Proportional Representation part 3

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Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...Lots of points can be made when you miss the target.

As I've pointed out before, the target keeps moving.

If you genuinely want to discuss proportional representation, present the form of PR that you want, and we can discuss it. Unfortunately, you, as other PR supporters, keep moving the goal posts.

I make no presumption that you really want to discuss this since you buried insults into your post, I figure that is the kind of discussion you really want to have. So I am not very interested.

Pondering

Rev Pesky makes many excellent points which people seem to avoid dealing with in favor of insulting him. If PR is to win then the points he is making do need to be addressed.

Once I understood Dion's P3 system, which does deal with many of the objections to PR, I was won over. Given that he is a Liberals who supports PR I am at a loss as to why his system is persistently ignored without much criticism. It is preferencial, proportional, and personal in that every MP represents a specific constituency. No party lists.

With a few exceptions most ridings are 5 members making the threshold for a seat 20%.

The first part of the ballot is for party selection and every party that reaches 20% receives a seat or more if they have multiples of 20%. Once those thresholds are met for x number of parties, the balance of votes use the runoff method eliminating the party with the lowest number of votes and reassigning the votes until the 20% threshold is met.

This motivates parties to run clean campaigns as they need second votes. Coupled with the 20% threshold it discourages fringe parties while still allowing parties like the Greens to win some seats because they only need 20% in a particular riding. Even if a fringe party gets a seat they are less likely to become "king maker" because the parties have had to go for second votes creating a less adversarial approach.

It's unlikely that a party will sweep a riding taking all five seats. For example, the Liberals would be unlikely to win every seat in the Atlantic provinces because any party with even 20% support is likely to win some. This creates the added benefit of de-regionalizing support. Alberta wouldn't be so solidly Conservative. Both the Conservatives and the NDP would have won seats in Atlantic Canada if the last election had been held under this system.

Having 5 reps in a riding would allow constituents to pick which MP they would prefer to approach on a particular issue.

The second part of the ballot is really interesting. On the second part of the ballot the party lists the candidates they are running. Voters who selected that party vote for which member within the party they want.

I think this would make for much more issue driven campaigns to differenciate candidates and parties. The winning candidates would have more clout within the party. People like Megan Leslie would be much less likely to lose their seat.

From what I have read it does deliver a fairly proportionate parliament comparable to other PR systems.

The only complaint I have read is that it requires larger ridings but all systems have some aspects that can be criticized. I'm not sure why a large riding should be a problem at the federal level. I'd much rather have my choice of 5 MPs to approach.

mark_alfred

P3 is too party focussed.  It doesn't leave room for independents.  And isolating the consideration of making the vote proportional to the five member ridings rather than nation-wide produces a system that's not particularly proportional nation-wide (IE, a localized cut-off of approximately 20% does not produce a proportional result nation-wide).  ETA:  for instance, consider for example if the Green Party averages 10% nation-wide, but locally never reaches over 20%.  So, 10% of the 338 seats nation-wide would be about 34 seats, but under P3 they'd get zero.  That's unnacceptable.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Rev Pesky makes many excellent points which people seem to avoid dealing with in favor of insulting him. If PR is to win then the points he is making do need to be addressed.

 

Sorry Pondering you are out of line here at least if you are focused on my reaction and others -- which you should be able to see is a reaction not an instigation.

His post included:

"Scratch a PR supporter and you'll find a deeply conservative voter who doesn't really want to think outside the box...."

This was a choice of words that on a thinking, left, activist site was not going to get a good response. Telling people in other words that they have closed minds is not a respectful conversation. Ignoring that the Rev. provoked a response and complaining that we are not being nice to him is hardly productive.

It is reasonable to expect people to be less friendly when someone starts claiming that they are incapable of thinking out of the box and being Conservative. In my case I left no doubt about why I responded without wanting to engage in anything else he said.

This is not the first time that you have ignored the first round and then come into a conflict attacking someone who was responding to a provocation pretending the other party was lilly white. And it is not the first time you did it with me. I am still being nice to you but I am not letting you rewrite what was a short exchange where the Rev invited the response he got.

