I think we certainly need to do that.
Some of the polling evidence, which perhaps others have cited in testimony before the committee—I know André Blais was here this morning, but I did not hear his testimony, so whether he was able to cite some of this or not, I'm not sure.... I think some of the reservations that people have about elections in Canada and the way they are conducted touch on that point: people's feelings, especially if you live in a constituency that is considered a safe seat where the levels of competition are low from election to election and where you're told how important the election is, but you start to realize that your vote is not going to make much difference or the choices you're being presented with are not the choices you would like to see.
Now, those things don't come out explicitly in polling, but they're there. You can see that people have that feeling that they're being told the election is really important and that they should go out and vote, but yet their vote is not going to do anything; it's not going to accomplish anything in the place where they live and given the choices they're presented with.
You're trying to some extent to counteract that.
Also, in the line that you quoted from my brief I was citing Alan Cairns, who wrote in 1968, so these arguments have been around for a long time. I could have cited other things, but I cited the Cairns article because it is the single most widely cited article in the Canadian Journal of Political Science.
A student did a tally of this some time ago, a listing of how often articles are cited, and Alan Cairns' article on the electoral system and the party system, written in 1968, was the most-cited piece in Canadian political science. My colleague Peter Russell yesterday stressed the idea that this argument, as Mr. Thériault has also just mentioned, goes back to 1921. So these arguments have been around for a long time.
Now, we know why we have first past the post in Canada: the British gave it to us. And they didn't just give it to us; they gave it to every other British colony and dominion in the world in the 19th century. It is an electoral system that has worked okay in some places and not so well in others. It's probably not a good system for India, for example. The reason India has first past the post is simply its British colonial heritage.
But the British didn't differentiate; they didn't do studies of their colonies and conclude that in colony X or colony Y STV might be a better model, or maybe PR. They just thought that the British system was the best system and gave it to everybody, no matter when this happened or what the venue was.
Well, then societies change, as Professor Russell pointed out yesterday. Canada became a multi-party system in 1921, and it has been ever since. This system doesn't work as well in that environment. First past the post doesn't work very well anymore in Britain. Look at the cleavage with Scotland.
The idea that there's this glorious 19th-century British model that should be our first preference.... It has never been chosen in Canada and doesn't even work very well in the place that is its ancestral home.