Canada, You’re Still in Control of Your Destiny

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Dear Canadians,

I have seen your future. It’s not pretty. The nation needs electoral reform.

I grew up in Canada and moved to the US to pursue a career in law. I watched America elect its first Black president, build a national progressive movement, and send a Latina to the Supreme Court.

And then came 2016. We took a lot for granted, we did not take anti-democratic threats seriously, and now our democracy is in peril.

You are, right now, where the US was then. But you have a chance to make a different choice. America’s advantage is that our system of checks and balances means we always have a fighting chance to turn things around. Unfortunately, your particular brand of parliamentary democracy means that when things start going bad, you will fall quicker and harder. Bottom line: You must act now or it may be too late.

In 2015, Donald Trump traveled down the escalator, announced his bigoted campaign for presidency and launched the nation towards an anti-democratic future powered by hate, division, and violence. Looking back, all of the signs of the impending disaster were apparent during the preceding Obama administration, but our leaders failed us. Now, Trump’s back and leading presidential polls.

Run down the list of dangerous indicators from America 2015 and you will see many familiar to you in Canada 2024:

Canadian polls indicate that the Conservatives are on their way to forming the next federal government due to the ‘first past the post’ system which allows 40% of the popular vote to yield 60% of the seats in parliament. In this antiquated system, the radical right wing Members of Parliament will be rewarded with power positions.

[Read Related: ‘We Need To Do Better’ South Asian Americans on the Political Divide in the U.S.]

In the US, we fought Trump and his MAGA minions every step of the way after the 2016 election. We earned some important victories and are still in the fight of our lives. But it didn’t need to be this way. This difficult struggle is also your future if the Conservatives are elected; not because Pierre Polievre is the Canadian equivalent to Trump, but because he has triggered a dangerous future by embracing right wing radicalism. The radicals will use their new power to ensure Poilievre governs from the hard right just as MAGA Republicans did with Trump. Every modest attempt by Trump and successive House Speakers to advocate for reasonable policies were met with derision and MAGA attacks. Three Speakers were replaced, each time by someone even more MAGA. The same will happen to Poilievre. He will either be a radical right wing Prime Minister or he will be replaced. Too many of his MPs do not prioritize Canadian values. They care only about the next social media moment, increasing their own power, and seizing full control of the government to enrich their allies.

As bad as the descent has been in the United States, we were able to fight back by winning the House of Representatives just two years after Trump was elected to the White House. There will be no such reprieve in Canada. A majority in the House of Commons is full control of all the levers of government for five years. By the time the right wing radicals are done with their first term, they will fundamentally alter the nature of Canadian government, put corporations in control of your institutions, hand over foreign policy to defense industry wardogs, gerrymander districts to lock in right wing majorities, and appoint judges that protect the new status quo. It will happen because there is only one path for right wing radicals, whether they are American, Canadian, Russian, Indian or other; consolidate power, undermine democratic institutions, and maintain power by any means necessary.

To see how far Canada has already fallen, recall the recent visit of Tucker Carlson to Alberta. Carlson once hosted what The New York Times described as “the most racist show in the history of cable news.” After a long career of enabling Trump, pushing conspiracy theories, misogyny, virulent bigotry, election denial, and insurrection apologism, Carlson was fired by Fox News, not because he was a horrid human, but because his public exposure as a horrid human cost the corporation millions of dollars. Just a few years ago, no politician in Canada would have dared to have been seen in the vicinity of Carlson. Now, however, he was joined on stage by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith who prodded Carlson to target the Federal Minister of the Environment saying, “I wish you would put Steven Guilbeault in your crosshairs.” This message of attack was met with cheers and applause from an adoring crowd, as were Carlson’s attacks on the LGBTQ commmunity and Canadian institutions. Like Trump, both Smith and Carlson are inciting political violence and, like Trump, they will claim innocence when they are successful. Leaders from the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party expressed their outrage to the behavior of Smith and Carlson but Poilievre, predictably, did not. Expect more of this cycle of immorality; right wing radicals push rhetoric into previously unacceptable territory, Liberals and the NDP object, and Conservative leaders support the offenders, no matter how misogynistic, racist, or bigoted. This is not a speculative future, it’s the future we are living through in the United States.

Thankfully, Canada, you are still in control of your destiny. There are a lot of very good reasons to be critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau but he, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, are still in the driver’s seat. Their respective parties have control of Parliament and they can pass legislation to protect your nation from the devastating future we are living through in America. The solution is Proportional Representation. Simply put, the Parliament must pass reforms that will yield a House of Commons which reflects the votes cast by citizens across the country. If the majority of Canadians are not right wing voters, then Parliament should reflect that.

The current system allows a minority of voters to elect a majority of the parliament. This is the antithesis of democracy. Instead, you need a system which better reflects the votes of Canadians while maintaining regional representation.

Consider recent elections in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Almost half of Albertans voted for something other than the Conservative Party but 80% of the seats went to Conservatives. In Saskatchewan, Conservatives received less than two-thirds of the vote but all of the seats. In Ontario, Liberals and NDP combined for almost half of the vote but less than 30% of the seats.



A similar result process unfolded in 2021 federal elections, with the Liberals receiving 33% of the vote but 47% of the seats. 


A dangerous replay is upon us, Conservatives are polling near 40% but set to take power with a solid majority of 59% of the seats. This is not how a democracy should work and it must be changed before it’s too late.


This is a big change in Canadian politics but it is far from controversial. There are very few nations around the world still clinging to the anachronistic system Canada employs. The reason is simple; elected leadership bodies should reflect the votes cast. In the United States, reform is long overdue but change is impossible, requiring a national meeting of the minds among the states and Congress. In Canada, however, change is within reach. A simple majority of MPs i.e. Liberals, NDP, BQ, can come together and enact changes to preserve the fabric of the nation as a representative democracy.

Canada, we are counting on you. America is at the tipping point and we need your help. Canada must be the shining example of what is possible when good people come together for a common cause, the True North, Strong And Free.

Amar Singh Shergill, Esq.
British Columbia resident, 1972-1996
California resident, 1996-2024
California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Chair Emeritus
Former DNC Delegate for Bernie Sanders
Former Executive Board Member of the California Democratic Party

*Note: All charts are from Fair Vote Canada.

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By Amar Shergill

Amar Shergill is a former Executive Board Member with the California Democratic Party and Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, … Read more ›