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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Groundhog Day

BY Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash Oct 8, 2021

I was not expecting much from a federal election in the midst of a fourth wave of Covid-19, but I must say that it was the most boring election I’ve ever witnessed so far in my life.

It was not only boring. Dissolving Parliament during a pandemic comes with its technical challenges, which were mostly overlooked by Elections Canada. There was a significantly smaller number of polling stations, some Indigenous communities were told to vote in fly-in communities or urban centres, and people infected with Covid were not allowed to vote in-person. Voter suppression is not a good look for Elections Canada and Justin Trudeau.

The Canadian electoral system is already dysfunctional as it is. Single-member plurality is a major factor of why we always end up with the Conservatives or Liberals winning. In Canada, if your party wins the most seats, you get to form the government. However, even if you have the highest percentage of seats – let’s say 40% – there is still 60% of voters who voted for other parties and not for you. 

This electoral system feeds into the lack of diversity in Parliament. For the longest time, Elizabeth May was the only Green Party MP even if the party would get millions of votes across the country. 

Electoral reform would eventually allow younger and more progressive political parties to form governments, which is why the Liberals and Conservatives do not want to commit to it. In 2015, Trudeau promised he would reform the first-past-the-post system, but obviously he didn’t.

Scrolling through Twitter, I found many posts stating that there were no polling stations in a particular community and that their voter card instructed them to vote in another fly-in community or in a town located an hour’s drive or more away. 

Indigenous voters in remote areas always had problems with Elections Canada, but this time it was disastrous, and many were not able to vote on September 20. They simply narrowed it down to the fact that there were fewer polling stations due to the pandemic. Parliament did suggest that the elections should have been held on a weekend to ensure enough volunteers at polling stations, but it was not taken into consideration. 

I have to agree that dissolving Parliament at this time was irresponsible and ended up being useless, as the number of seats for each party remained pretty much the same. 

Someone on Twitter said: “This election could have been an e-mail.” I agree with this statement. At least, I went to bed that day satisfied that Maxime Bernier lost his riding

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Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash is Cree from Waswanipi, and is the Nation’s newest columnist. She is an activist and writer who also has a regular column in Montreal’s French Metro Newspaper.