Proportional Representation part 3

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Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
What you are proposing is more like requiring a person who has decided they want a small car to decide before see the options which one they want or admit that they really do not want a small car at all -- their inability to choose before the options are fully explored means they want a boat not a small car.

Well, it seems that you and the Reverend do, at least, agree that when buying a car, you should be permitted to see the options before committing.

So on the one hand I get your point that right now you and others might prefer to just explore options -- the electoral reform equivalent of checking out Auto Trader, and searching for reviews and prices online.

But at the same time it's been suggested more than once that if we were to have a referendum on the issue, we should refrain from mentioning any particular system of PR by name.  And I'm thinking that if we get to the point where we're considering holding a referendum, shouldn't that happen after everyone's had some time to discuss and debate and "online shop", and shouldn't we know what specific system we're talking about as a replacement for the status quo?

And to return to the car analogy, PR proponents are the car salesmen.  They can't really expect to sell a new car just by saying "But Sir, all of our cars are better than the one that you've got!".  Nor should it be a problem if a potential customer asks why others who've bought a new car from you have experienced poor gas mileage, or frequent breakdowns, or expensive and constant maintenance.

I consider there already is a mandate to work out the best of the many PR options, seek multiparty consensus and to educate the public on it. It is unrealistic to presume that the best choice would succeed with no effort to examine options, no public money and this wierd presumption that we have to have a final choice before we get a look.

I think the present government does have the mandate to proceed to work out -- using public money -- what the best option is and to seek a consensus with the other parties. I think if that is found then the government does have a mandate to proceed to implement it -- all without a referendum. However, if there is no consensus among the parties I agree that the government technically, while it has the right to proceed, given that this is a reversible decision, a referendum would provide a stronger mandate and would provide greater public respect and authority.

In that case it would be a vote between FPTP and the proposed option. But this would come after a process where there is a single option that has prevailed as the best choice among PR proponents. After there has been a full examination and a proposal.

I do not accept that we should go to a premature referendum among all choices as that is designed to split the votes to prefer the existing option. I do not accept that we should have a poorly developed option set up before a public process.

As well, I understand that this will only succeed if the government backs the PR option. In that past the provincial governments did not take a position -- likely hoping it would fail. they were not being honest and set it up to fail.

Parties should take a stand and not pretend to have no opinion.

mark_alfred

Cars, anchovies, etc. So that's what this thread is about.  I'll play.

Wife:  "Anchovies?  I said no to anchovies and threw out the pizza without even looking at it each of four times before.  I've never tried it and I never will.  I don't even know what anchovies are.  So I don't care what experts say.  To hell with pizza chefs!  I want Spam-Bologne Pizza, not whatever the hell anchovies are!  And the same with gay marriage.  No to that.  I demand a referendum."

Husband:  "Uh, too late on gay marriage.  Anyway, but dear, anchovies are very popular, and truly make a more equitable tasting pizza.  Most democratic nations, like Germany, New Zealand, and Italy have pizza with anchovies on them."

Wife:  "Italy?!  What the hell do they know about pizza?"

Husband:  "Okay, fine.  We'll not use anchovies and keep ordering FPTP Spam-Bologne pizza -- but the amount of toppings we order are never reflected."

Wife:  "Don't care.  To hell with experts, chefs, improvements, and what most democracies have.  As long as there's lots of Conservative Spam and Liberal Bologne, and no frilly anchovies (whatever the hell they are!), I'm fine.  I will never try it.  And I want a referendum on capital punishment too!  To hell with what criminologists and sociologists say!"

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I said no to anchovies and threw out the pizza without even looking at it each of four times before.  I've never tried it and I never will.

My parents used to say that sort of thing all the time.

"How do you KNOW you don't like octopus anus if you've NEVER EVEN TRIED octopus anus??"

JKR

Someone once told me that the anus of an octopus is located adjacent to its mouth. This reminds me of the general level of debate during electoral reform referendums. Most of the referendums I've seen on electoral reform have ended up being full of nonsensical debate where the truth has remained deeply submerged under tons of octopus doodoo. The referendum on electoral reform in the UK was probably the smelliest one of them all. David Cameron's ability to win through lying in that referendum probably led him to believe he could win the Brexit referendum by again using deceit. Unfortunately for him the pro-Brexit side had even better liars!

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Someone once told me that the anus of an octopus is located adjacent to its mouth.

Same with any animal, depending on the working definition of 'adjacent".

Thing is, if you don't care to eat anchovies, you don't care to eat anchovies.  No rationale or explanation is required, either in the case of the pizza analogy, or in the electoral reality.

Plenty of Canadians were offered the choice of PR and said "no, thanks".  And that's why we can't assume that we're all in agreement with it.  The electorate is not, in fact, obligated to "just try a little bite" first.

mark_alfred

It's still pizza.  We're just talking about a topping.  It's still voting.  We're just talking about a better way to count votes.  Improvements happen all the time via government consultation without referendum, be it electoral reform or otherwise.  Introducing the metric system as Canada's official system of measurement.  No referendum.  Bilingualism as official policy, in both public and some aspects of private enterprise (IE, food labelling).  No referendum (and in each, if there was, it likely would have been lost).  There's a specific mandate to improve the electoral system and no longer have FPTP, via consultation with experts and members of the public with an interest. 

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Thing is, if you don't care to eat anchovies, you don't care to eat anchovies.  No rationale or explanation is required, either in the case of the pizza analogy, or in the electoral reality.

Plenty of Canadians were offered the choice of PR and said "no, thanks".  And that's why we can't assume that we're all in agreement with it.  The electorate is not, in fact, obligated to "just try a little bite" first.

I think the rationale behind electoral reform is this: that in order for an electoral system to be democratic it must be able to determine the will of the majority. An infinite amount of referendums could not overturn this rationale. This is probably why the movement for electoral reform in Canada and the U.K. has not ended even though there has already been referendums on the issue. I think electoral reform will continue to be an issue in Canada as long as we have an electoral system that does not ascertain the will of the majority.

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:
Mr. Magoo wrote:

Thing is, if you don't care to eat anchovies, you don't care to eat anchovies.  No rationale or explanation is required, either in the case of the pizza analogy, or in the electoral reality.

Plenty of Canadians were offered the choice of PR and said "no, thanks".  And that's why we can't assume that we're all in agreement with it.  The electorate is not, in fact, obligated to "just try a little bite" first.

