ERRE Committee Report
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The motion creating the Special Committee on Electoral Reform mandated it to “identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system,” our current voting system, using the five principles set out in the motion as a guide: effectiveness and legitimacy; engagement; accessibility and inclusiveness; integrity; and local representation.
Two fundamental questions are at the core of the Committee’s study of alternative electoral system options:
The Committee heard wide ranging testimony and received numerous submissions on the merits and potential drawbacks of the current voting system as well as various possible alternative voting system options. Underlying the two fundamental questions at the core of the Committee’s study of electoral system reform – why change, and what change would do – are the values and principles set out in the Committee’s motion.
The five principles set out in the motion creating the Committee are elaborated as follows:
Of these principles, numbers one, three, and five speak most to facets of an electoral system, or goals that an electoral system should embody.
The first principle, “effectiveness and legitimacy” is framed in terms of how votes are translated into seats in the House of Commons, and indicates that a proposed electoral system should ensure that votes are “fairly translated” into seats in a way that “reduces distortion” and “strengthens the link between voter intention and the election of representatives.” As explained by Professor Byron Weber Becker, “Distortion is introduced when representation in government is significantly different from the level of popular support expressed in the election.” Indeed, electoral system reform has been a subject of interest at the federal level for almost a century, since the time when federal elections were contested by more than two political parties, and has been studied numerous times at the federal and provincial levels. At the root of most of these studies is the notion of the legitimacy of the current electoral system’s method of translating votes into seats – the link between voter intention and representation in the legislature. In response to the overall query of “why reform the current system,” two subsidiary questions necessarily follow:
The third principle speaks both to the elements of a system, in that it should “avoid undue complexity in the voting process,” which could be both in terms of how voters cast their ballots and what calculations are used to translate votes into seats, as well as to the inclusiveness of the voting process, in that a system (or voting overall) should “support access by all eligible voters regardless of physical or social condition.”
Finally, the fifth principle emphasizes local representation and accountability as fundamental. Indeed, in a country as geographically diverse as Canada, the relationship between local representation and how votes are translated into seats is already rather complex. Our parliamentary system is based on representation by population (that ridings should basically contain about the same amount of voters), though there is huge variance in that regard. For example, the most populous riding in Canada is Brantford–Brant in Ontario, with a population of over 132,000 (including over 95,000 eligible voters). By contrast, Nunavut is both the least populous (it has a population of just under 32,000) and the largest riding in Canada, at over 1,750,000 km2. By contrast, the riding of Papineau, Quebec is only 9 square kilometres in size (with a population of approximately 110,000 individuals). As noted by one witness in Whitehorse, the three northern territories are “overrepresented population-wise but very under-represented when geographical area is concerned.”
By contrast, it appears that the values set out in the second and fourth principles should apply regardless of electoral system, though the choice of electoral system may have an impact on how easy or difficult it is to implement the principles (as certain systems are associated with certain values). The second principle, “engagement,” calls on the Committee to identify measures that “encourage voting and participation in the democratic process, foster greater civility and collaboration in politics, enhance social cohesion and offer opportunities for inclusion of underrepresented groups in the political process.” As discussed particularly in Chapter 9 “Voter Engagement and Participation”, increasing involvement in the greater political process is a goal shared by all members of the Committee. The Committee recognizes that fulfilling the objectives of this principle requires ongoing work and commitment. The fourth principle “integrity,” focuses on the reliability and verifiability of the electoral system, and the preservation of the secrecy of the vote. Public trust in the electoral process is high in Canada, and electoral reform should not undermine it.
Numerous witnesses observed that different electoral systems emphasize different principles set out in the Committee’s motion. As noted by Pippa Norris, “you can't get all of these values in any one particular option. They are all trade-off values.” Essentially, as posited by Professor Thomas Axworthy, the choice of an electoral system for Canada is about determining what values ought to be emphasized, how, and to what extent:
… [T]here is no perfect electoral system. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of them, and it is really a question of values, of differing perspectives, that will inform your own debate. There's no technical solution to the issue of electoral reform. It is basically a political process of deciding your purposes and values and what you value most.
In other words, as observed by Amanda Bittner, “[a]ll systems have trade-offs … and at the root of each is a normative idea about how politics should be.”
Another witness, Richard Kidd, expressed it thusly:
No system is perfect. If we could find a perfect system, every country in the world would be using it right now. All systems have their pluses and their minuses, and the big challenge that's facing you is to try to figure out a system where the pluses outweigh the minuses, or they do the things that you want them to do.
The fact that there is no perfect system is not a cause for alarm or inaction. Jonathan Rose suggested:
While … others have argued that there is no one perfect system, I want to quote Richard Katz, who argued that there is a perfect system. He argued that the best electoral system, depends on “who you are, where you are, and where you want to go.”
Indeed, the principles provided for in the Committee’s mandate have proven most useful to demonstrate how no one system incorporates them all, and to focus the Committee on evaluating how the principles should interrelate with each other to create a more robust electoral system for Canada. As witness Matt Risser suggested, while no electoral system may be perfect, some systems may be more in accord with expressed values and principles than others:
I did want to make one point, though, in reference to a point you made about there being no perfect system, because this is something the committee says a lot. I just want to say that just because there's no perfect system, which there isn't, obviously, it doesn't mean that some systems aren't better than others.
In order to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of various electoral systems, what follows is an overview of electoral system families, and the key principles and elements that distinguish them from each other.
At its most basic, an electoral system sets out how votes get translated into seats in a legislature. In majoritarian electoral systems, the winning candidate is the individual who garners the most votes in an electoral district. A political party’s seat share depends on the individual district results across the country; a party has as many seats in the legislature as candidates elected. By contrast, proportional systems seek to match a political party’s vote share with its seat allocation in the legislature. A system is referred to as “mixed” (the most discussed is mixed member proportional representation (MMP) when it combines elements of both majoritarian and proportional systems in terms of how votes are translated into seats. The objective of mixed systems is to achieve more proportionality by using compensatory seats to reflect a party’s overall vote share while at the same time maintaining local ridings with single representatives.
Some important characteristics that differentiate electoral systems from one another are the following:
Discussion of these characteristics, how they relate to the principles set out in the Committee’s mandate, and how they can be applied to create different electoral systems permeated the testimony heard by the Committee.
Canada’s single-member plurality electoral system, commonly called first-past-the-post (FPTP), the winning candidate is the individual who garners the most votes (though not necessarily a majority) in an electoral district. A political party has as many seats in the legislature as it has candidates elected. In other words, its seat share in the legislature is the result, the sum total, of the individual contests that take place across the country. With regard to forming government, the leader of the party that secures the largest number of seats in the House, and can therefore hold its confidence, is generally invited by the Governor General to be the prime minister and form government.
While the focus of the Committee’s study was on alternatives to replace FPTP, the following attributes were noted as being the perceived strengths of Canada’s FPTP system:
Canadian democracy ranks highly internationally
Thomas Axworthy, in observing that there is no crisis in Canadian democracy, noted how strongly Canada’s government and electoral system compares internationally:
When we look at the various assessments internationally, we see that the World Bank, for example, which sponsors a worldwide governance indicator project, indicated that in 2014 Canada had ratings of 96% in accountability, 91% in political stability, 95% in government effectiveness, 98% in regulatory policy, 95% in the rule of law, and 94% in the control of corruption. That's absolutely in the top ten of attainment.
Professor Norris's own electoral integrity project had Canada again as probably—and she can correct me on this—at the top of the majoritarian practitioners of electoral systems, with a rating of around 75% to 80%, ahead of the United States and so on. Again, it was in that absolute top rank.
This international assessment about the value of Canadian government practice and electoral practice has led, as we all know, famously to the human development index of the United Nations, where Canada has always been in the top 10 and sometimes has been number one. I think in 2014 we were number nine.
The strength of our government system and our electoral system has certainly had a positive impact on those achievements in the human development index. That is because—pride of position here—the Westminster system, with its combination of a concentration of power to get things done and an accountability related back to what David Smith, the brilliant scholar from Saskatchewan, calls “the people's House of Commons”—that combination of [the]people’s sovereignty as represented in the House and the concentration of power for effective government—is really the secret of the Westminster system when it is working correctly. For most of our history, it has been working correctly in Canada.
In examining options for reform, former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley noted “the relative simplicity of the system or the ballot that we would replace, if we replace the present system” and observed that “nothing will be viewed as being as simple as the present system, because we've been at it for 149 years.… This is part of the DNA of being Canadian and being born Canadian.” Currently Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand noted how the current system is “relatively simple and easy to understand.”
As well, the ballot counting process is relatively straightforward. Mr. Mayrand added that changing systems “may make it difficult to publish the outcome of the election on election night by completing the counting of ballots manually at voting sites, as is currently the case.” He added that “Canadians are accustomed to learning the results of elections quickly, and any possible delay should be considered carefully by the Committee.”
A number of open mic participants expressed their view that the current system is simple, works well, has held up for 150 years, and should be maintained. In the words of one participant, “first past the post has served us well for nearly 150 years. It is simple, and it is easy to understand. Please don’t change it.” Another participant observed, “if the system isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
The importance of local representation was raised numerous times as a key value for various witnesses. Former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley referred to “the rapport, the link, between the elector and the elected, both for the representation of the electors, collectively and individually, and for the accountability of the elected representatives.” He added that “Canadians are well accustomed to that rapport, that link. It has to be weighed very carefully if there's going to be any change.”
The importance of local representation was also reflected in responses to the Committee’s online consultation, where 72.5% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that “Canada’s electoral system should ensure that voters elect local candidates to represent them in Parliament.”
FPTP is more likely to produce majority governments. As noted by political scientist Christian Dufour, FPTP “delivers the most important elements. It delivers governments that are strong, but that can also be voted out, and that's not nothing. In the context of globalization, which is dangerous, the powerlessness of democracies is something to be avoided. Our system ensures that governments often enjoy a majority.” This point was echoed by Kenneth Dewar in his submission to the Committee. He stated,
The “single member plurality” system has historically provided Canada effective government, resulting often in strong majority governments (usually based on a plurality of votes) and occasionally in effective minority governments.
In addition, Kenneth Carty observed how Canadians are used to majority governments, and change would require adaptation.
I think it's fair to predict that under most other electoral systems, majority governments of the sort that Canadians have been generally most used to will disappear. We have so little experience with multi-party governments in this country that we don't have any clear idea how they'll work either in the short term or in the longer term or what they will look like.
Finally, related to the notion of being able to produce majority governments is the understanding that the FPTP system is also conducive to being able to vote governments out once they are no longer in favour, what Bryan Schwartz called “alternation”:
I'm in favour of alternation. I like the idea of different people, different voices having a turn. I like the idea of policies being evaluated and given a fresh thinking. I like the idea that one team of patronage seekers doesn't always win. I like the idea that people who disagree get a turn in office, and they can live with the problem.
As elaborated below, the primary critique of FPTP is that in ridings with more than two candidates, and electoral contests with more than two political parties, FPTP fails to accurately represent the will of voters, both at the riding level and in terms of overall vote share in the House of Commons. A further critique is that by failing to accurately represent the will of voters, FPTP may discourage people from voting, possibly leading to voter apathy and dissatisfaction with the system, and resulting in lower voter turnout. Finally, a number of witnesses suggested that the nomination process in individual ridings, where some ridings are considered “safe,” could “contribute to the challenges faced by women, Aboriginal people and minority groups in being nominated as candidates and elected as members of the House of Commons.” Roderick Wood, law professor, who had served as a commissioner with the Law Commission of Canada when it published its report on electoral reform in 2004, summed up the various perceived shortcomings of FPTP as follows:
… the existing system results in disproportionality, the creation of artificial majorities, regional imbalances, and what the Jenkins commission referred to as the creation of electoral deserts, in which whole regions of Canada may have little or no representation in the [G]overnment. It results in the under-representation of women, minorities, and first nations peoples. It gives a sense of the lost vote—“Why should I vote? It's not going to be counted. It's not worth anything”—and may even lead to strategic voting, the feeling that you have to vote for a less preferred candidate because otherwise your vote simply wouldn't count. It can also lead to what is viewed as a hyper-partisan adversarial political culture in the country.
From Confederation in 1867 until 1921, federal elections were contests between two political parties, and it was understood that in this environment Canada’s FPTP electoral system worked fairly well in terms of translating votes into seats:
As long as federal elections were contested by just two political parties, the first-past-the-post system produced parliaments in which there was a pretty good match between the distribution of seats in the House of Commons and the popular vote for political parties. The majority governments that these parliaments supported on all but one occasion were led by leaders whose party members won a majority of seats in the House and whose candidates won over 50% of the popular vote.
However, towards the end of the First World War new political parties entered the fray, and in the December 1921 federal election, three political parties elected members to the House of Commons. Since then all federal elections have been contested by three or more political parties.
