I know that not everyone is really up on Canadian politics, but I have been finally getting around to doing some research on the great Canadian Parliamentary system, and have been picking away at som flaws in our style of democracy. It never hurts to learn about another country, and in seeing the flaws in our democracy, maybe you can relate them to your own country's shortcomings. Brief History:
Canada's electoral system is basically a direct offspring of the British Westminster Parliament. Similar concepts in electoral process. We use a system that is refered to as the 'first past the post' system, where there are RIDINGS
across the country that each have 1 (one)
Seat in the House of Commons (Parliament). There are 308
Seats in the House.Federal Parties in Canada
There are dozens of registered and voted-for parties in Canada, but of course only the most popular will be represented in Parliament, a price you must pay if you want anything to get done in Office. There are 5 Major players on the Federal scene:
- Conservative - The furthest Right party on the map
- Liberal - A little bit more left, still right of center
- NDP - The socialists, but still rely on pandering to get votes
- Bloc Quèbecois - The francophone separatist party, represents for French interests
- Green Party - Pretty self explanitory
Right now Canada is under a Conservative Minority, meaning the Conservative Party did not get more than 50% of the seats of Parliament, and has to work with the other parties to get bills passed. It was played off as a travesty when it happened, even though as a prominent Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne put it '...looks strangely like how a democracy should
Like I mentioned above, we use a system known as the 'first past the post' system. This means that in each riding, whatever representative of whatever Party wins the majority of votes, the Seat in the riding is given to that representative, and therefore the Party.
The problem lies here. When using this system, there could be 5
Parties running in each riding. Each wins a certain number of votes.
Lets say that there are 100 000 votes
being counted for one riding.
- Conservatives win 30 000 (30% of the total)
- Liberals wins 25 000 (20% of the total)
- NDP wins 20 000 " "
- Green Party wins 20 000
- Bloc Quebecois wins 15 000
Effectively, in this way of deciding who gets the Seat in Parliament, the Conservative Party
would then recieve the Seat, even though there is only 30 000/100 000
votes for them. That means the other 70%
of the voters have ZERO
representation in their government. Their votes count for nothing.Real Life Numbers:Get ready for some math!
As I was browsing the web for information on the Cascadian Republic, I got to thinking about a website I had seen before called FAIR VOTE CANADA
and some of the numbers they had presented in a pamflette I read online. I decided to goto [/i]Elections Canada[/i], Canada's electoral governing body, and crunch some of the numbers myself from their charts.
Here are some stats for the 2006 General Elections of Canada
- Of the 14 817 159 Canadian Voters who participated:
- 5 374 071 (36%) voted Conservative
- 4 479 415 (30%) voted Liberal
- 2 589 597 (17%) voted NDP
- 1 553 201 (10%) voted Bloc Quèbecois (only had votes in ONE province Quèbec)
- 0 664 068 (5%) voted Green Party
If you take the 14 817 159
total votes cast in that election, and divide it by the number of Seats in the House (308
) it works out to be 48 108
votes per Seat
in the House of Commons. This means that (get ready for another list):
- Conservative Party should have won - 112 Seats
- Liberal Party should have won - 93 Seats
- The NDP should have won - 53 Seats
- The Bloc should have won - 32 Seats
- Green Party should have won - 13 Seats
Those figures are figured by taking their votes, dividing them by the number of votes in proportion to number of seats.
This is how the House was really
- Conservative Party won - 124 Seats
- Liberal Party won - 103 Seats
- The NDP won - 29 Seats
- The Bloc won - 51 Seats
- Green Party won - 0 Seats
You can see a major problem in the way that the Parliament is stacked, where a Party who recieved ZERO
votes outside of the French Province of Quèbec can gain 51
Seats in the Federal House. The NDP
won 1 000 000
more votes than the Bloc
, yet won 22
fewer Seats than them.
The Green Party
of Canada has just under 5% of the population's votes, but recieves ZERO Seats in House.
In British Columbia
alone, my home Province, there were 97 002
votes for Green Party
members, but not one was elected. In BC
there were 113 585
votes that went to either Green Party
runners but not a one was put into Parliament. That is a whopping 16%
of BC voters that were given no representation in Federal Government. And they wonder why there is an Independance Movement?
So to finish off this posting, I didnt just write this so as to indoctrinate you into the ways of Canadian politics, or to make it seem like Canada should be on the forefront of your minds, but rather to illustrate how one of the most percieved democratic nations on this planet is rittled with a broken system of representation. This is not an unimportant issue. We, as socialists, and democratists need to stand for things like Proportional Representation and make sure that every damn vote is accounted for. How can a Government claim legitimacy with numbers like I have presented above? It CANT
, but these facts are not well known by the general population. It took me about an hour to crunch these numbers and then another 2 1/2 to write this post. Its 5.30am in Winnipeg right now haha. My girlfriend is going to give me shit for coming to be so late, but that is just one of the sacrafices we need to make in order to bring about democratic justice.
Take a look at your countries statistics, crunch the arthimatic and put up a similar report of your Nation's standing.
Canadian Parliament on Wikipedia:
Elections Canada Web Reporting + Election Charts (2006)