Proportional representation part 4

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Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

One sticky wicket with the whole Charter challenge idea is that it would effectively preclude us from choosing a flavour of PR with a "cut off", or similar.

Once it's about "everyone's" Charter rights, we can't start clawing those rights back in order to have a system that we feel will be more efficient, or whatever.  In other words, we could only realistically have a mathematically pure system, or else it would be the proponents of a cut-off who were denying some group of voters their rights.

cco

As a fervent PR supporter, I'll just say: the thought of the Supreme Court designing a voting system is terrifying, even if they happened to rule in favour of one I personally designed.

Rev Pesky

One of the things a pure PR system would do is provide great representation for cities. As of 2015, almost 82% of Canada's population was urban, while 18.2% was rural. 

In a purely PR system, a party could become government without a single member outside of an urban area. This is not a situation that exists in many other countries with PR voting systems. Germany, for instance, has a population of 82 million living in an area just over 1/3 the size the British Columbia. Whatever the differences between the various areas of Germany, they pale in comparison to the diversity of Canada. Germany is, in fact, only roughly a thirtieth of the size of Canada.

The point is, the existing system we have provides a greater level of protection for the rural areas.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

The rural/regional thing is a good point.  I'm not suggesting that we must stick with FPTP because of it, but I can't really imagine a successful Charter challenge based on two different systems for rural areas and urban areas.  If the SCOC were to rule that we do, indeed, have a Charter right to have all of our votes count, I think rural and regional areas would get dragged along reluctantly.  Even if they actually WANT a less proportional system in their ridings.

cco

Rev Pesky wrote:

One of the things a pure PR system would do is provide great representation for cities. As of 2015, almost 82% of Canada's population was urban, while 18.2% was rural. 

In a purely PR system, a party could become government without a single member outside of an urban area.

The point is, the existing system we have provides a greater level of protection for the rural areas.

Does it, though? People keep saying this, but it seems to me that even under FPTP, if you have 82% of the vote, you're going to get a majority government. Moreover, while rural areas are more likely to vote Conservative, the NDP holds a lot of sparsely-populated seats like Churchill and Abitibi, and the entire North is represented by Liberals. Are rural areas better-represented in policy terms because of this?

I admit that rural Canada has different political concerns than cities do, but the rural/urban divide doesn't appear to be the most significant political cleavage in practice. If there were one party that represented exclusively rural concerns, and one party that represented only urbanites, the urban party would still win 82% of the vote.

What makes any given region important to parties is how likely it is to swing, much as Montréal's West Island votes consistently Liberal provincially, and as such is consistently ignored. Similarly, the 905 isn't targeted by politicians because the electoral system favours suburbs, but because it's winnable. Rural ridings like Battle River–Crowfoot aren't better-represented because of FPTP – they're ignored because they always vote Tory. With PR, by contrast, it'd be counterproductive to write off an entire region, because if you pick up even 15% of votes there, it'll make a difference.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Does it, though? People keep saying this, but it seems to me that even under FPTP, if you have 82% of the vote, you're going to get a majority government.

I'm thinking that the Reverend might have been suggesting that 82% of voters would be urban -- they'd vote for this or that party or MP, but the decision about who forms government would for the most part be decided by urban voters and not rural.

Quote:
As a fervent PR supporter, I'll just say: the thought of the Supreme Court designing a voting system is terrifying, even if they happened to rule in favour of one I personally designed.

It's still my thinking that the only one they could reasonably impose on us would be a pure PR model, e.g. MMP with no threshold.  They couldn't reasonably say that they're going to impose a new system on us on the grounds that "everyone has a Charter right to have their vote count" and then say out of the other side of their mouth "... unless you vote for some k00Ky party that gets more than 0.295% of the popular vote (1/338th) but less than some totally arbitrary threshold that we will impose in the hope that the HoC doesn't become some fringe party Gong Show". 

If having your vote count is every Canadian's right then it's every Canadian's right, yes?  Even if you give that vote to the Environmental Marijuana for Patriotic Christian Animals Party?

Pondering

I am finally 100% behind proportional representation for several reasons. 

Racism is already rising all over the place. While CAQ is not La Meute it is bad enough. I'm not convinced that PR would stop racists either but FPTP isn't working as a shield so it isn't a reason for keeping FPTP. 

One of the reasons we don't have PR is that our system was designed to give smaller provinces and rural areas a bigger voice so they aren't "drowned out" by the majority. FPTP isn't really succeeding in delivering that. Sure they have a larger voice in choosing the winning party but once the government is in place they don't have any extra clout as they still have too few seats to push anything. 

Lastly, I felt that with FPTP when a party won a majority they would have the freedom to do as they had promised (ex. cannabis) and could be judged on their record. While this is true, I think under PR we might have had legalization that much sooner. Certainly decriminalization. Aside from that the incumbant isn't judged that much on their record. If that were the case Harper would not have won so many times. 

In my opinion, the factors impacting swing voters are: Is the incumbant doing a good enough job? If not do the others look like they would definitely do better? If not stick with the incumbant. 

If the incumbant is getting long in the tooth they are wearing a lot of shit and is percieved to have given all they are going to. Then the default question becomes is there anyone else that could do the job good enough?

The "anyone else" is usually either the Liberals or the Conservatives. I'm kind of at that point with FPTP. I'm not convinced that PR would be better, but it's worth a shot because I don't think it would be worse. 

The concerns of smaller provinces and rural areas would be better addressed through having elected lobbyists but that's a whole other conversation along with the ability to recall representatives including the leader. 

Mighty Middle

Just saw on my twitter feed that Brazil uses party-list proportional representation to elect members in the lower house.  To be clear, the new President-elect was not elected under proportional representation. Just the lower house members are.

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