This shift in political reality, with multiple parties contesting seats in the House of Commons, began to raise questions about the legitimacy of the FPTP electoral system whereby candidates began to be elected with a minority of the votes cast in a riding. As observed by the Special Committee on Proportional Representation (PR) and the Subject of the Single Transferable or Preferential Vote in its 1921 report:
It must be apparent to all that the present system of election in single member constituencies meets fully the purpose intended only when not more than two candidates are nominated. Recent experiences in elections in Canada have brought home to our people the fact that where three or more candidates present themselves in single member constituencies, the candidate declared elected may, and often does, represent merely a minority of those voting in the constituency.
This question of the ongoing appropriateness of FPTP in an environment with more than two political parties vying for power, and more than two candidates running in any riding, was reiterated by Peter Russell, who indicated that “The FPTP system, which Canada has had at the federal level from Confederation until today, no longer fits the political circumstances of the country and has not done so since 1921.” He added that since 1921 “we've had a multi-party system, mostly four or five parties, and that kind of party system is really torpedoed, undermined, by the first past the post system.”
Jean-Pierre Derriennic, in his book titled A Better Electoral System for Canada (which formed the basis of his testimony and submission to the Committee), described the distortions caused by FPTP when multiple parties and candidates run for election:
In Canada, three, four, or five parties can get MPs. We are not in a two-party system, and the plurality voting system has much more detrimental effects, as may be seen in the outcomes of the last election and the previous ones.
With more than two big parties, the plurality voting system becomes a machine for making parliamentary majorities out of electoral minorities. On October 19, 2015, the Liberal Party received 54% of the MPs and 100% of the decision-making power in the House of Commons. It got 39.5% of the popular vote, but much of that vote went to defeated Liberal candidates. Therefore, probably 39.5% of all Canadians are rather happy with the Liberal Party’s victory, but only 26.1% voted for one of the 184 elected Liberal candidates. Given a 31.5% abstention rate, these Liberal MPs have 100% of the legislative power and support a government that has 100% of the executive power, despite being elected by only 17.9% of all Canadians of voting age.
Deciding whether or not FPTP continues to be legitimate is a question of values and principles, rather than “empirical” facts, as argued by Emmett Macfarlane, who stated that “[t]he implication is that the first-past-the-post system is, obviously, illegitimate because it's producing undemocratic results, but that's a value proposition, not an empirical statement.”
Finally, respondents to the Committee’s online consultation overall expressed lukewarm support for FPTP. In response to the statement “Seats in the House of Commons should be filled by the candidates who receive the most votes in their ridings, even if they receive less than 50% of the total votes cast,” a majority disagreed (51.7%), while just over a third agreed (34.5%):
Seats in the House of Commons should be filled by the candidates who receive the most votes Scale: 1(Strongly Disagree) – 5 (Strongly Agree); NA
A number of witnesses identified a variety of secondary problems associated with how FPTP translates votes into seats, and seats into government.
Brian Tanguay and Craig Scott (former MP) commented on how FPTP can result in “artificial” or “false” parliamentary majorities that can have a negative impact on Parliament and on governance (in terms of the power given to the executive branch).
Nathalie Des Rosiers, who served as the President of the Law Commission of Canada during the period of its study of electoral reform, opined that the preference for stability under FPTP was not sufficient to overcome the system’s lack of representativeness:
The preferences of some systems come at too high a price. That was our conclusion regarding the first-past-the-post system. Its preference for stability was too costly, as it deprived us of a more adequate representativeness in terms of ideas and people.
As well, Lise Ouellette, who served as co-chair of the New Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy between 2003 and 2004, observed, “Here we are 12 years later, and I think that change is even more necessary federally than it was, or than at the provincial level” due to the “risk of an unrepresentative federal government or of an unrepresentative Parliament, be it geographically, ideologically or demographically.”
Eric Maskin, Nobel laureate, set out five problems with FPTP in his appearance before the Committee, beginning with the lack of a majority of votes for a candidate in a riding and culminating in a sense of voters feeling disenfranchised, that their vote is wasted, and potential candidates being discouraged from standing for election:
The first problem is that it's often the case that the MP representing a particular electoral district is a minority MP, in the sense that most voters in the district didn't vote for that person.
Second, first past the post often leads to a serious discrepancy in Parliament, by which I mean that the majority party often receives much less than a majority of the votes. For example, in 2011 the Conservative Party had 53.9% of the seats but only 39.6% of the vote. There are many other examples of such discrepancies.
Third, the candidate elected in a district can often be wrong….
Fourth, a voter is in effect disenfranchised if she votes for an unpopular candidate, a candidate who is not likely to win the seat. If candidates A and B are the candidates who have a serious chance of winning, and I vote for candidate C, then in effect I have no say in the choice that really matters. I'm wasting my vote. I could vote strategically—that is, even though I prefer C, I could vote for A or B—but strategic voting itself is problematic for reasons that perhaps I can come back to in the question period.
Fifth, unpopular candidates or parties may be discouraged from standing. For example, suppose I'm a candidate on the right but one who disagrees with the Conservative Party on some important policy points. I may hesitate to stand for office, because if I do stand, I run the risk of splitting the vote on the right, and by doing so I may help to elect a left-wing candidate. For that reason, I may deliberately not stand, and through that decision I'm not only depriving myself of a political candidacy but I'm also depriving the electorate of another political voice.
Numerous open mic participants expressed what it felt like for them to vote strategically rather than for a candidate that they preferred in order to avoid electing someone else. For example, Mary Cowper-Smith explained:
I have voted in every federal and provincial election since I was old enough to vote, and almost every time I either felt my vote was wasted or I felt compelled to vote strategically. As a voter, I have felt frustrated and cheated.
As well, the perception of votes being “wasted” or “lost” under FPTP (primarily in comparison with proportional electoral systems) was raised by various witnesses, in submissions to the Committee, and was noted in responses to the Committee’s online consultation. Matt Risser explained the perception of a vote being “wasted” in the following way:
When we talk about wasted votes, we should really distinguish between input fairness and output fairness. Canada has input fairness — nobody disputes that; every vote is counted fairly—but output fairness is that every vote counts fairly.
Jean-Pierre Derriennic used the following figures from the 2015 federal election to describe his understanding of “lost votes” and the sense of cynicism that can result:
Less than half the voters elected all of the MPs of all parties in 2015: 47.6% of all valid votes. Conversely, 52.4% of all valid votes failed to elect anyone. They were lost votes. Votes for second-place candidates were not completely useless, being the best means to prevent election of the winning candidate, but votes for candidates who came neither first nor second were wasted. And those were 23.2% of all valid votes.
This is clearly a very serious problem. There are several reasons for low election turnouts and the cynicism that many of our fellow citizens feel towards democratic institutions. One of them is the electoral system. Many Canadians feel that their vote is useless, that nobody represents them in Parliament, and that politicians can get into power with the support of minorities and then rule while ignoring the needs of large parts of the population. This feeling has a basis in reality and comes from their experience as disappointed voters. To correct this feeling and to end this cynicism every vote should count.
Additionally, a number of witnesses raised the issue of “policy lurch” occurring under FPTP, as a negative consequence of alternation in governance between parties with different policy views and approaches. For example, James Bickerton explained:
[T]here has emerged in Canada a relatively recent problem, at least in terms of its severity, that has been referred to as “policy lurch”. I say it is relatively recent, because for decades prior to the 1990s Canadian governance was shaped by centrist, brokerage-style politics that moderated the policy shifts that are the normal expectation of a change in government. However, the more ideologically polarized environment that has emerged in Canada since that time has given rise to concerns about more severe instances of policy lurch that are evident in other first-past-the-post jurisdictions with more ideologically polarized party systems. Indeed, it has been cited as one of the main reasons for New Zealand's decision to change its electoral system.
To illustrate the problem, the current Trudeau government has spent much of its first year in office, and will no doubt do the same for a good part of its second year, undoing many of the changes introduced by the previous government, at which point in time they will begin taking steps to prepare the way for the next federal election campaign. Yet a relatively minor shift in votes of five or six percentage points in that election could result in a new government that engages in another round of policy lurch, undoing much of the undoing that this government has been doing. This kind of roundabout “now it's our turn” policy-making can hardly be thought of as beneficial for stable long-term governance that is built on a solid foundation of a reasonably broad societal consensus.
Arend Lijphart commented on the lack of policy coherence that results from alternation between governments:
For one thing, as we all know, fast decisions are not necessarily wise decisions. Also, a great deal of coherence in policy is lost in the alternation between governments of the right and governments of the left, and then back again to governments of the right. This was the main reason why the famous British political scientist Samuel Finer, who had been a strong supporter of FPTP, changed his mind and advocated PR in an influential book published as early as 1975. Finally, policies supported by a broad consensus are more likely to be successful and to remain on course than policies made by a so-called decisive government against the wishes of important sectors of society.
Furthermore, a consequence of FPTP’s local focus is that it “tends to favour parties with regional, rather than national, appeal.” And, as noted above, there is a tendency for FPTP to result in “regional deserts,” where entire regions of the country are either not represented by the governing party or the opposition. Jean-Pierre Derriennic described the regional challenges of FPTP as follows:
The plurality voting system usually increases the gains of whatever party gets the most votes in the country and decreases the gains of other parties. It does the same in each region, thus making the differences of opinions and interests between people in different parts of the country appear greater than they really are. Concern for Canadian unity is not as serious now as it was in 1993, but the voting system is still exaggerating antagonisms between regions: in 2015, the Conservative Party got no MPs in the four Atlantic Provinces despite receiving 19% of the votes; in Alberta, the Liberal Party and the NDP together received 36% of the votes and only 14% of the MPs.
This is one of the most dangerous consequences of our electoral system. In a very large country where people, natural resources, and climate are diverse, it is unwise to keep a voting system that exacerbates antagonisms between regions. This is probably the strongest argument for electoral reform and is well known.
Finally, numerous witnesses associated the lack of women’s, minority (including racial minorities and Canadians with disabilities) and Indigenous representation to FPTP. As Brian Tanguay said:
In terms of producing a Parliament that is a mirror of the nation, the present electoral system does a very poor job indeed. It poses significantly high barriers to the election of women, minority, and [I]ndigenous candidates … something that detracts significantly from the effectiveness of this body as a forum for the generation of new ideas and policies to cope with the challenges posed by this rapidly changing world.
Pippa Norris suggested that it is “far more difficult for women and other minorities to get elected on the first past the post in single member districts than it is under the party list.” As discussed in Chapter 7, the underrepresentation of women and minorities is not necessarily due to a particular political system, but rather attributable to how the nomination process works and how political parties operate. For example, as noted by Antony Hodgson:
With the way we do nominations in this country, we end up putting one person forward from each party. On average, that is biased in favour of the “male, pale, and stale” stereotype. I am very pleased to see that this is not true here at this table, but statistically there certainly is that bias. I think young people in particular are not represented in government as much as they should be.
The challenge with ensuring diversity of candidate representation, as one witness suggested, is that it is hard to manage the individual nomination processes in all 338 ridings in Canada. By contrast, it is more obvious in list-based electoral systems for voters to see the relative numbers of women and minority candidates.
The five principles set out in the Committee’s mandate have enabled the Committee to focus on certain electoral system options to the exclusion of others. For example, pure List Proportional Representation (List PR) would not be suitable for Canada because it does not focus on electing local representatives but rather on political parties (though moderate variants with provinces divided into regions with small open lists could be considered). As noted by Brian Tanguay:
[W]hat is not acceptable in Canada? Well, “list PR” is not acceptable. Also the Israeli system is not acceptable, nor that of the Netherlands. Anything that simply offers voters a single choice for a party is not acceptable.
Two-round voting, within the majoritarian electoral system family, also was not discussed to any extent by witnesses or individual participants and received limited support from respondents to the Committee’s online consultation. This system, used in France, has been associated with significant cost (of holding two rounds of voting) without much attendant benefit in overall representation.
The individuals who engaged with the Committee (either through submissions, testimony, or in the e-consultation) and recommended reform overwhelmingly favoured the addition of some element of proportionality to Canada’s electoral system.
The options commonly discussed include (organized in order from majoritarian to proportional to mixed systems):
Brian Tanguay suggested that if the Committee has “the broad alternatives available to voters and discuss and debate them fairly and transparently, that will serve this Committee and the [G]overnment well.” It is the Committee’s hope that the following pages present the primary electoral system reform options “fairly and transparently.”
Finally, as electoral system options are set out below, it is important to keep in mind the impact that reform will have on Canada’s overall governance ecosystem, as noted by Maryantonett Flumian, President of the Institute on Governance:
This [is] my fundamental message: whatever recommendations your deliberations take you to, rest them on our entire governance ecosystem. People want some change. People want evolution. Our system has to evolve in order to maintain that primordial connection directly with citizens, which I think is fundamental to our democratic system of governance, but understand the whole system.
One electoral system reform option proposed to the Committee would be to introduce ranked ballots in single-member constituencies. The problem or issue that this reform would try to solve is that of candidates in ridings being elected without a majority of support from voters, for example as expressed by Eric Maskin:
Under the current system, the first-past-the-post system, there are many, many cases of MPs being elected without absolute majorities. What's worse is that we don't know, because we aren't finding out from voters, whether there are other candidates whom a majority would have preferred. That's why switching to a voting system under which voters can express themselves more fully is a way to ensure that the right MPs get elected.
