Victoria group drums up support for voting reform

With the federal election roughly a month away, a local group is renewing the call to change the current voting system.

With the federal election roughly a month away, a local group is renewing the call to change the current voting system to more accurately represent voters.

Fair Vote Victoria is part of a national multi-partisan organization called Fair Vote Canada that is committed to changing the voting system to a proportional system.

“Our current system allows a party with 40 per cent of the vote to get all the power and do whatever they want. It’s been going on for generations,” said Wendy Bergerud, president of Fair Vote Canada’s Victoria chapter. “It doesn’t seem to represent the people of this country very well. People aren’t heard and their issues aren’t heard.”

Canada’s current voting system is based on a first-past-the-post system, in which an election is won by the candidate who receives the most amount of votes. Fair Vote Victoria hopes to change that with proportional representation in which an electorate is reflected proportionately in the elected body. For example, if 30 per cent of the electorate support a particular party, then roughly 30 per cent of seats will be won by that party.

While the organization hasn’t stood behind one specific proportional voting system, they have a set of criteria they want including, proportional representative, positive voter choice, fair representation, geographic representation and government accountability to voters.

Bergerud said there has been support in Victoria for voting reform, with roughly 2,200 people on the mailing list.

“Maybe if we change the voting system, because it’s kind of the foundation to the creation of our parliament, how we select who’s there in parliament makes a big difference to how parliament behaves,” Bergerud said. “Maybe if we can change this foundational aspect of our democracy, we can start to have a parliament and resulting government that pays more attention to its citizens of this country and provides us with better government.”

Victoria Green Party candidate Jo-Ann Roberts said, if elected, the party hopes to establish a new proportional electoral system by the next federal election.

“The conditions are right for that. We’ve seen the Harper government get 100 per cent of power with 39 per cent of the vote and I think for Canadians that doesn’t seem quite right,” she said, adding that the political landscape is changing from a mainly two-party system to a three-way race.

“If we look at Australia and New Zealand, they have forms of proportional representation that adapts to their form of government and that’s what we need in Canada.”

Fair Vote Victoria is hosting its annual AGM this Saturday, Sept. 19 at 1:30 p.m. at the Victoria West Community Centre. Esquimalt-Sooke-Saanich liberal candidate David Merner and NDP candidate Randall Garrison are also expected to attend.