Henschel: Project asks wrong questions about democracy

Laura Stephenson (associate professor and undergraduate chair at Western’s Department of Political Science) says: “Electoral reform is often talked about as a way of increasing the fairness of an election. To date we have not been able to understand exactly how election outcomes in Ontario might change if voters were casting their ballots under different rules” (“Political scientists ask Ontarians to cast three votes.” Sept. 19).

This isn’t rocket science. The answer is if elections were fair voters would obtain the representation they voted for. In addition to actually being fair to, for and between voters, such representation would be inclusive in the assemblies where the debates and votes that matter occur – in our parliaments.

The problem is not what will happen if voting was fair, but how can anyone continue to conscience it not being fair.

Our current electoral system generates representation that fails to embrace our rich diversity – not everyone gets representation – and produces parliaments that are patently illegitimate – whereas we demand ‘confidence’ in the House, we frequently do not obtain similar confidence at the riding level. Electoral designs do exist that accomplish this. None of the ‘three’ qualify.

What these academics should be doing is establishing a yardstick of democratic principles to apply to the design of a truly fair electoral system. They could do worse than start with the Charter of Rights. 

Making Electoral Democracy Work has a $3.7 million funded seven year project to answer the wrong questions. What a waste.

Mark Henschel