Trudeau wants to do away with first past the post

Trudeau wants alternative to first past the post

A sneak peek at the Liberals’ plan to ‘restore democracy in Canada’

(CP photo)

(CP photo)

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau wants this fall’s national vote to be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post electoral system.

And, if the Liberal leader becomes prime minister, it may also be the last election in which Canadians can choose not to vote, as well as the last in which the only way to vote is by marking an X on a paper ballot.

Changing the way Canadians vote is just one element of a sweeping, 32-point plan to “restore democracy in Canada” that Trudeau announced Monday.

Some of the measures have been previously announced, such as strengthening access-to-information laws; empowering backbench MPs by allowing more free votes and beefing up legislative oversight by Commons committees; and ending partisanship in the scandal-plagued Senate.

Others are new or build upon previous commitments. Among other things, Trudeau promised a Liberal government would:

— Reform question period in the House of Commons so that one day each week would be devoted solely to grilling the prime minister.

— Impose spending limits on political parties between elections, not just during election campaigns.

— Appoint an equal number of men and women to cabinet and adopt a government-wide appointment policy to ensure gender parity and greater representation of aboriginal people and other minorities.

— Create performance standards for services offered by the federal government, complete with streamlined application processes, reduced wait times and money-back guarantees.

— Create individualized, secure online accounts for Canadians who want to access all their government benefits and review key documents.

Related: Three questions about Trudeau’s pitch to middle-class Canadians 

Perhaps the most ambitious promise, however, is Trudeau’s vow to do away with first-past-the-post (FPTP) in time for the next election.

The current system badly distorts voters’ choices, allowing a party to win the majority of seats in the House of Commons with less than 40 per cent of the vote, and delivering wildly different seat counts to parties that win similar shares.

Trudeau promised he’d introduce electoral reform legislation within 18 months of forming government. The legislation would be based on the recommendations of a special, all-party parliamentary committee mandated to fully and fairly study alternatives to first-past-the-post, including ranked ballots and proportional representation.

The committee would also explore the notions of mandatory voting and online voting.

The Liberal party sought grassroots reaction to the notion of legally compelling Canadians to vote, as is done in Australia, in a survey last summer. But Trudeau has not committed to take it any further until now.

The survey followed an analysis by one of Trudeau’s senior policy advisers, University of Ottawa academic Robert Asselin, who advocated mandatory voting and the introduction of preferential or ranked ballots as ways to re-engage Canadians in the political process.

Turnout in federal elections has plunged from a high of almost 80 per cent of eligible voters in 1958 to a record low of 58.8 per cent in 2008, according to Elections Canada. It rebounded slightly in 2011 to 61.1 per cent.

Related post: Is democratic reform dying out? 

Under Asselin’s proposal, eligible voters would be legally required to vote but would have the option of voting for “none of the above.” Those who didn’t vote would face a small fine.

Electronic voting has also been touted as a way to entice busy Canadians to cast ballots. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government last year effectively scotched Elections Canada’s plans to experiment with online voting, requiring any such tests to be approved by Parliament.

First-past-the-post has long been viewed as the primary culprit behind declining turnout, contributing to Canadians’ belief that their votes don’t count.

Related: The case for mixed-member proportional representation

Trudeau personally favours replacing it with preferential balloting, in which voters rank their first, second, third and subsequent choices. If no candidate receives an absolute majority on the first ballot, the last-place candidate is eliminated and his or her supporters’ second-choice votes are counted. That continues until one candidate receives over 50 per cent.

However, Trudeau has also said he’s willing to consider proportional representation, a more complex reform for which there are a variety of possible models. Essentially, it involves electing multiple representatives for each constituency, with the seats divvied up in proportion to the share of votes won by each party in each riding.


Trudeau wants alternative to first past the post

  1. Although not entirely original, this is an excellent initiative. It may not be as easy to do as it may seem, but a change is unquestionably long overdue.

  2. Trudeau, like his demented and insane old man is a communist. Pray he, (or Mulcair for that matter, he’s cut from the same cloth) never gets his filthy hands on the reins of this country.

    • Because Canada ‘s slide into banana republic status under tin-pot dictator wannabe Harper is what Canadians truly desire…

    • Well at least our great leader of the right has set up an internal secret police force with all the powers a future communist dictator, as in the former East Germany, will need.

    • Turdeau 2, firmly in the Leftist Mental Disorder camp, even as Greece fails as a socialist/commie state, wants the same for Canada.

