GRSJ224/proportionalrepresentation

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First Past the Post

The current electoral system in Canada is called First Past the Post. It is a democratic system that allows individuals to vote for a single representative for their riding to be part of parliament. The person with the greatest number of votes in a riding is the one who is elected to be a member of parliament. Whichever person reaches the majority of votes first will be elected as the member of parliament for that specific riding. This is why the system is called First Past the Post, the first person to get the "post" wins.

Current Electoral System

The current electoral system has had it's share of problems with the lack of proper representation of every citizen in Canada. First Past the Post is a system that does not fairly represent the riding as fairly due to its method of majority votes. The other percentage of Canadians that voted for a different Members of Parliament would not be properly represented. There have been protest for an electoral reform and many Members of Parliament promising they will look into Electoral reform. However, due to the electoral system allowing them to win the Members of Parliament are reluctant to change the system that allowed them to win their riding.

Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even promised that he would have an electoral reform when elected as Prime Minister; however, there has been no talk or progress to this electoral reform. It was known that due to First Past the Post that the Liberal party was able to obtain a majority government in the past election. The majority government being made is an impressive feat for Justin Trudeau and being able to create one because of First Past the Post really shows that the system works in favour of the political party rather than for the citizens.

The need for change towards a Proportional Representation electoral system is need because the citizens are not being properly represented by their riding. The representation of minorities and women are not seen when using First Past the Post, where fewer female representatives are voted into Parliament compared to their male counterparts. However, studies have found that woman are elected and represent their country in government more frequently when using an electoral system of Proportional Representation.

Proportional Representation

Proportional Representation is an electoral system that focuses on a more democratic system that allows each citizen to be represented more fairly compared to First Past the Post. Each riding would have multiple representatives that they can vote for and depending on the number of votes each representative gets can determine who will represent them in Parliament. The ridings would get more seats and there would be more Members of Parliament that will allow for every citizen to have a representative rather than having only one person from each riding. British Columbia is doing a referendum this Winter 2018 for the purpose of changing the electoral system for the Provincial elections. The three different systems that were introduced were Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP). These three different systems are all proportional representation, but with different characteristics for each system making them unique. With the introduction to Proportional Representation there can be a up to 95 seats for the Members of the Legislative Assembly rather than the original 87.[1]


Women in Government

With the introduction of Proportional Representation, historically there have been parties that introduced quotas that had to be made for each party, where they would have to have a certain number of women and certain amount of ethnic diversity as representatives for their party. The increase of seats allows for larger representation rather than choosing one person the party believes will win the seat for that riding. Usually the party would pick a male, which historically many of the voters would vote for. With an increase of representatives for each party for each riding would allow citizens to connect and have a representative that really cares and thinks about their wellbeing. The introduction of Proportional Representation showed an increase of women being more involved in government from 26.2% to 43.8% in the early 1970s.[2]

The increase for women in government just from the change of the electoral system can made a big difference; especially, that Canada was always run by white males throughout history. The legislations and policies were all governed and made by them. The change to proportional representation would give women a voice and opportunities to make new legislation that would move the feminism movement. The removal of gender wage gap, gender roles, and other undermining things directed towards women.

  1. "What Are We Voting On".
  2. Matland, R.E, & Studlar, D.T. (1996). "The Contagion of Women Candidates in Single-Memeber District and Proportional Representation Electoral System: Canada and Norway". The Journal of Politics.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)