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

P3 is too party focussed.  It doesn't leave room for independents.  And isolating the consideration of making the vote proportional to the five member ridings rather than nation-wide produces a system that's not particularly proportional nation-wide (IE, a localized cut-off of approximately 20% does not produce a proportional result nation-wide).  ETA:  for instance, consider for example if the Green Party averages 10% nation-wide, but locally never reaches over 20%.  So, 10% of the 338 seats nation-wide would be about 34 seats, but under P3 they'd get zero.  That's unnacceptable.

Fair Vote Canada offers Dion's solution as one of three possibilities under PR.

http://www.fairvote.ca/proportional-representation/

There are three main families of PR voting systems:

  • PR List – this is the most common form used around the world. Dion’s P3 model is a form of PR List.
  • Mixed Systems – usually a mixture of PR List with a majoritarian voting system such as our current system*. The most common form is known as MMP for Mixed Member Proportional. This version is used in Germany, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. Both the MMP and Jenkins models portrayed in the videos above are forms of Mixed Systems.
  • STV (Single Transferable Vote) – ranked transferable ballots within multi-member ridings. This has been used for more than 100 years in Ireland, Tasmania and the Australian Senate.

PR Systems MUST have multi-member districts: One key feature of PR voting systems is that they use electoral districts that elect two or more MPs. PR-list and STV do this by combining current single member ridings into larger multi-member ridings. If five ridings are combined into one, then all voters in that new riding will help elect 5 MPs for that riding.

Mixed Systems groups the single member ridings into regions. Two or more regional MPs are elected from a party list which can be open or closed to represent that whole region in addition to the MPs elected as usual in the single member ridings.

If a voting system ONLY has single member ridings, then it CANNOT be a proportional voting system.

Independents could be listed on part one of the ballot.

In practice P3 does deliver as proportionate a result as most proportionate systems. While not exact it comes close. At least that is what Fair Vote Canada says.

The Green party would be earning many second votes which would help them reach the 20% threshold in many ridings. Many NDP votes would go 2nd green as would many Conservative votes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyLeClCrfgQ&feature=youtube

Start at 3:12 for example ballot and distribution model.

 

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Pondering wrote:

Rev Pesky makes many excellent points which people seem to avoid dealing with in favor of insulting him. If PR is to win then the points he is making do need to be addressed.

 

Sorry Pondering you are out of line here at least if you are focused on my reaction and others -- which you should be able to see is a reaction not an instigation.

His post included:

"Scratch a PR supporter and you'll find a deeply conservative voter who doesn't really want to think outside the box...."

This was a choice of words that on a thinking, left, activist site was not going to get a good response. Telling people in other words that they have closed minds is not a respectful conversation. Ignoring that the Rev. provoked a response and complaining that we are not being nice to him is hardly productive.

It is reasonable to expect people to be less friendly when someone starts claiming that they are incapable of thinking out of the box and being Conservative. In my case I left no doubt about why I responded without wanting to engage in anything else he said.

This is not the first time that you have ignored the first round and then come into a conflict attacking someone who was responding to a provocation pretending the other party was lilly white. And it is not the first time you did it with me. I am still being nice to you but I am not letting you rewrite what was a short exchange where the Rev invited the response he got.

Not saying there is no cause for offence, just that ignoring the points in favor of responding solely on an emotional level leaves his arguments as the last word.

Rev Pesky

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...His post included:

"Scratch a PR supporter and you'll find a deeply conservative voter who doesn't really want to think outside the box...."

This was a choice of words that on a thinking, left, activist site was not going to get a good response. Telling people in other words that they have closed minds is not a respectful conversation. Ignoring that the Rev. provoked a response and complaining that we are not being nice to him is hardly productive.

It is reasonable to expect people to be less friendly when someone starts claiming that they are incapable of thinking out of the box and being Conservative. In my case I left no doubt about why I responded without wanting to engage in anything else he said....

I chose my words well. In fact it is very common for PR supporters to suggest that anyone who doesn't mind FPTP is unable to imagine some different system. What I posted was a lot of different types of voting that should also be discussed, knowing full well that PR supporters are absolutely stuck in their own frame of reference. And in fact I was correct in that the first response to my suggestions was a 'we've always done it that way' rejection of any new ideas.