      We’re still paying for his old man’s idiocy. when asked how he would pay for program spending mental Pierre quipped, ” that’s easy I’ll just print more money” and he did. wrecked Canada’s economy. Then there was the NEP which the “hair” would surely resurrect in some form.

      Turdeau 2 has as much chance of changing our electoral system as he has of becoming PM.

      • The only signs of disorder on display here are Bob’s quote fabrication.

        • Lloyd Robertson interview from 1968, stupid clam.

          • Sure, Bob.
            And that’s why Trudeau didn’t run deficits. He just printed money to pay for his programs. And it must have been due to all that money printing that the Canadian dollar wentup to U.S. parity when it was allowed to float in 1970.

          • Turdeau senior ran up deficits and printed money:

            Mr. Trudeau flirted with the command economy. More precisely, he liked to command, and neither knew nor cared much about economic matters. Since he couldn’t control a free market by definition, it held little fascination for him.

            Mr. Trudeau’s economic ideas embraced wage-and-price control, deficit financing, confiscatory taxation, intrusive social engineering and the National Energy Policy. [emphasis added] The last, apart from the harm it did to individuals, created a sense of alienation in Western Canada second only to the separatist sentiment in Quebec.

            It’s possible to quantify the economic results of Mr. Trudeau’s legacy of Big Government, as the columnist Eric Margolis did recently. The national debt grew from $11.3-billion in 1968 to $128-billion in 1984. The annual federal deficit went from zero to $25-billion. Ottawa’s spending rose from 30% of Canada’s total economic output to nearly 53%; our dollar plummeted from around US$1.06 in 1970 to 66 cents today. The unemployment rate has been running between three and five percentage points higher here than in the United States, and Canada reduced itself from being one of the world’s three richest nations 30 years ago (along with Switzerland and the U.S.) to one of the three leading debtor nations in the West, alongside Belgium and Italy.

            Though Canada no longer runs an annual deficit, the debt Mr. Trudeau entrenched, and Brian Mulroney continued to cultivate, remains. Today it exceeds half a trillion dollars. To service it, Canada’s taxpayers paid $41.5-billion in interest in 1999 alone [emphasis added] — four times more, as Mr. Margolis pointed out, than they spent on national defence.

            Math is hard for clams, especially stupid ones.

          • You’ll find the Robertson interview in the CBC archives, it will probably be used during the upcoming election.

          • I get it, Bob.
            When you can’t back up what your BS, just cut n’ paste something some when else said that seems vaguely related.
            That always works.

            And BTW, you may want to pay a little more attention to what you cut n’ paste. Harper has run 7 years 150+ billion in debt since, “Though Canada no longer runs an annual deficit…” was written.

          • Turdeau Liberals will be crying in their corn flakes yet again in October.

            Not talking about the little dictators undemocratic actions much these days, no such thing as an open nomination process in the Lieberal Party.

            Justin is just like his dad, no real life work experience.

        • Clams lack brains and memory, 2006 saw a minority government, subsequently the minority parties attempted a coalition, remember, the world was entering recession the Harper government agreed to a stimulus program in step with the rest of the G7, the opposition wanted much more spending than what occurred.

          Back to the depuration tank with you Wide Gaper.

          • Nice try. I like the 66-cent dollar bit as well.

            Harper’s problem with the recession was two-fold: first, he blew the surplus and created a structural deficit; and second, he didn’t see the recession coming (was still denying it long after nearly every economist said it was coming). There wasn’t a lot he could have done about the second, but if he’d been more astute, perhaps he wouldn’t have done the first and we wouldn’t be so far in the hole.

          • And 2008, and 2009, and 2010, and 2011, and 2012, and 2013, and 2014, and finally the fake ‘balanced’ budget of 2015.
            Mind you, none of that has anything to do with your fabrications.

          • KB that 66 cent dollar bit is from a while back, google it and learn.


    • You, sir, are an idiot with clearly no idea of what communism means or a communist is. Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao — they were communists. Pierre and Justin Trudeau were/are centrist social democrats.

      • What an absolute load of leftist BS.

        Uncle Fidel knows different.

        • Uncle Fidel….leftist BS…..