I think the rationale behind electoral reform is this: that in order for an electoral system to be democratic it must be able to determine the will of the majority. An infinite amount of referendums could not overturn this rationale. This is probably why the movement for electoral reform in Canada and the U.K. has not ended even though there has already been referendums on the issue. I think electoral reform will continue to be an issue in Canada as long as we have an electoral system that does not ascertain the will of the majority.

Well said.

And I am not against a referendum just not another botched let's pretend attempt at electoral reform. Do it properly and the people will endorse it I am sure.

Rev Pesky

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...So let's look at your analogy.

What you are proposing is more like requiring a person who has decided they want a small car to decide before see the options which one they want or admit that they really do not want a small car at all -- their inability to choose before the options are fully explored means they want a boat not a small car.

Which does nothing more than show that perfectly simple analogies are wasted on some. The analogy was, would you sign a sales agreement (binding you to buy a car) before you had a look at the avaialble inventory.

Your answer. Yes.

All I can tell you is I woulnd't. And I won't buy a voting system until I see what it is. And again, you yourself (forget everyone else for a moment) cannot tell me which voting system you support. All I can take from this is that you don't really support any PR option. You are opposed to FPTP, but you have no idea what you support.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...It will take some negotiation and a formal, organized conversation to agree on the best specific model for electoral reform. Many people want that discussion. We cannot start that discussion without an agreement to do so.

Why is that, pray tell? Again you fall back on this argument that first we must accept some unknown PR system, then we'll work out the details.

I'll just point out that we're under no such restriction here. You could promulgate your specific choice here, but you don't.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...I could probably design myself several models of PR that could work -- and most people here could. But you would criticize them complaining that there are too many options.

Are you saying you won't commit to a specific system because I might criticise it? Really?

This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but ideas are put forward all the time, and criticised all the time. Those ideas that are robust can withstand criticism. Those that aren't, can't.

If you really believed in a PR system, you would be defending it.  But that's the problem isn't it? You don't want to have to defend a specific proposal for a PR voting system. Well, all I can say is, I don't blame you. PR voting is essentially indefensible, especially in a country where the Parliament, proportional or otherwise, is subservient to a Senate that is unelected by any system.

Doug Woodard

Rev Pesky wrote:

 PR voting is essentially indefensible, especially in a country where the Parliament, proportional or otherwise, is subservient to a Senate that is unelected by any system.

Pesky, how can you possibly claim that Parliament of Canada is subservient to the Senate? The convention is that when the Commons clearly expresses an intention contrary to the Senate's, the Senate caves. Opposition to an elected Senate has been partly based on the need for a different and clearly laid out process if the Senate has the legitimacy of being elected.

When was the last time we had a prime minister from the Senate? Or a cabinet minister? When Diefenbaker appointed a finance minister from the Senate over 50 years ago, some thought it a dubious proceeding.

I think you're groping around at the bottom of the red herring barrel, and looking ridiculous. Give it up.

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

PR voting is essentially indefensible,....

The world renowned political scientist Arend Lijphart will be interviewed by the all-party committee next week. You should present your case that "pr is indefensible" to him. If you could convince him of that I think he would award you a PhD on the spot.

It will be a real treat hearing from the person many regard as the world's leading expert on electoral systems. I wonder what silly partisan questions Jason Kenney will ask him?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arend_Lijphart

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

 

Your answer. Yes.

Ok the bullshit train can stop here. I have no interest in continuing this. Seems you would rather talk to yourself since you want to make up both sides of the convo anyway.

I well recognize you have the desire to win debates by aggressively mischaracterizing what other people say. You were never interested in a conversation and that was clear in this exchange from the start.

mark_alfred

Quote:

And I am not against a referendum just not another botched let's pretend attempt at electoral reform. Do it properly and the people will endorse it I am sure.

I'm less sure, and still feel that having referendums for parliamentary issues like democratic reform, or laws of any sort, including signing onto trade deals, is innappropriate.  In fact, the only referendums that are appropriate IMO are those on determining a desire of a jurisdiction in Canada to leave the country and begin negotiations to form a sovereign state of its own (and that's only to begin negotiations, not to actually separate); all others are innappropriate, IMO. 

That said, if a referendum on replacing FPTP was done properly, and was not made to be an add on to a general election as happened in Ontario, and was not presented as a means to escape fullfilling keeping the promise of getting rid of FPTP (IE, as long as it's not something like "even though we promised to improve things and end FPTP, we're now hoping to run a losing referendum in the hope of getting out of this promise since we're no longer the struggling third party anymore.")  Rather, if it was, "we promised to end FPTP due to problems with it, and we've worked on some reforms that we believe in, and now we want this to be ratified by the you the public" (kinda in the same way union negotiating committees present signed collective agreements to the membership for ratification).  That I would not be fine with, but at least I wouldn't be completely disgusted.  I say "not fine with" since, when a government identifies a problem, and consults with experts on a solution, it should not be subject to being undone by the public who've not had the chance to study the issue in depth.  Again though, if a referendum were to happen, if it happened in the scenario I described, at least I wouldn't be completely nauseated.

Again, though, why we're discussing this old Reform Party idea of referendums for everything on this supposedly progressive board, and why we're considering the idiotic Conservative notion of needing a referendum to change FPTP when clearly it's an antiquated system that needs changing (and clearly the elected government got a mandate to do this, also coupled by two of the other parties -- maybe three -- I'm not sure about PQ), is a mystery to me.  But whatever.  I'm not gonna post anymore about referendums, because it's just idiotic.

JKR

I think if we have a referendum the Conservatives will be able to effectively run against electoral reform by using partisan politics to obscure the issue. The Conservatives will proclaim that the Liberals, NDP, and Greens are trying to unfairly rig the system. The Conservatives would base their campaign on partisan politics not the relative strengths of electoral systems. So people who dislike the Liberals, and/or the NDP, and/or the Greens, and/or the BQ will likely vote against electoral reform because they dislike one, two, three, or all of these political parties. People who like having the Liberals and Conservatives continuously trade majority governments back and forth would then likely oppose electoral reform for partisan reasons.

The yes side in a referendum would also likely be supported by leading politicians from the Liberals, NDP, Greens, and BQ. My guess is that the Conservatives would run against these political leaders to attack pr. In the UK the Conservatives used the unpopularity of Nick Clegg to win the referendum there even though he was a leading politician within their own coalition government. They also used every lie they could think of to persuade uninformed voters of all sorts of nonsensical boogymen. I'm pretty sure the Conservatives here too would be able to make sure a referendum on electoral reform wasn't based on the merits of electoral systems. It would be all about partisan politics and inaccurate hyperbole. One lie the Conservatives are already using is that pr would mean that only the Liberals could lead governments and that these governments would be weak coalition governments that were subservient to the likes of the NDP, BQ, and Greens, and even smaller more radical elements.