On the ballot, instead of marking an “x” or equivalent, voters would rank the candidates running in their electoral district in order of their preference. Results would then be tallied to determine which candidate is preferred by the majority of voters in the district. The Committee heard testimony about three possible counting methods that could be used to determine the result. These variations are described below.
It is important to note that in Australia voters are required to “complete all boxes on the ballot paper for the vote to be formal and included in the count.” In other words, if a voter in Australia does not rank all of the candidates on the ballot, his or her vote would be considered “informal” and would not be counted. Should the use of ranked ballots be adopted in Canada (in either single or multiple member constituencies), it is not recommended that voters be forced to rank all candidates listed. As was noted in testimony, this requirement would add complexity to the voting process, would limit voter choice, and would not significantly alter the results.
As elaborated below, the main arguments put forward in favour of using ranked ballots in single-member constituencies is that election results would be more legitimate by more closely reflecting voters’ preferences (in relation to the first principle set out in the Committee’s mandate); that the proposed measure would be relatively simple to understand and to implement (as it would involve no change to riding boundaries and candidates could continue to seek election as under FPTP); and that it would encourage moderation and consensus-building (as candidates and political parties would be incentivized to be voters’ second, if not first, preference).
The fundamental critique of introducing ranked ballots in single-member constituencies is that the proposed measure would do nothing to correct the perceived issues with majoritarian electoral systems: namely, that it would not take into account support for a political party or interests across ridings or across a region, and in some way seek to translate this aggregate, proportional vote share into representation in the House of Commons or provincial legislatures. As well, by favouring moderation and consensus, it was suggested that the use of ranked ballots in single-member constituencies would effectively discriminate against smaller parties and minority viewpoints, resulting in less representational diversity. This, in turn, could actually increase distortion between voter preferences and outcomes. Finally, it was argued that moving to ranked ballots while maintaining single-member constituencies would result in such minor change that it would not be worth the effort.
The Committee heard of three main variants that could be used to tally the rankings to determine the winning candidate in an electoral district: AV, also referred to as Instant Runoff Voting, the Borda count method, and the Condorcet Method. As described below, different tallying methods may lead to somewhat different results. It is important to note that any of the following tallying methods could be applied to the use of ranked ballots in multiple member constituencies.
The most commonly known ranked ballot system in single-member constituencies is AV, currently used to elect members of the House of Representatives in Australia, and previously used at the provincial and municipal levels (along with STV) in certain areas in Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba.
Essentially AV works as follows: on the ballot, voters rank the candidates running in their electoral district in order of their preference. To be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of the eligible votes cast. Should no candidate garner a majority on the first count, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes (lowest-ranked) is dropped, and the second-preference votes on the ballots where that candidate ranked first are assigned to the respective remaining candidates. This process continues until one candidate receives the necessary majority.
In the 18th century, French mathematician, political scientist, mariner and physicist Jean-Charles Borda devised a preferential voting system, called the “Borda count” to correct the perceived issues with the plurality system used to elect members to the French Academy of Sciences. The Borda count system for ranked ballots assigns points (the number of points awarded is based on the total number of candidates) “according to its preference position.” As explained by witness Russ Husum:
The Borda count method is simple to use, and for the reasons that follow, it gives a more accurate result than simply dropping people off if they are the lowest first-preference candidate.
First off, no candidate is dropped. Second, every preference level of every ballot is used to calculate the total. Third, every preference on a ballot is given a value according to its preference position.
For example, if you had six candidates, the first vote would be worth six points to a candidate. Then the second vote would be worth five points, then four, then three. If there were eight candidates, the first would be worth eight points and then seven points, and so on.
Let's say you have five candidates running. A first preference vote is worth five points to each candidate. Let's say Mary Smith gets 10,000 first-place votes. She gets five times 10,000. If she gets 5,000 second-place votes, she gets four times 5,000. Those are totalled up for each candidate, so in the end you get a more accurate total then simply dropping people off.
Mr. Husum argued that using the Borda count to tally voters’ ranked ballot preferences would address certain perceived shortcomings with the AV method of counting:
There are some concerns with the regular ranked ballot counting, and the Borda count method takes care of them. I'll go over three of them right now.
Sometimes, when you drop the first candidate—the lowest candidate with the least first-choice preferences—you can drop the candidate who is actually most preferred.…
Also, the regular accounting method can sometimes inadvertently pick a majority winner when in reality they are not the most preferred candidate.
Finally, one of the criticisms of the ranked ballot is that second and third preferences that are reassigned should not be worth as much as the first preference.
One can compare the plurality vote, AV, and the Borda count to how students are ranked in school. Under our current plurality system, where only one preference is indicated, candidates are essentially ranked based on who gets an “A”, while ignoring any lower grades. AV tweaks this by first counting “A”s, then if necessary looking at “B” grades, and so on. By contrast, the Borda count operates like a grade point average, whereby the winning candidate is the one with the highest total number of points. Of note, a modified Borda count system, applied to multi-member constituencies, is used in the Republic of Nauru (which became independent from Australia in 1968). It is a popular counting method for granting sports awards, such as Major League Baseball’s Most Valuable Player award and US college football’s Heisman Trophy.
Returning to 18th century France, the Marquis de Condorcet, disagreed with Borda (his contemporary) in terms of ranking preferences. He instead proposed an alternative system whereby a ranked ballot would be used to compare candidates in head to head matchups. The winning candidate is the one who comes out ahead in the various paired contests. Eric Maskin from Harvard proposed a Condorcet system called “Majority Rule.”
Professor Maskin explained “Majority Rule” as follows:
Under Majority Rule, voters now have the opportunity to do more than just vote for a single candidate: they're allowed to rank candidates. Candidate A is best, candidate B is second best, and so on. The winner is the candidate who is preferred by a majority, according to the rankings, to each opponent. The candidate is the true majority winner. The candidate would beat each opponent in a head-to-head contest.
I have a slide to illustrate this. Let's imagine that the electorate divides into three different groups: 40% of the electorate likes candidate A the best, then B, then C; 35% put C at the top, then B, then A; and then the remaining 25% like B best, then C, then A. This is just an example. It's not meant to correspond to any real-life situation.
What happens under Majority Rule? Under Majority Rule, candidate B beats A by a majority because the group in the middle, the 35% group, prefers B to A, and the group on the right, the 25% group, prefers B to A. That's a majority. That's 60%.
Candidate B also beats C by a majority because the first group, the 40% group, prefers B to C, and the third group, the 25% group, prefers B to C. That's 65%, so B is the true majority winner.
Let's contrast that with what happens under first past the post. Under first past the post, you just vote for a single candidate. Presumably the people in the first group will vote for A, the people in the second group will vote for C, the people in the third group will vote for B. A is the winner because 40% is the highest vote total, and so we get the wrong candidate elected. A is elected under first past the post, but a majority, 60%, prefer B. For that matter, in this example, a majority also prefers C to A, so A is really quite a terrible choice from the standpoint of majority will.
Majority Rule solves all five problems that I described because the winner represents a majority of voters.
He added that “Under Majority Rule, voters have no incentive to strategically vote anymore. They have every incentive to vote according to their true preferences.”
Maskin then described the difference between “Majority Rule” and AV:
I think the easiest way to see the difference between alternative voting, which is sometimes called instant runoff voting, and what I was talking about, Majority Rule, is to use the example that is on the screen.
As I showed you in that example, candidate B is the majority winner because B beats A by a majority, and B also defeats C by a majority.
However, if we use alternative voting, instant runoff voting, then we'd look only at first-place votes, so 40% vote for A, 35% vote for C, and 25% vote for B, we notice that B, who is actually the true majority winner, is eliminated under alternative voting. That's because under alternative voting, if no candidate gets a majority of first-place votes, you eliminate the candidate who has the fewest first-place votes, and that's B in this case.
This example encapsulates the difference between Majority Rule and Alternative Voting.
While he proposed Majority Rule as being preferable to AV, he argued that either would be an improvement over FPTP:
I think either alternative voting or majority rule, or some other similar variant in which voters have the opportunity to express themselves by ranking rather than just voting for a single candidate, would be a considerable improvement over the current first-past-the-post system.
One issue acknowledged by the Marquis de Condorcet himself was the possibility that no one candidate would emerge as the overall Condorcet winner in head to head matchups. In that case, which Professor Maskin argued would be rather remote in the Canadian political context, a tie-breaking mechanism could be applied.
Finally, Professor Maskin noted that as the Majority Rule voting method requires computational capacity, it was not a system that could be considered until recently:
I think an important reason that until fairly recently Majority Rule, rather than alternative voting, was not on the table is simply that counting ballots under Majority Rule was somewhat more complicated. You have to look at all pairwise comparisons. With modern computers, that's not a problem, but before modern computers were around, it certainly was.
Some suggested that introducing ranked ballots in single-member constituencies (no matter the tally method) would increase the perceived legitimacy of election results by better reflecting the overall preferences of voters in a riding and requiring candidates to obtain a majority of support in their riding. As noted by André Blais (in comparison to FPTP):
Basically, the system is not too different from first past the post, but a party that is the second choice of many would get more seats. That would be the biggest difference. It's up to you to decide which is the party that is the second choice in a given context, and then you'll see which party is most likely to be favoured at a given point in time.
That's the main difference. It's more legitimate, in the sense that every candidate who is elected gets at least 50% of the vote. In my view, that's more legitimate. It is still not proportional and so on in many different aspects, but it is, in my view, more acceptable.
And as observed by Professor Derriennic:
Every MP would be elected by a majority, there would be less risk of a party winning with less of the popular vote than that of its main rival. Citizens could vote the way they wish, without fear of wasting their vote or having to vote strategically. Each party’s real popular support would be known, and the big parties would want to heed the opinions and needs of supporters of other parties.
As well, by maintaining local representatives in single-member constituencies, a change to ranked ballots would be considered a relatively “innocuous” innovation in comparison to other proposals presented to the Committee, for example as noted by Royce Koop:
The alternative vote doesn't really affect what I was talking about with local representation. There would certainly be a local representative. That would be preserved, so it would be a real plus of the alternative vote as well.
We would perhaps see that people feel like they have more input into the choice. Because of the ranking nature of the ballot, more votes are included in the overall result. We might see increased democratic satisfaction as a result of that, but beyond that I am not sure. It wouldn't be a huge change. It is a relatively innocuous change to the electoral system compared to some of the other alternatives that we are talking about today.
The Hon. Paul Okalik commented on how introducing ranked ballots while maintaining single member constituencies would be a clear and simple innovation:
If it's the desire and the will of the committee to move forward with a different model, I stress that it should be as simple and as clear as possible for all concerned. The alternative vote model would be my preference, as it maintains the clarity and simplicity to the voters and is in keeping with their wishes.
James T. Arreak, Chief Executive Officer of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., spoke about how introducing ranked ballots would favour consensus, and in that sense would be consistent with Inuit culture:
One alternative to the first-past-the-post system is the ranked candidate system, with each elector numbering candidates in order of preference, and then the votes of candidates with fewer first preferences being tabulated and redistributed until one candidate is the ranked choice of at least 50% of the electors. This system has the virtue of overcoming one defect of the first-past-the-post system: in a first-past-the-post contest, a person can be elected having extreme positions that may appeal to a minority of voters that are heartily rejected by a majority. The ranked candidate system appears to be more in keeping with the premium placed on consensus-building and the preference for inclusiveness that is characteristic of Inuit culture.
Finally, Joel Howe, also speaking in Fredericton, New Brunswick, noted how ranked ballots would encourage moderation:
With ranked ballot, for example, you allow for many parties, but they must each jockey to be voters' second or third choice. This means they cannot simply pander to their existing limited base if they want to get elected. This is the incentive toward moderation that a 5% or 10% threshold under PR can't hope to provide.
The greatest perceived shortcoming of the use of ranked ballots in single member constituencies is that it is a majoritarian system that can effectively squeeze out smaller parties while benefitting “big tent” political parties. For example, as posited by the Hon. Ed Broadbent:
A ranked ballot system can have the effect of eliminating particularly very small parties. They can be ranked out of the system. The advantage of either MMP or strict PR is that every vote will count and you don't need to have a ranking to make it count.
For example, one participant made the following statement:
If we adopted a preferential vote system, how would we make sure that our country did not always elect a centrist party like the Liberal Party? That is to say, going forward, a party that benefits from being a second choice for everyone could win every time. What sort of systems and fail-safe measures will we have in place to protect the country from that happening all of the time?
Brian Tanguay argued that introducing a ranked ballot in single member constituencies would only replicate problems found in FPTP:
I personally am not a fan of the alternative vote. Although it does give greater choice to the voters, it seems to replicate all the problems that we find in first past the post. The ranked ballot by itself would not address the issue that we certainly heard from citizens at the time of the law commission and at the time of the Ontario referendum. That system would not address the flaws in the current system that are so in need of resolution.
In a similar vein, Nelson Wiseman noted how introducing a ranked ballot itself could also cause distortion: “The ranked ballot, which I do not oppose, may also cause distortion. A party could receive 40% of all the first-choice votes and not win a single seat.”
