During his victory speech in 2015, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said that that election would be the last to use the traditional First-Past-The-Post electoral system. To his credit, Trudeau did attempt electoral reform in that first term.
His government sought to move Canada from the method of election that has served the country for over 150 years, to Proportional Representation. That system allocates seats based on percentage of the popular vote, rather than constituents directly electing their MP. Legislatures elected through PR rarely have majority governments and instead encourage collaborative minority governments and coalitions.
Based on the results of the September 2021 election, Trudeau would not have been Prime Minister. In fact, no clear winner would have been declared from last week’s vote had Proportional Representation been adopted. The Liberals would have finished second with 114 seats instead of the 159 they were elected with on Monday. The Conservatives would have lost only one seat, instead of the 119 seats they were elected with.
Some of the smaller parties would have benefited from PR. The NDP would have more than doubled their seat count to 62 seats. The upstart People’s Party of Canada would have held 17 seats instead of the zero they were actually elected to. The losers would have been the Bloc Québécois that would have had seven fewer seats than the 34 they were elected to. The biggest losing party would have been the Green Party. Despite advocating for proportional representation, that party would have had its two seats wiped out if PR was used.
What this means is while there are flaws with the FPTP system of voting – like amplifying the urban-rural divide – the tried-and-true method still works. And we still see one of the the side benefits of PR, which is the election of a minority government.
Last week’s federal election sent the political class in Ottawa a message. Canadians want their elected officials to work together, regardless of their political stripe. There are serious issues to deal with and those issues need a serious response. These issues: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; climate change; economy; education; and housing all need dire attention.
French philosopher Joseph de Maistre said that every nation gets the government it deserves. Those elected September 20 should also remember that Canadians deserve to see that government work together for all residents. Now get to work!