This commentary was first published in the Toronto Star on November 1, 2008.

The days and weeks following a national election are invariably a time of reflection and recrimination.

The Liberals in particular are in for a period of intense soul-searching as they begin yet another leadership campaign.

But it is not only Liberals who should reflect on the recent election.

All Canadians should be disturbed by the results because once again we have gone to the polls and ended up with a government that almost two-thirds of the country opposes.

The flaws in this election go way beyond party politics and political egos. The way we count votes and award seats in the House of Commons, it turns out, deserves much more of the blame.

The fact is that Liberals suffered more from the Canada Election Act than anything Stéphane Dion said or did. Even though the Liberals trailed the Conservatives by only 12 percentage points in the popular vote (38-26), they got barely half as many seats (143-76).

If seats had been awarded to the parties in the same proportion as the votes they received, the Conservatives would have won 116 compared to 80 for the Liberals.

An even worse injustice was suffered by the almost 1 million Canadians who voted for the Greens. They will have no representation in Parliament, even though they had as many supporters as there are people living in Calgary or Ottawa or Vancouver. Not giving them any seats in the House of Commons is like disenfranchising whole cities.

In the post-mortems on this election, Canadians should ask themselves why our elections are so undemocratic.

After all, we are one of the few countries in the world that does not award parties the same percentage of seats in Parliament that they received in the popular vote. In most countries, election laws are built around the principle of proportional representation (PR), which ensures each party's percentage of votes and seats in the legislature are more or less the same.

Moreover, ensuring that the votes of each Canadian count the same is not the only virtue of PR. Women also do better. More women run and more women are elected in PR countries than in Canada. Because women have a harder time winning seats that represent geographical constituencies, in PR countries all parties recognize the need to put a lot of them high up on their candidate lists.

Studies also show that PR invigorates democracy by encouraging greater citizen participation. Not surprisingly, when people know their vote really counts, they are more likely to turn up at the polls.

Finally, PR also encourages a more inclusive, less divisive politics.

National parties like the Greens that appeal to voters coast to coast get the representation they deserve. The disproportionate influence that regional parties like the Bloc Québécois currently enjoy would become a relic of our (colonial) past. If this election had been fought under PR rules, the Bloc would now have 30 seats instead of the 50 they won.

On every criterion PR makes for better democracy. Even the charge that PR produces unstable governments that lack transparency is belied by the facts. Germany is widely regarded as having developed one of the most sophisticated PR systems in the world and its governments have been as stable and open as any.

So far, Canada's politicians have not been keen on the idea of incorporating the principle of proportional representation into our election laws.

The problem is that the party that wins the most votes, like the Conservatives, profits too much from the current system and has no incentive to change the law.

To force the government to consider serious reform we need someone like Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to challenge our current election laws as a violation of constitutional rights and take Stephen Harper to court. Unlike her appearances in the leaders debate, before the bar of the Supreme Court of Canada she would occupy centre stage.

And if she won the case, as I think she would, and her party did as well in the next election, she would be sitting in Parliament in three or four years with 20 fellow environmentalists. Indeed, if all parties held onto the same percentage of votes, she and NDP Leader Jack Layton could join forces, offer their support to the Liberals and be part of a government that, unlike Harper's, would have the support of a majority of Canadians.