Proportional Representation: Let's make 2015 the last unfair election

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Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

When asked a second time that number dropped to 39%.

Any thoughts on that second referendum in BC?

Specifically, why it would be that after the first referendum surely increased public awareness of what was being voted on, and after the "Yes" side got more time and more opportunity to endorse a Yes vote, support for PR actually DROPPED?

I agree that this seems logical, but I don't know if there is another explanation for the facts. I live in Ontario, and wasn't paying that much attention to the second B.C. referendum. Perhaps someone who lives in B.C. and remembers the circumstances can tell us what they think. In any event, I have explained P.R. to dozens of personal acquaintances and almost all of them agree that it is a fairer system once they understand how it works. Unscientific, but convincing to me.

Sean in Ottawa

How can the provisions of the so-called Fair Elections Act be seen as any less significant or extreme than a proportional representation change?

If you think of the implications of that Bill you can see that they are just as major.

That said I suspect that a referendum would likely be required to gain the public legitimacy a new system would require.

In that sense the Fair Elections Act is no comparison becuase it actually has no legitimacy beyond the most partisan supporters of the current government.

It might be best if the following election allowed people to make a choice under both electoral systems along with a choice as to which system they want. You count the referendum numbers first and then count the winning system second. People would only have to go to the polls once.

Since the NDP has run on a platform of supporting reform they should be allowed to also campaign openly to see that it be adopted (rather than the pretence at neutrality). Let there be a full discussion and as I say let the next election both decide which system people want and what the government will look like under that system.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
I agree that this seems logical, but I don't know if there is another explanation for the facts.

I also live in Ontario, and I'm not sure why support dropped so significantly either. 

FWIW, when it was on the ballot in Ontario I cheerfully voted for it.  I support it, but I don't buy the (conflicting) assertions that:

1.  People support it!  They love it!  The government should just UP AND DO IT!!!

2.  People don't understand it, and that's why the referenda failed!  The government needs to coach people to support it, THEN hold a referendum!

I don't think it's anyone's job to teach me to want electoral change.  If people don't want it without some big PR campaign then they don't want it and the time isn't right.  And seriously, we have the internets now.  If people can go online to find out what kind of organic buckwheat Gwyneth Paltrow buys, surely they can take two minutes to find out about the alternate electoral process that's going to be on their ballot, yes?

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
I agree that this seems logical, but I don't know if there is another explanation for the facts.

I also live in Ontario, and I'm not sure why support dropped so significantly either. 

FWIW, when it was on the ballot in Ontario I cheerfully voted for it.  I support it, but I don't buy the (conflicting) assertions that:

1.  People support it!  They love it!  The government should just UP AND DO IT!!!

2.  People don't understand it, and that's why the referenda failed!  The government needs to coach people to support it, THEN hold a referendum!

I don't think it's anyone's job to teach me to want electoral change.  If people don't want it without some big PR campaign then they don't want it and the time isn't right.  And seriously, we have the internets now.  If people can go online to find out what kind of organic buckwheat Gwyneth Paltrow buys, surely they can take two minutes to find out about the alternate electoral process that's going to be on their ballot, yes?

I don't agree that leaving people to figure out what is being offered is a good plan. There are a number of alternatives. The one being proposed should be explained and the government should say that it has found an option it is willing to support and explain why.

This does not have to hold up progress. As i said the vote onthe system can be done at the same time as the vote for a government and merely count the ballots for the government based on the choice made for the system.

Like it or not you need the legitimacy of approval. However, you need a government not to hide behiund the statuys quo and not promote it -- this is what happened before.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Like it or not you need the legitimacy of approval. However, you need a government not to hide behiund the statuys quo and not promote it -- this is what happened before.

I agree entirely that if PR is to become a reality, it will need the legitimacy of approval.

But if PR is to be "bottom up" rather than "top down" then I disagree that it's the government's job to endorse it and promote it.  I believe the government has some duty to let the electorate decide, but it's not their job to run ads saying "Vote for PR!  It's the best!!".

A web page explaining, in plain language (and several of them) the differences between FPTP, STV and MMP would be appropriate.  Not that there aren't already plenty of them, for those who are genuinely interested.

It's continually suggested that low turnouts for elections are the result of the electorate being disenfranchised by FPTP, and its curious and sometimes illogical results.  If that's true, and if people really are "tired of wasting their vote" then this shouldn't be difficult at all.  They should be leaping at the chance to change this, not finding themselves suddenly unable to find Wikipedia.org, or unable to spend a couple of minutes reading... IF it's really an important thing to them like we hear it is.

iyraste1313

, and if people really are "tired of wasting their vote......

...people deep in their hearts know that the system is rotten to the core, controlled by the oligarchs and their corporate puppet masters...that money controls the system as do the gatekeepers being the Party leaders, the media ad nauseum...

the only way to change the system is to build peoples democracy from below, forcing the system to change...proportional representation is just a miniscule technical fix which will do nothing while we continue to vote for take your pick of the lesser of the evils, fascist parties under corporate control...it´s interesting to note that the campesinos and indigenous in the rural mountains everywhere else recognize this reality, while us educated westerners maintain our mythologies despite the obvious conflict with reality ...

Policywonk

Doug Woodard wrote:

White Cat wrote:

Yes the NDP has won majorities in most provinces over the past 25 years. Yet none have PR.

