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Local chapter of Fair Vote Canada

Fair Vote Canada - File photo
Fair Vote Canada
— image credit: File photo

Comox Valley residents interested in reforming Canada’s voting system are invited to join Fair Vote Canada - Vancouver Island North.

Part of the national campaign Fair Vote Canada, the Vancouver Island North branch is spreading the word about a need to implement a proportional representation electoral system in Canada. Member Michael Nutland, of Courtenay, says moving to proportional representation is important, whichever party Canadians want to govern them.

“We truly believe that this is the seminal issue of the day, whether we’re ruled by Conservatives, Liberals, (the) NDP, it doesn’t matter because the system is broken,” he says. “We are multi-partisan because whoever (citizens) ends up not being represented, in whatever level of government, basically has wasted their time voting and that should not be the case … We believe that every vote should and must count.”

Fair Vote Canada is campaigning for a citizen-led consultation process following the 2015 federal election, which would determine the best model of proportional representation. The campaign also calls for implementation of that best model in time for the election following the 2015 election.

Canada now has the first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system, which means each riding has one winner, and the votes cast in that riding for other non-winning candidates are effectively “wasted” votes, according to http://campaign2015.fairvote.ca/.

According to the website, less than 51 per cent of Canadian voters in the 2011 federal election casted a vote that elected someone to represent them, meaning 49 per cent of the votes were wasted.

“We have a federal government that was elected with 39 per cent of the popular vote,” Nutland adds. “In Ontario they have a government that was elected with 39 per cent of the popular vote. In B.C. we have a government that was elected with 44 per cent of the popular vote.

“To us that’s simply not democracy. So, we are organizing and disseminating information about proportional representation, which we think is vital to the health and the ability to thrive as a democratically governed region.”

With a proportional representation system, representatives would be elected in proportion to votes cast. The website offers New Zealand as one example of a country with proportional representation, which saw 97 per cent of its voters in the 2011 federal election cast a vote that elected someone to represent them, compared to Canada’s 51 per cent the same year. Eighty-one countries use proportional representation systems, according to the website.

The Vancouver Island North branch meets about once per month, and its next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. July 31 in the upstairs section of the Driftwood Mall Quality Foods.

Nutland notes the branch is also planning a fall town hall-style meeting, which local representatives for each federal party will be invited to.

For more information, check out Fair Vote Canada - Vancouver Island North on Facebook, or contact Michael Nutland at menutland@gmail.com or 250-897-6188.

The national campaign website also lists a number of ways to get involved, including signing a Declaration of Voters’ Rights.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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