We need run off votes, not secret votes in Parliament
Mr. John A. McDonald could not be more wrong about the need for secret votes in Parliament and Legislature themselves, and I am sure that if he thinks it through he will admit that such a practice would be the death of democracy.
If our elected representatives are not required to record their votes in the House how can we be sure how they voted? The secret ballot in elections is one thing; it protects the individual citizen from coercion. However, that protection becomes meaningless if the candidate we elect is not accountable to us for the positions he or she takes, and without recorded votes how will we know?
I agree that our current system is flawed and can be improved upon, but we need to be aware that there can be no replacement designed that is without human error. Perhaps Mr. McDonald prefers the proportional model being touted by many, but does he realize that this puts far more power into the hands of the party managers who control the roster of candidates? Party whips might be objectionable, but at least they are elected themselves; he will have no choice who each party employs.
Suppose an MLA or MP does choose to vote against party policy? Now he or she is answerable to the constituency, the local party rank and file who choose the party nominee in the next election. Proportional representation does not have constituencies; the nominees will be selected by the party bosses in order of their preference, and they will punish deviance by simply moving the candidate farther down the list. How will that improve the right of the individual member to speak out?
The current system has one serious problem, most easily demonstrated by the election in which Brian Mulroney defeated John Turner and Ed Broadbent. Every party but the Conservatives opposed free trade, yet they won because the anti free trade vote was split. Nationally there was a 60 per cent vote against the free trade proponents, but we have been living with it ever since because under our first past the post system the will of the majority means nothing.
That can be easily fixed. I hesitate to use an American example, but in the state of Louisiana candidates MUST be elected by a majority. If there is not a majority in the first ballot a run off election is held two weeks later between the top two vote getters, ensuring that the majority of citizens are not saddled with a candidate or party they find objectionable. Problem solved.
We get to keep our traditional constituencies and locally chosen candidates. Yes, it means we have the cost of a second ballot. Yes, it means that on election night we don’t have an instant answer who won every riding. What we do have is a government based on majority consent. That is real democracy, not MPs and MLAs (however they were elected) voting in secret. That would be the death of democracy instead.