In BC, the doomed PR movement was actually in reaction to an NDP government winning a "majority" on less of the vote than the Liberal party. The BC NDP actually campaigned against it. (Some old school BC NDPers are still vehemently opposed to PR, even though the party is now thinking of the system after being excluded from power since 2001.)

The primary reason the AB NDP will not implement PR is because the party will have little chance of forming a government under the system. The two right-wing parties got 52% of the vote in the recent election the NDP "won".

The reason Canada is still stuck in the 19th century is because of partisanship and aristocratic influence over the media (which either buries or attacks the issue of electoral reform.) Partisans love the idea of absolute power on less than 40% of the vote. Plutocrats benefit from a de facto two-party system and minority-party dictatorships (much easier to "capture.") 

Some NDPers seem to like the thought of being able to implement their program without obstruction by representatives of the majority of voters for a while at least. However they seldom have a chance to get very far with it before being thrown out, and then the right wing undos what they did. PR systems in Europe reduce the role of ideological enthusiasts and result in more consensual governments more friendly to the interests of most people. I expect that most NDPers would prefer to have had governments more similar to those of say Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland over the last few decades, than to the governments we have experienced. Maybe the federal NDP and Mr. Mulcair have drawn the correct conclusions.

The PR initiative in BC (the movement still exists and it is a little early to say it is doomed), was as much to do with the overwhelming Liberal majority in 2001 as the NDP majority with fewer votes than the Liberals in 1996.

White Cat White Cat's picture

Michael Moriarity wrote:

White Cat, every piece of legislation that has ever been passed, on every subject, according to your point of view, has been an example of the ruling party "forcing their belief system on everyone else". It makes no sense to me to suggest that changes to the voting system should be more difficult to make than investor rights treaties or mandatory minimum sentences. How can you justify such a double standard?

I think there's a big difference between passing legislation that can be undone by a future government and making fundamental changes to our democratic system, which are not so easily changed.

There's also precedent established among the provinces: if PR is to be legislated, voters must first have a say in a referendum. What's the reason for trying to bypass this process now? Because PR lost 4 referendums? Obviously not a good reason.

Then there's motive. Why do the NDP and Greens want PR? Because they can get more power under the system? That's the very definition of political opportunism. It could be argued to be a form of gerrymandering.

Don't get me wrong. I think it would be great if the NDP could win a majority and legislate PR direct. But outraged opponents would demand the senate block the legislation and that would be that. Then PR would be tarnished by the seemingly underhanded move.

It seems to me that desperation on the part of PR supporters is killing the cause, not helping it. It's better to work with Canadians, and other electoral reformers, than to try to force a system on Canadians against their will.

The only way to determine the true will of the Canadians is with some kind of dual referendum process that allows people to vote for their preferred system. One of the main reasons electoral-reform referendums failed in the provinces and the UK is because a sizable chunk of voters was excluded from the process (anti-democratic.) 

White Cat White Cat's picture

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Mr. Magoo wrote:

And GOD FORBID that some party in power unilaterally instututes the WRONG flavour of proportional representation.  You know which one that is, right?  The one you don't support.  Then what???

I personally would be very happy to accept any form of PR, and I think this is true of most supporters of fair voting. Of course, I have my own preference. I happen to think STV is the fairest system. However, I will happily accept the Open List MMP proposed by the NDP. In my opinion, it would be difficult to do worse than the present system, and almost any change would be an improvement.

A 3-option referendum (FPTP, PR, Ranked Ballot Voting) with a runoff referendum is not only the least-biased method of letting Canadians decide which voting system is best, it could also let us decide which version of PR is best. If PR was to make it to the second referendum, voters could also decide between MMP and STV.

This would have the added benefit of making PR a moving target, harder to attack. For example, if MMP is the (arbitrary) PR system on a referendum ballot, opponents will argue that electing more politicians is bad solution to our problems. If both options are on a ballot, that branch of rhetoric is useless.

White Cat White Cat's picture

Michael Moriarity wrote:

The sad fact is that voters who are uninformed about the choices offered to them in a referendum almost always vote for the status quo, as they did in Ontario. However, the experience of the citizen assemblies which made the recommendations that were voted down is quite relevant to what would have happened if the voters had been fully informed about their choices. These were groups of around 100 ordinary voters, and no one has suggested that they were stacked with PR zealots. After intensive study of the systems in use around the world, these groups came to a strong consensus that PR would be an improvement. I submit that most voters would do exactly the same, if they were fully informed.

True. But the burden of informing Canadians rests entirely on the shoulders of electoral reformers. (Relying on potential opponents of PR in government to inform people is obviously not a good idea.)

The way people are informed in a democracy is through the process of campaigning. It's far from perfect. But like democracy itself, it's the best of all worse alternatives.

Today people campaign for various causes using image propaganda over the social media. A smart move would be to raise money and hire professionals to design the campaign and start campaigning now. 

 

White Cat White Cat's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Well, thanks for the education.

But I'll still stick by my basic point, which was that changes to how we govern ourselves are a little different from changes to international tariffs, or whatever.

I would certainly agree that if there's a clear mandate from the electorate, go for it, and promptly.

Yes a referendum is unavoidable. Best for people to stop pretending.

The only condition where a political idea can transcend democracy is constitutional. Like same-sex marriage. This should be guaranteed under the constitution, not put to a vote in a referendum. If PR supporters can convince the Supreme Court FPTP is unconstitutional (and their voting system is the only alternative) then go for it! 

