An Introduction to Proportional Representation

QUICK LINK: Read more about Single Transferable Vote (STV) and Local PR
QUICK LINK: Read more about Mixed Member Proportional
QUICK LINK: Read more about Rural-Urban Proportional

The Basics

Proportional representation is a principle underlying a voting system: People should be represented in proportion to how they voted. The percentage of seats a party has in the legislature should reflect the percentage of people who voted for them.

Our current system – first-past-the-post – divides the country into 338  areas known as ridings (also called constituencies or electoral districts). No matter how diverse the voters in a riding are, just one MP is elected to represent the riding in our Parliament. Many voters feel they do not have an MP who represents them. In some ridings, 70% of the voters cast ballots which elect no-one.

In contrast, any PR voting system elects several MPs to represent a given geographic region so that most voters in that region have a voice in Parliament. The overall results in Parliament are fair. 30% of the votes = 30% of the seats.

MADE-IN-CANADA Proportional Representation reflects key values such as:

  • Proportional results
  • Local representation
  • Regional representation
  • More Voter Choice 
  • All MPs elected by and accountable to voters

With made-for-Canada proportional representation, almost every vote will count towards the make-up of Parliament.  Almost every voter will help elect an MP who shares their values.  All regions will have representation in both government and the opposition.

A single party will no longer be able to attain a majority government with just 40% of the vote, and cooperation and compromise will become the norm.

A Framework to Think about Systems

There are several different ways proportional systems can be designed.

Fair Vote Canada believes it is very important that the proportional systems are “made-for-Canada” designs – maintaining strong local and regional representation, and ensuring MPsare elected by the voters, not chosen by the parties.

This effectively eliminates any system with province-wide closed lists.

Top-Up Models

About 60% of the MPs will be elected as they are now (first-past-the-post), in larger single member ridings. We will also elect at least 40% regional MPs to ensure results in each region are proportional.

As a voter, you can go to your local MP or one of your regional MPs, with a choice of MPs from different parties.

System NamesMixed Member Proportional (MMP)

Multi-Member Models

Combine single member ridings to elect several MPs in a local district, producing proportional results in each local district.

As a voter in multi-member district, you can go to any of your local MPs, with a choice of MPs from different parties. 

System NamesSingle Transferable Vote (STV), Local PR


Features of both multi-member and top-up systems can be incorporated to allow for Canada’s varied geography.

Multi-member ridings can be used in urban areas.

Up to 25% single member ridings, not much bigger than today, will be retained in the most sparsely populated parts of rural and samml urban communities in Canada.

Just a few regional MPs  would be needed to ensure the results in each a region are proportional.

As a voter you can go to your local MP(s) or regional MP(s).

System Names:  Rural-Urban Proportional

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