Canadian Electoral Alliance is a volunteer group that met for the first time in October 2011. There are no dues to pay, but people share the expenses; we do not have charitable status and do not seek it. The organization sprang from informal discussions in the summer, after the federal election resulted in a Harper Conservative majority with less than 40% of the popular vote. The “60% majority” now sees cherished institutions wrecked, environmental measures long in place eliminated, money spent on prison building (although the crime rate is falling), among them.
Our members include members of three political parties along with many with no party affiliation. People of any political persuasion are welcome. The goal is basic electoral reform, to make every vote count, to revitalize Canadian democracy.
Meetings are held regularly in Toronto. We liaise with similar organizations in other parts of Canada. We encourage the creation of new local groups of the alliance.
The 2015 Federal Election
Canadian Electoral Alliance seeks agreement across the non-government parties (those voted for by the 60% majority) to run a common candidate in targeted vulnerable ridings (those of the 40%). We believe that this strategy, in 50 key marginal ridings, could make the difference.
The allied parties (not a merger, but an agreement for this next election only) would be committed, on election, to:
bring in a bill to enact proportional representation (PR); we note that such a change could be made by a regular statute! it does not require a Constitutional amendment;
bring in a comprehensive climate change action plan, based on the best available science, with targets for greenhouse gas reductions, a timetable and accounting measures.
the allied parties could commit to other measures as well, generally speaking those with the support of the broad cross-section of Canadian citizens (the 60% majority).
The benefits of proportional representation
“Voting Counts,” the 2004 Report of the Law Commission of Canada, makes an excellent case for PR, favouring the “mixed member proportional” system currently in use in many western countries. Its proposal is a Canadian compromise, keeping two thirds of MPs as single-member MPs, but with ridings one third larger. One third of the MPs would be elected from lists. The list MPs would ensure a fair balance!so that each party’s share in the House of Commons would be close to what it won in the popular vote.
According to FairVoteCanada, the NGO with excellent material on the subject, some 75 democracies use PR to elect their members of parliament, including many European countries similar to Canada. PR is used in the Scottish, Welsh and European parliaments. The “Voting Counts” proposal for Canada is based on the Scottish system.
With proportional representation:
Voter turn-out is higher (fewer people feel that their vote is wasted)
More women and minority members are elected
People are more satisfied with democratic institutions
Environmental protection laws are stronger and energy use more efficient
Political action needed
To get proportional representation in Canada, an Act of Parliament is required, for which we need commitment from elected MPs. Two federal political parties (the NDP and the Greens) already have PR on their books. The Liberal Party (as recently as January 2012) adopted “alternative voting” (AV) as its goal. This means a continuation of single-member, first-past-the post voting, not PR. A petition within the Liberal Party to get proportional representation adopted, instead of AV, is in circulation.
New Democrat members used the recent federal leadership campaign to raise the issue of proportional representation. Liberal members are doing that now as their leadership election approaches.
We encourage members of all parties to get active on this issue within their local riding associations, and other bodies if possible. We encourage greater co-operation across the parties in the House of Commons, and believe it could start now.
We lobby MPs.
The federal government’s failure to enact needed measures to deal with climate change was a major motivation for a number of founding members. Electoral reform, for many, is an environmental issue, for the action needed to deal with this great crisis is not likely to happen under the current majority government.