Tumbleweeds

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Just for fun, a hockey metaphor.

Quote:

"Who should win the Stanley Cup? The team that wins the most games or the team that scores the most goals over seven games?" asked Kenneth Carty, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, presenting a question he used to give to his students.

 

Hockey? I'll play. Let's divide a 60 minute into 10 six minute periods. Whoever wins the most 10 minute periods wins the game, even if they are out-scored overall. What great rules!

Or this: let's invite fans from all over the country to come to a hockey arena. Then they vote for their favourite team. The team getting a couple more votes than the other teams is allowed to play on the ice but no one else is. The "game" is governing, the one team on the ice is majority government. What great rules!

JKR

Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins skate around the rink for four years unopposed, scoring goals at will, would make the weather channel seem exciting even though the Penguins have exciting players like Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel.

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:

I think if we have a referendum the Conservatives will be able to effectively run against electoral reform by using partisan politics to obscure the issue. The Conservatives will proclaim that the Liberals, NDP, and Greens are trying to unfairly rig the system. The Conservatives would base their campaign on partisan politics not the relative strengths of electoral systems. So people who dislike the Liberals, and/or the NDP, and/or the Greens, and/or the BQ will likely vote against electoral reform because they dislike one, two, three, or all of these political parties. People who like having the Liberals and Conservatives continuously trade majority governments back and forth would then likely oppose electoral reform for partisan reasons.

The yes side in a referendum would also likely be supported by leading politicians from the Liberals, NDP, Greens, and BQ. My guess is that the Conservatives would run against these political leaders to attack pr. In the UK the Conservatives used the unpopularity of Nick Clegg to win the referendum there even though he was a leading politician within their own coalition government. They also used every lie they could think of to persuade uninformed voters of all sorts of nonsensical boogymen. I'm pretty sure the Conservatives here too would be able to make sure a referendum on electoral reform wasn't based on the merits of electoral systems. It would be all about partisan politics and inaccurate hyperbole. One lie the Conservatives are already using is that pr would mean that only the Liberals could lead governments and that these governments would be weak coalition governments that were subservient to the likes of the NDP, BQ, and Greens, and even smaller more radical elements.

I agree generally but I understand this to mean that you cannot separate the parties from the positions. And we don't in other policies. If the government is Liberal and the Liberals back this, let them campaign on it. If the NDP, Greens and others also then even if the Conservatives make this partisan (as all will) then it should still win.

The problem was the side that said it wanted it pretending it could be non partisan. It can't. And maybe they pretended they wanted it but didn't really which is a different problem. Parties have to take a position on these things. By not taking a position in the last couple cases the governments effectively backed the status quo. And that is why the status quo won.

I have no problem with a referendum so long as the people in public life who believe in it are not told that they cannot campaign for it and that the people who say they believe in are forced to take a stand and promote it. In this case let the Conservatives campaign against it. If they lose and their position is unpopular that is their problem -- just like with any other position they might take.

The people doing this have made it more complicated than it ever needed to be.

Have a referendum or not -- it is the prerogative of the government but this crap about a sitting government and opposition parties going through the motions without taking a stand is the scandal. I welcome the Conservatives to take a stand and debate it. That's what parties are for- to take stands and debate it so we can choose. We are instead asked to choose in a referendum without reasonable argument, a coherent campaign and nobody taking a side. No wonder the status quo wins.

Rev Pesky

Doug Woodard wrote:
...Pesky, how can you possibly claim that Parliament of Canada is subservient to the Senate? The convention is that when the Commons clearly expresses an intention contrary to the Senate's, the Senate caves.

But that is only a convention. It is not the law. The law is that legislation must be apporoved by both the House of Commons and the Senate. The Senate could quite legally block any legislation that changed the voting system in this country. Given that the largest single block of voters in the Senate is the Conservative party, who are also opposed to PR voting... 

Rev Pesky

Tumbleweeds wrote:
... Or this: let's invite fans from all over the country to come to a hockey arena. Then they vote for their favourite team. The team getting a couple more votes than the other teams is allowed to play on the ice but no one else is. The "game" is governing, the one team on the ice is majority government. What great rules!

Well, that would be a good analogy if the Parliament was run as you suggest, where only members of the governing party are allowed to sit. Last time I looked, not only were non-governing parties allowed to seat their members, the the second largest group in Parliament was given extra resources to allow them to oppose the governing party.

Somenhow your analogy failed to mention that reality.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

Doug Woodard wrote:
...Pesky, how can you possibly claim that Parliament of Canada is subservient to the Senate? The convention is that when the Commons clearly expresses an intention contrary to the Senate's, the Senate caves.

But that is only a convention. It is not the law. The law is that legislation must be apporoved by both the House of Commons and the Senate. The Senate could quite legally block any legislation that changed the voting system in this country. Given that the largest single block of voters in the Senate is the Conservative party, who are also opposed to PR voting... 

Interestingly, if the change is constitutional they can only block it for 180 days.

As far as blocking legislation other than Constitutional legislation this is open to challenge. Constitutional law is to a great extenet based on precedent. There is an "unwritten constitutional practice that the Senate veto or delay legislation passed by the House of Commons only in rare and exceptional cases."

We have not seen a recent major showdown between the Senate and the House and we are not sure how the courts would interpret this unwritten convention. Nobody knows what would happen but we could find out soon, but the Senate even if it disliked a government bill might balk at taking a direct run given that it has a much lower authority even if it technically has the power.

The reasons we have not had a direct challenge is that the PM has always had the power of appointment and has used it to take charge of the Senate rather than to challenge it as an institution. Now the Senate, may be reluctant to enrage the democratic sensibilities of the public lest the provinces be pressured by the people to come together to abolish it. The Senate's awareness that it is not elected and the House is should not be underestimated. Legal constitutional convention is not without weight either.

And -- convention is part of the law when it comes to the Constitution. Courts routinely in Constitutional cases look to convention as a part of decision making.

Sean in Ottawa

We should note that formally Convention is not law but it is increasingly being treated as law and interpreted as binding as law. This is one reason constitutional law is certainly anything but simple. In many cases conventions are significant and sometimes limiting interpretations of explicit constitutional provisions. So while a power may exist in law, how that power can be used and how that law is interpreted is subject to convention.