 

White Cat White Cat's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
58% voted yes on the first B.C. referendum, and if the wishes of the voters really mattered, B.C. would now have Single Transferable Vote.

When asked a second time that number dropped to 39%.

Any thoughts on that second referendum in BC?

Specifically, why it would be that after the first referendum surely increased public awareness of what was being voted on, and after the "Yes" side got more time and more opportunity to endorse a Yes vote, support for PR actually DROPPED?

Quote:
The sad fact is that voters who are uninformed about the choices offered to them in a referendum almost always vote for the status quo, as they did in Ontario.

Again, when BC voters got an extra few years to wrap their heads around the change, support for it dropped from 58% to 39%.  Doesn't that kind of seem like maybe the 58% were the uninformed ones?  Or else what?  Supporters of PR fled the province and were replaced by FPTP supporters?

Actually the BC Liberals legislated a gag law preventing people from campaigning for PR in the second referendum. (Google "BC-STV".)

This is one reason why PR is already dead: its supporters are the opposite of politically savvy facing opponents who will resort to any and all means of corruption to kill it. Like fluffy bunnies vs. pit bulls, it's a foregone conclusion. 

voice of the damned

delete

voice of the damned

White Cat wrote:

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
58% voted yes on the first B.C. referendum, and if the wishes of the voters really mattered, B.C. would now have Single Transferable Vote.

When asked a second time that number dropped to 39%.

Any thoughts on that second referendum in BC?

Specifically, why it would be that after the first referendum surely increased public awareness of what was being voted on, and after the "Yes" side got more time and more opportunity to endorse a Yes vote, support for PR actually DROPPED?

Quote:
The sad fact is that voters who are uninformed about the choices offered to them in a referendum almost always vote for the status quo, as they did in Ontario.

Again, when BC voters got an extra few years to wrap their heads around the change, support for it dropped from 58% to 39%.  Doesn't that kind of seem like maybe the 58% were the uninformed ones?  Or else what?  Supporters of PR fled the province and were replaced by FPTP supporters?

Actually the BC Liberals legislated a gag law preventing people from campaigning for PR in the second referendum. (Google "BC-STV".)

This is one reason why PR is already dead: its supporters are the opposite of politically savvy facing opponents who will resort to any and all means of corruption to kill it. Like fluffy bunnies vs. pit bulls, it's a foregone conclusion. 

In the second referendum, the choice was between STV and the status quo. Assuming that STV is considered a separate system from PR, what would have been the point of anyone campaigning for PR, since that wasn't on the ballot anyway?

And if STV and PR are considered the same thing, then, in fact, according to the google I did, there was an official, publically funded pro-PR campaign, just as there was an equivalent campaign against PR.

Do you mean that people were prevented from campaigning for STV outside of the officially designated campaign? Or that they weren't allowed to suggest a third option besides STV and FPTP? Or just that it was unfair that the third option wasn't on the ballot to begin with? Or...

Sean in Ottawa

All this is why I think that legislators should take a stand and explain themselves rather than pretend to be neutral. We need a full debate before people vote.

White Cat White Cat's picture

voice of the damned wrote:
White Cat wrote:

Actually the BC Liberals legislated a gag law preventing people from campaigning for PR in the second referendum. (Google "BC-STV".)

This is one reason why PR is already dead: its supporters are the opposite of politically savvy facing opponents who will resort to any and all means of corruption to kill it. Like fluffy bunnies vs. pit bulls, it's a foregone conclusion. 

In the second referendum, the choice was between STV and the status quo. Assuming that STV is considered a separate system from PR, what would have been the point of anyone campaigning for PR, since that wasn't on the ballot anyway?

And if STV and PR are considered the same thing, then, in fact, according to the google I did, there was an official, publically funded pro-PR campaign, just as there was an equivalent campaign against PR.

Do you mean that people were prevented from campaigning for STV outside of the officially designated campaign? Or that they weren't allowed to suggest a third option besides STV and FPTP? Or just that it was unfair that the third option wasn't on the ballot to begin with? Or...

Yes STV is a form of PR. (Main types used around the world: party-list, MMP & STV.)

Yes, when voters are excluded from an electoral-reform referendum it does not end well.

In a PR/FPTP referendum, Ranked Ballot supporters believe PR goes too far. They will opt for the status quo and wait to be represented in the future.

In a RBV/FPTP referendum, PR supporters believe RBV is a false reform. They will opt for the status quo and wait to be represented in the future.

If there is a dual referendum process, then voters are forced to choose the lesser of evils if their system doesn't make it to the final round.

So looking at this realistically, all paths lead to a future referendum on the issue. (Unless the Cons win a fake majority on 37% of the vote like in the UK.) Since no one is fighting for a democratic referendum, it will be another PR/FPTP referendum that will be rejected for the fifth and final time.

(Although RBV will still be around and growing in popularity as it's adopted in municipal elections. So all hope is not lost.) 

White Cat White Cat's picture

Doug Woodard wrote:

What Canadians think:

Successive polls have reported that a growing majority of the public supports the basics of proportional representation; see:

http://wilfday.blogspot.ca/2011/01/poll-results-on-canadian-public-support.html

If PR supporters really believed that more than 70% of Canadians support PR, they would not be trying to avoid another referendum like it was the plague. I can think of many ways in which this kind of wishful thinking is harmful. Not sure how it can be beneficial.