          You are a slogan spouting, myopic broken record

          • Shouting “Viva Castro!” was by no means an aberration. Mr. Trudeau embraced Communist despots wherever he could find them. On his four visits to China between 1960 and 1979, he continually played the role of appeaser and apologist, first to Mao Zedong, and later to his heirs. In 1973, he defended Mao’s policies in Canada’s Parliament, oblivious to (or uncaring about) the fact that he was seeking accommodation with a system responsible for the deaths of some 80 million people. In 1981, Mr. Trudeau expressed sympathy for Poland’s General Wojciech Jaruzelski. This was after the notorious general in his trademark pink Neophane glasses banned Solidarity and jailed or sent into hiding its leaders, including Lech Walesa. In 1983, Mr. Trudeau argued with some passion in Parliament that he simply “couldn’t believe” the Soviets would knowingly destroy a commercial airliner. This was after the Kremlin finally admitted knowing that Korean Air Flight 007 was a passenger plane, and justified shooting it down along with its 269 passengers because it was “spying.”

        • Ah – you’re back to usual ‘globull warning’ schtick – I really prefer it to the fake historian routine.

          • You are a dope user.

  3. Trudeau junior is not gunning for proportional. Ranked ballots are as disproportional, distorted and single winner as fptp. If ranked ballots wasn’t his end game he wouldn’t even mention it. He’s doing what they did in the UK where they gave people the “choice” between two undemocratic electoral systems (both disproportional misrepresentation) so doomed the referendum. But by flirting with the “proportional” keyword, dangling a truly democratic Canada as a possibility, might fetch the Liberals more votes from the many aware people who would never vote for a candidate who would not support a democratic (proportional) electoral system. The Liberals ignored their own commission that had already concluded that Mixed Member Proportional would be the best electoral system for Canada -(New Zealand and Germany both use MMP). It maintains half MPs elected exactly as they are now, and the other half taken from published party lists to make up for the distortion. That way each party gets seats proportionate to how we the people vote, we each get an equally effective ballot, and we can maintain our tradition of direct local representatives. We could have our electoral district cake and eat it proportionally too.

    The important thing to take from this comment is that ranked ballots are NOT PR. They a cynical distraction and would make elections more complicated but NOT significantly more fair to voters. In order to be truly democratic and to represent the will of the people, an electoral system must be truly proportional as in MMP.

    Most Important is that it will set off a firestorm of discourse , debate and controversy and point to Canada’s elephant in the room: its disproportional electoral system. That is very bad news for detractors of PR who have a vested interest in the undemocratic status quo, who much prefer total silence on the issue.
    prefers silence.
    Most Important is that it will set off a firestorm of discourse , debate and controversy and make it an issue. That is very bad news for the undemocratic status quo that
    prefers silence.

    • Oops, sorry about the technical glitch at the very end of my above post.

      For more information on why proportional representation and why it is essential for Canadian democracy, visit the non-partisan citizen’s group Fair Vote Canada at You can sign the Declaration of Voter’s rights there which lists the few minimum requirements an electoral system must satisfy in order to comply with our Charter right to fair elections. (Our current FPTP is so undemocratic that it fails ALL of these minimum requirements, so we have yet to achieve our constitutional right to fair elections.)

      • Hard to think anyone who refers to Justin Trudeau as “Trudeau Junior” is non partisan.

        • I never said that I was non partisan! I said that Fair Vote Canada is non partisan. I am one of many people who would not vote for J. Trudeau precisely because he is obfuscate on this issue by gassing on about disproportional ranked ballots – thereby demonstrating that he puts his own career and party above fair elections for you and me, the Canadian electorate.

          • You are trying to cloak your comments with the air of non partisanship by claiming your position is consistent with a non partisan organization.

            In fact, there is a good discussion to be had on all possibilities for electoral reform. I will support the leader who wants the discussion.

    • Nobody claimed that ranked ballots are PR, AFAICT. Ranked ballots fix the problem of “wasted votes” as happens in a FPTP system. Ranked ballots also have the advantage of being an evolutionary change to the way we now vote as opposed to a revolutionary change such as PR.

      FWIW, ranked ballots is my system of choice as it fixes the glaring problem of “wasted votes”, and it still often results in majority governments that are capable of taking bold (and, yes, sometimes unpopular) initiatives. Note that ranked ballots also make strategic voting unnecessary, so throwing out a government that is truly unpopular becomes significantly easier. For example, if (and this is a big ‘if’) the LPC and the NDP are indeed the 1st and 2nd (not necessarily in that order) choice of about 60% of voters, the CPC would not have won a single election in the last 10 years.

      My main issue with MMP is that it seems to retain FPTP as the system for the direct election of MPs. FPTP makes absolutely no sense whatsoever when there are more than 2 main contending parties as is the case in Canada.

