Hot on the heels of the 2018 provincial elections, where the Progressive Conservatives won a majority government, Kara Flannigan came into the ONNtv studio to talk about the current state of Canada’s, more specifically Ontario’s voting system. Our conversation centred around first past the post (FPTP) versus proportional representation voting systems.
Flannigan, a health inspector with Algoma Public Health and leader of the local Green Party, is an advocate for reforming our current system, FPTP, to a more proportional method.
She describes out current system as antiquated, noting that other countries have adopted more inclusive and participatory voting systems including diverse voices.
The visual above exemplifies how, as Flannigan states, “FPTP gave the PCs the majority of the power, 76 seats, with 40% of the vote. If we had more proportional representation, their votes would have gotten them 51 seats… 40.5% of the vote got 100% of the power.”
Ultimately, this would mean that in order for laws to be passed, there would need to be more negotiation amongst all the parties with seats.
This also would be a game changer for smaller parties such as The Green Party. While The Greens won their very first provincial seat this year, they garnered 4.6% of the vote. With proportional representation, this would have gotten them six seats as opposed to one.
Of the impact this could have on political landscapes in our province, Flannigan said “This is a very dramatic difference, and the change could have resulted in a shift in conversation that they (elected officials) are going to be having about us (the citizens).”
It would force more negotiation and discussion as a result of having more voices and ideas at the table.
In this year’s election, 42% of eligible voters did not cast a ballot. Part of the issue, Flannigan explains based on her experience canvassing with the Green Party, is “people said they weren’t going to vote, their vote didn’t matter, they didn’t want to support the system we currently have. Others were angry and frustrated, feeling like they had to vote for the least worst option. This is called strategic voting, and people do it to prevent what they don’t want.” (Read more on strategic voting here)
If that 42% would have voted, it could have drastically changed the outcome of the election. At minimum, it could have influenced the PCs winning a majority government.
Another factor which most definitely influenced this election, as was seen in Sault Ste. Marie, is vote-splitting, where the Liberal vote was split between NDP and Liberals. This ended up reducing the chances of winning for the more likely party (NDP) by giving the less likely party to win (Liberals) a portion of their votes and seats.
For a more visual perspective on proportional representation, check out Lego My Vote.