Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Proportional Representation ensures “equality of ridings”

The Cons have started a new misinformation campaign. They claim democracy is founded on the “equality of ridings” and somehow First-Past-the-Post is the only voting system that can deliver it. They couldn’t be more wrong.

No doubt, equality of ridings is important in a country with diverse regions like Canada. It ensures regional representation at a federal level. That’s why all the major kinds of voting reform being proposed take equality of ridings into account.

Single Transferable Vote (PR)

In our current Westminster system, voters elect one MP to represent their riding. STV allows voters to elect many MPs per riding.

This not only delivers equality of ridings, it gives constituents better representation. Instead of voters getting saddled with a single MP on 35% of the vote, they have many who can speak for them.

Seats are awarded to party candidates proportional to the riding vote. Collectively this approximates federal proportional representation ensuring equality of voters as well.

Mixed Member Proportional (PR)

MMP is a hybrid of Westminster plus party list PR. It ensures equality of ridings plus it distributes federal votes so parties get the same percent seats they got in votes.

It delivers the best of both worlds: equality of ridings and equality of voters.

Ranked Ballot (runoff voting)

This keeps our existing Westminster system intact but makes MPs earn their seats with a majority — ensuring they have the right to represent constituents. It stops vote splitting and prevents wasted votes. Not only are all ridings equal, all voters are equal as well.

First-Past-the-Post doesn’t deliver

FPP doesn’t deliver on equality of ridings or equality of voters.

Thanks to vote splitting, some voters are more equal than others. In 2011, a 40% Conservative minority had more say than the 60% super-majority. That’s the opposite of voter equality — and democracy.

Voters didn’t fare any better at a riding level. The Conservatives won dozens of center-left ridings saddling voters with the opposite of what they voted for. Obviously there is no equality of ridings when constituents have the wrong person/party representing them.


Both equality of ridings and voters are essential to democracy. That’s why 91% of developed countries ditched FPP for a democratic voting system. In 2015, we need to tackle the democratic deficit with voting reform.


  1. I hear you. Here in Calgary, Harper's home base, we have eight constituencies, all represented by Conservative MPs. Under a simple PR system, with Calgary as one constituency, the last election would have provided five Conservative MPs, one Green, one Liberal and one NDP. In other words, all Calgarians would have been represented in Ottawa, not just Conservatives. What a treat it would be to have my vote actually giving me a voice.

  2. Good point. In order to ensure equality of ridings and regional representation we have to get rid of FPP which produces regional distortions. In 2011, 67% of Albertans voted Conservative, yet they won 96% of the seats. How can voters and ridings be equal when the will of the people is exaggerated so ridiculously?

    PR is certainly the ideal for equality of ridings and voters. But after 4 provincial referendum failures, I think we need a change of tack. First, fix our existing system with the ranked ballot, which will solve many problems we have now. Then build real support for PR, and bring in a federal PR referendum when conditions are winnable.

    If we blow a federal PR referendum in 2015, that will be the final word on electoral reform for decades. The Reform party will also become Canada's natural governing party -- against the wishes of the vast majority. It's a dangerous gamble with our future.