February 19, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. K. ANDERSON (Halton):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the address of the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Good) on the subject of proportional representation. I have heard this subject discussed in the House on two previous occasions, in 1921 and in 1922, and so far as I am concerned I still hold the view that proportional representation is not in the best interests of parliamentary institutions in this country. The hon. member for Brant did not give us any exposition of how true proportional representation might be worked out; nor has any other hon. member done so.
I have before me a pamphlet prepared by the exponents of proportional representation which deals with one or two elections carried out under that system, and which refers particularly to the single transferable vote in multi-membered constituencies. In the election held in the city of Winnipeg in 1920 under the system of proportional representation, labour polled 20,167 votes, or 42.5 per

cent of the total vote polled, getting only four seats. The Liberals polled 14,423 votes, or 30.4 per cent of the total vote, giving them four representatives. The Conservatives polled 6,475 votes, or 13.4 of the total, getting two members. The Independents, with 6,362 votes, having 13.4 per cent of the popular vote, received no representation whatever. It is supposed that under this system all parties appealing for the suffrages of the people will get proportional representation, yet in the Winnipeg election, the Independent party received no representation at all, while the Conservatives, with the same amount of popular vote, received two members; the Labour party, having 42 per cent of the total vote, received four representatives, and the Liberal party, with 30 per cent of the total vote, also received four.
Consequently, it will be seen that, proportional representation does not quite work out as its advocates say, that is, it does not always give proportional representation to the various parties that are appealing for the suffrages of the people. Proportional representation, if it means anything, means tjiat it will give representation in the House of Commons, or in municipal government, to all the parties that have candidates before the public. It therefore means the breaking up of the party system, and the substitution for it of the group system of government. That is the intention of the principle; it cannot be anything else; and that is how it works out in practice. It is intended to give representation in our government and in municipal affairs to the minorities among the people. It is for that purpose, and for no other purpose. Consequently, its purpose is to disrupt the present condition of affairs, to do away with our democratic system, for democracy means the rule of the majority. It would do away with the rule of the majority, and give a system of rule to minorities and to group government; and we know what group government is. We have one in the province of Ontario at the present time, although it was not put in power under the proportional representation system.
In a pamphlet that has been submitted by the exponents of proportional representation, a copy of which has been handed me by the committee here in Ottawa, I find the result of a municipal vote in the town of Sligo in Ireland, and this is given for the purpose of proving that proportional representation gives proportional representation to the parties that are putting up candidates for election. In that vote, taken in 1919 in the town of Sligo-and I point this out in

Proportional Representation
view of the claims made that proportional representation gives a better result than any other system-we find that in one of the wards-a small ward was taken so that the vote could be more easily counted to illustrate how the system worked-there were sixteen candidates. Altogether 940 votes were polled, and we find that the eight candidates having the highest number of votes on the first count were, with one exception, the eight candidates who were elected on the twelfth count. There was no change whatever so far as the parties were concerned, but there was a change in that one member of a party was substituted for another. The Sinn Feiners on the first vote had a candidate who came third in their party but who, on the twelfth count, was placed first in their list, and the first Sinn Fein candidate on the first vote was defeated. That was the only change made in the whole twelve counts. Apart from that there was no change whatever between the twelfth count and the first. The advocates of proportional representation say that the system is very easy, that it does not give any more trouble to count the votes than the old system. Yet why the necessity of having twelve different counts when the first count gives the same result?
The other test vote I received from the city of Ottawa, and possibly it was made up by the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Good) himself. It has a number of names of late representatives of parliament, and the name of my hon. friend is also to be found. Whether by accident or intention, we find the same thing works out in this case, and the hon. gentleman has unconsciously given an argument against proportional representation, for on the first count in his test we get exactly the same results that were obtained on the sixth count. Why the need for six counts when the first gives the same result?
The hon. member also said that in this country in 1921, of 140 representatives from constituencies where there were several candidates, seventy-four or seventy-eight were returned as minority candidates. Now I think that same argument will apply to proportional representation. Take the results in the city of Sligo, for instance. There were 940 votes cast in that election under the system of proportional representation, and 105 votes was the quota-that number of votes were required to elect a candidate. I wonder if a man who is elected by 105 votes out of a total of 940 can be called a majority candidate. I think he is a minority candidate, and in that election two candidates were elected who did not receive the quota. They were considerably below the 105 votes necessary to
elect them, but they were elected. Surely they were minority candidates. I have no doubt that in that Sligo election the will of the people would have been more effectively expressed, and with the same results probably that obtained on the twelfth count, under the present system of election. Therefore I cannot see how proportional representation, particularly with regard to the single transferable vote is of any use in multi-member constituencies. It might have a different application in a constituency where only one member was to be elected.
With regard to the system itself, as I said before, democracy is based on the principle of majority rule: I think all will agree with that. Proportional representation would do away with that, because it gives you minority rule; it gives representation by minority groups in the House.

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