John A. McDonald was the first and last PM to win with less than 35 percent of the popular vote

MUSKOKA - If you’re looking at the picture above but are confused as to why Justin Trudeau is still the Prime Minister this morning, it is because of Canada’s single member plurality electoral system.

In other words First Past the Post.

The definition for this system according to elections Canada is as follows;

In every electoral district, the candidate with the highest number of votes wins a seat in the House of Commons and represents that electoral district(riding) as its member of Parliament. An absolute majority (more than 50 percent of the votes in the electoral district) is not required for a candidate to be elected.

Some people say that this system is capable of producing a “wrong winner.” Andrew Scheer’s team is more than likely in this camp today. The Conservative Party did receive popular support, but the Liberals won more riding seats.

This happened in BC in 1996, when the Liberals received more votes than the NDP, but the NDP won all the power.

Other times, one party can sweep almost every seat, possibly obliterating any opposition. This happened in New Brunswick in 1987, when the Liberals received 60 percent of the vote but won every seat – leaving no opposition.

Therefore the argument, as Justin Trudeau himself made in 2015, for proportional representation enters.

The difference in electoral results between first past post and proportional representation;

In simple terms if a party earns 40 percent of the vote, they would receive 40 percent of the seats. This forces parties to share power and work together to create policies which are supported by members representing a genuine majority of voters.

According to an article from the National Post, yesterday’s election results are only the second time in Canada’s history that a governing party will take power with such a low share of the vote.

David Moscrop, a political theorist at the University of Ottawa, tweeted that “the last and only time a party has formed government with less than 35 percent of the national popular vote was John A. Macdonald in 1867 — with 34.8 percent.”

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