Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Does your vote count?

Does your vote count?
Proportional representation can make a difference

I do not know who to vote for. My decision shifts from one party to another, one candidate to the next.

I have discussed with friends and family about their decisions and the reasons behind their choice. What is the logic behind people choosing one candidate over another?

Between accusations of corruption, mismanagement and name calling, many are asking: Do we really have a choice? Are we not all voting for the lesser of two evils?

After the dismal voter turnout in the last federal election and the latest municipal elections, what changes to the voting system can be done to give Canadians a choice and bring more people to the polls?

Only 60.9 per cent of Canadians voted federally in 2004. A disappointing 27 per cent voted in the St.Lazare municipal elections.

Canada’s voting rate is a far cry from other countries, such as Australia, which boasts a participation rate of 95 per cent. Where is Canada’s will to participate?

So, is this democracy? Are we properly represented?

Canadians have choice – did you know there are 15 registered parties in Canada? But our electoral system is restraining people from voting for the party they really believe in.

Let’s not forget Canada has a single member plurality system where a candidate from each party runs in a constituency.

A candidate wins as long as he or she has one more vote than the second candidate. A majority is not needed to gain a seat.

People tend to vote for parties that can gain seats, creating a two party system, where only one or two parties have a chance to lead.

Essentially, the number of seats won does not represent the number of people who actually voted for the party.

Smaller parties, such as the Green Party are shut out from Parliament.

Think about it – in the last election, the Green Party won 4.5 per cent of the popular vote. They have no seats in Parliament, no say in any issues. Over 600,000 people’s votes were “wasted.”

Another interesting question people are asking “should I vote for the candidate in my riding or should I vote for the party?”

In our current system, people are thorn with the idea of electing for the riding or for the party.

Meili Faille has worked hard for the riding, but is her association with the Bloc Quebecois a deterrence to vote for her?

Are Marc Garneau’s chances of winning doomed because of the sponsorship scandal?

Should you not vote for the Green Party because Pierre Pariseau-Legault’s chance of winning against two very strong candidates is slim?

Here comes in proportional representation.

People would vote twice – one to elect the candidate that will properly represent their region, one to elect the party they wish to see in power.

Seats are assigned according to the number of votes obtained nationally. If the Liberals get 25 per cent of the votes, they get one quarter of the seats.

You can pick both a regional and a national leader.

Smaller parties can then access Parliament. They might have a few seats, but they can be the determining vote in a minority government.

With more parties in Parliament, there will be more opportunity to hold the government accountable for its actions. Yes, that means possibly less corruption.

Parties will have to compete and the Liberal’s party monopoly would end.

So you have more party choice and your vote really counts in the end. Doesn’t that make you want to vote?

Until proportional representation, who should you vote for?

That, is a matter of personal preference. For now, Canadians have to vote according to their beliefs rather than trying to punish a party’s actions.

Who will I vote for? I will vote for the party that represents my ideals, my vision for the future of Canada.

For the party that will hopefully bring in proportional representation to give Canadians more choice and more reason to vote.

Think about it. You have a choice. You can vote.