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An Elections Canada ballot box is shown on federal election day in Montreal, Monday, May 2, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
An Elections Canada ballot box is shown on federal election day in Montreal, Monday, May 2, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

WHAT READERS THINK

Dec. 2: Canada’s voting system. Plus other letters to the editor Add to ...

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Our electoral fabric

Re Electoral Committee Calls For Referendum On Voting System (Dec. 1): A change from first-past-the-post to proportional representation could be a legacy for Canadian society on the scale of our universal health-care system or legalizing gay marriage. Progress is often opposed and debated, but in hindsight these measures become part of the very fabric of Canadian society.

A more civilized and advanced voting system would bring Canada’s democracy into the 21st century. We are tired of voting strategically, or voting “against” a candidate/party we dislike. We want to vote with our conscience. While no system is perfect, a more just system is one where a party that wins 35 per cent of the vote wins 35 per cent of the seats in Parliament, and a small party that wins 10 per cent of the vote earns 10 per cent of the seats. Canada is a diverse country and we all deserve fair representation in government.

Drew Anderson, Vancouver

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Equality among political parties’ ratios of seats-to-votes is a questionable virtue. We have lived with our-first-past-the-post system for some 150 years without descent into dictatorship or constitutional crises that might have been avoided by a different electoral system. Overrepresentation of the political party with the most votes has promoted stable government. Our electoral rules are fair in the sense that they were put in place long before anybody knew which party might have the advantage today.

What Canadians have most to fear is a situation where electoral rules are too easily changed, empowering the party in office to change the rules to its advantage. Any reform should be seen as permanent. Options for reform should be thoroughly debated nationwide until a consensus emerges, or the implications of the different options are well enough understood that most voters have informed opinions about which options they prefer.

A referendum on any proposed change is an essential part of the process of moving from one electoral system to another.

Dan Usher, Kingston

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We need a system of ranked ballots. Forcing all candidates to compete in a riding and win an overall majority would make our system more democratic, avoid corrupt party lists, and make it harder for toxic candidates on both the far right and far left to harm our great country.

Derek Smith, Toronto

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Arguing that Canada cannot have a referendum on electoral reform because the public wouldn’t put in the effort necessary to seriously consider the question is a fancy way of saying that Canadians are too stupid to know what’s best for us. Electoral-reform advocates seem incapable of accepting that smart and informed people might just prefer the current system.

Adam Waiser, Markham, Ont.

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Oil patch economics

While cheaper oil has hamstrung Canada’s oil patch, the rapid decline in the costs of renewable energy is the real existential threat to Canada’s expensive oil sands. Any new pipeline – if ever built – will not revive this dying industry.

So now that the pipelines announcement has been made and the approvals will be mired in legal battles and protests for years to come, perhaps the Prime Minister, key ministers and the media can focus on infrastructure and job opportunities in support of a clean energy economy, with special focus on Alberta to help its struggling economy (Move Gives Alberta A Boost, But Upsets Environmentalists – Nov. 30). Canada is losing global market share in this sector – one of the world’s fastest growing – when it cannot afford to do so.

Cheryl McNamara, Toronto

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Logic takes a toll

Re Shame On The Toll Critics – Tory Needs All The Support He Can Get (Nov. 28): I agree that we should give Toronto Mayor John Tory our support for his initiative to implement tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway. I live outside Toronto, sometimes drive into the city, and have never understood the reasoning of the critics that somehow the City of Toronto would be unfairly saddling the people in the surrounding area with the cost of the roads if they had to pay tolls. We use the roads, we contribute to the wear and tear on them, we leave our vehicle pollution behind in the city when we head back to our homes in the surrounding area. Why shouldn’t we contribute to the costs? Imagine how absurd it would sound if someone who lived outside Toronto complained about paying for a ride on the subway when they are in the city because they don’t live there. The entitled attitude of car owners in our society has to change. I congratulate Mr. Tory for taking on this difficult political issue. He is showing true leadership where many Toronto politicians in the past refused to do so.

Daniel Tobias, Dundas, Ont.

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Tragedy of Cuba

I recently travelled to Havana for work. While my wife and I didn’t go to a resort or beach, we did visit a few places in western and central Cuba. There was no abject poverty; towns were generally clean. However, that is not the point. As your editorial noted, Cuba was relatively rich (but with apparent inequality) when Fidel Castro took over (Fidel Castro: What A Great Humanitarian – editorial, Nov. 29).

A “remarkable leader” would have maintained or improved the relative wealth and worked on removing the inequality. It is clear that many people are poor. Havana, which must have been a gem of a European-style city, is dilapidated. It does have beautiful residential neighbourhoods but they appear to be for diplomats and government officials.

Yes, Cuba is better than many countries in the world in some respects. However, many of those countries have been poor for a long time, while Cuba was relatively developed. Living next to the biggest market in the world, perhaps the island nation could have been a South Korea. While other previously Communist and non-Communist dictatorships have become freer and improved economically, the Castro regime wasted that opportunity and Cuba has clearly fallen behind the times, to the detriment of its people. This is the tragedy of Cuba.

Jaydeep Balakrishnan, professor, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary

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It beggars beerlief

Re With Clever Craft-Beer Names Running Dry, Brew Makers Find Inspiration In Music (Life & Arts, Nov. 30): So Canadian craft-beer makers looking to name their product have a problem: “The puns are all taken”?

This beggars beerlief. The English, who have been naming ales for centuries, keep coming up with fresh silliness. Some of the punny English pints you can order even sound relatively high-brew: Beer Wulf, Ale Caesar, or 4 Hopmen of the Apocalypse. But you can also quench your thirst on Hop Angeles, Hop of the Morning or Devil Made Me Brew It. And Beertrix Porter.

I believe the possibeerities are endless.

Rudy Buller, Toronto

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