Indeed, in his presentation to the Committee, Byron Weber Becker demonstrated how he assessed various electoral systems. A “well-behaved” system is one that, in his assessment, “reduces distortion and strengthens the link between voter intention and the election of representatives.” In other words “in a well-behaved system, the number of MPs awarded is proportional to the number of votes earned.” According to Mr. Becker, AV “misbehaved” more than FPTP. He explained why by using an analogy to the “tragedy of the commons”:
I think that alternative vote makes a lot of sense at the individual riding level. Let me say that I can appreciate why it would be attractive at the individual riding level, but I think there are also some problems at that level.
In each individual riding, the decision is made independently of all the other ridings, the same as with first past the post. It's when you aggregate all of those individual decisions that it breaks apart and becomes a disadvantage for Canada as a whole. I have sometimes compared it to the economic theory of the tragedy of the commons, where a village has a common pasture and everybody grazes their cow on that common pasture, and it works out wonderfully, as long as everybody obeys the rules. But then some bright soul says, “Ah, I can graze two cows on that pasture.” They make a locally optimal decision just for themselves. It's like the individual riding saying that it's best for it to use alternative vote. If everybody does that, the pasture gets over-grazed and everybody fails. If all of the ridings use alternative vote, then the system as a whole becomes very disproportional and Canada as a whole suffers.
Henry Milner further argued that preferential ballots in single member constituencies would result in less diversity in the House of Commons:
I've never understood the advantage of preferential systems per se. It seems to me that we know the disadvantages, which are that these systems make it difficult for parties that are not within the mainstream — even harder than it is under our system — to get elected, so you have less diversity.
In his appearance before the Committee, Harold Jansen noted that his research into the historical use of AV and STV suggested that electoral results under AV did not differ much from FPTP. By contrast, the use of STV, a proportional system, did have a significant impact:
My research into the uses of preferential balloting in Canadian provincial elections has led me to conclude that the alternative vote is probably not the best option for Canada. The historical experience with AV suggests that it results in election outcomes that differ little from those we would encounter under the first past the post system, and it wouldn't do anything to address the most serious shortcoming of first past the post: the failure to produce a legislature that accurately reflects the preferences of Canadians. In Alberta and Manitoba, the system had no impact on proportionality, which is how political scientists measure the correspondence between seats and votes. It had no impact whatsoever.
Even if we look at the district level, the alternative vote produces results that differ little from first past the post. In the entire experience of Alberta, with over 30 years of using the alternative vote, fewer than 3% of all the seats contested would have turned out differently under AV than first past the post. In Manitoba, the number is less than 2%. In other words, in 97% to 98% of the cases, the person ahead on the first count ends up winning, and that person would have won under the first past the post system.
By contrast, I'd argue the STV system used in Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg performed much better.
Professor Jansen added that the Australian model of AV, whereby voters must rank all candidates on the ballot, differs from the historical Canadian us of AV in British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba:
When we imagine how the alternative vote might work in Canada, we often cast our eyes towards Australia, but one of the things we often overlook in the Australian case, is that in Australia, voters are legally compelled to rank each and every candidate. That’s a big difference. In [Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia] we didn’t do that.
In a background paper, Professor Jansen warned of the consequences of mandating voters to rank all candidates on the ballot:
In Australia, the choice between optional and compulsory preferences is intimately linked to the competitive position of parties. Labor, often the victim of preference exchanges between its opponents, has favoured repealing compulsory preferences, and has done so in Queensland and New South Wales.
Michael Gallagher emphasized how AV, by not being proportional, would achieve little while causing smaller parties to suffer:
The alternative vote is not a kind of PR and the outcomes it produces are not that different from first past the post, really, so in some ways I think it would be a huge amount of effort to achieve very little if Canada had a really strong deliberative process and then simply moved to the alternative vote. It wouldn't make a great deal of difference.
Yes, I think so, because the results of Australian elections tend to be just as disproportional as elections in Britain or Canada, for example. You don't get very close proportionality, and in particular the smaller parties really lose out systematically.
In a paper published in 2016 titled “The Consequences of the Alternative Vote,” authors Lydia Miljan and Taylor Jackson note the political implications of the Australian model of AV. That system was introduced in 1918:
… by a non-Labour government in response to the formation of the Country Party, a competing right-of-centre party that was establishing a growing regional influence. Implemening the AV electoral system allowed the non-Labour parties to exchange voting preferences, particularly in rural districts. This helped to prevent the Labour party from benefitting when the non-Labour vote was split.
Miljan and Jackson argue that the adoption of AV and the requirement to exhaust the ballot had the effect of changing the outcome of elections, in favour of Australia’s political right and against the political left, for half a century. Miljan and Jackson note,
[N]on-Labour parties have tended to be the beneficiaries of this system. In her examination of the effects that AV had on Australian elections from 1919 to 1951, Rydon (1956) found that of the 73 seats that required a redistribution of preferences to determine the winner, 58 of them were won by non-Labour candidates and only 15 were won by Labour candidates….
This suggests how a new electoral system can have a long-lasting, predictable effect on the outcome of elections. It can favour one party and hobble another over several election cycles in a manner that was foreseeable by the legislators who designed the new system.
Finally, in their paper, Miljan and Jackson provide a detailed analysis as to how AV would have affected Canadian federal elections since 1997. The most striking result is that the Liberals would have won a larger number of seats in every election: 15 additional seats in 1997, 17 additional seats in 2000, 25 additional seats in 2004, 22 additional seats in 2006, 11 additional seats in 2008, 13 additional seats in 2011, and 31 additional seats in 2015.
As discussed above, a primary facet of a proportional electoral system is a district magnitude greater than one. The greater the district magnitude (number of members per constituency), the greater the proportionality, as the entire range of voters’ party preferences would be more accurately reflected. The trade-off that comes with increased district magnitude is less local representation. Given the preferences expressed throughout the Committee’s study for strong, accountable local representation, any introduction of proportionality in Canada would need to maintain a district magnitude that would not unduly dilute local representation. Indeed, as explained by Pippa Norris, proportionality and local representation can co-exist:
They can go together, and what matters is the size of the district magnitude. If you have a small district—Spain has three-to-five, Ireland has five—then essentially the individual voter can find, in particular, not just an MP but a couple of MPs, perhaps from different parties, to represent their constituency concerns or to lobby for them or to do any other sort of service work.
If you get a large district, however, that dilutes. Many countries will have districts of, say, 16-20, and there is no constituency service when you get to a very, very large constituency. The classic cases are in Israel, where you have the whole country as one constituency, and in the Netherlands. In those countries, there are very weak links indeed between the members of the Knesset in Israel and individual voters. At that stage it's broken.
It really depends on how you draw your boundaries as to how you actually create an incentive to have constituency service. It's not about an either/or system, PR versus single member.
Indeed, Laura Stephenson noted that in terms of district magnitude, “[a]ny number greater than one would lead to more proportionate outcomes than our current system, and many systems around the world have districts with low magnitudes.” She added that “[e]xperts would suggest that between three and seven is an ideal number.”
One tool that has been developed to measure an electoral system’s relative disproportionality between votes received and seats allotted in a legislature is the Gallagher Index, developed by Michael Gallagher (who appeared before the Committee). As noted by Byron Weber Becker, the Gallagher Index “combines both over and under-representation for each party into a single number.” According to Professor Becker, a Gallagher Index of less than 5 is considered “excellent”. As well, Professor Becker developed the “Gallagher Index Composite” for the Committee’s study, comprised of the “average of the Gallagher Indices for each province and territory, weighted by its number of seats.” Professor Becker noted that:
This corrects for a problem in calculating the Gallagher Index for the nation as a whole, which can hide regional disproportionalities such as the significant over-representation of Conservatives in the Prairies offsetting the over-representation of Liberals in the Maritimes.
Professor Becker submitted that the most recent FPTP election had a Gallagher Index score of 12.0%, and a Composite Gallagher Index score of 17.1%. In his submission, Professor Becker provided the Committee with a chart of the relative distortion and Gallagher scores under various potential electoral systems (titled Summary of nine electoral systems’ properties):
The primary argument raised in favour of proportional electoral systems is that they more fairly translate votes cast for political parties into seats in the legislature. Indeed, this element was emphasized by various witnesses who testified before the Committee. For example, as explained by Arend Lijphart:
The main aim of proportional representation is to get proportional outcomes so that parties, or groups of representatives, are representing roughly equal representations of the voters. PR systems differ in terms of how proportional they are. They may use systems that are not completely proportional and that raise barriers for smaller parties, and so on. When you look at outcomes of PR systems, there is not one that is completely 100% proportional.
And as echoed by Harold Jansen:
The one thing that the electoral system does is alter the math of the translation of votes into seats. PR systems like STV or MMP or list PR do that much more accurately than first past the post, or the alternative vote. I'd argue that this is really the fundamental basis on which a decision about electoral reform should be made.
Henry Milner added:
The more proportional the system, the more equal every vote is in terms of its ability to get somebody elected. So the less proportional a system is, the less equal each vote is in terms of its effect on getting somebody elected.
Kenneth Carty observed that “fair representation,” equated with some type of PR, was a desired objective of multiple provincial reform initiatives:
Let me say that the thousands of Canadians who took part in the recent provincial reform debates in the citizens' assemblies in Ontario and in British Columbia, in the Commission on Legislative Democracy in New Brunswick, on the parliamentary commission hearings all across Quebec, have been very clear about what they want in an electoral system. They've identified pretty clearly what they think are the three values that they most highly value. One was fair representation, and by that most voters meant something like proportional representation was the value that was to be put near the top of the list.
Professor Carty added that “strong, identifiable, local representation” and “more choice on the ballot” were the other two values most highly regarded by individuals who participated in provincial electoral reform initiatives over the past 15 years.
The value noted by Professor Carty also came through in responses to the Committee’s online consultation. Indeed, 71.5% of respondents either strongly agreed (59.1%) or agreed (12.4%) with the statement “Canada’s electoral system should ensure that the number of seats held by a party in Parliament reflects the proportion of votes it received across the country”:
Number of seats held by a party in Parliament should reflect the proportion of votes it received across the country Scale: 1 (Strongly Disagree) – 5 (Strongly Agree); NA
As well, 72.5% of respondents either strongly agreed (48.6%) or agreed (23.9%) with the statement that “Canada’s electoral system should ensure that voters elect local candidates to represent them in Parliament”:
Voters should elect local candidates to represent them in Parliament Scale: 1 (Strongly Disagree) – 5 (Strongly Agree); NA
Finally, a majority of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with the following two statements connecting proportionality with voter choice: First, that “Voters should determine which candidates get elected from a party’s list and the seats in the House of Commons should be allocated based on the percentage of votes obtained by each political party”:
Voters should determine which candidates get elected from a party’s list Scale: 1 (Strongly Disagree) – 5 (Strongly Agree); NA
And second, that “Canada’s electoral system should produce a proportional Parliament (where seats roughly match the parties’ vote share) through the direct election of local representatives in multi-member electoral districts”:
Canada’s electoral system should produce a proportional Parliament through the direct election of local representatives in multi-member districts Scale: 1 (Strongly Disagree) – 5 (Strongly Agree); NA
The Hon. Ed Broadbent, in his remarks to the Committee, noted that experts in democratic institutions tend to favour PR systems over majoritarian ones:
[W]hen the large majority of experts—not only those who have made their presentations to this committee, but also those around the world who have studied democracy and democratic institutions—make up their minds about electoral systems, they come down on the side of some form of PR.
Finally, Arend Lijphart’s research highlighted the relationship between PR and what he calls “consensus democracy,” through the increased likelihood of coalition governments:
I've gradually come to the conclusion that proportional representation, or PR, is the better option. This has also been the trend among political scientists generally. The empirical evidence is now overwhelmingly strong in support of this conclusion. PR is a crucial ingredient in what I have called “consensus democracy”, especially in combination with a parliamentary system of government. It tends to lead to a multi-party system, which in turn tends to lead to coalition cabinets, and also leads to parliaments that are stronger and cabinets that are less dominant than in majoritarian systems. In addition, it tends to be associated with a more co-operative system of interest groups.
The Hon. Ed Broadbent added on this topic:
[T]he PR system is conducive to more civility in politics. I had experience following my political life with, for example, German politicians in both the CDU and the SPD. They both say, as people familiar with the Scandinavian situation, that with multi-party systems in which it's taken for granted that you're going to have multiple parties forming governments, the politicians are more civil with each other before elections and during elections because they know they're going to have to work with somebody afterwards. That isn't a trivial point.
As discussed above, the primary shortcoming of highly proportional electoral systems is the diminution of local representation, which is why such options are not being considered by the Committee. As well, some witnesses raised the end of majority governments and the prospect of coalition governments as being more complicated:
Nothing comes without problems, and there are two problems in particular [with PR] that might be identifiable. One is that constituencies as we call them, ridings, would have to be much larger, both in geographical size and in population because proportional representation necessitates multi-member constituencies, so ridings would be much larger, and they already are huge in some cases. In addition, government formation becomes a much more complicated process because single party government would be very unlikely. It’s very hard for any party under a really proportional system to win an overall majority. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; there are pros and cons in coalition government, but it would become more complicated.
