Select Page

First-past-the-post in Ontario shuts voters out

In the June 2022 Ontario election, Doug Ford’s PCs received 40.8% of the popular vote. First-past-the-post handed them 67% of the seats, and 100% of the power.

They won a whopping 83 seats―that’s 7 more seats than 2018 with only 0.34 points more of the popular vote.

The Liberal Party earned more of the popular vote than the NDP―23.85% vs 23.73%―but the NDP’s voters elected 31 MPPs and Liberal voters only elected 8.

Despite the support of almost one quarter of Ontario voters, first-past-the-post means the Ontario Liberal Party was again denied official party status in the legislature, making it even more difficult for the party to represent its voters.

Turnout was only 43.51%. That means the current “majority” government is supported by 17.78% of eligible voters.

Greens increased their popular vote share from 4.6% in 2018 to 5.96% but still elected only one MPP (Mike Schreiner) to represent the 279,255 people who voted Green in Ontario. A whopping 54% of voters – 2,531,087 – cast wasted votes that elected no-one. 

What would Ontario look like with proportional representation?

When we achieve proportional representation, we will all have better choices. That means, some people will vote differently.

Here are a few things that might change with proportional representation:

  • Turnout: Turnout in countries with PR is about 7% higher on average. When voters know their vote will really count towards the outcome of the election, some voters who currently stay home may show up to vote.
  • When New Zealand adopted PR, while turnout overall did not increase, turnout did increase among those in formerly “safe seats” and among youth.
  • No need for negative strategic voting: When voters don’t need to use their vote to try to stop a party they dislike from winning a false majority, they are more likely to vote for their genuine preferences, knowing their vote will count.
  • Better choices: With proportional representation, voters for third and smaller parties can gain fairer representation.Most proportional systems recommended for Canada also give voters a choice between candidates of the same party. This means the whole system becomes more competitive—new people have a better chance and there will be fewer politicians who can afford to be complacent. Voters will have options they simply don’t have today.

Results of the 2022 Ontario election using proportional representation

(NOTE: This simulation uses Mixed Member Proportional with regions of 8 seats on average, for example purposes only. Results using other PR systems for Canada like Proportional Ranked Choice Voting or Open List PR would be almost identical). 

Cooperation required

With proportional representation, no single party is going to have total control of the legislature unless they can earn over 50% of the vote.

This reflects what voters say with their ballots.

Ontario ceased to be a two-party system long ago. In fact, the last time over 50% of Ontario voters voted for one party was in 1937.

With proportional representation, parties must work together to ensure that all legislation has the support of parties who represent a majority of voters. This is a democratic principle that 78% of Canadians support.

Fairer results

For the purposes of simulations, all we have to go on is how voters voted with first-past-the-post. Some voters will vote differently with proportional representation.

Models of proportional representation for Canada are designed to deliver proportional results while maintaining strong local representation. Similar to election results in Scotland or Ireland, this balance may mean the outcome is much fairer, but not perfectly proportional.

Proportional models for Canada are almost always designed to reflect voter’s intentions on a regional basis. That means that local voters are in control.

If 30% of the voters in your region vote for candidates from Party A, Party A will get roughly 30% of the seats in your region.

The proportional systems most often recommended for Canada mean voters elect individual candidates by name (not just party) and usually provide voters a choice among candidates of the same party. Voters can elect the best candidates from each party.

Better choices.

Fair results.

More cooperative politics.

Let’s make every vote count.


Learn more

Learn more about the problems of winner-take-all voting in Canada:

What is first-past-the-post
More problems with first-past-the-post
Winner-take-all ranked ballots are not the solution

Learn more about the evidence for PR

Learn about PR models for Canada 

Share This