And just for your edification, 'conservative' is a word with a particular meaning, and is not the same as 'Conservative'.

It's interesting the PR voting is much like religion. Each faction believes their own version is right, and everyone else's in wrong. And that bears out in reality in that there are no two countries that have exactly the same PR voting system. One of the characteristics of PR voting is the constant changes required to address problems that arise with PR voting.

Which might even be ok if one could point to marked improvement in how countries are run. Unfortunately there's not a single bit of evidence that PR voting does anything to make life better for anyone.

But someone at least tell me what the ideal PR voting system is. Is it perfect proportionality? Is it the perfect proportionality of the electorate's wishes on a given day once every five years? What is it you're after? If it's perfect proportionality then say so. If it's not, what is it?

The problem is you can't pin down a PR supporter. I want to know which PR system is acceptable to all PR vote supporters. I imagined that it was perfect proportionality, because that is what they're all insisting is the problem with FPTP.

Is perfect proportionality the ideal for which we should be striving?

 

Mr. Magoo

I recall reading here the suggestion that a proportional system is tantamount to a human right (hence the further suggestion of a Charter challenge, if all else fails).

If that's the case I can't see how anything other than full proportionality could be the goal.  You cannot simply tell some people that a human right doesn't apply to them because we have a more pressing need for regionality in order to woo rural voters, or whatever.  You can't half-ass human rights just to gain more buy-in.

mark_alfred

Quote:

In practice P3 does deliver as proportionate a result as most proportionate systems. While not exact it comes close. At least that is what Fair Vote Canada says.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyLeClCrfgQ&feature=youtube

In the video the narrator mentions that Dion refers to P3 as a system that's "moderate-proportionality, which means, it wouldn't be as competitve as more fully proportional systems" (IE, MMP or STV).  They do see a difference.

Quote:

The Green party would be earning many second votes which would help them reach the 20% threshold in many ridings. Many NDP votes would go 2nd green as would many Conservative votes

Only parties that reach the cut off point (which according to the video is 16.7% in the average 5 person riding) receive votes from eliminated parties who've received less.  So, regarding "Many NDP votes would go 2nd green as would many Conservative votes", that would only be the case if the Greens achieved 16.7% of the vote and the NDP and the Conservatives failed to achieve this -- then the NDP and Cons would be eliminated and their Green second choices (assuming your scenario) would go to the Greens, influencing how many of the five MPs would be awarded to them.  If the Greens get less than 16.7%, then the Greens' second choice party gets additional votes.  So, unlike STV, there's no chance in P3 for a party to build up to the threshold from second choice preferences -- they're just out and screwed. 

This is why I'm guessing the Greens would be screwed in P3, with the possible exception of the area around May's riding, where the Green votes are concentrated enough that a few gains would be realized (IE, maybe one extra MP).  Mind you, if the Greens remain at around 3% nationwide, I don't think any of the current PR systems would help them much.  But if they were at 10% with a relatively even distribution nationwide, then they'd be screwed under P3, whereas they would see gains under either STV or MMP.

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Independents could be listed on part one of the ballot.

Grouping independents together as a "party" would be a problem.  Certain independents may have diametrically opposed policies, so they shouldn't be grouped together.  So, for example, if one very left-leaning independent is so popular that she ("Ms Popular") pulls 90% of the vote for the Independent Party whereas the other independents pull in 0.001% of the vote for the Independent Party (IE, the "Independent Party" gets 90.001% of the vote, with Ms. Popular receiving 90% and four other independents in the "Independent Party" getting 0.001% -- each of them get their own vote and maybe a couple of buddies).  So, the all other parties fail to get the quorum of 16.7% and are eliminated, meaning the Independent Party gets all five seats, primarily on the strength of that great lefty Ms Popular.  However, perhaps the other independents are right-leaning fascist knuckleheads who each received less votes than candidates of many of the eliminated parties.  Doesn't matter.  Those parties were eliminated.  And the "Independent Party" won all five seats due to Ms Popular.  So in go the knuckleheads.

