This summer you do not have to look hard or far to find examples of struggles within democratic systems. Whether it is the uprisings in Turkey, the deep divisions caused by Brexit or the rise of Donald Trump, democratic systems are suffering.
It is easy for us, as Canadians, to pat ourselves on the back, and say that our democracy is healthy. Yet it is important to remember that what keeps our democracy strong is our ability to have free and open conversations about what matters most to us as Canadians. We must also be able to explore where we can improve.
The federal government has committed to making 2015 the last first-past-the-post election. The existing system has produced false majorities in Canada since before the invention of the automobile. The Government tasked a special parliamentary committee to conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems and recommend changes to how we vote. My NDP colleague Nathan Cullen was able to pressure the Government to change the committee’s structure so that it has proportional representation for all parties and a majority of Members of Parliament from opposition benches. This committee is seeking input from Canadians across the country to participate in its review of the electoral system.
To ensure the views of residents from the Kootenay-Columbia are heard and have a strong voice in Ottawa, I hit the road in August on a “Democratic Reform Tour”. I hosted discussions in 14 communities about what type of changes can be made to help improve our voting system. I was joined by citizens of all political stripes, and conversations ranged from mandatory voting, to lowering the voting age, to electronic voting, to discussing the advantages and nuances of different proportional systems. The overall sentiments were virtually unanimous – Canada needs an electoral system that is more fair, representative and engaging.
In addition to the tour, I have also mailed a survey to every household across the riding that can be sent back, postage free, with your thoughts. As always, feel free to contact my offices if you have questions or feedback to add.
We have an historic opportunity to improve our unfair voting system. It is important that any changes represent the interest of all Canadians, not just that of those from the party in power. Your voice can help make the difference!
Wayne Stetski is the member of Parliament for the Kootenay-Columbia federal riding.