The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
Facts in Support
Facts in Support.
Just ponder upon the following results of elections for Parliament in this Dominion:—
From the year 1903 to the year 1908, at six elections, the total votes cast for all elected men amounted to 1,325,705; for the non elected men, 1,052,061 giving a majority to the elected men for the whole of these years of but 173,644 votes. The percentage of votes cast at each of these six elections for men who failed to be returned varied from 49 per cent, to 43 per cent, of the whole votes cast., the average being 46.33 per cent. So that nearly half of the whole electors voting during the past turn years might an well have been voteless, they did not influence the return of a single member; the votes cast were waste; and yet we speak of "our Parliamentary representatives" as though the whole people had elected them. Again, look for a moment at the figures for the election in our own city and suburbs last general election. The combined votes cast in these five electorates amounted to 32,736. Of the successful men polled 18,941, and the non-successful, 13,795, just 42 per cent of the whole. I have no desire to introduce the question of party into examination of electoral methods. But it is surely worth noting, that all five seats were secured by the representative candidates of one party; the other side got none. In polities, I am all circumstances a Liberal, and rejoice at all Liberal successes, when earned by the vote of an intelligent people but true Liberals cannot endorse and support a system which leaves their opponents, in a measure silence in the House of Parliament, and a large proportion of constituents unrepresented. We do not desire such uneven treatment in public affairs.
From what I have been putting before you, there will be but little difficulty in concluding that under our present electoral system, while the majority (though not always) may secure representation of an uncertain kind, the people as a whole cannot. Under the best of circumstances, at present, nearly half of the persons voting are disfranchised, and those who do succeed in forming the majority are so hampered in "their choice of candidates, by being bound to vote for or against those put forward in the localities where individual voters reside, as to be practically cheated of free choice altogether—a picking out to the least evil being but too frequently the position into which voters are forced. Can a remedy for the evils deplored be found, and is such remedy one which in practice will recommend itself to the people of the Dominion? I think so.