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Letter: In disagreement with Strasser's column on proportional representation

Dear editor, You imply that PR results in unstable minority government. However, the Canadian government formed after this year’s election will last at least four years, as did all the previous governments. That is not instability.
Airdrie letters_text

Re: "My qualms with proportional representation," column, Sept. 30, Airdrie City View

Dear editor,

You cite your time in Germany in 2015 as being the reason you have “qualms” with proportional representation. Allow me to quote your words in defense of PR, which is the acme of democracy when choosing a government.

You asked, “How often would we have elections under PR? How often would the prime minister not have the confidence of the House?

Allow me to point out that Ms. Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany when you were there, had been Chancellor for 16 years under PR at a time when the EU – of which Germany is a very large and important member – had gone through a global financial crisis we are all aware of, and an emigration crises caused by disruptions and wars.

You imply that PR results in unstable minority government. However, the Canadian government formed after this year’s election will last at least four years, as did all the previous governments. That is not instability.

You also said: ‘’It’s easy to fathom Canada would be similar to Germany if we adopted PR. Every government we elect would be a minority government, propped up by alliances and negotiations. This would give a disproportionate balance of power to smaller, fringe, or even single-issue parties and candidates’’

You neglected to mention parties with less than five per cent support are not allowed seats in the Bundestag.

In Canada, there were two back-to-back minority parliaments of Prime Minister Pearson, ‘’propped up’’ you could say, by a smaller fringe party. Pearson’s Liberals were supported by an informal agreement with the small New Democratic Party, similar to Germany’s Social Democrats.

During those two administrations, Mr. Pearsons’ Liberals with support of the Social Democratic NDP made a lot of progress, in spite of fierce opposition from the the business sector.

Here’s a quotation I like: "In 1963, Pearson became Prime Minister of Canada. Even though he never had a majority in the Canadian House of Commons, he managed to establish many of Canada’s major social programs, including universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, Canada Student Loans, and instituted Maple Leaf flag, a 40-hour work week, two weeks’ vacation time, and a new minimum wage."

Mr. Strasser, there is nothing wrong with minority governments. Under PR, I strongly believe Trudeau would not have dared call an expensive election while we were battling COVID-19.

You said, ‘’I predict PR would be even less favourable. All it would do is result in more government fragmentation and elections being held more often." You are wrong. Most European and many countries have used PR successfully for many years. The list is huge. There are, to my knowledge, only three modern countries with the out of date, undemocratic first-past-the-post systems:

In your words ‘’While our current winner-takes-all system of FPTP is far from perfect, I predict PR would be even less favourable. All it would do is result in more government fragmentation and elections being held more often."

Really?

Alec Owen

Ottawa