Russ Vinden worked up quite a lot of emotion in his letter (The News, May 10) about our electoral system, which he thinks is dishonest, distorted, unrepresentative and polarizing.
Wow, I suspect that he didn’t vote Conservative, and I wonder if he wrote a similar letter when Jean Chretien won a majority with 40 per cent of the vote or when the last time the NDP won government in B.C. it did so with less votes than the Liberal Party.
He certainly does not make a case for his accusation that our system is dishonest, distorted and polarizing, but of course there has long been debate as to whether our first past the post system is fully representative.
The problem is that the options are not very attractive. Proportional representation pretty well guarantees that we would have a permanent series of minority governments and likely more frequent and expensive elections. The only other system worth contemplating is that of preferential voting, as used in Australia, whereby voters mark candidates in order of preference and if the lead candidate does not secure 50 per cent of the vote, then the other preferences come into play until the 50 per cent is achieved. However, the chances of Canada ever agreeing to fundamental electoral change is remote to say the least, especially since the benefits are arguably dubious.
To help Mr. Vinden take some comfort from the election results, I would point out that outside Quebec the Conservatives won 48 per cent of the popular vote, and if an Australian type system had been in place that figure would have undoubtedly risen to well over 50 per cent based on second preference votes. Most people seem to agree that the Quebec outcome was an anomaly and unlikely to be repeated. And the NDP success there obviously overstated its national popularity because outside that province it only picked up a few seats.
I suggest we accept the election results, which should surely please all Conservatives and NDPers, and give Mr. Harper and company the opportunity to deliver on his election platform. If he doesn’t do so then in four years or so I am sure that around 40 per cent of voters will rightly put another party in power.