In the Patriation Reference, the Supreme Court recognized that conventions are “fundamental” elements of the constitution, and the breach of a convention, in some circumstances, “could be regarded as tantamount to a coup d’état,” even if not susceptible of legal sanction. Conventions are rules of political practice, which emerge when the rules of constitutional law are not or are no longer in accordance with, or sufficient to give full effect to, “the prevailing constitutional theory” or values. Faced with a discrepancy or a gap between law and constitutional values, political actors work out solutions that enable them to give effect to the latter without openly contravening the former. As the solution adopted by one political actor is imitated by that actor’s successors, expectations that it will be similarly imitated in the future develop, with each precedent reinforcing these expectations. The combined forces of the values to which the practice gives effect and of the expectations that it will be followed make it binding.

http://www.aqdc.org/documents/revue2013/FGelinasLSirota.pdf

This means for example that the Senate has in theory a power to overrule the House in some circumstances but it is limited by a convention that it may only do so in rare cases.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
And -- convention is part of the law when it comes to the Constitution. Courts routinely in Constitutional cases look to convention as a part of decision making.

Quote:
We should note that formally Convention is not law but it is increasingly being treated as law and interpreted as binding as law.

Didn't you recently school me on how the GG could appoint some independent MP to be Prime Minister?

Convention be damned, I guess.

Rev Pesky

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...This means for example that the Senate has in theory a power to overrule the House in some circumstances but it is limited by a convention that it may only do so in rare cases.

I think you may have missed some of the document you posted. Here is a relevant portion:

Quote:
...To be sure, explicit provisions of the constitutional text cannot be interpreted away by invoking conventions.

So, for instance, Parliament could not—as the British Parliament did—leave the Senate with only a suspensory veto, even though convention arguably does just that, allowing the Senate to resist the House of Commons until the will of the electorate is known as the result of election.

That is because a constitutional provision, namely the introductory clause of section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, makes the “the Advice and Consent of the Senate” one of the requirements for the enactment of any legislation by Parliament. The giving of “advice and consent” is clearly one of the “powers of the Senate” entrenched by paragraph 42(1)(b) of the Constitution Act, 1982 and thus can only be removed by amendment in accordance with that provision.

Similarly, Parliament could not formalize, by legislation, the abolition of the royal veto or the power of disallowance, because, although fallen into disuse and inexistent as a matter of convention, these powers are specifically provided for by explicit constitutional provisions.

I have created paragraphs above where none existed in the document. That is purely for reading convenience. There was no change to the wording, or order of the wording, in the document.

So, yes, the Senate could block legislation designed to change the voting system.

 

Rev Pesky

In looking around for information, I stumbled across this website, which seems to be a good source of info, and does not seem to have a bias in any direction.

ACE Electoral Knowledge Network

Quote:
ACE was established in 1998 as the ACE (Administration and Cost of Elections) Project by IDEA, IFES and UNDESA. In 2006 the name was changed to the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network (with the letters ACE no longer standing for Administration and Cost of Elections). ACE is a collaborative effort between nine organisations: International IDEA, EISA, Elections Canada, the National Electoral Institute of Mexico (INE), IFES, The Carter Center, UNEAD, and  UNDP. 

UNEAD is the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division

UNDP is the United Nations Development Programme

 

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
And -- convention is part of the law when it comes to the Constitution. Courts routinely in Constitutional cases look to convention as a part of decision making.

Quote:
We should note that formally Convention is not law but it is increasingly being treated as law and interpreted as binding as law.

Didn't you recently school me on how the GG could appoint some independent MP to be Prime Minister?

Convention be damned, I guess.

That I did and the convention is that you would not -- except in the case I was speaking of -- if the existing party leaders could not gain confidence of the House and a different compromise MP could. The GG would have to offer that option as the GG has the role of making sure a government is possible through whatever legal steps are necessary.

Convention is an evolving thing. It is not absolute and if the circumstances have changed such that a previous convention is not possible to uphold the legal requirement of the GG to appoint a government does not go away.

Nothing I said contradicted these points.

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...This means for example that the Senate has in theory a power to overrule the House in some circumstances but it is limited by a convention that it may only do so in rare cases.

I think you may have missed some of the document you posted. Here is a relevant portion:

Quote:
...To be sure, explicit provisions of the constitutional text cannot be interpreted away by invoking conventions.

So, for instance, Parliament could not—as the British Parliament did—leave the Senate with only a suspensory veto, even though convention arguably does just that, allowing the Senate to resist the House of Commons until the will of the electorate is known as the result of election.

That is because a constitutional provision, namely the introductory clause of section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, makes the “the Advice and Consent of the Senate” one of the requirements for the enactment of any legislation by Parliament. The giving of “advice and consent” is clearly one of the “powers of the Senate” entrenched by paragraph 42(1)(b) of the Constitution Act, 1982 and thus can only be removed by amendment in accordance with that provision.

Similarly, Parliament could not formalize, by legislation, the abolition of the royal veto or the power of disallowance, because, although fallen into disuse and inexistent as a matter of convention, these powers are specifically provided for by explicit constitutional provisions.

I have created paragraphs above where none existed in the document. That is purely for reading convenience. There was no change to the wording, or order of the wording, in the document.

So, yes, the Senate could block legislation designed to change the voting system.

 

In this case, yours is a simplistic understanding of convention. I suggest you read further as your conclusion does not match the text quoted.

Take your first paragraph, don't minimize the phrase "until the will of the electorate is known." This will of the electorate could be challenged and questionned with arguments made that the House is already expressing it. A recent and strong mandate is a lot of evidence of electoral will.

Advice and consent are required. But does the Senate have the right to withhold that consent? There is a more nuanced and complicated answer than your rather simplistic interpretation allows.

You are missing the convention, and legal authority a PM has through appointment to alter the composition of the Senate. While this government may choose to weaken it, it does so not intended to make the Senate more independent but rather to control patronage. In practice the PM has always had the ability to create new Senators -- even over the constitutional maximum number in order to pass legislation.In law interpretation of not only the text of law but the purpose is findamental (read any interpretation act). Law is not meant to do things by accident.

The principle of supremacy of the House of Commons is also not a small insignificant thing.

Constitutional law is complicated by design and history. The Senate and the House are effectively required to cooperate. Not to do so is as open to challenge as much as any abuse. It is much more difficult than you suggest for a Senate to stop the will of the House. Delay, yes, but stop is much more difficult and ultimately, since the PM has levers relating to composition, the Senate was only ever designed to delay the will of the House rather than obstruct it.

The nature of consent in law has never been arbitrary unless specifically stated. Both law and convention apply to questions of withholding consent.