Indeed, the increased likelihood of coalition governments in proportional systems would be a significant change that would require both adaptation and education:
[I]n Canada's case, clearly a significant change in political culture would be required. One of the consequences of adopting a proportional electoral system is the more frequent occurrence of minority governments. The population is used to this type of government.
One thing would be different in Canada's case, and that's the occurrence of coalition governments. There's no tradition in that regard here. Sometimes coalition attempts were made that could be surprising, but there was never a real coalition. This could be a significant change in political culture.
Work must be done not only for the public, but also by the witnesses who cover political life, and that requires information. A factor that was also measured is the importance of having citizenship education courses.…
Of note, respondents to the Committee’s online consultation, who overall preferred some element of proportionality, were open to the idea of collaborative governments. Indeed, 53.5% of respondents either strongly agreed (31.8%) or agreed (21.7%) with the following statement: “Canada’s electoral system should favour the following outcome: no single political party holds the majority of seats in Parliament, thereby increasing the likelihood that political parties will work together to pass legislation.”
No single political party should hold the majority of seats in Parliament, increasing the likelihood of political parties working together to pass legislation Scale: 1 (Strongly Disagree) – 5 (Strongly Agree); NA
Another concern that was raised during the Committee’s study is that purely proportional electoral systems would lead to the proliferation of small political parties at the expense of large national parties. This apprehension was expressed by Kenneth Carty:
My view is that with a highly proportional electoral system, there’s a major risk that we would lose our national political parties. I think the electoral incentives would powerfully favour regional and sectoral parties at the expense of national ones. Our national parties might easily break into pieces of different kinds and different shapes depending on the party.
He added that the erosion of national parties could lead to the erosion of national politics:
I believe under relatively highly proportional systems, even moderately proportional ones, the big national parties would be disadvantaged. In fact, it would be to the advantage of different parts of these national parties to kind of go their own way, as the Conservatives went three ways in 1993. Without first past the post, they would never have come back together. I think that over time we would have, in fact, the erosion of national parties because there would be electoral incentives in different regions, among different groups, to produce their own candidates and not be tied by a national platform. I believe the real risk of proportionality is the erosion of national parties, and I believe, national politics.
He concluded that the success of Canada’s current electoral system has largely been in preventing regional/ideological cleavages from dividing the country:
The great success of the Canadian party system, in my judgment, has been in some sense preventing the enormous variation in the cleavages, in the divisions of Canada, from spilling into our Parliament in a way that would make us a dysfunctional country.… One of the strengths of the way our system has worked is that it has in fact forced the parties in some sense to work hard at preventing that expression of so much division, in a country that’s constantly changing.
Finally, related to Professor Carty’s notion of the erosion of national political parties is the argument that greater proportionality would favour the proliferation of smaller, and possibly “extremist” political parties:
No doubt proportional representation, particularly extreme proportional representation as they have in Israel, gives organization and voice to very small groups of sentiment, some of which can be quite extreme. While our current FPTP privileges the regional representation, proportional representation privileges ideological representation.
Other witnesses provided a less drastic assessment. For example, André Blais suggested that increased proportionality would result in more diversity of viewpoints, possibly adding to polarization in the House of Commons:
I don't think the evidence is that clear on exactly what the consequence would be. Well, there would be a consequence in that there would be a wider array of viewpoints, and some of them would probably be more extremist than they are now, so there will be more diversity but also perhaps a little bit more polarization at the beginning in the House of Commons.
As well, Brian Tanguay did not share the view that introducing proportionality would lead to the fragmentation of national political parties, or favour the proliferation of extremist political parties:
I'm not as convinced as Professor Carty that it would be the death knell for national political parties. I don't see Canada being as riven by what political scientists call cleavages, as, say, Belgium is. The model proposed by the law reform commission would have a built-in kind of threshold. You'd need, probably, at least 10% of votes in a region to get one of those list seats.
To me, the worry that there would be a proliferation of fringe or extremist parties and that the national parties would fall apart seems exaggerated. I just don't see—and I share, actually, your views so eloquently stated in the preamble to the question—that we grew up or lived through the near death of the country, all under first past the post. I don't think that a mixed member proportional system would exacerbate regionalism. I don't think it would be any worse than it is now.
One proportional option for electoral system reform that was raised by numerous witnesses is the Single Transferable Vote (STV), as it is candidate-focused and preserves local representation:
The single transferable vote is known in the Anglo-Saxon world, and it is for good reason known as the Anglo-Saxon PR. Ireland, Malta, upper house Australia, it's well known in the Anglo-Saxon world. It preserves local representation.
As well, STV has a history in Canada. Provincially, from the 1920s to the 1950s, Alberta and Manitoba both adopted STV for elections held in urban ridings and the AV for elections held in rural ridings. Additionally, in the late 1910s to early 1920s, a number of municipalities in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan adopted STV systems. Finally, British Columbia’s Citizen’s Assembly recommended “BC-STV” as the system of choice for the province in its December 2004 report.
Essentially STV aims to achieve a moderate level of proportionality while giving maximum choice to voters and maintaining the local connection between MPs and constituents. As explained by Michael Gallagher in his appearance before the Committee:
One type of partial representation is proportional representation by the single transferable vote. This aims to do a number of things simultaneously. First, it attempts to achieve a reasonable closeness between the share of votes cast and share of seats cast for each party. Second, it tries to give a maximum choice to voters — more choice than open-list systems. It avoids having voters waste their vote by casting it for someone who has no chance. Third, it aims to retain the close territorial connection between voters and MPs, or TDs, as deputies are known in Ireland. It aims to do all of those things.
STV works as follows: voters in multi-member electoral districts (Ireland’s districts contain three to five members) rank candidates on the ballot. They may rank as few or as many candidates as they wish. Indeed, this is the practice in Ireland, whereas in the Australian Senate voters must rank all candidates.
In most variations of this system, winners are declared by first determining the total number of valid votes cast, and then establishing a minimum number of votes that must be garnered based on the number of seats to be filled (the “vote quota”). Candidates who receive the number of first-preference votes needed to reach the quota are elected. If there are still seats to be filled, a two-step count occurs. In the first step, any votes in excess of the quota for elected candidates are redistributed to the second choices indicated on the ballots of the elected candidates, using a weighted formula (this is called “excess transfer”). Candidates who then reach the quota are elected. If no candidates reach the quota in this way, a second step takes place in which the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes (lowest-ranked) is dropped, and the second-preference votes on the ballots where that candidate ranked first are assigned to the respective remaining candidates. Such extra counts continue until enough candidates reach the quota to fill all available seats. As noted by Professor Gallagher, “the surplus distribution is the most complex part of STV.”
Some variations of STV do not involve excess transfer, but only the elimination of the lowest-ranked candidate and the reassigning of the second preferences on the ballots for that candidate. This simplifies the counting process.
In Ireland the counting process may take several days:
Counting proceeds until all the seats are filled. The counting is a multi-staged process. It takes much longer than a first past the post count. In Ireland we had an election earlier this year. It was on a Friday, and the counting of the votes didn't start until 9 o'clock on Saturday morning. Most of the seats were filled by midnight on Saturday, but some went into Sunday. There was one constituency in which the outcome was very close and there were a few recounts, so it didn't end until early on Wednesday morning. Counting is not an instantaneous process — it can be several days before the full result emerges.
Professor Gallagher then described the impacts of Ireland’s STV system in terms of representation, turnout, party cohesion, and constituent links with MPs:
Firstly, in terms of the accuracy of representation, it does give fairly accurate representation. It doesn't give extremely high proportionality like the South African system does, but it gives pretty average levels of proportionality by the standards of most European electoral systems. It's much more proportional than non-PR systems such as Canada uses or such as Britain or France use. On that criterion, it performs to the satisfaction of people here.
In terms of government stability, over the years there has not really been a problem there. Most governments these days are coalitions, but they can be just as stable as single-party governments. We've had 29 elections in the history of the state, so something like three years between elections. Having said that, the last election in February did not produce a very stable-looking government. We have a minority government, with only 58 seats out of 158. It took two months to put it together. Its lifespan is rather uncertain. At the moment we wouldn't rate highly on current government stability, but over the entire period this has not been a problem.
One of the strengths of PR-STV, as I mentioned before, for its proponents is that it gives voters a lot of choice. They can really say exactly what they feel. They're not compelled to vote just for, to name the Irish parties, Labour or just for Fianna Fáil or just for the Greens. They can vote number one for Green Party, and if the Green Party candidate is eliminated, then they can give a second preference to Labour, a third preference to Fine Gael and their vote isn't wasted, it still counts. They can choose on the basis of any criterion they want. They can vote on party lines or some people will vote on geographical lines. They want a candidate from this part of the constituency, a candidate whose home base is somewhere near here. For that reason they might give their first preference to a local candidate from one party and their second preference to a candidate from another party.
Do turnout levels engender high participation? Not particularly in Ireland. Turnout is not especially high. It was around 65% for the election earlier this year. But people who study turnout say that it is affected by lots of different factors. The electoral system might have only a minor role. The only other country in Europe to use PR-STV is Malta, and that has a very high turnout, over 90%.
In terms of the cohesion of parties, as I said before, this internal party competition doesn't really damage party cohesion. In this country the solidarity of parliamentary groups is very high. It's very rare for MPs to defy the party whip. For good or for bad, that's the way it is. MPs nearly always vote the party line, they just don't vote different ways. Whatever the local pressures might be, the parliamentary parties are very cohesive.
Next is links with constituents. It's quite interesting that this arises in the Canadian context because this is quite a controversial point in Ireland. Links with constituents are extremely strong in Ireland. Links between TDs-MPs and their constituents are very strong. MPs spend a lot of time dealing with their constituents, representing their constituents, meeting their constituents, taking cases to central civil service bureaucracy on behalf of constituents.… For sure, there doesn't seem to be any reason to be concerned that PR-STV would weaken constituency links, if anything quite the contrary. Academics, as I say, take that view. The main point about PR-STV in this regard is that MPs now have a strong electoral incentive to respond to constituents' demands.
Professor Gallagher concluded his introductory remarks with a suggestion as to how STV could work in Canada:
At the moment you've got 338 MPs, so if Canada had PR-STV there might be around 70 to 90 multi-seat ridings, each returning anything from maybe three to seven MPs, or it could be more. Just looking at a few particular provinces, we see that Newfoundland and Labrador currently has seven single-seat ridings that might become one three-seat riding and one four-seat riding, for example. Prince Edward Island currently has four single-seat ridings that would become one four-seat riding. New Brunswick currently has 10 single-seat ridings that could become two five-seat ridings. It could be that really large geographical areas like Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon would remain as single-seat ridings.
As suggested by Professor Gallagher’s testimony, the perceived strengths of STV are that it introduces proportionality (albeit moderate proportionality given smaller district magnitudes), it emphasizes voter choice, and it is still founded on the link between candidates and constituents.
The primary shortcomings associated with STV are the perceived complexity (and time required) to determine winners, and the notion that STV results in candidates from the same party campaigning against each other. On the latter point, Professor Gallagher posited that in Ireland “this internal party competition doesn't really damage party cohesion.” As well, in testifying about his experience as part of the B.C. Citizen’s Assembly, Craig Henschel noted that internal competition could also have positive elements:
There are two aspects to that. The assembly members really like the idea of more competition, and Canada is paying more attention to voters to get the vote. We also recognize that, because of the preferential ballot, if you want to get elected, you can't say horrible things about the other candidates, because you may need their support. You might need support from their followers. The tenor of elections, the tone, should improve even though the competition increases.
Finally, various witnesses testified regarding the ideal district magnitude in a system such as STV that would enable both proportionality and local representation. Ireland’s district magnitude range of three to five members per district is set out in its Constitution. Under BC-STV, each electoral district would have had between 2 and 7 seats. Indeed, as noted by Laura Stephenson, “Any number greater than one would lead to more proportionate outcomes than our current system, and many systems around the world have districts with low magnitudes.” She added that “Experts would suggest that between three and seven is an ideal number.”
b. Jean-Pierre Derriennic’s “Moderate Proportional Representation with a Preferential Vote” Proposal
Jean-Pierre Derriennic recommended, in his presentation based on his recently published book, A Better Electoral System for Canada, that Canada introduce a variant of Ireland’s system in Canada. In his system, called “moderate proportional representation,” Canada would be divided into districts of three to five seats. As explained in his submission to the Committee:
Implementing this reform would not be difficult following these principles: the total number of MPs or their number for each province would not change; contiguous districts would be joined together without changing their present limits; in the new multi-member districts the ratio of MPs by inhabitants should be kept as equal as possible. Prince-Edward-Island would form one district with four seats. In other provinces, the correct number of MPs would be met by combining districts with three, four or five seats. The main danger of proportional representation, too many parties having MPs, would be avoided.
As well, his system would include ranked ballots, which he argues should be a feature of any electoral system, whether proportional or majoritarian in nature:
Ranked ballots should be, as a rule, a feature of any electoral system, because citizens should have the right to vote sincerely without having to suppose how others will vote and without being manipulated by opinion polls and rumours.
