One last—I promise—look back in befuddlement to the results of last week’s federal election.
If we are to believe the pundits—and who are we not to—Canada has just gone through a dramatic, head-shaking, concussion-making electoral re-alignment in which our national consensus has become far more conservative and the political centre has disappeared, leaving us with only a bi-polar, left-right, take-it-or-leave-it choice.
In the process, the Conservatives have become our new Natural Governing Party (NGP), the Liberals and Bloc are wiped out and the NDP is in the process of making itself over as a kind of leftish Permanent Opposition (POed).
And yet, if we are to believe a couple of young Facebook buds with calculators, the real difference between all of the above and almost none of the above is actually 6,201 votes out of the 14.7 million cast last Monday.
If 6,201 voters in the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings in the country—none in Atlantic Canada; don’t blame us—had voted a different way, Stephen Harper’s unassailable majority would be yet another minority government.
“When one becomes aware of how easy it is for the intentions of the voters to become distorted,” notes Matt Peters, who did the “’rithmatic,” “it is hard not to conclude that some kind of electoral reform is needed.”
If Peters’ what-if history had happened, we would now be speculating—given that two million more Canadians voted against Harper than voted for him—on whether the man the pundits have seemingly anointed prime minister for life actually had a political future at all.
Or… what if the Liberals had received the number of seats their percentage of the popular vote merited. They would have 58 MPs instead of 34, still nowhere near the 77 they started with, but more representative of their current level of voter support…
Representative of their level of voter support… What a concept!
Is there a rational reason why we’re one of only four countries in the industrialized world that still employs an electoral system that allows a party chosen by a minority of voters to govern like they have just won the winner-take-all sweepstakes?