Letter to Editors:
The ‘robocall election scandal’ has certainly filled the media with daily reports of new accusations and ‘plausible denials’ in the House of Commons between the Conservative government and the opposition NDP and Liberals, with accusations of unethical and fraudulent conduct in the last Federal election.
But the Opposition and media have missed the deeper, more fundamental issue in this conflict that is of much greater importance. Canadians believe that they vote for representatives to work together to do what is best for Canadians, as Jack Layton often said, not have them waste precious time publicly tearing each other apart in Parliament. Even though there may be good reasons for such conflict, many Canadians have been turning away in disgust from the whole political process, including not voting in successive elections. In this way, even though someone in the Conservative party may be guilty of fraudulently initiating ‘robocalls’ and other dirty tricks for the purpose of ‘suppressing the vote’ of their opponents, they are still going to benefit from the divisiveness that is going on in the House for days and weeks – driving even more people away from the process. I suggest that if in fact election fraud was planned, the perpetrators calculated that it was worth it even if someone was caught – probably a minor functionary who will become the scapegoat – because the perpetrators still won the election and that result is unlikely to be reversed.
The problem is the ‘first past the post’ electoral system and the solution is to move to some kind of ‘proportional representation’ as is practiced by many other democracies. The reason is that ‘first past the post’ allows the winner to take an entire riding by a only a few votes over the second place candidate. Essentially, the winner takes all of the votes; none being attributed to the other candidates or parties represented. A ‘proportional representation’ system would eliminate the motive to cheat because there is not just one winner of a riding – all of the votes are counted as part of the popular vote which is taken into account for representation in Parliament.
Of course cheating should be investigated, perpetrators punished and election rules tightened up, but we should also remove the temptation to cheat that is offered by ‘first past the post’ and move to some type of ‘proportional representation’. It is way past time for all political parties to place the needs of Canadians ahead of the parties’ excessive desires for power.