Monday, July 21, 2014

What if Everyone Had the Right to Vote in Every Constituency?

In our system of parliamentary democracy, each of us votes for a candidate who will represent us in the House of Commons. Voters are clumped together by geography, and our collective wisdom (or passion, or ignorance) sends one candidate to Ottawa.

Unless we're lucky enough to live in the riding represented by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Leader of the Third Party or a cabinet minister, we might not even know the name of our Member of Parliament, unless we're particularly politically engaged.

The current system also assumes that we're selfish, that we have an interest only in our particular island of humanity, the few thousand people we share some neighbourhoods with.

But as a citizen, I'm interested in the welfare of every Canadian, whether they live on the west side of Edmonton, on the shores of the Arctic ocean, in one of our great metropolises or a small prairie town. I'd like everyone to have the best representation possible.

I might feel, for example that the NDP's Linda Duncan is the best choice for Edmonton Strathcona and Liberal Kent Hehr the best for Calgary Centre. I might even feel there's a good Conservative candidate out there somewhere who would make solid contributions in the House of Commons.

If everyone had the right to vote in every constituency, we'd all get the chance to vote directly for the eventual Prime Minister. In fact, you could vote for any combination of Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau - all of them or none, if you feel that the other candidates in their respective ridings would make better MPs.

Of course few Canadians have the patience to research three hundred and eight individual races, and many would vote straight Liberal, straight Conservative, straight New Democrat, Bloc, Green or even Marxist-Leninist. It would be a chaotic, messy, infuriating system.

But if everyone took it seriously...if everyone had a personal stake in every corner of the country...well.

I wonder what would happen? 


Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

First thought? Voter turnout drops to 7% as most people balk at 22 page ballot that takes takes even more time to complete than the long form census...

Intriguing idea though!

Earl J. Woods said...

Yes, and it would take days and days to tally the votes. And most people wouldn't actually do the research, just like today.

Maybe if you made Election Week a national holiday...two days for voting workshops, three days to count the votes...