      MPs should be elected with the support of at least 50%+1 of electors – that’s why ranked ballots should be employed, either in totality as suggested by Trudeau in the past, or incorporated into MMP.

      • I am not against any system that uses ranked ballots so long as it is also proportional. Having said that if it is proportional already ranked ballots are not required in order to ensure that nobody’s vote is wasted. Ranked ballots on their own do not solve the problem of wasted ballots because they do not ensure that each of our ballots is equally effective. Liberals are everyone’s second choice, so would gain disproportionately from a ranked ballot system that is not also proportional. The issue you mention for MPP is a non issue, we can allow many local MPs to be directly elected in ridings so long as we ensure that each party gets seats in the same proportion as Canadians voted for the parties which can be done with the “top up” MPs from the published party lists. Any ranked ballot system that is not also proportional will, just like fptp, create false majorities and we will end up with the same dictatorial single winner misrepresentation caused by fptp. To be a real democracy, each party must be awarded seats in the same proportion as how we voters voted for them. Where there is disproportional distortion we voters have only dysfunctionaly “loose steering”, so loose that how people vote matters less and other factors like money and corruption matter more. With PR voters are truly in the drivers seat; our steering is tight like it should be so our elected assemblies accurately represent the will of the people.

  4. Does this involve reopening the constitution? It seems to have repercussions straight up to the GG. Considering how difficult it is to reform the senate, I don’t see any chance of this getting off the ground.

    • No. A switch to a proportional electoral system requires a simple majority vote. Every majority government could have done it but because every majority government enjoyed a gigantic unfair advantage from the disproportional system, none of them wanted to change it. It seems, everyone wants PR until they get handed more than their fair share of power under disproportional representation, then suddenly they start to A. ignore the issue (“other priorities”), obfuscate and waffle, or outright lie about PR and try to subvert it. The NDP have been huge advocates of PR but I’ve noticed the bigger they get the less they want to talk about it. PR magically vanished from Rachel Notley’s web site when she got her own unfair so-called “majoirty” in Alberta. We should all cringe when a leader gets a fake majority claims “The People Have Spoken.” Most Albertan voters clearly voted right wing – not NDP. The NDP should not have got a higher percentage of seats than they got votes. Likewise the majority of Canadians did not vote for a party anything like Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, yet the Conservatives got handed not their fair 38% of seats, but a fake, unearned majority and with it 100% of the power. Ditto Wynne in Ontario – fake majority – and in no mood to make Ontario a real democracy in which an assembly of true representatives actually have to sit down and debate and make decisions on our behalf. Why settle for your fair share of power as earned at the polls all the time (proportional) when you can take turns at dictatorial power half the time (disproportional)?

  5. Sounds good to me. Harper has done almost incalculable damage to Canada with the weak support of barely over a third of Canadians. This series of initiatives may not be exactly what is decided on in the end, but an overhaul is BADLY needed … FPTP does not serve us honestly now.

    We need proportional representation.

  6. Arrrg, Trudeau also wants to study online voting.
    This is such a bad idea.
    1) No way to determine if person voting is who they say they are.
    2) No way to determine that person was not voting with someone with authority looking over their shoulder and “suggesting” how they vote.
    3) No paper trail, thus no fool proof method of vote verification
    4) As it’s software doing the vote counting it’s susceptible to bugs and thus would need meticulous code reviewing.
    5) As it’s software doing the counting, it’s open to tampering and would need extreme oversight to ensure, for instance, that a last minute ‘security patch’ is not in fact creating a backdoor.

    And what is the problem it’s trying to solve? Voter apathy. As if finding your way to a polling station once every 4 years or so is an actual hardship and thus causing low voter turnout. Give me a break.

    Like I said, this is a horrendously bad idea. I hope it dies quickly.

    • Agreed. I am a huge techno geek and have made a career from making computers do fabulous things for people. COMPUTERS ARE INAPPROPRIATE FOR VOTE COUNTING because it is essential that any system be immediately verifiable by ordinary laypeople. You can not beat the cardboard box, short sleeves and paper ballots. Otherwise Halliburton decides who gets elected, not us. You can not independently verify what is going on in someone else’s computer chip but we can all count paper ballots together. Once the paper ballots are counted in front of reps from each party at each poll, THEN we can type the results into the internet.

    • I agree that any form of not-in-person voting will be very dubious. A number of years ago, a local government in Ontario offered phone-in voting, and four members of my family got their PINs to vote. As three of them were incapacitated, my brother voted for them and for himself. I am sure he respected their wishes, but ever since then it has seemed to me a sure way for votes to be misappropriated or transferred to those who want to vote more than once.

