For many years I have been a member of an organisation, Fair Vote Canada, that has been dedicated to ending the problem of wasted votes in Canadian elections by advocating for Proportional Representation.
It finds itself at an unfortunate crossroads however as internal divisions have forced a referendum on whether it should give up on advocating for proportional representation in municipalities without parties and instead support another system called AV or IRV. This is happening because of some overlap in the membership of Fair Vote Canada with a local campaign (called Rabit- Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto) pushing for the AV system at Toronto City Council.
Simply put this would be a complete and total disaster. AV for a representative body strikes directly against the core principles of Fair Vote Canada and comprises a serious challenge to the cause of Proportional Representation in Canada as a whole.
The logic of the referendum seems to be built on the idea that proportionality is only about parties as that is the distinction being drawn in the referendum question. This idea is completely wrong. Proportionality has never been about parties. It's about the simple idea that if voters vote for something in an election for council or parliament then they should have earned representation in that council or parliament. That's the principle of Fair Representation that Fair Vote Canada is built on whether parties exist or not.
And that's the principle that's violated by both the current FPTP system and Rabit's proposed AV.
After all both FPTP and AV as systems are perfectly fine with some candidate getting elected to council or parliament with 50%+1 of the vote while the rest of the electorate is treated as completely irrelevant , unimportant, and not worthy of representation. It's *those* unrepresented and wasted votes that Fair Vote Canada was built to champion and advocate for and supporting AV for election to any sort of legislative body would be a complete abdication of that responsibility and cause.
Further the claim by some that the AV option would only affect municipalities without parties is either incredibly naïve of disingenuous. Any adoption of AV to the sixth largest government in the nation (Toronto City Council) will obviously have repercussions to how favourably AV would be viewed in every other legislative body in the country. After all if AV works for a city of 2 million why wouldn't it work for all the smaller cities of Canada and the many provinces that are smaller? If AV can be adopted by these why not all provinces or even the federal government?
This is especially concerning as each and every one of the arguments made by Rabit for the adoption of AV at City Council can be applied word for word to any provincial or federal parliament and worse the Rabit campaign's attack on PR can be as well.
After all, going by Rabit's own words why would we ever choose a PR system that creates electoral districts that are too large, reduces choice and diversity of candidates, and makes it impossible for a candidate to run an independent campaign? These are all incredibly damaging and baseless claims on Proportional Representation that are made on Rabit's own website (http://www.123toronto.ca/questions_answers.htm retrieved 30th of December 2012) and they can be applied for *any* level of government.
How can Fair Vote advocate for PR if, let alone respond to such attacks, it explicitly or implicitly give them its blessing?
I appeal to all members of Fair Vote Canada to affirm their support for Proportional Representation for all levels of Canadian government, parties or no parties, by choosing Option A.