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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED -- Instead of operating democratically, political parties operate autocratically stifling discussion and debate amongst its caucus members


Proportional Representation (PR) is an exercise in mathematics removed from democratic representation; a solution looking vainly for a problem to solve. It does not lead to improved governance, or a stronger connection between Members of Parliament (MPs), and the people they represent.

Democracy is layered, and the foundation is at the 338 electoral districts that make up parliament. We vote for a local representative. The candidate with the highest number of votes wins.

PR proponents claim that this is unfair. Democracy is not fair. The majority rules.  Consider one set of electoral district results:
 
Party
Votes
%
Conservative
19,856
44.6%
Liberal
12,356
27.8%
New Democratic Party
9,387
21.1%
Green Party
1,777
4.0%
People's Party
510
1.1%
Christian Heritage Party
304
0.7%
Independent
108
0.2%
Rejected ballots:
222
0.5%
Total number of votes:
44,520
100.0%

It is possible to change the system to require that the winner receive at least 50% of ballots cast.  This can be achieved with an expensive run-off campaign, or by use of preferential ballots, where candidates are ranked in a 1,2,3 order. In either case, parties with less than 15% of the total vote are left out.

We must never remove the right of electors to select their representative. It is not relevant how many votes parties accumulated in other electoral districts. We are not voting on which political party will represent us in parliament. We are voting for the candidate, the person who will become the MP representing our electoral district.


Governance in theory

The MPs we elect will join their colleagues in the same party, and form a caucus to work with the party leader. The Party Leader will select a Cabinet, or Shadow Cabinet, to work on specific areas of governance. The Leader will get his or her governance or opposition priorities from the cabinet and caucus.

Ideas and initiatives from the Leader and cabinet are refined and put to the caucus for final approval. Members of the caucus can present ideas to the cabinet for further consideration.

Governance in practice

The MPs we elect join their colleagues from the party in a caucus. The leader selects a Cabinet, or Shadow Cabinet, to run the government or opposition. The leader and party decide on the governance, or opposition policies, or priorities, and may or may not consult the cabinet.

The caucus is largely ignored, and caucus initiatives are not welcome.

Instead of operating democratically, political parties operate autocratically ... stifling discussion and debate amongst its caucus members ... telling them how to vote on various issues ... and ignoring their potential contributions to better governance or opposition.

We do not get democratic, representative governance when most of the MPs we elect are sitting on party back benches gagged from active participation in parliament. Parties fears that some MP, not authorized to speak for the party, might say something embarrassing which result in gag orders. If those MPs did speak up, embarrassing the tall foreheads who we never see but who run the party in the background, we might have a parliament we could be proud of.

Political parties have taken parliament hostage and ignore their responsibility to electors. It is not electors who are pushing for PR; it is party activists and officials seeking to increase their party numbers even if it costs electors a voice in who represents them. That is repulsive.

Proportional Representation will not address deficiencies in our democracy or strengthen elector voices in politics. It is a meaningless distraction aimed at further subverting democracy by strengthening political parties rather than the electors they refuse to serve.


John Feldsted
Political Commentator, Consultant & Strategist
Winnipeg, Manitoba

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