  7. Trudeau got in on my back when I tried to use his mother as an example when I said my own mother was persecuted for being a religious conservative as a Canadian student in the 1960’s. My family immigrated from Eastern Europe- Hungary to be exact, where things were not so modernized. Prince Charles’ influence on Canadian culture is extremely left-wing and when our mothers were young, the British Invasion had just begun so there was pressure on youth to be a certain way and if they did not fit they were outcast.

    The problem is Justin is not like us- has fundamentally different values. This is evident because I would never risk public humiliation by plagiarizing someone whose family is a victim of covert anti-competition tactics, and this is precisely what Trudeau is doing, although he vehemently denies it- and even the fact that we exist and are screaming out for help all over the Internet while our rights are repeatedly violated by government employees.

    I read his anonymous comments below made earlier in the day and it would seem he has got hold of my son’s report card, is spreading malicious lies about his academic performance to try and justify sustaining an unwholesome agenda in Canadian schools that targets students and results in sabotage of Canada’s economy on the world stage. My son was kidnapped by the Ontario government on numerous occasions throughout his childhood because we were alienated from family and that made us a target for unscrupulousness intra-governmental elements who engage in human trafficking of others when and if they think they can get away with it. He was home educated his whole life and while they detained him, he attended 3 different public Ontario high-schools schools in the space of 5 months and due to health problems caused by criminal negligence in these foster homes they held him in, his attendance was sporadic. This was a violation of my son’s rights and our rights as his family to choose his method of education and an abuse of the foster care system that is publicly funded as a means to protect abused kids, not in order to enforce a communist agenda on Canadian business people.

    Daemon’s report card is not a reflection of his grade average, it reflects his attendance record. To my knowledge his scores ranged from A- to C+ on his tests and he had at least a B+ average so comments below calling him a “stupid clam” are baseless, cowardly defamation. My son began to count money well at the tender age of 2 and he is a very intelligent, competent young intellectual. I feel Charles had my son’s education disrupted because he could not control his political advisers and many of these men are disreputable, or at least ought to be if the truth came out about them.

    My understanding is that a Recode employee who used to work for Microsoft- by the name of Ina Fried, is the main reason I am kept in this state. She appears to be a Vatican hacker spy, is transsexual with extremely liberal sexual politics, a child-predator and my understanding is that she has dirt on every politician in the Commonwealth, threatens to disclose dirt to the media if my family is released from captivity. We are forced to reside in a weakened state in an apartment building owned by a Mafia slumlord in Hamilton, Ontario named Augie Amendolia. We have health problems that doctors refuse to treat and we are not given access to Ontario Disability even though we are in fact disabled, so we cannot afford to leave Hamilton which is an extremely impoverished, poorly-managed city filled with corruption. Ina Fried’s friend, Melinda Gates, went so far as to bribe Mastercard to have my credit card revoked!

    We suffered a long series of evictions before this that happened in complete disregard of the law as a result of this scenario ever since my son was born and as I understand it, the Mafia feel they own children of noble heritage who are not spoken for by extended family, and see me as an impediment to their access to my son as a sex toy. I’ve spoken to my son about this agenda, he has no interest in associating with my landlord or anyone like him, and feels as persecuted as his sister and I. We need the public’s help to make Justin Trudeau and Governor General Johnston to order the Canadian Army to force Ontario law enforcement to arrest those responsible for my son’s kidnapping and repeated poisoning while illegally detained in foster care throughout his formative years. Pope Francis does nothing to reign in his collaborators.

    It is vital that President Obama be brought to justice for refusing to give my family political amnesty during this horrible ordeal simply because I exercised my family’s legal right to choose a private method of education. We are being used as tools by those who strive to obtain votes in elections, I have been plagiarized by a series of politicians and religious leaders, which is embarrassing to extremes, and we are exhausted, frightened, disparaged by the way we are treated! I am painted as some sort of extremist because I do not adhere to Catholic doctrine and the fact is there are plenty of successful Atheists in the business world. We have religious freedom and freedom of expression rights in this country and we deserve to enjoy the same rights as everyone else even if billionaires are willing to bribe politicians to mistreat and blacklist us for no reason whatsoever other than to breech international competition law.

    Here is a bog entry I wrote summarizing my experiences in Canada with government corruption: Our harrowing experience with Ontario child protective services.