Conservatives are calling for a referendum, because they know that if voters are allowed to decide, the results will likely be no changes, which could allow them to one day rise to power again through vote splitting. The NDP and Green Party are pushing for proportional representation, because this system provides the best opportunity for them to receive the largest number of seats in Parliament.

Response: Nothing scary about proportional representation, once you know the facts

Political parties have too much power over how MPs vote — proportional representation would only exacerbate the problem.

A strong movement is promoting proportional representation as the best voting system, arguing that it ensures that the proportion of MPs elected from political parties matches the proportion of the vote that went to each party. However, this concept is flawed: it equates voters to political parties, whereas most voters are individuals, who do not belong to political parties and may vote differently in each election.

In order to work, proportional representation requires a group of MPs who do not represent a constituency, but rather a political party. And these MPs would be chosen by the party, rather than by voters. Either the number of MPs would need to be vastly increased, or the size of each constituency with an elected MP would have to be much larger.

One of the current flaws with our democracy now is that political parties have too much power over how MPs vote — proportional representation would only exacerbate the problem.

Each party would need to create a list of prospective MPs ready to go to Ottawa. How these representatives are chosen would be up to each party, without input from constituencies or voters, which hardly seems democratic.

Canada is a huge country with many distinct regions; each has different needs and issues and each deserves to be well represented in Parliament. Ideally, each MP should be in Ottawa representing their constituency and voting based on what their constituents’ support, rather than what their party dictates. Thus, to be truly democratic, the electoral system should result in MPs who are supported by the majority of their constituents.

It would be best if voters had the opportunity to vote a second time, as is done in France whenever the first election does not result in a clear winner with more than 50 per cent of the vote. After all, if the goal is to elect the best candidate who has the most overall support, then voters should have the option to indicate the candidate they think will best represent their interests in Ottawa in the event their first choice does not win. This system of two-round, run-off voting is called preferential or ranked balloting. It uses a ranking system with second and third choices, which could result in votes being wasted on candidates that receive few votes.

A better option could be a single ballot that has two sections; the second section allows voters to choose among the various options should there be no clear winner in the first round. For example, if candidates from four parties are running, voters would pick one in the first section, then in the second section of the ballot, they would pick their choice for each of the six possibilities of the two potential candidates with the highest number of votes (see sample ballot below).

The run-off options would be listed in the order that matches the number of votes each party received in the last election. That way only one of the top three options would have a statistical chance of becoming the run-off choice. The other options would be listed out of fairness to all the candidates.

This system offers real choice for Canadians, rather than “fairness” to political parties.

Ballot counting may occur in two steps. If there were no clear winner in the first round, those counting the ballots would have to circle the top two candidates and then record the second vote.

Many Canadians switch their party allegiance from election to election. With this system they will have the opportunity to vote for their second choice. This system offers real choice for Canadians, rather than “fairness” to political parties.

Canada is finally on track to adopt a new electoral system that will do a better job of ensuring future governments are more representative of the majority of voters. Canadians need to become engaged and realize that what defines fair voting should be fairness for their communities and their needs. Giving more power to political parties will not improve their governance. We need MPs who will better represent their constituencies and thus help reduce the influence of political parties in Canada’s parliamentary system.