White Cat White Cat's picture

Doug Woodard wrote:

It appears extremely difficult to get the public to seek out or assimilate information relevant to an issue. Many people sem to decide on the basis of the media (generally hostile to proportional representation) and on trust in parties or well-known public figures.

Yes, the media is certainly hostile to the idea of democracy. This is all a part of Canada's toxic tradition of aristocracy that looks down at democracy as populist. Conservatives, fake liberals and media pundits represent the interests of the upper class, while paying lip service to democracy (because virtually all developed countries are democracies.)

Even PR supporters take the elitist approach. According to them, electoral reform is too important of an issue to be decided by the ignorant masses. Doctor Democracy prescribes MMP proportional representation! Just give Tom Mulcair a minority-party dictatorship and he will at least try to cram the good medicine down our throats.

But if Canadians can have an opinion on senate reform, they can have an informed opinion on electoral reform. The real problem is that no one is bothering to inform them. I don't even see the NDP seriously campaigning on this issue. It's just a platform plank when they should be rallying the anti-Harper vote behind real change that will stop this from ever happening again. 

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
The real problem is that no one is bothering to inform them.

The real problem is that they aren't bothering to inform themselves.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

I think 50% + 1 via 1 2 3 4 5 etc. is the easiest change from our current situation. Everyone gets an MP from their local riding. You can list the orders of evil from the least to the most that you would vote for. There would be subtle differences between the MPs. I also think it would improve the connection between MPs and voters.

Doug Woodard

Mr. Magoo wrote:

The real problem is that they aren't bothering to inform themselves.

Mr. Magoo, you seem to be quite an idealist. We have a *representative* democracy, and unfortunately we have reasons for that.

When have you known Canadian voters in general to inform themselves in depth about an issue? Free trade? Investor rights treaties?

Voters seem to have changed their minds about Bill C-51, but that was because Mulcair and May and many other people made it an issue, and made the voters aware of things in the bill which clashed with voters' existing opinions and beliefs. The voters didn't actually have to learn anything with which they were unfamiliar except a few provisions of the bill. The details of systems of proportional representation and how they work are a different matter.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
When have you known Canadian voters in general to inform themselves in depth about an issue?

That may be true, but that doesn't really put the onus on anyone else to educate them.  Certainly those in favour (or opposed to) a law or bill or other change are free to try to engage the electorate with their point of view -- that's how democracy is supposed to work.  But that's not the same as someone else having the responsibility to inform me.

If I can't take two minutes out of my day to bring myself up to speed on an issue that I'll soon be voting on then it's probably safe to assume it's just not that important to me.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..well said iyraste. very true indeed.

edit with apologies

Doug Woodard

White Cat wrote:

Doug Woodard wrote:

What Canadians think:

Successive polls have reported that a growing majority of the public supports the basics of proportional representation; see:

http://wilfday.blogspot.ca/2011/01/poll-results-on-canadian-public-support.html

If PR supporters really believed that more than 70% of Canadians support PR, they would not be trying to avoid another referendum like it was the plague. I can think of many ways in which this kind of wishful thinking is harmful. Not sure how it can be beneficial.

White Cat, do you think that the polls were wrong? I don't, I think they were accurate.

The trouble is that the polls asked only about the results the voters wanted. When they are presented with a specific system, they have to consider things like:

The inevitability of some combination of bigger constituencies, more MPs, maybe lists (closed or open lists), more complication in counting the votes. How are the list candidates going to be selected, and is this much different from current nomination processes? Voters want to understand the more complex train of events in the count to make sure that something isn't going to happen which they don't want (they don't trust politicians much and it's just as well). At the same time they don't want to work very hard at it, and some may not be able to at least in the time they have to spare.

Given a referendum, there is great pressure to do it economically, which means simultaneously with the next general election. The choice of electoral system and voter education is then partly submerged in the flood of other issues. Given that the voters select PR, the system has to be implemented by the *next* government which may be hostile to it. Even if the government is led by the same party as before, it may have changed its mind, as happened with the BC Liberals in the lead-up to 2005.

Remember that we are talking about introducing an electoral system which gives the people more power, and vested interests less power. That is what the problems are about, and it's why I don't think that changing the electoral system to PR without a referendum is undemocratic. If they want, the people can change the system again. The Conservatives' "Fair Elections Act" now in force is much more pernicious and dangerous. Personally I would prefer a referendum with thorough public education beforehand and honest implementation of the result. Would we ever get it?

PR enacted without a referendum would need thorough public consultation and education to have a hope of lasting. I think Mulcair's government will have that much sense. If it's a minority government the bill will need some Liberal support.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
When they are presented with a specific system, they have to consider things like:

Math.

socialdemocrati...

I don't know why anyone thinks we need to have a referendum before we can have proportional representation. It's not like any government in Canadian history put any of their policies up for a referendum. They campaigned for a majority, earned a mandate to govern, and then they governed how they governed. I suppose the argument is "well if you believe in a democracy where parliament truly reflects the proportion of votes, then you should also be in favor of more referendums". But to that I'd say: pass a law reforming the system to PR, have another election, and see if someone can build a coalition to repeal it.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
It's not like any government in Canadian history put any of their policies up for a referendum.

Didn't three provincial governments put PR up for a referendum?

Given those results, no matter how you want to analyze them, that's why PR needs the support of a referendum.

Otherwise: "You've told us loud and clear that you're not too keen on PR, which is why we'll be instituting PR, BECAUSE I'M THE PARENT, THAT'S WHY."