Rev Pesky

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...This means for example that the Senate has in theory a power to overrule the House in some circumstances but it is limited by a convention that it may only do so in rare cases.

I think you may have missed some of the document you posted. Here is a relevant portion:

Quote:
...To be sure, explicit provisions of the constitutional text cannot be interpreted away by invoking conventions.

So, for instance, Parliament could not—as the British Parliament did—leave the Senate with only a suspensory veto, even though convention arguably does just that, allowing the Senate to resist the House of Commons until the will of the electorate is known as the result of election.

That is because a constitutional provision, namely the introductory clause of section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, makes the “the Advice and Consent of the Senate” one of the requirements for the enactment of any legislation by Parliament. The giving of “advice and consent” is clearly one of the “powers of the Senate” entrenched by paragraph 42(1)(b) of the Constitution Act, 1982 and thus can only be removed by amendment in accordance with that provision.

Similarly, Parliament could not formalize, by legislation, the abolition of the royal veto or the power of disallowance, because, although fallen into disuse and inexistent as a matter of convention, these powers are specifically provided for by explicit constitutional provisions.

I have created paragraphs above where none existed in the document. That is purely for reading convenience. There was no change to the wording, or order of the wording, in the document.

So, yes, the Senate could block legislation designed to change the voting system.

In this case, yours is a simplistic understanding of convention. I suggest you read further as your conclusion does not match the text quoted.

Take your first paragraph,

It was not 'my paragraph'. It was a paragraph from the document you posted. You obviously didn't read the document you posted. I suggest that next time you post a document, you read it fully.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...don't minimize the phrase "until the will of the electorate is known." This will of the electorate could be challenged and questionned with arguments made that the House is already expressing it. A recent and strong mandate is a lot of evidence of electoral will.

This sentence referred strictly to the British Parliament, not the Canadian Parliament, and specifically noted that the Canadian Parliament 'could not' (I'm assuming you know what 'could not' means) limit the role of the Senate in that way.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...Advice and consent are required. But does the Senate have the right to withhold that consent? There is a more nuanced and complicated answer than your rather simplistic interpretation allows.

Again, this was not my interpretation. It was the interpretation contained within the document you posted. It is very clear. The giving of 'consent' is a power of the Senate which cannot be altered without an amendment to the Constitution.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...You are missing the convention, and legal authority a PM has through appointment to alter the composition of the Senate. While this government may choose to weaken it, it does so not intended to make the Senate more independent but rather to control patronage. In practice the PM has always had the ability to create new Senators -- even over the constitutional maximum number in order to pass legislation.In law interpretation of not only the text of law but the purpose is findamental (read any interpretation act). Law is not meant to do things by accident.

The principle of supremacy of the House of Commons is also not a small insignificant thing.

Constitutional law is complicated by design and history. The Senate and the House are effectively required to cooperate. Not to do so is as open to challenge as much as any abuse. It is much more difficult than you suggest for a Senate to stop the will of the House. Delay, yes, but stop is much more difficult and ultimately, since the PM has levers relating to composition, the Senate was only ever designed to delay the will of the House rather than obstruct it.

The nature of consent in law has never been arbitrary unless specifically stated. Both law and convention apply to questions of withholding consent.

Not according to your source. Your source says specifically that

Quote:
...explicit provisions of the constitutional text cannot be interpreted away by invoking conventions.

Again, I suggest you go back and re-read your source.

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...This means for example that the Senate has in theory a power to overrule the House in some circumstances but it is limited by a convention that it may only do so in rare cases.

I think you may have missed some of the document you posted. Here is a relevant portion:

Quote:
...To be sure, explicit provisions of the constitutional text cannot be interpreted away by invoking conventions.

So, for instance, Parliament could not—as the British Parliament did—leave the Senate with only a suspensory veto, even though convention arguably does just that, allowing the Senate to resist the House of Commons until the will of the electorate is known as the result of election.

That is because a constitutional provision, namely the introductory clause of section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, makes the “the Advice and Consent of the Senate” one of the requirements for the enactment of any legislation by Parliament. The giving of “advice and consent” is clearly one of the “powers of the Senate” entrenched by paragraph 42(1)(b) of the Constitution Act, 1982 and thus can only be removed by amendment in accordance with that provision.

Similarly, Parliament could not formalize, by legislation, the abolition of the royal veto or the power of disallowance, because, although fallen into disuse and inexistent as a matter of convention, these powers are specifically provided for by explicit constitutional provisions.

I have created paragraphs above where none existed in the document. That is purely for reading convenience. There was no change to the wording, or order of the wording, in the document.

So, yes, the Senate could block legislation designed to change the voting system.

In this case, yours is a simplistic understanding of convention. I suggest you read further as your conclusion does not match the text quoted.

Take your first paragraph,

It was not 'my paragraph'. It was a paragraph from the document you posted. You obviously didn't read the document you posted. I suggest that next time you post a document, you read it fully.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...don't minimize the phrase "until the will of the electorate is known." This will of the electorate could be challenged and questionned with arguments made that the House is already expressing it. A recent and strong mandate is a lot of evidence of electoral will.

This sentence referred strictly to the British Parliament, not the Canadian Parliament, and specifically noted that the Canadian Parliament 'could not' (I'm assuming you know what 'could not' means) limit the role of the Senate in that way.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...Advice and consent are required. But does the Senate have the right to withhold that consent? There is a more nuanced and complicated answer than your rather simplistic interpretation allows.

Again, this was not my interpretation. It was the interpretation contained within the document you posted. It is very clear. The giving of 'consent' is a power of the Senate which cannot be altered without an amendment to the Constitution.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...You are missing the convention, and legal authority a PM has through appointment to alter the composition of the Senate. While this government may choose to weaken it, it does so not intended to make the Senate more independent but rather to control patronage. In practice the PM has always had the ability to create new Senators -- even over the constitutional maximum number in order to pass legislation.In law interpretation of not only the text of law but the purpose is findamental (read any interpretation act). Law is not meant to do things by accident.

The principle of supremacy of the House of Commons is also not a small insignificant thing.

Constitutional law is complicated by design and history. The Senate and the House are effectively required to cooperate. Not to do so is as open to challenge as much as any abuse. It is much more difficult than you suggest for a Senate to stop the will of the House. Delay, yes, but stop is much more difficult and ultimately, since the PM has levers relating to composition, the Senate was only ever designed to delay the will of the House rather than obstruct it.

The nature of consent in law has never been arbitrary unless specifically stated. Both law and convention apply to questions of withholding consent.

