One word leapt out at me from Robert Silver’s rebuttal to Heather Mallick’s editorial in praise of the rogue page, Brigette DePape. “We just had a free and fair election,” Silver wrote. Fair? I think it’s hard to argue that an electoral system that hands a majority government to a party that won less than 50% of the vote is fair in any commonly understood sense of the word.
And I’m not alone in thinking this. Stephen Harper once thought so too. He penned an essay with Tom Flanagan in the year leading up to Jean Chrétien’s second Liberal majority — won, of course, with less than 50% of the vote — in which he eloquently stated the need for electoral reform (and, oddly, extolled the virtues of coalition government). Conservatives of the era were fed up with Canada’s “benign dictatorship” of Liberal governments, which “allow[ed] governments in Ottawa to impose measures abhorred by large areas of the country.”
Sound familiar? Brigette DePape is open to criticism for her action during the Speech from the Throne, and for her (perhaps) hyperbolic reference to the Arab Spring in the accompanying press release and subsequent interviews. But when she pointed out that the majority of Canadians “didn’t even give their support to the Conservatives” — she was absolutely right. It’s time that everyone stopped pretending otherwise.