Saturday, October 14, 2023

Your Vote needn't be wasted

Some of you might feel your vote wasn't wasted, especially if your choice got elected.  Others might feel they registered their preference.  But let's face it under our system it is those who get elected who have the  power to change your life.

The photo to the left depicts some of the volunteers of Fair Vote Canada who are trying to change things.  I snuck in the back row.   From left to right Jim, Lisa Marie Barron MP, self, Howard, Kevin, Carol, Irene and Heather.

It varies from election to election, but in First Past the Post systems it is most often that over 50% of votes are wasted.  First of course are those who didn't get elected who might take some comfort in how close they came.  Even some of those who voted for the winner could have stayed home because their candidate got more votes than were needed.  Think how many voters agonized over their selection as they knew their first choice was unlikely to win and that a more realistic contender was one to be avoided.  Others (a lot of young people for example) felt it was a waste of time to make the effort.

A good local example comes from the last Ontario provincial election.  Doug Ford got only 40.8% of the votes, but got over 66.9% of the legislative seats.  Over 55% of eligible voters didn't bother meaning Mr. Ford got his power with less than 21% of eligible voters.  He and his party have power to control the budget, taxes you pay, land set aside for ecological reasons and lots of rules that affect your life.  To win votes the Ford administration cut car license fees not worrying about how those necessary funds would be replaced. 

Politicians sometimes like to use the word "mandate" as to why they push legislation.  Too often they received less than 50% of the vote.  When voter turnouts decline it is an indication that many do not feel their concerns will be addressed further underlining there is no mandate.

Much of the world has found a better way.  One where your vote can make a difference no matter your preference.  There are variations and details differ, but the essential point is that every vote counts.  Fair Vote Canada is promoting a Citizen's Assembly where the options including our current system will investigate and make recommendations.   

Politicians who got elected under the current system ridicule the idea of proportional representation.  I went to a meeting several years when the issue was discussed and most remember one fellow shouted "You are just upset because your guy didn't get in."  In fact there were a lot of us whose guy didn't get in.

Under proportional representation legislators need to collaborate.  Compromises are made that limit extreme views.  Politicians are more civil to one another as they need to work together.  Generally nations using proportional representation have worked on important issues like climate change.  Some studies  have shown with happiness surveys that nations with proportional representational forms of government rank higher than those with the First Past the Post governments.

This past week with a few other Fair Vote Canada volunteers we handed out information for  the New Democrat Party convention.  Most of the delegates were very supportive of our efforts to promote proportional representation.  Lisa Marie Barron, the M.P for Nanaimo-Ladysmith was on hand to present a resolution for a Citizen's Assembly.  She encouraged us and posed for a number of group photos.

This convention should represent a small step to ensuring all our votes count for what we really want.  But there is a lot of work left as there are those with vested interests that are very resistant. 


This photo was taken on the second day.  From left to right, two NDP delegates who wanted in for the fun, Roger, Lawson, Lisa Marie Barron, self, Sherry and Anna.  With his back to the camera is Heino wearing a special shirt combining his loves for Fair Vote Canada and the Hamilton Ti-Cats.



 Two other blogs on this topic. and

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