 

Pondering

Maybe the problem goes deeper.

Technically we elect a local representative but the local rep is rarely the most important thing on the ballot. Canadians use their ballots to pick a combination of leader and party.

Even here what drives discussion is the leaders and parties, not the reps with the exception of how they will impact the party's chances. We know that in practice we are electing a party and a leader.

I think the two sides have a fundamentally different idea about how government works in practice. (not in theory)

It's not exact but the closest analogy I can make is having a general contractor to build a house who then deals with all the other contractors. I want one main contractor to be responsible for everything. I don't want to chase down the roofing contractor if there is a problem. I don't want different contractors blaming each other for problems or arguing about conflicting schedules.

That is how I think of parties. You wouldn't choose three or more different general contractors and portion out the job. You pick one. I see a minority government as hiring a general contractor, but requiring my authorization for any major changes.

People who support PR don't think of it that way. They see it more as an existing organization we all belong to and each party as a member of the board with their significance dependant on how many people chose them. (I say 'not reps' because when we talk PR we talk about the relative strength of the parties and the reps still have to answer to the parties.)

People may not analyse their opinion that far but I think that is the main difference.

So, you convince people of all the logic behind PR and why it is more democractic, then they go home and think, yeah, but then we would always have a bunch of parties wheeling and dealing to get to form the government.

P.S. please keep the topic on PR not me. I said the analogies are not exact. I'm just trying to conceptualize what I think underlies the difference of opinion not claiming that it is better to hire a general contractor so it is better to not have PR. You could argue that it is better to be sitting on the board. It's just two different ways of looking at government.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

We don't want them answering to political parties. We want them answering to us.

Pondering

montrealer58 wrote:

We don't want them answering to political parties. We want them answering to us.

But PR doesn't solve that problem. Reps still have to answer to the party.

So with PR (from my perspective) you end up with a bunch of smaller parties josling for position and bargaining for what they imagine supporters of their party want regardless of what is best for the country.

Supporters of PR argue that that the number of seats in parliament should reflect the degree of party popularity so that everyone's views are represented.

People like myself want a coherent stable government not smaller specialty parties vying for power after the election and then wheeling and dealing to decide who can grab power and under what agreements.

We have suffered greatly under the Conservatives because of the FPTP system but PR isn't the only alternative and Canada has done pretty well under the current system.

To win you need to do more than convince people with a simplistic logic argument. They may agree, but as soon as they are on their own they will revert to "no need to radically change political system".

Even though Harper didn't get a majority, polls did show a majority of people relatively satisfied with his governance. There is a relatively small portion of us that have our pitchforks out.

Diehard NDP supporters, party followers, feel they have been locked out of the federal government and proportional representation would have prevented that from happening.

People who are relatively content with the Conservatives and Liberals don't have that sense of not being represented.

We talk of political parties in terms of left and right but if the Liberals are right, then that means combined the Conservatives and Liberals form the majority especially if, as pundits claim, voters make their primary decision based on economics.

So you put forth your PR argument, people see the logic, then go home and think,  "wait a sec, then who is the Prime Minister? How does cabinet get formed?" "meh, not worth the trouble".

Every election a minority government is talked about negatively and all the talk is about how long the government will last before falling on a non-confidence vote. During minority governments there is constant talk about the government falling on the next vote and if the other parties are ready for an election. When a majority happens everyone is jovial and saying we are set for four years.

PR sounds like perpetual minority government and less likelihood that you voted for the PM which under our system has a huge amount of power. 

I'm not saying that is what it is, what I am saying is the argument that sells you on it is having been frozen out of government therefore to you PR is the solution.

People who support either the Liberals or the Conservatives, even if they sometimes vote NDP, don't necessarily feel they have been locked out of government or haven't been represented. So to convince these people you will need different arguments.

 

 

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

If a party gets so bad, an MP which actually represents some people can leave the caucus and sit as an independent. Under party lists, those people are party-robots. I think 50% + 1 2 3 4 5 is easier to explain.

Pondering

Doug Woodard wrote:

Pondering, I think you've missed the point.

Under the system we've got, the largest minority of actual voters chooses the "general contracter." Not "you."

I think you missed the point. Let's say a non-profit is choosing a contractor and everyone on the board gets a vote. The other board members choose someone else. That doesn't mean I didn't get a vote. It just means I didn't get my way. The contractor that won is still likely to do an adequate job even if I don't like the particular tiles they choose.

Doug Woodard wrote:
The idea behind proportional representation is that *all* the people are represented in Parliament, and Parliament rules. Ideally the MPs reach a rough consensus, and if not the majority rules. That's better than having 39% of 60% ruling, especially when you consider that in Canada now, the 39% are an uneasy alliance of social conservatives, neo-liberal ideologists, and moderate conservatives, held together by the skill of one person in command; a variation on our traditional "friendly dictatorship," in this case not so friendly.

In that sense I don't feel represented by any party. My representative answers more to the party than to me. The party whips votes on important matters. I have no choice but to pick a basket of goods someone else put together. I'm not choosing a representative. I'm choosing a plan.

Doug Woodard wrote:
The greater the turnout, the more the country is ruled in the interests of ordinary people. Comparative studies of PR versus FPTP in the richer countries (particularly by Arend Liphart) demonstrate this.

