------ Majority governments .... or not?
An interesting observation by Ian Barrett ( editorial of October 6th) about the difficulty of electing majority governments in Canada. Makes one wonder if federal party leaders may be becoming redundant. Makes one question whether Canadians vote for the party or for the federal leader, or the local candidate. Certainly two-time loser Trudeau blew a grand opportunity of getting a majority government.
However, the editorial misrepresents the NDP’s pivotal role in Canada adopting a universal Medicare system. Barrett makes it sound like medicare was a Liberal initiative. It was Tommy Douglas, CCF premier of Saskatchewan, who instituted Medicare in his province in early 1960s. This was in spite of fierce right-wing opposition within the province from the church, doctors, Liberal politicians and private insurance companies. The program became a national policy issue, and there was no stopping it as the NDP supported Pearson’s federal legislation to enact Medicare in Canada.
Barrett states that majority governments have been difficult to come by recently, but the issue is how to give meaning to the people who actually cast their vote in selecting their preferred federal candidate. Proportional representation as an electoral system would give every vote some meaning in Parliament. In our first-past-the-post system, which Trudeau had promised to change in 2015, many votes are not represented in parliament. For example, even though the NDP scored double the votes the Bloc received, the NDP ended up with fewer seats than the Bloc!
The Prime Minister’s legacy will be determined by his resolute actions on behalf of Canadians. Will he earn a place as a great prime minister? He can do that by bringing in a program such as universal basic income, solving indigenous issues effectively, undertaking genuine action on climate change -- and if he works on making Canada’s voting system actually democratic.