After every election, someone always brings up the apparent unfairness of the results. In the recent Ontario election, for example, the Liberals received about 20% of the vote but won only 6% of the seats in the house. Advocates of proportional representation point to that as conclusive evidence that the first-past-the-post system is flawed and needs to be replaced. But that presumes our electoral system was designed to have the province-wide vote represented exactly in the seat distribution in the legislature.
It wasn’t. It was crafted so that voters in ridings across Ontario – or across Canada, in federal elections – could choose a local representative. The party that wins the greatest number of these local races gets to form a government. And a party that comes in second and third in all but a handful of ridings doesn’t get much. That’s not a flaw of our system, it’s a strength.
To earn seats in Parliament you have to win somewhere, not come in second a lot. It’s understandable that supporters of parties that don’t win a many races want change that will improve their fortunes. But we should ignore their rhetoric and stick with a system that works.