BY SHEILA MALCOLMSON
Voting and the process to change how Canadians cast ballots in federal elections both come down to the same thing right now: Making sure your voice is heard.
The electoral reform process currently underway in Canada is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discuss and then change what’s at the heart of our democracy: How we express ourselves when we vote, and how those votes are counted to choose who represents us and our communities.
I’ve heard many here say our current electoral system, ‘first past the post,’ is outdated and broken because it does not fairly represent the will of the people. One party can get 39 per cent of the vote and yet 100 per cent of the power, meaning that millions of votes effectively don’t count. That is a lot of voices going unheard.
Before we voted last October, Prime Minister Trudeau promised that it would be the last unfair election. An electoral reform process started, and thanks to the collaborative work of New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen, the Parliamentary committee doing that work is proportional, reflecting the votes cast by Canadians in 2015.
Now it’s time, as individuals and as a community, to talk about the solutions and contribute to the national conversation taking place about making every vote count.
I’m encouraged that most countries are already using proportional representation, where Parliament actually reflects every vote. If a party gets 39 per cent of the vote, it should get 39 per cent of the seats.
Travelling to Norway, I saw proportional representation working very well, forming stable parliaments where parties co-operate and truly govern to benefit the people, including better environmental policies. I’m encouraged that proportional representation creates more diverse governments and elects more women, around the world. And with women currently making up just 26 per cent of Canada’s MPs, that is crucial.
Now I want to hear your ideas. On Sunday (Sept. 11) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre, I will be joined by Cullen at an electoral reform town hall. I hope you will join us and make sure your voice is heard in Ottawa.
Sheila Malcolmson is member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.