This portion of the submission was developed independently by Fair Vote Canada’s rural and small-urban caucus, which consists of Canadians living in rural or small urban areas of Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Northwest Territories.
We believe that every voter should be equal. No matter where you live, whether you live in a rural area or urban area, your vote should count. Rural and small urban voters are not second class citizens. Voters living in rural or small urban areas should be able to elect someone who shares their values to represent them.
We residents of rural and small urban communities (under 30,000) should not be afraid to speak up about our numbers. According to the 2011 census, we are 31.3 percent of the population of Canada. Adding in the 8.7 percent of Canadians who live in medium population centres (30,000 to 100,000) gives a total of 40 percent who share common concerns in many respects, compared to the 60 percent who live in urban centres over 100,000. We understand how our communities value having local representation to champion our area. But of course we also want MPs whose views reflect our values, including someone we helped elect.
The problems of winner-take-all voting in rural and small urban ridings
- Rural constituencies with FPTP are often safe seats where a single party wins every seat in the entire region, leaving no voice for voters of other parties. Rural voters are politically diverse. We want the seats in each region to reflect the political diversity of its voters.
- With winner-take-all voting, half of all voters feel that they do not have a local representative aligned with their values. PR will provide local leadership for all voters. Almost everyone will have someone they voted for to listen and give voice to their views and problems.
- Instead of just one MP, each area will have a team of MPs competing to serve you. Competition and collaboration between MPs means more responsive service for local voters.
- With PR, a voter is much more likely to have an MP responsive to the concerns of the voter and his/her community, whether due to party affiliation, roots in the community, or simply the MP’s willingness or ability to work to find solutions.
- No matter which proportional model is chosen, your region will not lose representation: it will have just as many MPs as it does today. You will have an MP as close to your home as you do now, and services will be accessible as they are now.
- Teamwork between MPs in a riding promotes good regional decision making, problem solving and governance for the benefit of everyone in the region, not just the riding whose MP happens to be in the government.
- PR does not require adding more MPs to Parliament. Multi-member ridings or local regions designed for Canada will consist of communities which are naturally grouped together. Boundaries will continue to be determined by community of interest, community of identity, historical pattern, and manageable geographic size, as Boundaries Commissions are required to do.
- MPs will use branch offices to serve voters in different parts of the riding or local region. Branch offices are already common in rural areas.
- Telephone, email, and Skype allow voters and constituents to stay connected.
With any proportional system, the size of the riding and how many MPs are elected may be adjusted to account for geography. There is no “one size fits all” solution, but rural voters want votes that count, too.