The way people choose their leaders, or the electoral system, is important because it determines the composition of legislatures. Canada uses the outdated single-member plurality, which is commonly known as “first past the post” (FPTP) system. This voting modality has been in place for over a century, and it allows the candidate with the majority of votes in a riding to become the representative in the House of Commons. However, this style has numerous flaws, thus despite its shortcomings, the proportional representation (PR) electoral system is the best model for Canada, as discussed in this paper.
The PR electoral system eliminates the winner-takes-it-all mentality, which has weakened Canada’s cohesion. Under the PR model, an elector has two votes – one for the local district representative or MP and the other for a list of regional candidates of the party of choice. According to researchers, (2016), PR ensures accountability and recognizes “the value that Canadians attach to the community, to MPs understanding local conditions and advancing local needs at the national level, and to having access to MPs to facilitate the resolution of their concerns and participation in the democratic process” (Milner 2016, 1). Through the PR system, every vote counts because, even those that are wasted after a candidate loses at the constituency level, they are used in electing the regional MP. In other words, “share of a party’s representation is proportional to its share of votes” (Shendruk 2016, para. 5). Thus, this system allows many parties to win seats, which increases the necessity of forming coal1itions in the government.
The critics of the PR electoral model argue that it creates an inefficient government due to the lack of one-party majorities. However, based on data from countries that have adopted this system, when parties realize that they cannot govern individually, they quickly learn to form functional coalitions (Milner 2016). Another issue that PR opponents raise is that, in the history of Canada, governments without clear party majorities were dissolved prematurely due to infightings from minority parties after realizing they could win majority votes in a repeat election. However, in the proposed PR system, this scenario is unlikely to happen, as it does not allow the possibility of the party with majority votes forming a government alone. Consequently, it would be easier for parties to work together to improve the efficiency and stability of the government.
The current FPTP system creates an artificial illusion that political party support in the House of Commons is regionally balanced. However, a federal party with 50 percent of the vote in a certain province could win nearly all the available seats. On the other hand, a party with 20 percent of the vote may not secure any seat. As such, major political parties in Canada appear to lack national representation, which results in divisions in the country. For instance, some parties create the impression that they have neglected Quebec. However, the PR model will solve this issue by ensuring that parties embrace all regions by winning seats based on their local support.
Therefore, the PR electoral system is the best for Canada because it addresses most of the problems associated with FPTP. Additionally, this model allows smaller parties to be part of the government; hence, the probability of forming coalitions, which ultimately create cohesiveness in the country. It also eliminates the scenario whereby parties, such as the Liberal Party, form governments without winning the popular vote. A simple majority win is outdated for any country seeking cohesiveness and inclusivity in governance. Its weaknesses notwithstanding, the PR electoral system is the best model for Canada.