Canada’s electoral process of first past the post is inherently flawed. What we have here, in real terms, is an elected dictatorship. The current proroguing of Canada’s parliament by Justin Trudeau and the end of various committees that could have potentially harmed the PM’s credibility and political future is a case in point. Every four years we go to the polls nationally and one individual is elected Prime Minister. The party that he or she represents becomes the party in power. That individual then has up to four years to govern as he or she so wishes. There is no oversight. It becomes an exercise of arrogance and scandal. He, she and they can do whatever they feel is right for the country based upon their own ideology, and not necessarily the will of the people they represent. The opposition has no choice but to nod their little heads and follow suit.
Question period, which is supposed to keep the government honest and in check, is a façade and a democratic joke. If the ruling party does not like what they hear or the debate on policy decisions they can shut question period down and go for the vote, and always along party lines. If the PM is fearful that his will is being undermined and his survival is at stake he can prorogue parliament (shut it down) until such time as he feels his patina is somewhat less tarnished. That is what is going on right now as I write this.
Some would say, yes, but that is why we have regional representation in the Senate. To protect us all from an elected dictatorship of the commons. Yes that was the original intent of the founding fathers but the original provinces, primarily Quebec, have stated that they will never agree to another province, or group of provinces with regional biases such as that found in the west, to supersede their authority or power within the Confederation. Same goes for Ontario. Added to that, Senators are appointed by the sitting PM, usually along party lines, so the chamber of sober second thought is in reality a drunken mirror image of the sitting government. It is a political joke and a partisan club of old fools.
The final nail in the cabinet hierarchy is the dictatorial rule of the party leader, or PM, who chastises and refuses to allow his own government Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators to vote with their conscious or constituent wishes with the threat of caucus exile if they decide to do so.
What can be done here? This is my suggestion and it is based somewhat on population and representation.
Right now Canada has 338 seats – primarily based on a population of 35M people, the majority of which reside in Ontario (14M) and Quebec (8M). If the west was considered regional, i.e., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, their total population would come in under 11.4M people. The north consisting of Yukon, Nunavut and NW come in at about 100,000 people. They could be lumped in with the west for a western regional total of about 11.5 M people, about 3M more than Quebec. The Maritimes – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland – come in at about 2M people. They could be lumped in with Quebec as an eastern regional block for a total of about 10M people, close to the west but not quite. Ontario would remain a central regional block in and of itself with 14M people. Three regional voting blocks in Canada but with all having nearly similar population numbers.
Thus Ontario has 40% of the population of Canada; the west and eastern blocks 30% each. Translate that into seats and one comes up with Ontario:135 seats; the west and eastern blocks 101 seats each for a total of 337 seats. Close enough.
At election time each province would vote accordingly but separately from their respective blocks. A tally would then be taken. For example, lets say the Green party took 8% of the vote in BC, 3% in Alberta, 2% in Saskatchewan and 4% in Manitoba. They would have 17% of the western block of votes. The same rules would apply to the Liberals, Conservatives. NDP and others for a percentage total of 100% of the western voting block of 101 seats. In this example, the Greens would take 17% of the western seats for a total of 17 seats, representing the West in Ottawa. The same rules would apply to the central and eastern voting blocks. Conceivably the Green Party could receive, using their western 17% gain as an example, 22 seats in Ontario and another 17 seats from the eastern block for a total of 56 seats in Ottawa. Under the current electoral rules the Green Party would have one maybe two seats in total as their percentages are too low to win a majority in the various provincial electoral districts under our current system.
Ridings at the federal level would disappear. Seats in parliament would be allocated to the western provinces and northern territories. Same for the east and central regions. These seats could be broken down further to represent various districts within the regional voting blocks. The end result would in all probability be a coalition government as no one party would ever receive the majority of the votes within each of the regional blocks to form a majority, but no one region of the country could push their policy or ideology or agenda over the other. The parties and regions would have to work together to make things work. The country would be split into three regions, all with some form of regional autonomy to represent their respective interests while in Ottawa. Right now there are probably six vested interest regions in this country, two of which have almost complete control of the Canada’s political outcome – Ontario and Quebec. It is too “centrally centric.” Ontario and Quebec have too much political power. Something has to change.
I feel it is time to rid ourselves of the undemocratic first past the post electoral process. I am probably naïve here as this would require a change to the constitution of this country. Something that in all probability will never happen. But the consequences of our current system are dire: regional separation particularly the western provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. If this were to occur, Quebec would be next to separate and go it alone leaving Ontario, British Columbia and the maritime provinces isolated. The Confederation would be dead.
Just my thoughts for a Friday morning. It is raining out here in Mill Bay, BC