In single-member districts, ranking preferences rather than expressing one choice makes the results more legitimate, because all MPs are elected by a majority of voters.
Ranking preferences is possible also when choosing between lists of candidates in order to get a proportional result. It can be done by using the Single Transferable Vote, as in Ireland, or by ordering preferences between closed lists of candidates.
However, to “avoid weakening the parties” (though intra-party competition which occurs in STV), Professor Derriennic proposes the following:
Citizens would vote as in Ireland: the ballots would list the names and party affiliations of the candidates, and the voters would mark their order of preference, which may be complete or not. Ballots would be counted not as in Ireland but rather through ranked ballot voting between lists, as described above in this chapter: each party’s number of votes is calculated by adding together all the first preferences for candidates of the same party: votes for parties with too few first preferences to be entitled to one seat are transferred according to the second or next preferences; when the parties remaining in competition are each entitled to at least one seat, they are assigned the seats proportionally. The seats gained by a party are assigned to its candidates according to the personal votes each of them got.
Professor Derriennic argues that his system would be less complicated than STV as there would be no need to calculate quotas and redistribute excess transfers.
In his testimony before the Committee, former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley proposed that some level of proportionality be introduced in Canada by clustering urban ridings into multiple member constituencies while keeping remote, rural ridings under FPTP. Voters would continue to vote once, whether in a single- or multiple-member constituency:
That being said, here is my suggestion. Since Canada is so vast, we would keep the first-past-the-post system for remote, rural or large ridings. About 40, 50 or 60 members would be elected using that system.
As for urban areas, we could cluster four or five current ridings and ensure that four or five members are elected by the voters based on the vote results. I will not defend the following to death, but according to my way of thinking, a voter would vote for a party or a candidate. The candidates would be selected by the new cluster association of the four or five ridings. So the people would be choosing.
As for gender parity, let's say that there are five seats to fill. I would ask that three men and three women be elected, and that the party choose, at a local level, one man, one woman, one man, one woman, one man, one woman, and so on, so that it would always be one, two, one, two, one, two.
In short, the voter would choose. They would vote, as they currently do, for a candidate or a party. It would be the same thing. There would be only one vote. From there, it would be determined, for instance, that 60% of people voted for a given party, and that there are three seats. So we would be talking about 20%.
He added that independents would continue to be able to be elected under his proposal:
In the example I’ve given, you could also have independents. Their chances of being elected … would probably be the same as they are right now. We can’t devise a system—at least, not readily—in which independents would rule the day, but it is important for that phenomenon to be able to express itself under our system, and there are various systems that would allow that quite readily.
The determination of whether a riding would qualify as rural or remote would be made by looking at each province individually: “[E]ach province would have to be looked at individually to see what people think of and accept as being rural, and what people think of and accept as urban.”
In response to Jean-Pierre Kingsley’s proposal, Fair Vote Canada suggested an alternative model that it called Rural-Urban Proportional (with the objective of making the system more proportional). Fair Vote Canada describes the system as follows:
In its submission to the Committee, Fair Vote Canada suggested a variety of Rural-Urban PR models which featured:
In their view, this would provide a potential tailor-made solution for Canada:
Different applications use different approaches to give each voter an effective voice. Features of the model can be adjusted to good effect in each region of the country to provide a made-in-Canada solution that provides the desired level of proportionality while still managing differences in riding sizes between urban and rural areas and remaining sensitive to local concerns and preferences.
The Committee heard a significant amount of testimony concerning mixed systems, particularly the mixed-member proportional (MMP) system. Mixed electoral systems combine elements of plurality/majority systems with PR. Under this system, some MPs are elected by a plurality or majority vote in single member districts (often through traditional FPTP elections), and some are elected from party lists in a proportional compensatory manner. The goal of such systems is to maintain local representation while providing greater overall proportionality in terms of popular vote to seat count in a legislature.
Essentially, in MMP systems such as those used in Germany, New Zealand and Scotland, voters get two votes. The first vote (“constituency vote”) elects an MP in constituencies via the standard FPTP method. The second vote (“party vote”) determines the total number of compensatory MPs each party will get. In most systems, the party vote is primary; namely, a party’s share of the seats in the legislature is determined by the party vote, and the number of constituency seats it wins is then subtracted from this total. The remaining seats are filled from party lists.
David Moscrop outlined one of the primary perceived benefits associated with MMP when he told the Committee:
MMP allows for direct local representation and lives up to the commitment many Canadians have to fairness understood as a proportional translation of votes into seats.
As such, to some, MMP could address the principle of “effectiveness and legitimacy” as it aims to translate votes into seats in a way that “reduces distortion,” while maintaining the link between voter intention and the election of representatives.
A majority of participants who advocated for electoral system change proposed the adoption of an MMP system, suggesting that it maximizes voter choice. Leslie Seidle said, “I think that the mixed member model has a lot going for it because it can be structured to allow quite a bit of voter choice.” MMP allows voters to split their vote—meaning vote for a candidate of one party in their riding and vote for another party in the compensatory vote. Such an option would help resolve the “wasted vote” argument that prevails under FPTP. Lee Ward added that MMP is:
The only system that empowers the voters is one that ensures, to the greatest extent possible, every individual's vote—their first choice, their real choice—will help elect their representative in Parliament.…
Allowing greater voter choice on the ballot could help address the problem of strategic voting. Craig Scott stated that:
In New Zealand, around 30% take up that option of cross-voting. It means that the local candidates are more likely to be able to attract votes for who they are, what they've done, what they can bring nationally from the local level, without having to worry about the strategic vote. I think this is an extremely important feature of MMP.
Further, some witnesses noted that moving to an MMP system would keep the electoral system relatively simple. Katelynn Northam stated, “the local representation factor seems very familiar and similar to what [we] know with the current first-past-the-post system. It feels relatively simple and accessible on the ballot.”
MMP has never been used to elect representatives at the provincial or federal level in Canada. In March 2004, the Law Commission of Canada, following a three-year study on electoral reform, recommended Canada move to an MMP electoral system. The Law Commission suggested Canada adopt an MMP system for the following reasons:
In the November 2016 electoral system reform plebiscite held in P.E.I., following four rounds of counting, MMP emerged as the preferred option among the five electoral systems under consideration. MMP was also the subject of a referendum in Ontario (2007) and an earlier plebiscite in P.E.I. (2005), both of which failed to receive requisite voter support. MMP was also recommended by Quebec’s Select Committee on the Election Act and Citizens’ Committee in 2006 and New Brunswick’s 2006 Commission on Legislative Democracy.
An important feature of the MMP system is determining how candidates would be elected from the party lists. There are two primary types of party lists, usually referred to as “closed” and “open.”
With a closed list, the party ranks the names on the list, and citizens vote for a party, not a specific candidate. Once all votes have been counted, each party is awarded seats in proportion to its share of the national vote. Individual seats are then allocated to candidates of each party in the order in which they are ranked on the party list. Critics of closed party lists often note that it gives political parties too much control over which candidates are elected.
Royce Koop observed that the use of party lists would be a “new experience for Canadians.... It would probably not be thrilling for them in terms of … being able to hold politicians accountable.” Ms. Mireille Tremblay echoed this view by stating that because closed lists are completely controlled by parties “it is likely that [list] MPs would be more accountable to the party than to voters.”
As will be discussed in greater detail in the following subsection, a major advantage associated with closed lists is that they can allow parties to establish lists that will guarantee the election candidates from historically underrepresented groups such as women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples.
With an open list, voters choose a preferred candidate (or candidates) from the list of the party for which they wish to vote. This means that voters determine the order in which the candidates on the list will be awarded seats. James Bickerton noted that an open list MMP system could resolve the accountability concerns raised by closed party lists. He stated:
I think there's no reason not to allow voters to choose between party candidates. Some think that this would generate competition within political parties between their candidates. Yes, it would, but from a voter perspective and from a representation perspective, I don't think that would be a bad thing.
Pippa Norris noted that with an open list, “voters can express a preference for a particular candidate within a complete list as well, so it gives them a bit more choice.” On the other hand, Tana Jukes noted at the open-mic session in Victoria that “open list MMP … could offer some improvements over our current system, but I am concerned about the complexity.” Open list MMP would require voters to familiarize themselves with a greater number of candidates prior to voting, making the electoral process more onerous on voters.
Of note, the vast majority (70.1%) of respondents to the e-consultation indicated that they “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” with the statement that political parties should determine which of their candidates get elected from party lists. On the other hand, most respondents (59.6%) to the e-consultation strongly supported or supported the view that voters should determine which candidates get elected from a party’s list.
As a final point on open and closed lists, it is important to note they are flexible and many variants of how candidates are elected from lists are used around the world. The 2004 Law Commission suggested a middle-ground option, which suggested providing voters with the option of either endorsing the party “slate” for their region or indicating a preference for a candidate within the list. As well, a distinct hybrid option is to use a “best runner’s up” model, also known as “Baden-Wurttemberg” after the German Land (state or province) in which it is used. Additionally, as explained by Fair Vote Canada:
One way to simplify balloting for the top-up seats is to allocate top-ups using a best runners up approach. Under this model, used in Germany’s Baden-Wurttemberg province, the top-up seats are allocated by drawing from a party’s defeated candidates in the region, starting with the candidate who got the most support without being elected.
A number of witnesses held that although electoral reform is not the stand-alone solution to increasing the representation of traditionally underrepresented groups such as women, visible minorities and Indigenous people, party lists could be a useful tool. If underrepresented groups continue to face obstacles getting elected in individual constituencies, under closed-list MMP, parties have the ability to ensure they are elected via party lists.
Mr. Peden noted that this is precisely what has occurred in New Zealand. He stated that “MMP has resulted in more women and more Maori elected to Parliament, the majority of them elected as list MPs.”
Many witnesses also held that although balanced party lists are useful in increasing the diversity of candidates and MPs in a moderate way, they are ultimately a “Band-Aid” solution to a problem that rests primarily in the hands of political parties. Melanee Thomas stated that the election of women and other historically underrepresented groups has not happened organically. She added that it is not going to happen “organically under our system and they are not going to happen organically just because you change to PR.” Amanda Bittner added that “while it is the case that proportional systems tend to be associated with greater levels of diversity, that link is still dependent on a commitment from parties to put forward diverse lists of candidates.”
According to political scientist Joachim Behnke of Zeppelin University in Germany, the party lists have proven to be the “best opportunity to force every party to give half of their seats to women,” but that parties have taken this responsibility themselves. He stated that there are no legislative quotas in Germany, but that parties have established informal or voluntary commitments to ensure the representation of certain groups.
Finally, with regard to diversity and open versus closed lists, the Committee heard testimony suggesting that voters will vote for diverse candidates on open lists. Laura Stephenson shared her research on voters’ likelihood to elect women from open lists:
In any system that involves a list of candidates, we have to start thinking about the placement of those names on the list. In a closed system, where the parties have full control over the order in which the candidates would receive seats, it's important that there is some kind of alternation, or that at least the under-represented groups aren't placed in winnable positions. In open list systems this is not as important. In some research I've done with colleagues, we found that letting people vote in an open list system, where they get to choose, increased the representation of women, which is of course good news, right? The disadvantage that women supposedly represent has not been supported with evidence.
Canada’s geography and Constitution would most likely require that list MPs be elected through party lists established in each province and territory. Indeed, this was the conclusion reached by the Law Commission’s 2004 study.
Prior to election day, each province and territory would draw up a list of candidates that would be elected via party lists. Some provinces may require a number of party lists due to high population. Further, as David McLaughlin suggested, “regional boundaries could be drawn under an MMP system could very much safeguard and protect communities of interest where you have significant minority communities located.”
Roderick Wood discussed the Law Commission’s thinking on provincial and sub-provincial party lists:
We proposed that the list, except for Quebec and Ontario because of the size of those provinces, would be on a regional basis, so you would have your provincial list. What that would mean is that if you have a province like Newfoundland and Labrador with seven MPs, then there would be four constituency MPs and three list MPs. Every province would have its own list.
The question of whether candidates could run as “dual candidates”—meaning that a person is a candidate in an individual riding as well as on a party list, was also raised as important issue of consideration. Louis Massicotte stated:
Under MMP, it is usually possible for a candidate to stand for a riding and to be on a list, for a very simple reason: the more successful a party is in a riding, the fewer names it has on the list. As a result, it is better to try both avenues because when members declare their candidacy, the final outcome is not known. That is the beauty of democracy. Otherwise, if you think you will be very successful and run in a riding, but things change and you are defeated in the riding, you have lost the security that the list affords.
[D]ouble candidacy is perfectly legitimate, although it will meet with a great deal of resistance among the public and among MPs.
Professor Behnke noted that in Germany, the practice of a single person simultaneously being a constituency candidate and a compensatory candidate is commonplace:
[M]ost list members or most list-seat members are also, in many cases, constituency candidates. They have lost in their constituency, but they have a special relationship to the constituency, so they are known, and they have an office in the constituency.
Other witnesses, such as Christopher Kam in Vancouver, questioned whether dual candidacies would be viewed as fair or legitimate. He held:
[I]f you lose an election, you lose an election. When you have dual candidacy, the members are allowed to contest the district and the list, and this can almost always ensure their election or at least insulate them from defeat.
