By Dean Midyette
During the federal election campaign last fall, Justin Trudeau and the Liberals committed to changing the first past the post voting system currently being used. Earlier this week, the government released the changes they will be presenting to parliament.
Voters will now be given one vote for every $10,000 per year they earn, rounded down. Income from provincial and federal social assistance programs, Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan and any money from other programs such as Employment Insurance will be included when calculating income and votes. For example, someone making $46,000 per year would receive four votes. Someone who earned $18,000 and received $6,000 in social assistance would receive two votes, a total of $24,000 in income rounded down to the nearest $10,000. All citizens 18 or older, regardless of income, will still have the right to cast one vote. A major change is in the works for those aged 16 or 17. If they earn over $10,000 in a year then they will be given the right to vote and receive votes based on the aforementioned formula.
Canada will also be adopting the policy of corporate personhood when it comes to voting. Corporations will now be considered people under the new voting law. Businesses will be given the right to vote, with one vote for every $1 million in gross revenues, rounded down. A small retailer in our valley with annual gross revenues of $2.1 million will receive two votes. The Royal Bank of Canada, with annual revenues in the tens of billions, will receive substantially more. Corporate votes will count in the jurisdiction of the head office and will be assigned based on the decision of the board, partners or individual business owners.
This is a radical departure from the alternative voting systems that were reviewed by an all-party parliamentary committee. In my opinion, we would have been far better off with one of the other systems currently being used in other advanced democracies. These include the transferable vote, where the voter ranks their choices in order of preference, or proportional representation, where political parties receive a number of seats in government equal to the share of the popular vote they earn.
Assigning votes based on income is simply foolish.