For those who have been advocating for voting reform in Canada for many years, it's exciting to see Liberal Leader publicly saying that he wants to get rid of our existing "First Past the Post" system.
But there is a growing movement within the Liberal Party, of members who are strongly pushing the Liberal Party to go even further. I agree with them.
While Ranked Choice Voting (using a preferential ballot) is a huge step forward in a non-partisan city like Toronto, it's a completely different story in a party-based system such as our national and provincial governments in Canada.
Trudeau says that ranked ballots would "lead to a more substantive and civil debate during elections and a more representative government afterward."
He's right about the first part. Runoff voting does improve the quality of debates, and reduce negative campaigns. Runoff voting also eliminates strategic voting. But runoff voting does not necessarily improve the lack of fair representation we currently see in Parliament. Small parties may benefit from ranked ballots, in the sense that they would no longer suffer from strategic voting. They would likely be able to attract better candidates, and raise more money. But they are still unlikely to win any seats, because any "winner take all" system tends to push out voices from the margins.
Indeed, if we switched to a preferential ballot in our federal party system, we would still be likely to see fake majorities, exagerated regionalism, and a lack of political diversity in Parliament.
Luckily, members of the Liberal Party of Canada are speaking out! Grassroots members in ridings across Canada are putting forward motions at their local party meetings, recommending that the party endorse proportional representation in Canada. Motions have gone forward in Ottawa West-Nepean, Kitchener-Waterloo, Parkdale-High Park, Ottawa Vanier, Simcoe North, and others.
Successful motions at the local level then go on to regional meetings at the provincial level. After that, successful motions will move on to the National Liberal Convention, coming up in February in Montreal.
Ontario now has one resolution going to its prioritizing meeting (in Kingston on November 23rd) and Manitoba has one as well.
If you're a Liberal Party member, and want to help out with this effort, please check out the "Electoral Reform for Canada" website and get involved with the campaign. You can also contact Jenn Ross directly, the Chair of Liberals for Fair Voting.
It's great to see the Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau pushing for voting reform. But it's even more inspiring to see grassroots members pushing the party to go further. The Green Party has publicly supported PR, and so have the NDP (page 22).
If the Liberal grassroots members of the Liberal Party are successful, we'll be one step closer to proportional government in Canada - where all voices are heard.