The Ontario election results are not an argument for proportional representation

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.

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