Not according to your source. Your source says specifically that

Quote:
...explicit provisions of the constitutional text cannot be interpreted away by invoking conventions.

Again, I suggest you go back and re-read your source.

You say these were not your paragraphs but of course the divison into paragraphs were yours as you said so yourself. I was referring to a paragraph from your post and so I called it your paragraph. It does not matter if the paragraph is a quote. I did not say the words were yours.

The Senate's power is more limited than you suggest -- and since you want to complain about people not reading, why don't you read carefully the posts that you want to criticize and for good measure actually read the article you are claiming the opther person did not read. I read it and it supports my contention not yours.

So sure, you cannot wave away a constitutional requirement but that does not mean the use -- or withholding of that consent is arbitrary -- a point I made. The Senate has to be consulted, yes. Still, it does have the ability to send back, vote down or delay legislation but the House can send it back again. And as I pointed out the PM has always had the ability to change the composition of the Senate creating a practical hold over it (even to exceed the normal numbers to get a majority). The fact that term limits were introduced actually means a PM has greater power becuase it speeds up turnover such that governments get control of the Senate in faster.

This is not a small thing as the rest of my post explained. The parts you are cherry picking speak about the fact that there is a contradiction between convention and direct constitutional provisions. This is further reinforced by the tradition of a PM having control over appointments. These alone build in a process where the will of the Senate is more of a delay than absolute -- even though it may be written as if it is. Where you have contradictions on the letter of a specific constitutional provision the letter would be supreme in a simple way but the reality is that the constitutional provision is still subject to interpretation by conventions in practice.  So you could not decide not to consult the Senate -- but the Senate cannot ignore conventions as it uses this power. In this case we are talking about the method of coming up with composition of the House of Commons. This is loaded with conventions surrounding the supremacy of parliament and democratic process.

When you say "could not" -- you are missing the point of the paragraph. You cannot do away with a process by convention that does not mean that convention is not a factor in interpreting how a power is used. You would also have read (if you did read the whole thing) the following:

"Two conventions are relevant here. According to one, the Governor General’s power to “summon qualified Persons to the Senate” is—like most of the Governor General’s powers—exercised upon the Prime Minister’s advice. According to the other, the Senate, although formally almost the equal of the House of Commons,49 gives way to the latter’s legislative judgment and priorities. Both of these conventions influence the interpretation of important limits on Parliament’s power to amend the constitution pursuant to section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982."

I presume you did not like the following relevant paragraph and just chose to leave it out of your argument:

"The Senate’s powers, as explained above, are limited by a long-standing convention which curtails its ability to oppose the will of the House of Commons. The Senate’s situation is, in this respect, similar to that of the Governor General, in that the broad legal powers of these institutions are much reduced by convention. In both cases, the reason for the conventional rule is obviously the democratic principle: neither the Senate nor the Governor General is democratically elected."

The article goes on to say that the following might happen with an elected Senate (clearly not the case now as you suggest):

"A cabinet that enjoys the confidence of the House of Commons and thus, presumptively, of the people, may be thwarted by the Senate; or a cabinet (perhaps drawn largely from the Senate) might resist, on the strength of senatorial support, the lack of confidence of the House."

I assume you just did not like the conclusion either as it did not suit your cherry picking:

"Constitutional conventions and constitutional law do not exist separately and apart from each other. When a constitution is as thoroughly dependent on conventions as that of Canada, one cannot be blind to the conventional rules that give form to its most significant underlying principles."

So I put to you -- I did read my source. You apparently read it to cherry pick but did not understand the article very well. Did you even get the point of it? The article is about how changes to appointment -- or even election of the Senate -- would upend the existing power balance. It makes it clear that there are conventions that are built on the existing process of Senatorial Appointment and that these conventions limit the Senate's power and that if you change the process those conventions could change creating a new power balance.

I have actually argued this here for years -- as I have been against an elected Senate for exactly this reason -- it would diminish the House. So, not only do I well understand this argument -- one of conventions built on legitimacy -- I have used it here for years. Use the search function if you want to look up what I said on this a decade ago here.

Further, there is also an argument about the Senate that says it, as a body, has some say over changes to its composition and it can challenge some of the things a PM might want to propose. The rationale for this is that each legislative body has a say over its own composition. When it comes to electoral reform it is the composition of the House at stake so there is a strong argument that the Senate woudl butt out.

What we are talking about is your contention that the Senate could not only have a power to frustrate an elected House but to do so with respect to provisions related to the House's composition being brought by a democratically elected government of that House. Think about that. The Senate would not dare. It would understand very well that this would push the country to a tipping point -- the number of Provinces willing to abolish the Senate in a Constitutional Amendment -- something the Senate has no say in explicitly. The pubic would never tolerate the unelected Senate interfering in the process by which the House is elected against the wishes of the House.

From the article I linked:

"In the Patriation Reference, the Supreme Court recognized that conventions are “fundamental” elements of the constitution, and the breach of a convention, in some circumstances, “could be regarded as tantamount to a coup d’état,” even if not susceptible of legal sanction."

A coup d’état is exactly the term that would be used for the Senate blocking a provision of the House with respect to its own composition.

Again, as I have pointed out, your constitutional interpretations are simplistic and wrong.

mark_alfred

If May leaves the Greens it could affect her status as a committee member.

Doug Woodard

Fair Vote Canada's submission to the Electoral Reform Committee of the Commons:

http://www.fairvote.ca/category/fvc-erre-submissions/

I like the Rural-Urban PR proposal.

Doug Woodard

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Why not just accept that the majority has clearly spoken, and give your time to things that can be changed?

63% of the voters, a majority by my calculation, voted for candidates of parties whose platforms included electoral reform. Accordingly, the House of Commons is proceeding with electoral reform. That seems clear enough.

Doug Woodard

Rev Pesky wrote:

PR voting is essentially indefensible, especially in a country where the Parliament, proportional or otherwise, is subservient to a Senate that is unelected by any system.

So you believe that having a House of Commons which represents essentially all of the voters, which is not skewed to allow the representatives of a minority of the voters to control it, is "essentially indefensible."

Polls suggest that a majority of the people of Canada disagree with you.

 

mark_alfred

Quote:

Fair Vote Canada's submission to the Electoral Reform Committee of the Commons:

http://www.fairvote.ca/category/fvc-erre-submissions/

I like the Rural-Urban PR proposal.

It gave me a headache reading about it.  I believe that what they refer to as "Rural-Urban PR" (or "RUP") they also refer to as "STV+".  Which, if correct, makes me wonder why they can't just settle on one name for these systems.

