the House of Commons and Parliament is supreme.  There have been very few referendums in our political history because Parliament decides.

The Constitution was patriated from Britain, not repatriated.  This was not really a great change as Canada had been recognized as totally independent by the Statute of Westminster in 1931. The addition of a statement of basic rights and freedoms to the Constitution was new for Canada.

This statement provides constitutional protection of our basic rights from arbitrary actions of provincial or federal governments.

The Supreme Court is the ultimate enforcer of this protection.

Decisions made by referendums because we may disagree with some decisions made by the Supreme Court would leave our basic rights in the hands of governments, not a consistent position.

The removal of Liberal appointed senators from the Liberal caucus was not because it was feared that some may have cheated on expense forms.  It was because the purpose of the senate is to give sober, second thought to proposed legislation.

This is better accomplished if senators are removed from the earlier stages of passing legislation.
There are several possibilities of changing the federal voting system and these should be thoroughly discussed so everyone is on the same page when the decision is made.  We want the best, most democratic system.

Most countries have a form of proportional representation.  In its simplest form parties receive the same percentage of seats in the legislature as they received in the popular vote.  Each party would present a slate of candidates before the election.  After the election candidates would be declared elected from these lists.

Beginning at the top of each list and proceeding downward until reaching the point where percentage of seats matched percentage of votes.

There would be no local representation.  Lists could be on a provincial basis to give some local representation.
This system would produce coalition governments as one party very seldom has 50 per cent of the vote.  St. Laurent did in 1952 and Diefenbaker did in 1958.  Every other election would have produced a coalition but the government would have at least 50 per cent of the vote rather than 30 – 38 per cent as it is presently.

The preferential ballot where second and even third choices count would mean no candidate would be elected with less than 50 per cent plus one of the votes.

This system was used for 30 years in Alberta.  It was introduced by the United Farmers in 1925 and remained in effect until the mid 1950’s when Social Credit abolished it when a trend was developing which was unfavourable to the right wing Social Credit government.

The question of changing the federal voting system is too important and needs to be debated thoroughly.
Ron Williams
Strome, Ab.

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