OPINION: Keeping it all in proportion

On June 7, about 58 per cent of Ontarians went out to vote, and when they woke on June 8, they learned that about 23 per cent of the total electorate (40 per cent of the total votes cast) had determined that Doug Ford and his antiquated-thinking band of merry legislators would hold 60 per cent of the seats in government and the unfettered ability to hurl Ontario back to the 1950s. 

The time-machine cranked up right away, and within weeks, the sex-ed curriculum, the Green Energy Initiative, and the province’s agreement with the feds to fund refugee settlement and training were scrapped. The Ontario Conservatives seem determined to follow the same mean-spirited and regressive policies that we’ve seen south of the border.

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I think that we in B.C. owe a debt of gratitude to Ontario. Through their suffering, they managed to create a two-word rebuttal to any argument in favour of “first past the post” (FPP) voting: Doug Ford.

Proponents of the current voting system often — like Justin Trudeau did when he, what’s the word, oh ya, “lied” to Canadians that the last federal election would be the final one using FPP — raise the spectre of “radical” fringe parties holding the balance of power through proportional representation (PR). The logical response to this argument: Doug Ford.

“First past the posters” also suggest that proportional representation won’t allow for constituents to be fully represented. To which I respond, um, “Doug Ford.”

The election of Ford represents everything that is wrong with the current electoral system: a disengaged electorate (58 per cent voter turnout) votes against someone (Kathleen Wynne), and rolls the dice on someone new (Ford). Except in this case the dice are loaded (and, no, I’m not implying that Ford suffers from the same “problems” as his infamous brother — or am I?).

It is so soul-sucking to always vote “against” or to have to vote “strategically.” Just once, I want to vote “for” someone because I like his or her ideas. How refreshing would that be?

The “no” side — those with vested interests in majority governments — will be spewing propaganda about dysfunctional nations with PR like Italy and Israel, but I’d suggest that Canadian political culture is closer to that of Denmark, Sweden or Switzerland — all countries that have proportional representation. In fact, the most stable democracies in the world have some form of PR.

In B.C. this fall, we get the opportunity to improve our democracy. Yes, government the way it’s been done will have to go, but no one can argue that is a bad thing. Except, maybe, Doug Ford.

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