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Canada as it could have been with proportional voting…sigh.

October 2, 2008

I just got floored reading this article in the Winnipeg Sun which has a startling revelation about a discussion NDP leader Ed Broadbent and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had in 1980.  Apparently, Trudeau didn’t like winning a majority with no seats west of Winnipeg and offered to introduce legislation to institute proportional voting if the NDP would work help.  They chose not to.


Now if you know me, and you probably don’t, that’s just the kind of thing to make me flip.  I mean, we need a proportional voting system.  The NDP suffered greatly for that decision for the following 30 years.  Only now are they near to getting back to the good ol’ days of Ed.  Imagine what Trudeau could have added to his list of achievements as Prime Minister, not only a constitution, but a real democratic electoral process.

Imagine what the last 30 years would have been like.  Would Mulrooney have won? Probably, but it would have been different.  Chretien would not have held onto majority rule for so long.  The Reform/Alliance/Conservative split would never have happened. At least, the effect of casting the conservatives out of power for a decade wouldn’t have happened because all parties would likely have split. Coalitions would have become the norm in government.  Majority rule by coalitions of perpetually minority parties.  It may sound like chaos, but if it was done right, it could have been magic.

But some people lacked vision.  And I never expected those people to be the NDP.  Why is that the NDP don’t make electoral reform one of their top priorities?  I don’t understand it.  If we have a truly democratic system they would get even more seats than their wildest dreams in this election.  They still wouldn’t form government but they would very likely be in the coalition that forms government.  Jack Layton wouldn’t be Prime Minister, but he might be Foreign Affairs Minister or Vice PM or Environment Minister.  What’s wrong with that exactly?  I just don’t get it.

There was only one possible explanation before now: Jack really believes his talk about becoming prime minister.  But now there’s another possibility:  Ed Broadbent said no when we had the chance 30 years ago, and we’re not going to change our mind now.



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