With a PR Parliament of smaller and more coherent parties, the maneuvering for power is more out in the open, as opposed to the opaque snakes' nest of our traditional "big tent" parties; just as democratic politics are less seemly to most of the public than the court politics of absolute monarchies, but not more vicious.

PR makes more demands on political skill, and needs a cultural adaptation of politicians in favour of co-operation. Most European countries have shown themselves capable of this and I don't see why Canadians should be less capable of it.

We have a pretty great country. We are sixth in the happiest countries list. People hardly pay attention to the news, and they have the political attention span of a gnat, probably because we are so happy.

I would like a higher voter turnout because the young are more progressive so it would suit me. Many people think only people who really want to vote should vote so the people choosing are better informed therefore will make a better choice.

I don't really care if I get to see the wheeling and dealing of smaller parties. I want big tent parties. Governments should represent everyone not just the people who elected them. I don't want any "horse trading". I want decisions based on Canada's best interests not on what parties have to trade to gain power. I would like to have more direct control over my MP, like a recall system. That would put pressure on the party to pay attention to my concerns or they could lose a seat.

But really my point is not to criticize PR. My point is that you have to think about why your message isn't winning the support you believe it should have.

I don't think your arguments would motivate voters to dramatically change our political system when the one we have has served us so well.

JKR

montrealer58 wrote:

If a party gets so bad, an MP which actually represents some people can leave the caucus and sit as an independent. Under party lists, those people are party-robots. I think 50% + 1 2 3 4 5 is easier to explain.

Open-list MMP does not have party lists.

mark_alfred

White Cat wrote:

Then there's motive. Why do the NDP and Greens want PR? Because they can get more power under the system? That's the very definition of political opportunism. It could be argued to be a form of gerrymandering.

Don't get me wrong. I think it would be great if the NDP could win a majority and legislate PR direct. But outraged opponents would demand the senate block the legislation and that would be that. Then PR would be tarnished by the seemingly underhanded move.

I don't see political opportunism as the motive for the NDP.  As it stands now, the NDP could potentially win a majority government.  If it were PR, that would not be the case.  I think it's more in line with some thoughts you previously expressed, that being that PR would lead to a better political ethos overall, rather than a better opportunity for the NDP to gain power.

Regarding legislating PR direct rather than having a referendum, I will say I'm not a great fan of referendums.  When capital punishment was eliminated, it was not done through a referendum.  If there had been a referendum, I'm not sure how it would have turned out.  Some decisions are best left to those with expertise in the field. 

However, I do agree with you that the blocking of PR legislation at the Senate could occur.  So, perhaps a referendum on abolishing the Senate combined with a referendum on PR could be worked out.  In other words, one referendum presenting both ideas, such as, "The Senate should be abolished to make room for additional members selected proportional to the vote within designated geographical regions in Canada within the House of Commons.  Yes or No."  Uh, yeah, I'm sure it could be worded better, but anyway just a thought. 

socialdemocrati...

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
It's not like any government in Canadian history put any of their policies up for a referendum.

Didn't three provincial governments put PR up for a referendum?

Given those results, no matter how you want to analyze them, that's why PR needs the support of a referendum.

Otherwise: "You've told us loud and clear that you're not too keen on PR, which is why we'll be instituting PR, BECAUSE I'M THE PARENT, THAT'S WHY."

If the Conservatives put any of their policies up for a referendum, I'd love to see them get more than 50%, because it wouldn't happen. Ever.

Why should progressive change be thwarted by harder rules? Self-imposed, at that?

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
If the Conservatives put any of their policies up for a referendum, I'd love to see them get more than 50%, because it wouldn't happen. Ever.

That's right.  They just do what they want to do, and if the electorate doesn't support it we can go fuck ourselves.

Isn't it self-evident why progressives shouldn't model themselves after the Conservatives??

I think White Cat said it well:

Quote:
There's also precedent established among the provinces: if PR is to be legislated, voters must first have a say in a referendum. What's the reason for trying to bypass this process now? Because PR lost 4 referendums? Obviously not a good reason.

In other words, "we knew you wouldn't want it if we asked you, so we just went ahead and did it anyway".  Gosh, how could that fail?

socialdemocrati...

I'm sure if you looked at Canadian history, you'd find a ton of legislation passed by parties without a referendum, with far less than 50% of the vote. And many of those laws are probably still on the books, still making an impact. Some of them might even be popular.

It's the only way that anything has gotten done in this country.

If PR hasn't been enacted yet, it's probably because people keep throwing up these double standards.

Sometimes I think progressives LIKE failure.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
I'm sure if you looked at Canadian history, you'd find a ton of legislation passed by parties without a referendum

Absolutely.  Can't have a referendum for everything.

The problem is that PR has had several referenda.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
I'm sure if you looked at Canadian history, you'd find a ton of legislation passed by parties without a referendum

Absolutely.  Can't have a referendum for everything.

The problem is that PR has had several referenda.

 

PR also has never been endorsed  by the election platform of a political party that has gone on to form a government in Canada. If the NDP endorses p.r. in their election platform this year and then goes on to form the government, I don't see why they shouldn't be able make good on their election promise.

socialdemocrati...

If the problem is PR has had a bunch of referendums that didn't work... maybe next time, the party with a majority that wants PR should just legislate it.

Problem solved.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

I see that Justin Trudeau now promises to change the electoral system without a referendum. I guess all you referendum lovers will simply be forced to vote Conservative.

