In this commentary, Bill Black of New Start Nova Scotia draws attention to the fact that many Canadians do not feel represented by their government, and suggests our current electoral system may be part of the problem. He shares the facts that government spends about $1 million per hour, and that that 60% of the elected members – and two thirds of the governing party – come from the public sector, including health and education. Fulfilling important roles such as cabinet minister, opposition leader or premier requires sound judgment, skill in policy development, and strength in both written and verbal communications. There are at present no MLA’s with senior private sector leadership experience, no accountants or others with a substantial financial background, no doctors, architects, or engineers, none with substantial experience in information or communications technologies.
The problem, Black says, is that the present system makes it very difficult for most private sector workers to participate. Nomination, campaign and election are all very time-demanding. To help solve the problems of Nova Scotians feeling underrepresented, and lack of professional diversity in government, Black suggests Nova Scotia embark on a ten-year experiment with partial proportional representation, an electoral system he explains as follows: After each general election, an additional ten seats would be distributed among the parties based on their share of the total provincial vote. Typically this would provide four or five seats to the governing party with the rest divided among the opposition. The party leaders would choose the people to fill the seats.
In Who Represents You?, Black suggests implementing PR for a ‘test run’ in Nova Scotia would improve minority participation, allow parties to attract high-quality candidates, and solve other problems related to our electoral system. Voters do not feel well served by the existing system. It is time to try some new ideas.
Click here to read the full commentary.