Author Topic: Electoral Reform in Ontario  (Read 22801 times)

fern hill

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Electoral Reform in Ontario
« on: August 07, 2007, 04:45:34 PM »
I've been avoiding this. It makes head hurt. But I see from the posts at ProgBlog that campaigns have begun and that I will have to think about it.

Someone please tell me what a good lefty chick should think.

kuri

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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2007, 05:29:28 PM »
Well, as a member of Fair Vote Alberta, I'm biased, but I think good lefty chicks and dudes support MMP. I can back that up with a tonne of links, too, but not from work. ;) Remind me later on if no one comes up with good reasons in the interim. :)

fern hill

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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2007, 05:46:20 PM »
No, no, no links.  :panic

I don't wanna think about this. I'll vote for the right thing. Or better thing. If kuri says MMP is good, that's good enough for me.

skdadl

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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2007, 06:23:46 PM »
I know how you feel, fyrnova. This is one of those topics that we all know is very very important but that leaves some of us simply narcoleptic.

I wouldn't mind a two- or three-sentence summary of why MMP is a good thing, so that I can fling it back at my big brother or someone.

stribe36

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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2007, 07:06:30 PM »
Quote from: skdadl
I wouldn't mind a two- or three-sentence summary of why MMP is a good thing, so that I can fling it back at my big brother or someone.


How about 3 paragraphs? Here's a good summary from Vote For MMP


Quote
With MMP, both rural and urban voters gain stronger representation. In addition to riding representatives, voters can turn to their new at-large representatives for assistance. Most at-large representatives will want to help with constituency work, particularly in areas where their party won no riding seats.

MMP will also encourage more diversity in legislatures. Most parties will find they win more votes if their at-large candidates list includes a good mix of women and minorities, or those who are less often elected in ridings.

Finally, because parties will be required to work with one another in coalitions to pass legislation, the system will reward cooperation, compromise and accountability in place of partisan rigidity, trivial bickering and narrow thinking.

skdadl

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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2007, 07:29:59 PM »
Oh, dear. I see some code words there. "Partisan rigidity, trivial bickering" in particular -- sorry, but I'm allergic right now to people who try to smarm us with that argument.

Defending democracy must be done on principle, and it is the principled defenders of democracy who are the targets of anyone who is whining about "partisan rigidity, trivial bickering."

You'd really have to talk me out of those.

stribe36

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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2007, 07:31:25 PM »
Quote from: skdadl
Oh, dear. I see some code words there. "Partisan bickering" in particular -- sorry, but I'm allergic right now to people who try to smarm us with that argument.

Defending democracy must be done on principle, and it is the principled defenders of democracy who are the targets of anyone who is whining about "partisan bickering."

You'd really have to talk me out of that one.


Alright. How about this:

Jason Cherniak is against MMP.

Is that sufficient? ;)

skdadl

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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2007, 07:33:56 PM »
No. I don't fall for that either.

I can imagine why a triumphalist Liberal would be against any change to the electoral system at all. I mean, they've had long enough to do something anything and they never have.

stribe36

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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2007, 07:46:02 PM »
Quote from: skdadl
No. I don't fall for that either.

I can imagine why a triumphalist Liberal would be against any change to the electoral system at all. I mean, they've had long enough to do something anything and they never have.


Well Skdadl: I'll say only this in response. You say code words.. but I see what Harper has managed to do with a minority situation in our current system of FPTP, and partisan bickering is SOP there. All of it is done to try and position themselves (and you can say the same thing for the Liberals, and for the other parties too if they were in the Official Opposition position) to gain a majority in the next election and impose their will on the "majority" of the population that didn't vote for them.

It is because of our adversarial system that FPTP is that we see this. Idealistic Pragmatist is more eloquent about this point then I.. but I believe that when you introduce a system that forces you to cooperate.. you'll see less "partisan bickering" which according to most polls is one of the main turn-offs Canadians have toward our present system.

I also believe in brief that it will allow more women and visible minorities and First Nations a chance to gain more representation in government.. and the party(s) that dont show a willingness to do this would be punished by the electorate.

