by TVO Current Affairs
The following is excerpted from Erin Tolley’s essay “The Electoral System and Parliament’s Diversity Problem: In Defense of the Wrongfully Accused.” It appears inShould We Change How We Vote?, a new book of essays that evaluate Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system and consider how changes to it might lead to a truer representation of Canada’s values, priorities, and diversity.
The electoral system is not the principal barrier to increased demographic representation in the House of Commons. Rather, it is the failure of parties to identify and recruit diverse candidates, and the acquiescence of voters in accepting that the most suitable candidates for office must just happen to be middle-aged, heterosexual, able-bodied, white men. We have long had the ability to increase diversity in our electoral bodies, but quite simply have opted not to. This suggests that the problem is not simply one of institutional constraints, but also a deficit in our normative commitment to equality and diversity.