I missed reading Shane Dyson’s April 10 letter to which John Redekop refers in his rebuttal of April 24; however, it is good to see the concept of proportional representation discussed. Mr. Redekop points out that proportional representation does not necessarily allow for “accountable local MPs,” but how meaningful is the residence of an MP, and how accountable to the electorate is he or she, when not free to vote their conscience? In our present system, a great many of our MPs don’t even read the legislation they are called to vote upon, because it would be meaningless. They instead receive, and act upon instructions from their party whip on how to vote. That’s not representative of the electorate, and it’s not democracy.
Mr. Redekop suggests coalition governments are inherently unstable, but I beg to disagree. That is not a given. Coalition governments can provide some assurance to a citizenry that their views too, will be represented. What does determine the stability of any government however, is the willingness of the participants to show respect, to hear each other out, to weigh each others’ viewpoints through the prism of goodwill and justice and then to vote their conscience. Where no one party has complete control, a constructive partnership of service and effort is encouraged, and can produce a very healthy stability. Stability purchased at the price of proportional representation however, does not necessarily produce good government. It can just as easily be equated with dictatorship.
I agree with Mr. Redekop that voting based upon nothing more than a national list, would be counter-productive, but there are alternative approaches. Today, over 80 countries successfully use various forms of proportional voting and there is no valid reason Canada cannot do the same. I also find it a bit misleading to liken Canada to problematic countries based upon multitudes of parties. The whole party system itself is problematic. Not only because, as Mr. Redekop rightly points out, parties frequently cater to special interest groups (something we are living with already, so it cannot be laid at the door of proportional representation) but its very genesis is a manifestation of “us vs. them” thinking. Proportional voting would make it impossible for a small percentage of the electorate to unequally empower a majority government that does not reflect the value system of the entire country. Proportional representation is a step toward democracy, not away from it. Hopefully, the future will see further, much-needed steps taken.
Viewed from my perspective, an alternate approach to elections is called for. One in which there are no candidates, where money and electioneering play no role. One in which “service” is the motivator, where quality of character trumps ideology, where learning and humility go hand in hand – and where the cream naturally rises to the top. It’s not impossible. That system is already operational within the Baha’i community worldwide.
Norma E. Hoyle