Quote:
Applied as an extension of STV, RUP would retain the use of STV in multi-member ridings while adding a certain number of top-up seats on a regional basis, as one does under MMP. We call this model STV+

Anyway, if I'm reading right, RUP/STV+ seems to be a hybrid of STV and MMP, or basically STV in urban ridings (so multi-member ridings) and less populated rural ridings being single member ridings (like FPTP and/or like MMP on the riding level) coupled with an MMP top-up list overall (open-list) to make it more proportional.  This way the top-up is less than with MMP, but because of the additional top up to districts that also include STV it makes STV about as as proportional as an MMP system (IE, an MMP system with a high # of addon district reps).  Thus it's STV+.  That way, as I interpreted it, the STV+ urban ridings (which would be multimember) in this hybrid system would have two votes, one a preferential vote for the riding representatives, and one for a member in the top up list, whereas in the rural ridings there would also be two votes, similar to MMP -- that being one vote for one riding representative (thus not a preferential vote) and one vote for a member from the top-up list for the district's representatives.  They feel this also improves the proportionality of STV:

 

 

I don't care for the idea of preferential voting, so I still prefer MMP.  But I could live with this.  It seems to be Fair Vote's favourite.  They feel it gives more proportional results than MMP (though MMP with a higher add on of district reps could also achieve that, but that's likely not in the running).  Still, the idea of considering second choice votes as an aspect of proportionality doesn't sit well with me.  But, as I say, I could live with it, given that it will include an aspect of MMP as well.

Sean in Ottawa

mark_alfred wrote:

Quote:

Fair Vote Canada's submission to the Electoral Reform Committee of the Commons:

http://www.fairvote.ca/category/fvc-erre-submissions/

I like the Rural-Urban PR proposal.

It gave me a headache reading about it.  I believe that what they refer to as "Rural-Urban PR" (or "RUP") they also refer to as "STV+".  Which, if correct, makes me wonder why they can't just settle on one name for these systems.

Quote:
Applied as an extension of STV, RUP would retain the use of STV in multi-member ridings while adding a certain number of top-up seats on a regional basis, as one does under MMP. We call this model STV+

Anyway, if I'm reading right, RUP/STV+ seems to be a hybrid of STV and MMP, or basically STV in urban ridings (so multi-member ridings) and less populated rural ridings being single member ridings (like FPTP and/or like MMP on the riding level) coupled with an MMP top-up list overall (open-list) to make it more proportional.  This way the top-up is less than with MMP, but because of the additional top up to districts that also include STV it makes STV about as as proportional as an MMP system (IE, an MMP system with a high # of addon district reps).  Thus it's STV+.  That way, as I interpreted it, the STV+ urban ridings (which would be multimember) in this hybrid system would have two votes, one a preferential vote for the riding representatives, and one for a member in the top up list, whereas in the rural ridings there would also be two votes, similar to MMP -- that being one vote for one riding representative (thus not a preferential vote) and one vote for a member from the top-up list for the district's representatives.  They feel this also improves the proportionality of STV:

 

 

I don't care for the idea of preferential voting, so I still prefer MMP.  But I could live with this.  It seems to be Fair Vote's favourite.  They feel it gives more proportional results than MMP (though MMP with a higher add on of district reps could also achieve that, but that's likely not in the running).  Still, the idea of considering second choice votes as an aspect of proportionality doesn't sit well with me.  But, as I say, I could live with it, given that it will include an aspect of MMP as well.

When you look at the various models for PR you can see that they are not very different except for very small parties so in terms of the control of government and policy theya re close to each other.

This might explain why many who strongly favour the concept of PR and strongly oppose FPTP are not as particular about which brand of PR we get,

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Here's a working link, without the trailing space:  http://www.fairvote.ca/fvc-erre-submissions_appx_12_-rural-urban_pr/%C2%A0

That said, are we now talking about Canada maybe having TWO new electoral systems?  One for "urban" and one for "rural"?

mark_alfred

Perhaps.  As the chart shows, there's not a huge difference between STV and STV+.  So the exact system isn't a concern, as long as the system itself is reasonable. 

Anything that helps even a little toward better representation of seats won in relation to votes cast is an improvement (IE, anything with even a degree of proportionality is an improvement.)  AV isn't a proportional system and shouldn't be considered.  P3 is a slight improvement, but is too party-focussed and doesn't really leave room for independents (something I've mentioned before, and Fair Vote also, quite politely, concludes the same:)

Quote:

Dion’s system is “proportional, personal and preferential” as the name “P3” implies and is well worthy of consideration. However, it is more “party-centric” than STV. It does not count every voter’s second-preferences equally, does not allow preferences to be expressed across party lines, and does not readily allow for independents to compete on an even keel.

They politely mention that an RU-PR hybrid system could be based on P3 rather than STV (IE, P3+), but they're clearly not serious given the problems with P3 (they don't go into any detail on it -- it almost feels that they're going out of their way to be polite to the Liberals).  So basically it's STV or MMP or some hybrid of the two.  And yes, I'm fine with either MMP, STV+, or STV (in order of my preference).

They have a chart of the different systems (FPTP, AV, MMP, STV, RU-PR) on their write up of RU-PR (see near bottom of write up):  [url]http://www.fairvote.ca/fvc-erre-submissions_appx_12_-rural-urban_pr/[/url] The first example has urban ridings being multi-member (so STV) while rural ridings are single member, with a top up.  The second example has all ridings being STV (including rural, though with less members than urban), and with a smaller top up than the first example.

mark_alfred

Same system.  Just variation in the geographic size and amount of reps per riding.  Regarding riding georgraphical and population sizes, there are currently differences now, and thus there are differences too in how many people are represented by a member in ridings.  That latter fact may be partially resolved with the STV+ system or with STV or with MMP.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Same system.  Just variation in the geographic size and amount of reps per riding.

The geographic size difference is kind of a given, seeing as how it's all about the number of voters in a riding, and our understanding of the different population densities in downtown Toronto and the far north.  But why the difference in number of representatives?

Why shouldn't (let's say) 100,000 downtown urbanites and 100.000 ruralites have the same number of representatives to choose from.  Doesn't the number of representatives affect the proportionality?

Quote:
Regarding riding georgraphical and population sizes, there are currently differences now

Are those just minimal/reasonable differences, or are they large differences that are hard-coded into the electoral system?

