UK Election Should be a Wakeup Call

It isn’t over yet in the UK but I have been watching the attempts to form government there with rapt interest. Canadian political commentators have been critical of the process but to me, it is a good deal better having the interested parties struggling to make some kind of compromise than it is to meekly allow a government with very little voter support simply assume power the way we have in this country.

Why should we assume that it is any more legitimate for David Cameron’s right-leaning Conservatives to form government with the 36% support they won from voters rather than have a coalition of the more socially conscious Labour, the Liberal-Democrats and members of various other small parties including the Green member elected last week who collectively scored over 50%, run the country.

Something about that sticks in the craw of commentators like the Globe & Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson and others and frankly I cannot fathom why. Canada’s elites seem to have a mental block about proportional representation and they don’t like the concept of a hung parliament being able to be worked out in a compromise through discussion of common interests. I wish Simpson could explain to us, why a system which would give the party that got 45% of the popular vote , 45% of the seats in Parliament is flawed.

We need to make the process more democratic and why, as Canadian voters we cling to the out dated first past the post system is beyond my comprehension.

I do know why the Harpers and Ignatieff don’t want to change the system. It is all about the hope that their party will achieve that elusive 40% which just might get them a majority Government. The NDP are just as bad. It has been party policy for years but when is the last time you heard Jack Layton speak out in favour of proportional representation. Jack still thinks he has a chance of becoming Prime Minister. Some democracy we live in.

Here in Canada, over the last 80 years only four governments were elected by a majority of the people who cast ballots. That was in 1940, 1949, 1958 and 1984. Here in Canada it took 31,000 votes to elect each Bloc member of Parliament, 37,000 to elect one Liberal, 40,00 for each Conservative and 111,000 to elect each NDP member. The Greens received close to a million votes and elected no one.

So let’s take a hard look at what is happening in the UK and in our own country. It is time to stand up and tell the party leaders that electoral reform is more than giving a few extra seats to Alberta. We need significant change and we need it now. Be part of the solution. Get involved. Speak out.

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