CBC wrote:

The Canadian Press reported Tuesday that Trudeau's 32-point plan to "restore democracy in Canada" will also propose that this fall's election be the last conducted under the first-past-the-post electoral system.

FPTP badly distorts voters' choices, allowing a party to win the majority of seats in the House of Commons with less than 40 per cent of the vote and delivering wildly different seat counts to parties that win similar shares of the vote.

Trudeau is set to announce that he would introduce electoral reform legislation within 18 months of forming government; it would be based on the recommendations of a special, all-party parliamentary committee mandated to fully and fairly study alternatives to FPTP, including ranked ballots and proportional representation. 

Trudeau personally favours preferential balloting, but is willing to consider proportional representation.

voice of the damned

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

If the problem is PR has had a bunch of referendums that didn't work... maybe next time, the party with a majority that wants PR should just legislate it.

Problem solved.

Interesting choice of words: the referendums "didn't work". As if the point of holding the referendums was to institute PR, rather than give people the chance to decide whether they should have it or not.

Pondering

http://wilfday.blogspot.ca/2011/01/poll-results-on-canadian-public-suppo...

There has been some discussion about reforming the electoral system in Canada. Some people favour bringing in a form of proportional representation, which means that seats in parliament would be apportioned according to the popular vote won by each party, instead of the current system of electing MPs from single-member ridings. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?

Strongly support: 23 per cent
Somewhat support: 38 per cent
Somewhat oppose: 15 per cent
Strongly oppose: 13 per cent
Don't know: 10 per cent

Before learning about PR through wikipedia and here I might have answered "somewhat support" because at a quick read it sounds fair but on a referendum but I would vote no on MMP based on my greater understanding of how we would just be electing a bunch of special-interest parties like the Bloc that would then horsetrade for the benefit of their individual constituents instead of striving for support from a broad range of people.

The question is good but it still doesn't explain that it would mean no more majority governments and perpetual minority governments so it is too simplistic to interpret that as support for PR plus people answer polls more casually than they vote.

Doug Woodard wrote:
PR systems in Europe reduce the role of ideological enthusiasts and result in more consensual governments more friendly to the interests of most people. I expect that most NDPers would prefer to have had governments more similar to those of say Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland over the last few decades, than to the governments we have experienced. Maybe the federal NDP and Mr. Mulcair have drawn the correct conclusions.

That is an overly broad statement. We don't have a skinhead party in Canada. The countries you have mentioned are far more homogenous than Canada is. We are a federation of provinces that form regions that consider themselves, and are, quite distinct (not just Quebec). We could as easily liken Canada to the EU rather than the individual countries of the EU.

On this board STV doesn't seem to be considered a PR system. The results in BC that supported STV can't be used to support MMP.

https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Single_transferable_vote

Mr. Magoo wrote:
But if PR is to be "bottom up" rather than "top down" then I disagree that it's the government's job to endorse it and promote it.  I believe the government has some duty to let the electorate decide, but it's not their job to run ads saying "Vote for PR!  It's the best!!".

Disagree. We wouldn't have our own Constitution or Charter of Rights and Freedoms if everything had to be bottom-up. The governments job is to do the will of the people but it is also to guide us in an ever changing and developing world. The bone I have to pick with the NDP is that they are being low-key on MMP but also saying they will implement it, but then saying only after consultations. Talk about sitting on a fence. Are they planning to impose it or not? If they are then it should be far more prominent in the campaign than Senate abolition.

Mr. Magoo wrote:
It's continually suggested that low turnouts for elections are the result of the electorate being disenfranchised by FPTP, and its curious and sometimes illogical results.  If that's true, and if people really are "tired of wasting their vote" then this shouldn't be difficult at all.  They should be leaping at the chance to change this, not finding themselves suddenly unable to find Wikipedia.org, or unable to spend a couple of minutes reading... IF it's really an important thing to them like we hear it is.

I don't think people are "tired of wasting their vote".  Some don't vote because they don't see any difference between the parties (they all support free trade) or they see a difference but don't feel capable of deciding which would be best, or they don't support any of them and don't see government as a vehicle for change on the most important issues facing us, like climate change, wars, and income inequality. Politicians all talk about these things but none of them do enough to address them. We need trade deals that include labour rights and environmental standards so companies can't offshore to avoid them. We need trade agreements that forbid trying to attract companies by exempting them from taxes or environmental regulations or giving them free land etc. Countries should be allowed to subsidize national companies or industries. Countries can put their own tariffs on goods to prevent subsidized products from leaving the country.

Wilf Day]They have not specified the region size, but they HAVE specified how the Regional MPs will be elected. From the Dec. 3 Hansard:</p> <p>[quote wrote:
Craig Scott: "Let us call it a one ballot, two votes approach. Under the first vote, on a single ballot, citizens elect a single local MP to represent their riding. With the second vote, they vote for a candidate, on a list, of the party they prefer. . . . Under the system we would advocate, individual voters could actually go into the list and say, “That is the order the party set, but I do not prefer that order. I prefer this person to move up in the order. . . .a direct appointment by a single leader of any MP, let alone all these MPs, is anti-democratic. . . . there would be regional MPs in the House of Commons to create the balance to make sure that the parties are represented according to the popular vote. That is the system. Everybody would be elected, and on the second vote people could determine who they want to vote for on the party list.”