Dual candidacies could, as Professor Kam implies, make it difficult for voters to oust an incumbent candidate that is not locally popular. Benoît Pelletier made a similar observation when speaking about Quebec’s consideration of MMP and dual candidacy:
What was not acceptable to some people was the idea that someone would be a candidate in the riding and at the same time would be at the top of a list. When that person was defeated in the riding, it was the result of a democratic expression of the population that “We don't want that person” or that “We prefer another person.” The idea that the person could be an MP or an MNA through a list was not something that pleased parliamentarians, in particular, first, and some parts of the population second.
Laura Stephenson raised another common criticism of MMP when she told the Committee that she does not support MMP because it creates “two different classes of MPs.” As MPs can be elected to represent individual constituencies and others are elected through the party list, some feared that it alters the traditional roles of MPs and raises questions of accountability. Patrice Dutil outlined some of the key concerns surrounding the two types of MPs. He stated:
The idea of having two classes of MPs I don't think will jive with our political culture, where you have one class of MPs who will cater to the needs of the constituents and another class of MPs who are always on the list and who are always going to be there. I think Canadians like to have their Members of Parliament accountable.
Dr. Nelson Wiseman also noted that a divide in parliamentary duties amongst the two different types of MPs could be problematic. For example, if constituency MPs carried out the majority of constituency work, who would list MPs be accountable to? On the other hand, some suggest that the compensatory MPs could be viewed as “second-class” MPs because they do not have to undergo the difficult process of being elected in a constituency.
Roderick Wood, former Commissioner of the Law Commission of Canada’s 2004 report on electoral reform noted the Law Commission’s consideration of this concern:
We looked at the argument of the creation of two classes of MP, the worry being that the list MP, not being voted in, would be the second-class citizen. We saw that wasn't the case. In Germany, in New Zealand, they're both MPs and their parties ensure that the list members have an equitable division in terms of constituency work. In fact, for voter choice it enhances them, because you can go to your constituency MP, you also have a regional MP you can go to, and that may be a person from a different party.
Pippa Norris also suggested that having two types of MPs does not necessarily pose a problem. She stated:
[I]t does mean that Members of Parliament would be slightly different in their roles and responsibilities and in how much they do for constituency service, which is an incredibly valuable service that takes up a lot of time and is appreciated in any parliamentary system, versus those who are focused more on committee work or issues or other types of concerns for Parliament. You just divide the roles a bit more than you might do under the current system.
Experts from New Zealand and Germany both stressed that in practice, the two types of MPs do not pose a problem for citizens or MPs. Robert Peden of New Zealand said “a parliamentarian elected from the list has exactly the same entitlements and responsibilities as a member elected from an electorate.” Friedrich Pukelsheim stated:
There's no difference in their functions and their access to financing and political positions. The difference is in the understanding that half of them directly represent a constituency.… They are active, they maintain office hours, visits, associations, and they try to be visible. In Germany the everyday political work is very similar between both types of representatives.
Furthermore, Joachim Behnke noted that in Germany, many MPs elected through party lists were unsuccessful constituency candidates. As such, many compensatory MPs have a direct connection with voters from their region.
Finally, some stated that different types of MPs can provide more effective representation for the electorate as it allows some MPs to focus specifically on local issues and others to work on broader regional issues. Ultimately, this could provide citizens with more avenues to engage with MPs on the issues that are important to them.
It was widely accepted among witnesses that single-party majority governments would occur infrequently under an MMP electoral system. Brian Tanguay noted that if MMP were adopted one of the most significant consequences would be that “coalitions of necessity would become the norm.”
MMP elections generally result in the election of minority or coalition governments. New Zealand provides an interesting example, as Mr. Peden noted:
New Zealand has now had seven MMP elections. Each election has resulted in between six and eight parties represented in Parliament. Each election has resulted in some form of coalition government or arrangement between political parties, as is to be expected under a proportional system. Each government has retained the confidence of the Parliament throughout the parliamentary term.
Many witnesses and citizens raised concerns about the likelihood of coalition governments produced by MMP. As Louis Massicotte noted:
In Canada … we do not have a coalition culture. Coalitions are not viewed favourably by the political class and by part of the public. Political actors will probably adapt, but that adjustment will not necessarily be easy.
Similarly, Nick Loenen suggested that Canadians simply would not be comfortable with “chronic coalition governments.” Peter Loewen also noted that “blurred accountability and behind-door compromises that occur after an election and between elections” are some of the major drawbacks of coalition governments. Professor Loewen added that reform to a proportional system such as MMP would create a “potentially permanent role for small regional parties” and that small parties will potentially have undue influence in government.
In addition to the concerns regarding coalition governments and the increased representation of small parties, many suggested that multi-party governance would be beneficial to Canada’s parliamentary democracy. Arendt Lijphart suggested that when multiple parties are elected to Parliament or are represented in cabinet, it:
[L]eads to parliaments that are stronger and cabinets that are less dominant than in majoritarian systems. In addition, it tends to be associated with a more co-operative system of interest groups.
Jean-Pierre Charbonneau added that coalition governments could create a culture of collaboration and compromise in federal politics. He stated:
Coalition does not imply that our governments are unstable.... Having to make compromises with political opponents, just as with people whose ideology is closer to our own, actually creates a favourable political climate. When it comes right down to it, people are fed up with excessive partisanship and behaviour that devalues the institution of politics.
Although Canada does not have a history of coalition governments, international experts from Germany and New Zealand described how political parties, voters and ultimately Parliament can adapt. Professor Behnke from Germany described the German experience with coalition governments:
The formation of coalitions is really not so complicated in most cases, because we have something like pre-coalitions in the electoral campaign.… In many cases, people say that the flaw of proportional systems is people not knowing which coalitions they will get, but in reality this is not the case, because in most cases they get what they voted for.
Some suggested that small parties with too great of an influence on governing parties could be undemocratic and unrepresentative. Others are of the view that coalitions are the best avenue for small parties to ensure their supporters’ views are reflected in government.
One way some countries with MMP systems have addressed the threat of the election of “fringe” or “extremist” parties is through the use of thresholds. For example, to be eligible to receive a share of the party vote seats in New Zealand, a party must garner at least 5% of the national vote or win one electorate seat.
In an MMP system, an important consideration is the ratio of constituency seats to list seats. Determining such a ratio requires finding the appropriate balance between the desire for effective local representation and proportionality. Ms. Mary Pitcaithly, the Convener of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland noted that determining the ratio in Scotland was:
[A] political decision. It was entirely the decision of the Parliament. It was based on the intention that the new parliament would be proportional but without going as far as 50/50.
In order to implement an MMP system in Canada, one of the following would have to occur:
The ratio of constituency to compensatory MPs varies between jurisdictions. In Germany, half of the MPs are elected in individual constituencies and half are elected via party lists. Whereas in New Zealand, 70 MPs are elected in individual constituencies and 50 are elected from political party lists.
In 2004, the Law Commission recommended two-thirds of MPs be elected in constituency races and the remaining one-third be elected from provincial or territorial party lists. The Commission noted that avoiding increasing the size of the House of Commons was a priority in determining said ratio. David McLaughlin, who oversaw New Brunswick’s Commission on Legislative Democracy (2003-2006), noted that the same ratio was recommended by New Brunswick’s Commission on Legislative Democracy in 2006 because it “ensure[d] necessary local representation while introducing a sufficient degree of proportionality to be meaningful in translating votes into seats.”
Royce Koop held that if MMP were to be adopted in Canada, additional members would have to be added to the House of Commons because “cutting back the number of constituency MPs to make room for list MPs would hurt the quality of constituency representation.”
The Committee heard compelling testimony from Canadians across the country regarding the challenges of implementing PR in the territories. Each territory has a single seat in Parliament and an extremely widely dispersed population. As David Brekke in Whitehorse described, the North is “overrepresented population-wise but very under-represented when geographical area is concerned.”
Much of the discussion in the territories centered on the unique circumstances that Canadians in each territory face in terms of electoral participation and gaining adequate representation. John Streicker held that “No matter what system you ultimately propose, please do not lose local representation for the north.” The Hon. Louis Sebert noted, that “any consideration of electoral reform should recognize the circumstances of [the Northwest] territory.”
Some participants and witnesses in the territories noted that if Canada were to move to an MMP system, that the North could not be simply excluded due to their small populations. As Dennis Bevington, former MP for the Northwest Territories, stated in Yellowknife: “I think that for us not to be involved in mixed member proportional would make us second-class citizens under voting.” Consequently, some individuals, such as Andrew Robinson and John Streicker suggested adding a second compensatory MP to each territory to allow for some degree of proportionality if an MMP system was adopted.
The Committee recommends that the Government should, as it develops a new electoral system, use the Gallagher index in order to minimize the level of distortion between the popular will of the electorate and the resultant seat allocations in Parliament. The Government should seek to design a system that achieves a Gallagher score of 5 or less.
The Committee recommends that, although systems of pure party lists can achieve a Gallagher score of 5 or less, they should not be considered by the Government as such systems sever the connection between voters and their MP.
 Expressed most ably by Professor Pippa Norris and other witnesses, see ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 23 August 2016, 1400 (Pippa Norris, Professor of Government Relations and Laureate Fellow, University of Sydney, McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics, Harvard, Director of the Electoral Integrity Project, as an Individual); ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 5 October 2016, 1335 (Amanda Bittner, Associate Professor, Memorial University, as an Individual): “What is the [G]overnment hoping to achieve with electoral reform? What is this committee hoping to achieve? What motivates all this work and all of these hearings? What do we think is actually wrong with the SMP system? Until we clearly establish the answer to that question, it's impossible for us to find a good solution.” Professor Bittner identified the under-representation of women, visible minority, and Indigenous Canadians as a fundamental problem to be address, regardless of electoral system.
 As noted in Chapter 3: Lessons Learned: A History of Electoral System Reform at the Federal and Provincial Levels.
 A discussion of the reliability of election results and the secrecy of the ballot is found in Chapter 7 of this report, in relation to online and electronic voting.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 23 August 2016, 1410 (Thomas S. Axworthy); ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 27 July 2016, 1400 (Leslie Seidle, Research Director, Canada's Changing Federal Community, Institute for Research on Public Policy):
Now turning to your terms of reference, you are asked to study viable alternate voting systems to replace the present system and “to assess the extent to which the options identified could advance” the principles for electoral reform that are enumerated in the terms of reference. When I read them over, it seemed to me—and I concluded this quite quickly—a logical impossibility for your committee to identify one alternative system that would serve all the principles equally well. But maybe you're not working to that end. After all, your terms of reference referred to options with an “s”, not a single option. This leads me to my first main point today, that there's a need to prioritize the principles that alternative electoral systems are meant to serve. If you present one alternative, you should know what that alternative is meaning to do. If you present more than one, the same argument follows for the other systems.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 4 October 2016, 1530 (Matt Risser, as an Individual). Mr. Risser is part of a team that designed a system called “Single Member District Proportional Representation.”
 Adapted from Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016.
 See Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 23 August 2016, 1410 (Thomas S. Axworthy). He then added “Even as I would argue that our Westminster system is superior, everything can be improved.”
 Ibid., 1145 (Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada).
 Ibid., 1000.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 28 September 2016, 2105 (Norman Franks, as an Individual); at 2020 (William Dunkley, as an Individual); and at 2150 (Ivan Filippov, as an Individual).
 Ibid., 28 September 2016, 2000 (Ariane Eckardt, as an Individual).
 In response to the statement “Canada’s electoral system should ensure that voters elect local candidates to represent them in Parliament”: 48.6% (10808) of respondents strongly agreed; 23.9% (5323) agreed; 15.8% (3516) neither agreed nor disagreed; 5.0% (1117) disagreed; 2.9% (636) strongly disagreed; and 3.8% (848) did not respond.
 There have been 18 majority governments since 1921, when more than three political parties started to elect members to the House of Commons. All of the 13 Parliaments from Confederation in 1867 until 1921, when only two political parties contested election, had majority governments. Source: ParlInfo, Duration of Majority Governments 1867 to Date, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised on 20 October 2015. There have been 11 minority governments since 1921. Source: ParlInfo, Duration of Minority Governments 1867 to Date, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 3 May 2011.
 Kenneth Dewar, Submission to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, 4 October 2016.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 20 September 2016, 1550 (Bryan Schwartz, Law Professor, University of Manitoba, as an Individual). Though as discussed below, a criticism of the alternation in FPTP is that it can result in “policy lurch”.
 Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, citing Law Commission of Canada, Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada, Ottawa, 2004, p. 10.
 Chapter 3. Lessons Learned: A History of Electoral System Reform at the Federal and Provincial Levels.
 Peter H. Russell, University of Toronto, “Submission to House of Commons Electoral Reform Committee,” 26 July 2016.
 House of Commons, Special Committee on Proportional Representation and the Subject of the Single Transferable or Preferential Vote, First Report, Journals, 5th Session, 13th Parliament, 30 May 1921, pp. 391–392.
