Letter to the Editor: Reply to Paul Wells interview with David Johnston

The recent Macleans of Sept 18 had an interview of David Johnston by Paul Wells.

Based on that interview I sent the following letter to Macleans’ editors.

I have heard nothing from them and suspect they will ignore this letter.

I know it’s not easy to get letters accepted, especially if the editors have a bias against the ideas presented.

However, our discussion group emphasized we must keep doing everything possible to keep ER and the government’s broken promise out there in the media and in front of the public and the MPs.

While some strategies may wait until closer to the election, letters to the media can be ongoing and frequent at every opportunity.

If possible, social media connections could be useful as well.

Dave Arthur

In Paul Wells’ conversation with David Johnston in the September 18 issue of Macleans, Johnston states that, if you wanted to name countries around the world that seem to have government that pretty well satisfies the needs of the vast majority of people and has a degree of trust, you’d probably have on that list: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada. He asks what’s common to those? They’re all constitutional monarchies with vigorous parliamentary democracies. So, according to Johnston, something has been working well for us.

Johnston also states that in the Edelman Trust survey, for the first time in eight years, Canada is a “distrustor nation.” More than 50 per cent of our population don’t trust their public institutions. So we’re now in the middle of the pack on that. We used to be in the top third.

I point out that all eight countries, with the exception of Canada, have stronger representative democracies than Canada with the use of proportional representation PR. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, and New Zealand have fully proportional democracies. Australia uses a proportional system for their senate and ranked ballot for the house of representatives. Although the United Kingdom uses first-past-the-post for the house of commons, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland use proportional systems for their own parliaments created in 1998. These countries join 90% of all EU and OECD countries that use proportional representation.

Trudeau promised that 2015 would be the last federal election using first-past-the-post. He set up a special committee on electoral reform that received testimony and written submissions from thousands of Canadians and held town hall meetings across Canada. The vast majority of those supported proportional representation. They did not support Trudeau’s preference for a ranked or preferential ballot, another winner-take-all system that would have clearly benefited the Liberal Party. As a result, Trudeau broke his promise and dropped electoral reform saying there was no consensus.

I join the many Canadians whose trust in our flawed and unfair electoral system has been further diminished by our prime minister’s broken promise. His promise to base policy on evidence does not warrant trust. Evidence from other countries shows that PR countries have better representation for all citizens, more cooperation and consensus, better long range planning, less partisan politics, fewer distorted results, and better government in general.

Dave Arthur