Garneau endorses a ranked ballot

The Liberal leadership contender writes to party members with his thoughts on democratic reform.

If elected, my proposal would be to reform Canada’s electoral system by changing our voting process to a preferential ballot, or a ranked ballot. Used by many other nations, as well as the leadership races for the Liberal Party of Canada, the federal NDP and the Conservative Party of Canada, a preferential ballot better reflects the will of the people.

Using a ranked ballot, Canadians would no longer tick only one box indicating their first and only choice. Rather, they would rank their choices and tick not only their first choice, but their second, third, fourth, etc. choices. If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the votes when the first choice votes are tallied, the bottom candidate is dropped and his or her second choice votes are allocated to those who remain. The process continues until one candidate has achieved at least 50 per cent plus one of the support from that riding. The preferential ballot fundamentally addresses the challenge of vote splitting. Parliament will better reflect the real preferences of its people.

I have lately taken a liking to the idea of a ranked ballot: far less complicated than the various proportional representation scenarios that have been proposed in the past (and thus, I suspect, easier to convince the general public to support), but likely to produce a more representative result.

Mr. Garneau also says he would, as leader, only appoint candidates in exceptional circumstances. Fair enough, but why stop there? Why not go all the way and propose that the requirement that a candidate have the endorsement of his or her leader should be eliminated? If empowering local riding associations is a worthy goal, commit to it fully.