 Jean-Pierre Derriennic, A Better Electoral System for Canada, Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec, 2016, pp. 12–13.
 Appendix F, “E-Consultation on Electoral Reform, Summary of Responses”, Table 22.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 25 July 2016, 1415 (Brian Tanguay): “One of the biggest flaws in the Westminister model is that it allows the governing party with its artificially or mechanically swollen legislative majority to dominate the political agenda almost completely for a period of four or five years thereby contributing to the marginalization of Parliament.”
We tend to address the false majority notion as in a party simply gets more seats in the legislature than their popular vote would warrant, and that seems unjust; and it's a voter-centred perspective and that's good, that's fine to say that's a problem. But the fact is you're giving the majority of seats to a single party in a system where there's a fused executive-legislative arrangement that in any Westminster system already gives a lot of power to the executive.
 Appendix F, “E-Consultation on Electoral Reform, Summary of Responses”, Table 19 and Figure 16.
 Jean-Pierre Derriennic, A Better Electoral System for Canada, Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec, 2016, p. 13; ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 22 September 2016, 1535 (Jean-Pierre Derriennic, Associate professor, Department of political science, Université Laval, as an Individual).
Under first past the post, parties achieving similar or same percentages of the vote may not always garner a similar number of seats. Look at the election in 1997 as an example, in which the Reform Party garnered 18.7% of the vote and received 60 seats, whereas the Progressive Conservatives garnered 18.8% of the vote—virtually the same—but received only 20 seats. The Reform Party garnered the same percentage, but 40 less seats. In the previous election, in 1993 the Progressive Conservatives won 16% of the vote but only two seats; meanwhile, the Bloc Québécois received 13.5% of the popular vote and 54 seats.
These election results were raised by other witnesses over the course of the Committee’s study.
 Jean-Pierre Derriennic, A Better Electoral System for Canada, Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec, 2016, p. 16.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 20 October 2016, 1840 (Kelly Carmichael, Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada). She said: “If you think about our ridings, the way that they are silos right now, we vote for certain members, and we don't know outside of our silo if a party is running a lot of men or a lot of women.”
 Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016:
There are two main forms of List PR: closed-list and open-list. Both forms use a regional or national list of candidates in each constituency drawn up by each party before election day. In closed-list PR, the party ranks the names on the list, and citizens vote for a party, not a specific candidate. Once all votes have been counted, each party is awarded seats in proportion to its share of the national vote. Individual seats are then allocated to candidates of each party in the order in which they are ranked on the party list. In open-list PR, voters choose a preferred candidate (or candidates) from the list of the party for which they wish to vote. This means that voters effectively determine the order in which the candidates on the list will be awarded seats.
 One prominent exception being Professor Larry LeDuc, who noted: “I believe that list PR is the system that most efficiently performs that core task of an electoral system; also because it is the most widely used electoral system in the world and therefore we ought to take a look at it. Why start with hybrid models or models that are not used in very many places?”
ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 27 July 2016, 1615 (Larry LeDuc, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, as an Individual).
 Appendix F, “E-Consultation on Electoral Reform, Summary of Responses”, Tables 26–28, and Figures 23–25.
 Except Rémy Trudel, who professed his support of the French system: ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 3 October 2016, 1550 (Rémy Trudel, Guest Professor, École nationale d'administration publique, as an Individual).
ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 17 October 2016, 1345 (James T. Arreak): As he noted, “France has a variation on the ranked candidate system, using run-off elections several weeks after general elections to choose between the top two candidates where no candidate secured a majority of votes in the general election. This variation may deserve some further examination, although the extra costs might be quite considerable.”
 Appendix F, “E-Consultation on Electoral Reform, Summary of Responses”, at Table 25 and Figure 22.
 Jean-Pierre Derriennic argues that “In Canada, a two-round system would be unadvisable, being costlier than a ranked voting system and less conducive to letting citizens fully express their political preferences,” in A Better Electoral System for Canada, Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec, 2016, p. 24.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 25 July 2016, 1620 (Brian Tanguay): “The options are fairly clear: alternative vote in single-member ridings, some combination of alternative vote with STV in larger ridings, mixed member proportional, or no change.”
 Fair Vote Canada’s Rural Urban Proportional proposal is one such alternative.
 Provincially, from the 1920s to the 1950s, Alberta and Manitoba both adopted the Single Transferable Vote (STV) for elections held in urban ridings and the Alternative Vote (AV) for elections held in rural ridings. As well, AV was used in Calgary from 1961 to 1973: Dennis Pilon, The Politics of Voting – Reforming Canada’s Electoral System, Emond Montgomery Publications Limited, Toronto, 2007, p. 81; Elections Manitoba, History of Electoral Process from 1870 to 2011.
 Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016; ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 26 July 2016, 1905 (Tom Rogers):
In the House of Representatives, we have a full preferential voting system. It requires voters to individually number and rank all candidates according to their preferences. A candidate is elected if he or she gains more than 50% of the formal vote. If a candidate doesn't gain 50% of the vote based on first preferences, the candidate with the least number of votes is excluded, and the candidate's preferences are then distributed. The process of preference distribution continues until a candidate achieves more than 50% of the vote.
 Borda’s concern was that with the plurality method, the winner could actually be someone who is disliked by a majority of voters. The French Academy of Sciences adopted Borda’s method until Napoleon Bonaparte introduced his own, some 20 years later.
A way to compare the Borda Count and the plurality vote is to recall how students are academically ranked in schools and universities. The plurality vote, which recognizes only top-ranked candidates, is similar to ranking students by counting the A's while ignoring all lower grades. So, if Rose has A's in five classes and B's in all others while Claudia has A's in six classes and fails all others, then this procedure, like the plurality vote, ranks Claudia above Rose! The Borda Count, however, resembles the standard 4.0 system where A's are assigned four points, B's three points, and so forth; here Rose would have the higher ranking. So, personal experience explains why the Borda Count is more reliable. Yet, in critical decisions affecting our personal finances (as reflected by economic policy) and even our lives (as reflected by foreign policy), we use the inferior approach!
 MP Ron McKinnon proposed a fundamentally identical system called “Ranked Pairs”: ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 26 October 2016, 1950 (Ron McKinnon, Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, Lib.). See also Mr. McKinnon’s website, http://ranked-pairs.ron-mckinnon.ca/.
 Ibid., 1010.
 Ibid., 1130.
There is a possibility that no candidate will emerge as the true majority winner in the sense that the candidate beats each of the other candidates by a majority. This was a possibility recognized by the creator of majority rule, the Marquis de Condorcet, who was an 18th-century philosopher and political theorist who proposed Majority Rule but noted that it wouldn't always produce a majority winner. If that should happen, then there would have to be a tiebreaking mechanism. One way to break the tie, perhaps the simplest way, is then to apply first past the post. You wouldn't have to have voters re-vote. You already have their ballots, so you would just take the first-past-the-post winner. There are other tiebreaking methods that could be used as well. The point I'd like to make, though, is that from what I understand of the Canadian situation, the possibility of not having a majority winner is quite remote. Practically speaking, I believe you would almost always have a true majority winner emerge for each seat.
 Jean-Pierre Derriennic, A Better Electoral System for Canada, Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec, 2016, p. 27.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 20 September 2016, 1430 (Royce Koop, Associate Professor and Department Head, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, as an Individual).
 Ibid., 1335 (James T. Arreak).
 Ibid., 1430 (Nelson Wiseman, Director, Canadian Studies Program, and Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, as an Individual).
 He noted that “Distortion is introduced when representation in government is significantly different from the level of popular support expressed in the election.”
 Ibid., 2020.
 Ibid., 2100.
 Harold Jansen, “The Political Consequences of the Alternative Vote.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 37:3 (September 2004), p. 663.
 Lydia Miljan and Taylor Jackson, “The Consequences of the Alternative Vote,” in Counting Votes: Essays on Electoral Reform. Vancouver: Fraser Institute, 2016, p. 49.
 Ibid., pp. 57–63.
 Byron Weber Becker, Modelling Elections – Submission to ERRE: Special Committee on Electoral Reform, October 2016.
 Ibid. Finally, after his appearance, the Committee passed a motion requesting Professor Becker to develop MMP, STV, and Rural Urban-PR models that respected a specific set of constraints: 1. Composite Gallagher scores that are as low as possible; 2. Each province and territory must have exactly the same number of MPs as allocated in the distribution used in the 2015 election; 3. Redistribution of seats, if necessary, must be able to be carried out quickly by merging existing ridings in sets of two, three, or more.
The Committee is grateful to Professor Becker for his work in preparing his original brief and his “ERRE Modelling with Constraints.”
 Ibid., 1820 (Harold Jansen).
 Appendix F, “E-Consultation on Electoral Reform, Summary of Responses”, at Table 16 and Figure 13.
 Ibid., at Table 15 and Figure 12.
 Ibid., at Table 28 and Figure 25.
 Ibid., at Table 29 and Figure 26.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 22 September 2016, 1930 (Éric Montigny, Executive Director, Research Chair on Democracy and Parliamentary Institutions, Department of political science, Université Laval, as an Individual).
 Appendix F, “E-Consultation on Electoral Reform, Summary of Responses”, at Table 14 and Figure 11.
 Ibid., 1500.
 Ibid., 1530.
 Dennis Pilon, The Politics of Voting – Reforming Canada’s Electoral System, Emond Montgomery Publications Limited, Toronto, 2007, p. 81; Elections Manitoba, History of Electoral Process from 1870 to 2011.
 Calgary (1916–1961); Edmonton (1922–1928); Regina (1920–1926); Saskatoon (1920–1926); Vancouver (1920–1923); Victoria (1920–1921); Winnipeg (1920–1971). Source: Dennis Pilon, The Politics of Voting – Reforming Canada’s Electoral System, Emond Montgomery Publications Limited, Toronto, 2007, p. 81; ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 22 August 2016, 1820 (Harold Jansen).
 Under BC-STV, the province would have gone from 85 single-member ridings to 20 multiple-member ridings, while keeping the same number of MLAs. In this system, each electoral district would have between 2 and 7 seats depending on its population and geographic size, and electors would vote for district representatives by ranking candidates on the ballot. The model avoided the use of party lists, which the Assembly felt might be unpopular with British Columbians. Instead, voters would choose among candidates by name and when ranking candidates, could choose candidates from different parties, thus retaining the maximum amount of freedom in choosing whom to elect.
 Adapted from Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016.
The surplus distribution is the most complex part of STV. What's more straightforward is that if a candidate fares very poorly, and gets only a few hundred votes, those votes are not wasted. The candidate is eliminated from the count and the votes are transferred to other candidates in accordance with the second preference marked. If that candidate in turn is later eliminated, the votes are transferred on in accordance to the third preference marked, and so on. The aim is that even if a voter votes for someone who doesn't do very well, this vote is not wasted as it is under the first past the post system. The lower preferences are taken into account and can still influence the outcome.
 Ibid., 0950.
 Ibid., 0955.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 22 September 2016, 1550 (Jean-Pierre Derriennic): “The objection some politician friends made to me is that the Irish single transferable vote may lead several candidates from the same party to campaign against each other. That may be good, but perhaps parties would rather avoid that.”
 Jean-Pierre Derriennic, A Better Electoral System for Canada, Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec, 2016. First, he recommended that the Committee avoid “proportional representation in districts where large numbers of MPs are elected” which would allow “many parties to have elected MPs in the House” and would pose “a serious risk of political indecision and instability.” Second, he recommended against mixed electoral systems such as MMP, as being difficult to implement; ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 22 September 2016, 1535 (Jean-Pierre Derriennic).
 Jean Pierre Derriennic, “Brief submitted to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform,” September 2016.
 In a footnote, Derriennic adds that “It will often happen that a voter’s first three preferences all go to the three candidates of the same party. In this case, preference number 4 will be the voter’s second party.”
 Jean-Pierre Derriennic, A Better Electoral System for Canada, Presses de l’Université Laval, Québec, 2016, pp. 55–56. He adds in a footnote that “an elected candidate is not necessarily the one who gets the most first preferences. If a party has three candidates and is assigned one seat, the least popular of the three is dropped from the race, and the second preferences on ballots for that candidate may decide who of the other two will get the seat.”
 Ibid., 1510.
 Ibid., 1520.
 Fair Vote Canada, “Fair Vote Canada Submission to The Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform,” 19 August 2016, “Appendix 12: Rural-Urban Proportional Representation.”
 Ibid., pp. xvii–xviii.
 Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016.
 Appendix F, “E-Consultation on Electoral Reform, Summary of Responses”, at Table 27 and Figure 24.
 Ibid., at Table 28 and Figure 25.
306 Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016.
 ERRE, Evidence, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 30 August 2016, 955 (Peter John Loewen, Director, School of Public Policy and Governance and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, as an Individual).
 Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016.
 Andre Barnes, Dara Lithwick, and Erin Virgint, Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview, Publication No. 2016-06-E, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, revised 23 June 2016.
 Ibid., 1545 (John Streicker, as an Individual).
 Ibid., 1530 (Dennis Bevington, as an Individual).
 Ibid., 1715 (Andrew Robinson, Alternatives North).