Thats why I'm a MMP supporter. It may not be the perfect system.. but its better then the one we have.. and we only have 2 choices in Ontario - the status quo or this. And... thats why I'm voting for it.

k'in

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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2007, 07:56:25 PM »
I *was* in possession of a multiple page "up with people" style dead tree copy of the pro MMP campaign literature.  Tried to discuss it a few times with 3D people.  It has wandered off so I can't quote, but I recall it featured several "known" lefties, righties, and tweeners on the masthead and would result in a boatload more MPPs.  If it means more democracy I'm all for it, but it was a tough slog, written in marketing language so I'm kinda bored/perplexed at the moment.

According to Ian Irquhart at the Star, the marketing campaign, such as it were, is just beginning:

Quote
Taking into account all of the above, it is quite possible Ontarians will be making their choice on the referendum question with minimal knowledge of what is at stake.

Referendum experts say that in such circumstances the voters usually opt for the status quo over the unknown.

Debra

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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2007, 08:05:24 PM »
here's a good breakdown of why it's a good idea

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtbfG_eKlZg

Sorry fern hope you can get to the "good" computer.
“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” —  Josephine Hart

skdadl

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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2007, 08:40:30 PM »
Quote from: stribe36

Well Skdadl: I'll say only this in response. You say code words.. but I see what Harper has managed to do with a minority situation in our current system of FPTP, and partisan bickering is SOP there. All of it is done to try and position themselves (and you can say the same thing for the Liberals, and for the other parties too if they were in the Official Opposition position) to gain a majority in the next election and impose their will on the "majority" of the"partisan  population that didn't vote for them.

It is because of our adversarial system that FPTP is that we see this. Idealistic Pragmatist is more eloquent about this point then I.. but I believe that when you introduce a system that forces you to cooperate.. you'll see less "partisan bickering" which according to most polls is one of the main turn-offs Canadians have toward our present system.

I also believe in brief that it will allow more women and visible minorities and First Nations a chance to gain more representation in government.. and the party(s) that dont show a willingness to do this would be punished by the electorate.

Thats why I'm a MMP supporter. It may not be the perfect system.. but its better then the one we have.. and we only have 2 choices in Ontario - the status quo or this. And... thats why I'm voting for it.


Ah, Scott. Could you direct me to a few of those polls you cite?

Because otherwise, Scott, I'm gonna tell you that you sound as though you've drunk the Kool-Aid. You're making precisely the same arguments that Karl Rove taught the Beltway media to hammer into Democratic Party heads through the Bush admin, and they are lies, Scott. They are lies.

Over and over again through the past year especially, it has been demonstrated that the theory that most "ordinary" people are centrists is a great big lie. No poll in the U.S. supports that theory. And yet the msm and the Democratic Party continue to jump to that tune, which is precisely what the Bushies want.

"Ordinary" people do respond to arguments of principle. It's a lie that they don't. And democracy is in sore need of serious, principled defence.

stribe36

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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2007, 09:09:33 PM »
Quote from: skdadl

Ah, Scott. Could you direct me to a few of those polls you cite?

Because otherwise, Scott, I'm gonna tell you that you sound as though you've drunk the Kool-Aid. You're making precisely the same arguments that Karl Rove taught the Beltway media to hammer into Democratic Party heads through the Bush admin, and they are lies, Scott. They are lies.

You're equating the Beltway Media and Rove to our situation up here? I think that's a bit of a stretch.  Are you also saying that you prefer our current voting system the way it is? I find that hard to believe.

I'll admit I dont currently have an exact poll for you on partisan bickering.. I may have misread what I thought I read..  but I'll give you the one I feel is closely related:

Quote
The majority of Canadians attribute the turnout decline to negative public attitudes toward the performance of the politicians and political institutions involved in federal politics. The objects of perceived public displeasure run the complete gamut of personnel and institutions, but the most prominently mentioned were "politicians" and "the government",


Canadians don't like their institutions.. Canadians are turning in increasingly low numbers because of it.. Canadians (the majority according to this study) say its due to the politicians and political institutions.