I'll just put my cards on the table:  I don't really buy the argument that Kincardine needs to be represented by a local boy from Kincardine.  It's not like Chrystia Freeland has some kind of special insider's insight into my neighbourhood.

mark_alfred

Quote:
Why shouldn't (let's say) 100,000 downtown urbanites and 100.000 ruralites have the same number of representatives to choose from.  Doesn't the number of representatives affect the proportionality?

I think that is the idea.  I think a 100,000 ruralites would be spread over a wide area, and so there would be more ridings with less members representing each riding, whereas 100,000 urbanites would be spread over a smaller area, and so would have less ridings but more members per riding.  So rather than just the tangent of geographic size, there's also the tangent of number of members per riding to allow for greater adjustment.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

What do you mean by "greater adjustment"?

At any rate, according to Wikipedia, there's a 5x difference between the riding with the most electors and the riding with the least.  So the 105,000 electors in Niagara Falls have the same electoral clout as the 18,000 electors of Nunavut.  I guess I was assuming that a new electoral system would address that kind of disparity too.

mark_alfred

It may be able to a degree.  Have more members in the urban riding -- 5x in some instances, perhaps.  That in essence what STV+ says.  Or STV.  Or P3.  Under MMP the geographic size could be adjusted, and further proportionality comes from the the amount of addons for the districts, which presumably are close to population based in the number of reps.  I figure.

Doug Woodard

Mr. Magoo wrote:

What do you mean by "greater adjustment"?

At any rate, according to Wikipedia, there's a 5x difference between the riding with the most electors and the riding with the least.  So the 105,000 electors in Niagara Falls have the same electoral clout as the 18,000 electors of Nunavut.  I guess I was assuming that a new electoral system would address that kind of disparity too.

Magoo, we are talking about a stage of evolutionary change in our electoral system; one that was discussed for a century or so (Condorcet, Borda, Hill, Hare etc.) before a further century of action with which we in Canada are now thinking about catching up. I think most of us are not interested in revolution; we want to deal with a few of our most serious problems first and we don't greatly value fixing everything at once.

The 18,000 electors of Nunavut are thinly spread out over an enormous area and constitute a very distinct community with its own language, way of life and traditions. The 105,000 electors in Niagara Falls are not that distinct, and they live in a relatively compact area (I live in the riding next door).

One of the distinctive things about our political tradition is that we tend not to be enthused about deciding everything down to the last detail according to one grand over-riding principle (if you're interested, you could talk to the Russians about how that works). We are usually fairly pragmatic; to quote Macaulay (I think it was, talking about the Whigs of his time), we "think much of convenience, and little of symmetry."

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

I agree that Nunavut deserves its own MP, and I am quite happy to have my vote in Hamilton weighted less than those of Nunavut's residents. If there were a million people whose votes were weighted this heavily, then I might see a problem, but not as things are.

Geoff

Doug Woodard wrote:

Mr. Magoo wrote:

What do you mean by "greater adjustment"?

At any rate, according to Wikipedia, there's a 5x difference between the riding with the most electors and the riding with the least.  So the 105,000 electors in Niagara Falls have the same electoral clout as the 18,000 electors of Nunavut.  I guess I was assuming that a new electoral system would address that kind of disparity too.

Magoo, we are talking about a stage of evolutionary change in our electoral system; one that was discussed for a century or so (Condorcet, Borda, Hill, Hare etc.) before a further century of action with which we in Canada are now thinking about catching up. I think most of us are not interested in revolution; we want to deal with a few of our most serious problems first and we don't greatly value fixing everything at once.

The 18,000 electors of Nunavut are thinly spread out over an enormous area and constitute a very distinct community with its own language, way of life and traditions. The 105,000 electors in Niagara Falls are not that distinct, and they live in a relatively compact area (I live in the riding next door).

One of the distinctive things about our political tradition is that we tend not to be enthused about deciding everything down to the last detail according to one grand over-riding principle (if you're interested, you could talk to the Russians about how that works). We are usually fairly pragmatic; to quote Macaulay (I think it was, talking about the Whigs of his time), we "think much of convenience, and little of symmetry."

I'm not convinced that the people of Niagara Falls don't consitute a distinct community. They have more tacky museums per person than any other community in Canada. If that doesn't make them distinct, I don't know what does.

Heck, they're the only community in the country that could elect Frankenstein as their MP. I saw him on Clifton Hill.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The 18,000 electors of Nunavut are thinly spread out over an enormous area and constitute a very distinct community with its own language, way of life and traditions. The 105,000 electors in Niagara Falls are not that distinct, and they live in a relatively compact area (I live in the riding next door).

Speaking of compact areas, we could instead consider the four ridings in PEI -- the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh smallest ridings in terms of electors.  All mashed together into a single riding, they'd about equal the number of electors in Niagara Falls.  I doubt if Charlottetown is some kind of distinct culture with its own language.  And it's not like PEI is the far north in terms of population density. 

BTW, Niagara has approximately 101,000 electors -- sorry for the typo.

Doug Woodard

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Speaking of compact areas, we could instead consider the four ridings in PEI -- the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh smallest ridings in terms of electors.  All mashed together into a single riding, they'd about equal the number of electors in Niagara Falls.  I doubt if Charlottetown is some kind of distinct culture with its own language.  And it's not like PEI is the far north in terms of population density. 

The Constitution says that PEI has four Senators, and that it can't have fewer MPs than it has Senators. Do you think that we should re-open Constitutional discussions in order to fix *everything* that's wrong with our electoral system?

mark_alfred

May is going to remain with the Green Party.  Thus her status on the ERRE committee will not be affected.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The Constitution says that PEI has four Senators, and that it can't have fewer MPs than it has Senators. Do you think that we should re-open Constitutional discussions in order to fix *everything* that's wrong with our electoral system?

If there's ten holes in your boat, do you need to patch nine of them?

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The Constitution says that PEI has four Senators, and that it can't have fewer MPs than it has Senators. Do you think that we should re-open Constitutional discussions in order to fix *everything* that's wrong with our electoral system?

If there's ten holes in your boat, do you need to patch nine of them?

Maybe need a new boat.

If we had another system and someone wanted to sell us on FPTP imagine what the reaction would be.

Doug Woodard

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The Constitution says that PEI has four Senators, and that it can't have fewer MPs than it has Senators. Do you think that we should re-open Constitutional discussions in order to fix *everything* that's wrong with our electoral system?

If there's ten holes in your boat, do you need to patch nine of them?

Magoo, do you really believe that the over-representation of Prince Edward Islanders is a hole in our system which is going to sink it?

I think you're over-dramatizing here. Getting hysterical even.

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