In our last message, we shared some of the details from the expert affidavits in the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting, starting with Prof. Nadia Urbinati’s understanding of the meaning and importance of democratic representation. We’ve included some of her key insights about how voting systems impact equity and inclusion below:
Voter Equality is Fundamental: In addition to her key point that for a voter to truly be represented by an MP, they must see their MP advocating positions the voter supports, Dr. Urbinati emphasizes in her affidavit that a democracy must be fundamentally based on the principle of equality “when it comes to having voters’ voices heard and their positions considered.”
Majority Rule is Not Enough: She also says that “the distinctiveness of democracy is not that the ‘legislative majority rules’ but rather that each citizen consciously and autonomously shares in the political life of the country” and notes that the renowned political philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that “a good representative government requires proportional representation”, which to him was the only way to “ensure that every voice will be heard.”
Experts Increasingly Recognize Importance of Including All Voices: Urbinati describes how long it has taken for democratic ideals to be expressed in our political systems, and that we’re not done yet. For example, she notes that it took well over a hundred years before universal suffrage was the norm across western democracies and that “until recently, the idea that political constituencies should be defined by territorial districts has been all but unquestioned. But the consensus among democratic theorists over the last two decades has changed” to recognize that the constituencies that matter most to individual voters are probably best described in terms of political perspective, class, ethnicity, age, or gender, which, in our current system, “are represented only insofar as they intersect with the circumstances of location. Those issues that do not break down geographically are excluded from the benefits of representation.”
We’ll use this evidence to argue that our Charter requires that our voting system be fundamentally based on the principle of including voters, not excluding them.
We’ll be sharing summaries of all of the expert witnesses and their affidavits in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes on your inbox!
Thank you for your continued support. More on the other affidavits soon!
Jesse Hitchcock, Springtide
Antony Hodgson, Fair Voting BC
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