And what does everyone complain about? Why.. the partisan bickering. That's a constant theme. Is it a lie? I dont know.. but i know what I saw in the last sitting of the House. Read also this part of this particular study on Page 17 here, where it says "Furthermore, without a meaningful role to play,  MP's and Backbenchers are reduced to trying to score partisan points thru cajoling and heckling, increasing the public's cynicism"

The system needs to be changed to ensure more democratic and more proportional voting Skdadl, that fairly represents better what the population is actually voting for. I cant understand why you wouldnt support this over a few "code words" that are applicable to the US.. but not so here, I feel. Partisan bickering is seen in QP every day the House is sitting.... and its obvious we don't have a fair voting system.

fern hill

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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2007, 11:21:04 PM »
OK, I've read that. I'm still going with kuri. kuri doesn't hurt my head.

kuri

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« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2007, 12:03:18 AM »
Well, that's easy. :)

Still, if you want to know a little more about electoral reform in general, you could do a lot worse than Idealistic Pragmatist's FAQ.

The thing about MMP, is that it's not perfect. A lot of the detractors are going to be pointing out all the ways that it's not perfect, just as the detractors of STV did in BC. (In fact, I don't like that the Ontario citizen's assembly went for a closed list model, I much prefer the Scottish "AMP" model (MMP in Scotland is AMP, just because, well, we needed more complexity, right? ;) ) where the list candidates are chosen based on a vote-based formula instead of ranked by the parties.) However, a successful and legitimate argument for reform by no means needs to prove that the MMP is perfect; it just need to demonstrate that it's an improvement to the status quo, or FPTP, and MMP is superior to FPTP.

My personal reason for wanting proportional representation is based on a national thing, and therefore will be irrelevant to you Ontario folk, but I'm going to say it anyway. FPTP rewards regionally based parties. It is thanks to this distortion that the Bloc gets so many seats in QC (much more than their share of the popular vote quite often) leading many people to unfairly generalize that Quebec is full separatist and doesn't think about any issue other than separatism. It is also thanks to this distortion that the Reform Party became so popular in the west and that the Conservative party is in power today (they, too, have more seats than share of the popular vote). And this, in turn, leads many people to unfairly generalize that the west, Alberta in particular, is full of Harper clones and Manning clones. (Not to mention Klein clones, the provincial Conservatives enjoy some of the most distorted seat counts in Canada compared to the number of votes they receive.) So I think that once you have a genuinely proportional number of non-Bloc lefty (and righty) Quebecors in Parliament, and a genuinely proportional number of lefty Albertans in Parliament, Canadians will begin to see how ridiculous our regional stereotypes are. And premiers (like Stelmach warning against climate change legislation) will have a lot less leverage to claim they are representing a community they aren't (the majority of Alberta MLA's are against climate change legislation, the majority of Albertans are for it).

I'm reluctant to say that Canadians will vote more with proportional representation. The evidence on that is very mixed. Nor am I certain it will necessarily reduce bickering, at least in the short term - rules of Parliamentary procedure are the place to go if bickering is your main concern.

But it's just a matter of fairness, that if, say, 35% of Ontarians vote for party A, that party A get 35% of the seats in provincial parliament. Right now, that's not the case.

And finally, I think it's nice to know that your vote will have an impact no matter where you live. For a federal example, imagine that you live in Crowfoot. You've just opened your door to meet Ellen Parker, who's running for the NDP and is a fantastic lady (she is, actually, I've met her). But you look at the numbers and see that the Conservative guy got 83% of the vote. And even though Ellen did better than the Liberals and the Greens, her 7.4% is no where near the Conservative. Would you feel you had any reason to vote in this scenario? I'm loathe to say that those 7.4% of Crowfoot residents who voted for Ellen wasted their votes, but honestly, you can't really say that they had much effect. (Ironically, if I were a Conservative in Crowfoot, I wouldn't been very motivated, either, because really, does he need the help?)

However, consider that a proportional system, meant that if the NDP got 10% of the seats nationally, but 25% of the vote, that other 15% would be filled from list candidates. Now, Ellen, since she's awesome, will almost certainly be on that list. And while it's not guarantee (nothing's a guarantee in a democracy), you know that your vote for her will actually increase the likelihood she makes it into Parliament.

Yeah, no I'm rambling now, and I'm probably risking confusion with my bad writing and scrambled thoughts. I'm tired, so I'll stop now.  :oops:

ETA: Oh, and finally, MMP will probably mean a larger proportion of women from all parties in Provincial Parliament, which is why it was supported by the late Doris Anderson, Michelle Landsberg and other feminists.

 

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