By Jackson Doughart
Those who favour a proportionally-distributed federal legislature are usually quick to point out how the seat count under first-past-the-post will not conform to the parties’ respective shares of the popular vote. This is true, though its implications go beyond the perceived “fairness” of party representation at the federal level.
The current Parliament is easily characterized by regional ties to the parties: Conservatives dominate in Western Canada (54 out of 104 seats from BC to Manitoba) and the Liberals dominate in Ontario and Quebec (120 out of 199 between the two provinces), with the latter earning a majority under the “winner take all” system. Here in the Atlantic region, our 32 ridings are uniformly represented by Liberals.
However resounding the Atlantic shift toward the Liberal Party may have been in October’s election, the red wave cannot represent the true spectrum of views in the region. And if governments are only as good as their opposition in the Westminster system, it is equally difficult to imagine how a one-party sweep is a good thing.
One Atlantic-focussed argument for electoral reform, then, is that even when support for a federal party in our provinces swings in one strong direction, a proportional model would still allocate seats to representatives from other parties. As such, both government and the opposition would have a reason to engage with the region and consider our interests as important.
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