Expert simulations show Trudeau’s preferred electoral system would skew results further in favour of Liberals
We need a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform
A new simulation by electoral systems expert Antony Hodgson, President of Fair Voting BC, shows that using Trudeau’s preferred voting system (Alternative Vote) for the 2019 election would likely have significantly increased the number of seats won by the Liberal Party. In fact, it could quite plausibly have delivered them a solid majority of as many as 186 seats — a 70 seat winner’s bonus compared to the 116 seats we estimate they would have won with 33.1% of the popular vote under a proportional system.
During the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals promised to deliver a new electoral system for Canada in 2019, to “make every vote count,” and to use an evidence-based approach to policy-making on electoral reform. Among the experts who testified before the ERRE, 88% recommended proportional representation. Only 4% recommended Trudeau’s preferred system, Alternative Vote (ranked ballots in single-member ridings).
When Trudeau broke his promise in 2017, he stated about Alternative Vote: “I’m not going near it, because I am not going to do something that everyone is convinced is going to favour one party over another.” As quoted in a 2019 book by Aaron Wherry, Trudeau later said, “If I had it to do over again I would’ve been making an aggressive case for a preferential ballot.”
Alternative Vote does nothing to solve the problems of winner-take-all elections, such as divisive rhetoric, people’s choices being ignored by the results of the election, and people settling for a “lesser worst choice.” Its only selling feature appears to be to give an even bigger advantage to the centrist party — in Canada’s case, the Liberal Party.
What is “ranked ballot”?
A ranked ballot is not a voting system – it is just a tool where voters can indicate their preferences by marking 1, 2, 3, etc. A ranked ballot can be used in either proportional or non-proportional systems.
Under Single Transferable Vote (PR-STV), voters elect diverse teams of local MPs in multi-member ridings. STV was recommended by the BC Citizens’ Assembly in 2005. STV is used in Ireland, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and was used provincially in Winnipeg and Edmonton between 1920 and 1950. Ranked ballots can also be used within Mixed Member Proportional or Rural-Urban Proportional. For example, in the UK the Jenkins Commission recommended an MMP system with local MPs elected by the ranked ballot.
A ranked ballot can also be used in a non-proportional, winner-take-all electoral system using single-member ridings. This is called the Alternative Vote system.