The 2021 federal election showcases all its flaws.
Yesterday I cast my vote in the 2021 Canadian federal election. I have always considered it my duty to vote, because even in circumstances where our power is very limited, we still face a moral responsibility to use it appropriately. Nevertheless, I knew perfectly well as I cast my ballot that my vote wasn’t going to count. Canadian politics are badly broken, with the primary causes garishly on open display.
A broken system = broken results
Canada is one of the last major nations on Earth which still clings to a First-Past-The-Post electoral system, which we share with places like Nigeria, Pakistan, and Iraq. You wont find any pillars of great democratic success and effective governance on the list. FPTP is a terrible method for creating a government that is genuinely representative of the will of the electorate. In Canada’s last federal election, The Conservative Party got 239,712 more votes than the Liberal Party, and yet the Liberal Party got 36 more seats in parliament. The Bloc Quebecois got less than half as many votes as the New Democratic Party, and was rewarded for it with eight more seats. The Green Party got 84% as many votes as the BQ, but less than one tenth as many seats. To try to offset these wildly undemocratic results, voters feel pressured to vote strategically, casting ballots for parties they dislike in order to try to block other parties they even more strongly oppose, knowing that voting for the choice that best represents their values typically means the same thing as throwing your ballot away. Trying to create the best possible government is unthinkable. We can only hope to possibly settle for the least worst one.
As with universal health care, the fact that no country which ever moved away from FPTP elections to explore proportional representation has ever been tempted to go back should tell us something.
More problematically, the system regularly creates false majorities, where less than 40% of voter support translates into 100% unopposed power. Canadians often feel smug by comparing ourselves to the raging dumpster fire of US politics right next door, but in ways Canada’s system is even less democratic. In a speech to US Republicans, former…