So we are going to get a new electoral system. I would like to see informed discussion about what we want in a new system, not just folks trying to scare us away from change.
Canada’s size and geography pose challenges completely different from many other countries. The majority of Canadians live in a few major urban areas, and so how do the people living in the vast rural/northern areas get our voices heard? Under First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), urban voters can determine the government’s make-up, and parties will pay the most attention to where they think they can get the most votes, and thus rural areas are effectively ignored.
For rural voters, the Single Transferable Vote (STV) Rural-Urban hybrid provides more opportunity to reward MPs who champion local interests. While ridings may be larger under STV, each region would be represented by the same number of MPs as under the current system. A riding may have as few as two or as many as five MPs, and residents can contact any MP in their riding, all of whom will be vying for votes during the next election. Furthermore, it is more likely at least one of those MPs will belong to a party that a given rural area supports. To stand out from the group, candidates would need to have deep local roots and be strong voices for their constituents and rural interests. Candidates who simply follow the party line will not fare well in the next election.
So, while almost any proportional electoral system is an improvement over FTPT, the STV Rural-Urban hybrid seems like a system that better suits the geography of Canada and ensures rural voices are heard.