Re: “We need electoral reform in Canada” (John Mowat Steven, Oct. 23,)
John Steven proposes that we have proportional representation, in which an attempt is made to have the number of seats which a party wins in an election proportional to the number of votes which each party wins across Canada: a party which gets 40 per cent of the votes gets 40 per cent of the seats in Parliament. But it seems that countries around the world which have proportional representation rarely have one of their parties get a majority of the vote. In Canada, this would make it difficult for our Governor General to meet his requirement to appoint as prime minister the person who has the support of the majority of the members of parliament.
The first order of business in a newly elected parliament is to exercise a parliamentary standing order to have a majority of the members of parliament elect a Speaker of the House by secret ballot. I propose that we have a second order of business to have a majority elect a prime minister by secret ballot, a prime minister who obviously has the support of the majority of the members of parliament, who would be accountable to the members of parliament and who could select his Cabinet from all parties. My research indicates that the creation of such a parliamentary standing order does not require any changes to the constitution or the introduction of new legislation. All it requires is the approval of the members of parliament of a new parliamentary standing order.
The election by secret ballot of the prime minister of Canada by the elected members of parliament would introduce democracy into parliament and would simplify and serve electoral reforms such as proportional representation and the elimination of political parties. The prime minister who introduces such a standing order may go down in history as the creator of a modern “Magna Carta”.