Elections chosen by either ranked ballot or popular vote are incompatible with Federalism.

In the Canadian Federal Election of 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada was ushered into power with a mere 39.5% of the popular vote, meaning that over 60% of Canadians voted against the Liberals. Unfair? Undemocratic? Maybe. However, here’s why first-past-the-post is better than any alternative.

Ironically, the Liberals were placed into power as a result of a system that they wish to abolish. ‘Electoral Reform’, in all of its vagueness and room for misguided interpretation, was a key issue and a strong platform point for the Liberals. Voters may have thought they were voting for positive reform to Canada’s democracy, however, they were not. Currently, the Trudeau government wishes to replace first-past-the-post with a ranked ballot system; which will inevitably result in a permanent Liberal majority. In simplest terms, it is an attempt to instate a democratically-elected Dictatorship for years to come.

A ranked ballot is a horrible idea, albeit a popular and widespread bad one. For example, ranked balloting is very common throughout Europe, however, as most know, the fact that Europe does something is usually a strong indicator that it, in itself, is a horrible idea. (Cue a Mother ridiculing her child for jumping off a bridge, with his only defence being “Well… Europe did it…”). If Europe jumped off a bridge, would you?

Justin Trudeau would. And he plans to legislate it in the form of a ranked ballot.

If Canada was to use a ranked ballot system, the Liberal Party of Canada – being almost every Canadian’s ‘lesser of two evils’ – would win a majority government in every election. Albertans would likely rank their choices, ignoring smaller parties such as the Libertarians and Christian Heritage, as follows…

  1. Conservative Party of Canada
  2. Liberal Party of Canada
  3. New Democratic Party of Canada
  4. Green Party of Canada

Voters in Quebec would likely arrange their ballot as…

  1. Bloc Québécois
  2. Liberal Party of Canada
  3. New Democratic Party of Canada
  4. Green Party of Canada

Likely voters in British Columbia and Ontario…

  1. Conservative Party of Canada/New Democratic Party of Canada
  2. Liberal Party of Canada
  3. Conservative Party of Canada/New Democratic Party of Canada
  4. Green Party of Canada

And so on, and so on. Spot a pattern yet? The Liberals are the likely second choice of both left and right wing Canadians, and the likely permanent benefactors of a ranked ballot system. And the worst part? Once implemented, it would never be abolished by a Liberal government. Dogs rarely bite the hand that feeds them, and the Liberals would be unlikely to abolish an electoral system that is the source feeding their tyrannical nourishment.

Another common argument made against first-past-the-post is dually made in favour of what is known as Proportional Representation, a system that would tally the popular vote of the entire country, and designate seats in the House of Commons accordingly. This popular vote-centric sentiment is not only native to Canada, however. In response to the recent United States Federal Election, riots have sparked, calling for the end of the Electoral College, and a shift to a popular vote-based electoral system.

The appropriate argument, one in favour of both the Electoral College and first-past-the-post, acknowledges the diversity of both the United States and Canada. Not to mention that since both are Federalist states, a certain degree of credence must be lent to the idea that regions of a country, rather than the country as a whole, must receive their own say in political matters. Without Federalism, the voice of smaller communities is drowned out by the insatiable screaming of larger communities. Mob rule Democracy of the highest order.

Despite being a union of ten provinces and three territories, Canada is marginally united. The religious gun-owner in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and the Buzzfeed-reading Barista in Toronto, Ontario have little in common (this analogy can be appropriately used in the case of the United States if one replaces Medicine Hat with Houston, Texas, and Toronto with Manhattan, New York). And that is neither shameful nor an abomination. Moreover, that is the way it is supposed to be. Freedom of thought, speech, and association were included in the constitution so that vastly different groups of Canadians could live together under the same national identity. Elections determined by popular vote overlook these rights, and, in practice, silence the voices of varying Canadian lifestyles.

Under the current system, both the Albertan Conservative, and the Ontario Liberal elect a local representative that works to make their voice heard. And under first-past-the-post, both urban and rural communities choose a representative to act in the interest of their communities.

Under Proportional representation, or popular vote as it should be honestly referred to, representatives are chosen not based on location, but on the popularity of their rhetoric. There are far mores votes to be found in urban areas, than rural, and thus politicians would court the former as opposed to the latter. That is not Federalism, and it is not Canadian democracy as it was designed.

Under popular vote, the views of rural Canada are unequivocally ignored. Out of 36 million votes, roughly 10 million are located in the 10 most populated cities in Canada alone. An election that is decided by the voters in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and the like, is an election that ignores rural Canadians across the board. How is that even remotely democratic?

First-past-the-post, by its regional design, limits the political influence of large cities in Canada. By splitting up urban centres into multiple ridings, the current system  ensures that Canadians elect local representatives that will protect local interests. Not to mention that by doing so, first-past-the-post does not silence urban Canadians. Rather, it ensures that urban ridings are equally represented.

In a government run by MPs from Toronto, Montreal, and so on, legislation that negatively affects rural regions of Canada would be easily passed, with little if any dissent represented in the House of Commons. First-past-the-post is the only system that evenly divides political power based on population, and without it, Canadian politics would be undoubtedly dominated by urban politicians.

Before abandoning first-past-the-post, one should acknowledge the diversity of Canada, as well as the importance of local representation, as demanded by Federalism. To quote Winston Churchill, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”. And I, as a Canadian, a Federalist, and a Constitutionalist, would contend that first-past-the-post is the worst electoral system… except for all the others.


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