Every election cycle, the conversation of electoral reform is revived to some extent. 2021 was no different. 


Consider this: ​​In Toronto, the Liberals only won 48.9 per cent of the votes, but they won more than 90 per cent of the seats in Canada’s largest city, electing 48 of the 53 MPs there. The NDP won 14.5 per cent of the vote in Toronto, but ended up with no seats. The nearly 400,000 voters who voted for them now have no representation in Parliament. 


This is rabble radio, and this is what’s up for discussion. I’m your host and the editor of rabble.ca, Chelsea Nash. Let’s dive in.


On Thursday evening, rabble hosted its monthly live politics panel Off the Hill. This time, the theme was Back to a Hung Parliament: How do we make it work for people? This was the first time our illustrious panelists were able to get together since the recent election, and, seeing as how we’re still waiting for Parliament to be recalled sometime this fall, the topic of discussion was about lessons learned from this election campaign, and, if the election results were really more or less the same, how can we make this minority government different? 


Robin Browne and Libby Davies are Off the Hill’s co-hosts. Robin is a communications professional and the co-lead of the 613-819 Black Hub, living in Ottawa. Libby Davies is the author of Outside In: a Political Memoir. She served as the MP for Vancouver East from 1997-2015, and is former NDP Deputy Leader and House Leader.


Guests include: 


Leah Gazan, who was recently re-elected to her post as Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre. She is currently the NDP Critic for Children, Families, and Social Development, as well as the Deputy Critic for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. Leah is a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Saskatchewan, Treaty 4 territory.


Chuka Ejeckam is a political researcher and writer, and works in the labour movement in British Columbia. He focuses on political and economic inequity and inequality, both within Canada and as produced by Canadian policy. Read Chuka’s regular column on rabble.ca. 


Rachel Snow is Iyahe Nakoda and the daughter of late Reverend Dr. Chief John Snow. She holds a juris doctor from the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan and is an outspoken educator, speaker, writer and co-contact person for the Indigneous Activist Networks. 


Last but not least: Karl Nerenberg is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and filmmaker, working in both English and French languages. He joined rabble as parliamentary correspondent in 2011.



Let me remind you what we talked about at the beginning of this episode; how the Liberals won 90 per cent of the seats in Toronto with less than half of the popular vote. This means that more than half of Toronto voters won’t have their interests represented on Parliament Hill or in various caucus meetings. 


Nerenberg points out how the first-past-the-post system serves to deepen Canada’s regional differences, painting entire sections — or entire cities — with broad swaths of Conservative blue or Liberal red, with some of the NDP’s orange and the Bloc’s light blue peeking through. 


Take Saskatchewan, for instance. In that prairie province, the NDP managed to garner more than one-fifth of the votes, 21.1 per cent. That is more than three points higher than the NDP’s national popular vote share. But the New Democrats didn’t win a single Saskatchewan seat. The Conservatives won all 14. 


The voter demographic in Saskatchewan and other prairie provinces is not nearly as monochrome as our electoral results suggest. This pits entire regions against one another rather than taking into account the nuance of demographic voting habits across the country. Read the rest of Karl’s analysis at rabble.ca. 


Also this week, Stephen Wentzell writes about five ways the incoming Parliament could make history. First on the list? Commit to more ambitious emissions targets. 


With increased heat waves, drought, wildfires and more extreme weather events, Canada is warming at twice the global rate. Five-year targets on our way to a net-zero 2050 aren’t cutting it — and as overnight temperatures hit records in addition to days above 20 degrees Celsius — Canadians don’t have time for deliberating anymore; we need leadership on climate action, writes Wentzell. 


He also writes that this new session could implement universal pharmacare with dental care, enhance resources and supports for nurses who have been left burnt out by the pandemic, extend COVID-19 financial supports which are set to expire on October 23. And, finally, this new Parliament could end the discriminatory ban on the donation of LGBTQ+ individuals’ blood. 


Also on the site this week: 


Cathy Crowe writes that every month in Toronto, there is a monthly homeless memorial that’s been hosted for over twenty years. While there used to be between one and five names of unhoused people, the numbers are now routinely in the double digits. The October memorial saw 15 names of people added. It’s a tragedy, writes Crowe, but one that is avoidable. Toronto’s Shelter and Housing Justice Network (SHJN) recently released its evidence based winter and spring plan to provide emergency and shelter support and infrastructure so the city’s homeless population can have a shot at surviving the fast-approaching winter. 


Brent Patterson breaks down everything we know about the RCMP’s militarized “resource extraction protection unit” which has been arresting and perpetuating violence upon land defenders across the country.


And, Philip Lee writes about how the lack of language diversity on the internet actually makes it a whole lot less accessible than we might think it is.


All that and more at rabble.ca.



That’s a wrap for this week’s episode of rabble radio. Stay tuned for more of our social and political coverage next week. If you like the show please consider subscribing wherever you listen to your podcasts. Rate, review, share it with your friends and, maybe more importantly, your enemies. Follow us on social media across channels @rabbleca. 

If after listening, you feel like you have something to tell me, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch anytime at [email protected]rabble.ca. I can’t always promise I’ll respond, but I do read everything.

As always, check the site for the latest in-depth analysis, insightful opinions and breaking news. I’m your host, Chelsea Nash. Thanks for listening! 

Thanks to Victoria Fenner for production, Wayne MacPhail for advisement, Karl Nerenberg for the music, and all the journalists and writers who contributed to this week’s content on rabble.ca.

rabble radio

Hosted by Breanne Doyle, rabble radio is the flagship podcast of rabble.ca. rabble breaks down the news of the day from a progressive lens.

rabble radio brings you closer to the stories that matter to you. If you’re curious about the latest news in Canadian politics, labour, environment, or social justice, you’ve come to the right place. This is news for the rest of us – free of corporate influence.