His colleague Alexandrine  Latendresse added "People would first vote for the person they want to represent their riding. Then they would vote for a candidate on a list who belongs to the party they prefer. . . What we are proposing is an open list that would allow people to vote directly for the candidates they prefer."

So then I have to vote for two people instead of one and I have less control over who becomes PM. Regions are bigger or the house is much larger and my voice is no louder. I have no more control over government. Minority governments already provide non-stop theatrics and threats. More parties vying for my vote doesn't give me more power.

White Cat wrote:
A 3-option referendum (FPTP, PR, Ranked Ballot Voting) with a runoff referendum is not only the least-biased method of letting Canadians decide which voting system is best, it could also let us decide which version of PR is best. If PR was to make it to the second referendum, voters could also decide between MMP and STV.

This would have the added benefit of making PR a moving target, harder to attack. For example, if MMP is the (arbitrary) PR system on a referendum ballot, opponents will argue that electing more politicians is bad solution to our problems. If both options are on a ballot, that branch of rhetoric is useless.

I was against both PR and STV until after months I realized that STV could only be applied at the riding level in Canada, and that was with participating in discussions here. The systems may be relatively simple to understand but the implications are not once you start thinking it through.

Our FPTP system still results in minority governments so it is not "winner take all".  Our system of weighing some votes more heavily than others is deliberate. A vote in PEI means more than a vote in Toronto as riding sizes are a function of both population and territory. Some MPs represent territories with few people but their vote carries the same weight as any other MP.

MMP is an effort to defeat that design and make a vote in Toronto more equal to a vote in PEI by adding a party vote.

Harper didn't win a "false majority" he won the majority of seats. His votes are "more efficient" because ridings that contain fewer voters chose him. MMP seeks to lessen the impact of those ridings. It's a fundamental change that matters a lot in a country like Canada versus smaller more homogenous countries.

STV applied at the riding level maintains the relative power balance beween ridings while allowing people to make their vote count more. My first choice automatically becomes non-strategic, it is given to the party I most support. It can't be "wasted" because I get a second choice, and that one can't be wasted either, because I get a third choice, etc. I loved voting for the Liberal leadership because I could place my choices in relative positions and leave off anyone I felt negatively about.

So, for 2015, my vote would be Liberal, NDP, Green, Bloc, Marijuana, the rest don't rank. If the NDP won, I would feel I had something to do with that. It would be possible for the Conservatives to win, but very unlikely because they have focused on appealing to too narrow a constituency.

Brachina

 Didn't Trudeau just vote against Proportional Representation.

Pondering

Michael Moriarity wrote:

I see that Justin Trudeau now promises to change the electoral system without a referendum. I guess all you referendum lovers will simply be forced to vote Conservative.

No, what that points out is that all parties have a basket of positions some of which we agree with and some of which we don't. It also illustrates why some people don't vote when no party represents a basket of positions that we agree with.

In this case I do support ranked balloting which is what Trudeau favors so there is that.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Disagree. We wouldn't have our own Constitution or Charter of Rights and Freedoms if everything had to be bottom-up. The governments job is to do the will of the people but it is also to guide us in an ever changing and developing world.

Were Canadians averse to the Constitution?  Were they asked whether they support it (several times) and did they say "no"?

I totally get that governments have a mandate to go ahead and do certain things without having to consult the electorate every time.

But when they HAVE consulted the electorate then it's Harper-style arrogance to just go ahead and do what the electorate explicitly told you not to do.

Unionist

Pondering wrote:
The countries you have mentioned are far more homogenous than Canada is.

No they aren't.

You know why they aren't?

Because there's no such word as "homogenous".

Actually there is such a word, but it doesn't mean what you think it means.

Here, [url=http://bfy.tw/Mqu]let me Google that for you[/url].

 

Pondering

Unionist wrote:

Pondering wrote:
The countries you have mentioned are far more homogenous than Canada is.

No they aren't.

You know why they aren't?

Because there's no such word as "homogenous".

Actually there is such a word, but it doesn't mean what you think it means.

Here, [url=http://bfy.tw/Mqu]let me Google that for you[/url].

Thank you for pointing out my grammatical/spelling error. I will look out for it in future in the same way that I avoid saying "of" instead of "have" in print. Because of Legatta I more consistently use "c" rather than the "s" that is used in some words in the United States. Correcting grammar is a good thing but I could do without the condescension.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Disagree. We wouldn't have our own Constitution or Charter of Rights and Freedoms if everything had to be bottom-up. The governments job is to do the will of the people but it is also to guide us in an ever changing and developing world.

Were Canadians averse to the Constitution?  Were they asked whether they support it (several times) and did they say "no"?

I totally get that governments have a mandate to go ahead and do certain things without having to consult the electorate every time.

But when they HAVE consulted the electorate then it's Harper-style arrogance to just go ahead and do what the electorate explicitly told you not to do.

I wasn't highlighting the referendum aspect so much as I was thinking of the government's place in promoting it as an issue. I think it is appropriate for political parties therefore governments to promote having our own constitution and our own charter of rights. If either the Liberals or the NDP win the election I think it is entirely appropriate for them to promote a particular voting system if they believe it is the best direction for Canada to take.

I don't like either pledging to change the system before either getting a direct mandate or at least illustrating sufficient strong support and little opposition in the general public.

I agree that because referendums have been held multiples times in multiple provinces a more direct public mandate is needed to institute PR federally.

Mr. Magoo

Oh, OK.  I agree with all of that.

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