That is what he said in this chamber moments ago. He said that free votes would be anarchy. In other words, by extension, democracy would be anarchy because free votes, like a referendum, should be representative of the people.
If I am representing my constituents of Prince George—Peace River on any particular piece of legislation in a free vote and I can throw off the shackles of party discipline, the party policy or the leader's position and vote the wishes of my constituents, I would submit that is democracy. Yet the member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot would state that free votes would be anarchy.
My colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca put forward the suggestion that the vast majority of votes in this place should not require party discipline. This is something that has always puzzled me. Why do the old parties that have been around this country for so long rely on party discipline? They rely on the whips. They rely on the system of either discipline or reward to ensure that their government members, when they are on the government side of the House, vote for their legislation.
If their legislation were good legislation, if it was in the best interests of not only Canadians at large but in the best interests of the majority of the constituents in the majority of the ridings, then it should pass through this chamber and become good law. Yet we have seen time and time again--certainly I have seen it in the 10 years that I have been a member of Parliament--where laws are passed in this place and we find out in hindsight that some of the opposition members actually knew what they were talking about when they submitted amendments and spoke of concerns they had with the legislation. Indeed, sometimes there is even a free spirit on the government backbenches who also raises concerns about a piece of legislation and occasionally even puts forward an amendment.
Almost invariably all those amendments, despite their worth, are voted down. They are thrown away because they are not the minister's or the cabinet's or the Prime Minister's amendment. Many times, certainly in the 10 years I have been here, that legislation comes back to haunt the government. It is either thrown out in court decisions or overruled. If we had taken a bit more time, if there had not been the party discipline in this chamber, where the government whip cracks the whip and forces government members to support a piece of legislation, we would have had better laws in Canada. Yes, I submit it would take longer to pass laws, but we would have better laws as a result of it.
We are talking about proportional representation as a replacement for our first past the post system in Canada. I will be voting for the motion put by the New Democratic Party. As my colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam has stated, I will be voting for it even though I personally do not think that proportional representation is the best system for Canada. My preference would be a preferential balloting system where Canadians, at the time of an election, no matter how many candidates they had to select from in their constituency, would mark their selections from number one, being the first choice, to however many there were.
I need to explain how this system would work. When the results are being tabulated by riding, if a candidate did not have more than 50% of the first choice votes when the ballots are counted, then the ballots of the candidates with the least first choices would be recounted based upon the second choices on those ballots and reassigned to the other candidates. If that, in effect, gave one candidate more than 50% of the ballots, then he or she would be declared a victor in the election. That is the system that I personally support. But, as my colleague has said, we need to move this debate along.
Our system is widely viewed as archaic. Indeed, many of the rules that we have in the House of Commons are more archaic than in the mother parliament in Great Britain. We have not evolved even as much as the parliament in Great Britain has evolved over time.
We can further the debate about what type of electoral system Canadians want, and what reforms they want to see, by supporting this motion. It is a step forward.
It is not the ideal system. I was pleased to hear a Liberal backbencher earlier make a similar comment. He will be supporting the motion even though he does not recognize that it is the panacea.
It is not the be all and end all and the ideal, but at least it furthers the debate and debate is healthy. It is a debate that Canadians should have. Canadians want to have a debate about their Parliament because, and I will sum up with this, something is wrong when we see an elected dictatorship put in place to run the business of this country with 38% of the votes in a federal election.