Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Minority government has become workable

Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe writes today that "a new political reality has taken hold in Ottawa. Minority government has become the norm."

Here's an excerpt of particular interest to supporters of electoral reform, particularly reform that would make every vote count:

"University of Montreal political scientist Henry Milner is expressing dismay that more Canadians -- particularly the chattering classes -- have not picked up on the change...Milner says voters are getting what they want out of the current Parliament; polls show Canadians like minority governments. And MPs seem to understand their constituents don't want repeated electoral contests. Workable minority governments are a novel idea for Canada. Once, opponents of proportional representation voting systems argued that PR would yield unstable minority governments. With the current experience of workable minority government that manages stability, this threat surely will be less potent."

One of the main arguments used by electoral reform opponents during last year's Ontario referendum was that frequent minority governments, where parties are forced to work together in the interests of Canadians, would never be workable. Clearly, that argument has been proven false by the current reality in Ottawa (not to mention Nova Scotia, where the Tories have also governed with a minority since 2003.)

Most countries in the Western world have proportional electoral systems that don't hand one party a majority of seats with only a minority of votes. It's time Canada rejected our antiquated, vote-distorting 'Winner-Take-All' system and embrace reform that truly reflects the wishes of voters.

Minority governments are better than one-party majority dictatorships.