It's a problem to focus first on parties with the candidates being a secondary thought.  Only P3 does this.  Both STV and MMP focus on the candidates first, with proportionality of the parties' won votes being a secondary thought. 

P3 has too many problems to be taken seriously as a choice, I feel.

Edited to correct a typo. 

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I recall reading here the suggestion that a proportional system is tantamount to a human right (hence the further suggestion of a Charter challenge, if all else fails).

If that's the case I can't see how anything other than full proportionality could be the goal.  You cannot simply tell some people that a human right doesn't apply to them because we have a more pressing need for regionality in order to woo rural voters, or whatever.  You can't half-ass human rights just to gain more buy-in.

To me that is extreme. I think that accuracy of representation is an objective of a good electoral system. But it is not the only objective even if it is important. As discussed there are practical limitations to just how accurate it is -- perhaps like any measurement system.

The weakness of a discussion that involves more than one consideration is that you can always argue against an extreme or pure version. By using that standard we could argue against the principle of democracy itself. This is why, I assume, those who oppose a principle then demand to see a specific that they can argue against as imperfect. No system will be perfect. But we should strive to have the best possible.

When we look at the attributes we find that what makes one perfect damages another. I suggest a balance is therefore better than an absolute. If perfect in one category makes another a failure but a compromise allows both to be reasonable, we have an improvement. In this regard I could be in favour of any number of compromise positions that will not be universally perfect or universally terrible when it comes to electoral reform.

I consider the FPTP to be a system that takes care of one attribute but sacrifices another. I prefer a compromise.

When it comes to local representation there are reasons selecting the one the most people support is a good thing. To that end a transferrable vote can work well. The problem is that is does nothing for balancing the proportions between parties. Party lists takes care of this but does nothing for selecting the most desirable local representative. So for me a compromise would be better.

I would find acceptable the following:

Half the MPs elected through a constituency election with a single transferrable ballot.

The other half from a national party list election selected as follows: voters select the party they want to vote for and choose their favorite contenders (perhaps 10 each). This creates a ranking for each party. Then this half be used as much as possible to correct the constituency election to what is proportionate.

The result would never be perfectly proportionate but it would be a lot more accurate than what we have now and it would require cooperation between the parties more often than now. Everyone would still have a reasonably local MP that due to STV had the most possible support. The excess created by STV moving support to the centre, for example, would be offset by the PR seats. The PR seats would still be from lists that were put to the population.

Voters would make two choices: first for a party's list (used for the ranking of party candidates and choice of party) and one for local candidates. They could select a local candidate from one party or independent and a different party list if they wanted to.

The result would be imperfect but retain MPs elected through instant runoff yet be more proportionate. The result would be better than either a PR election with no local connect and better than a local instant runoff that does not adjust for proportions overall.

This is actually not that complicated and it handles more than one objective.

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
...His post included:

"Scratch a PR supporter and you'll find a deeply conservative voter who doesn't really want to think outside the box...."

This was a choice of words that on a thinking, left, activist site was not going to get a good response. Telling people in other words that they have closed minds is not a respectful conversation. Ignoring that the Rev. provoked a response and complaining that we are not being nice to him is hardly productive.

It is reasonable to expect people to be less friendly when someone starts claiming that they are incapable of thinking out of the box and being Conservative. In my case I left no doubt about why I responded without wanting to engage in anything else he said....

I chose my words well. In fact it is very common for PR supporters to suggest that anyone who doesn't mind FPTP is unable to imagine some different system. What I posted was a lot of different types of voting that should also be discussed, knowing full well that PR supporters are absolutely stuck in their own frame of reference. And in fact I was correct in that the first response to my suggestions was a 'we've always done it that way' rejection of any new ideas.

And just for your edification, 'conservative' is a word with a particular meaning, and is not the same as 'Conservative'.

It's interesting the PR voting is much like religion. Each faction believes their own version is right, and everyone else's in wrong. And that bears out in reality in that there are no two countries that have exactly the same PR voting system. One of the characteristics of PR voting is the constant changes required to address problems that arise with PR voting.

Which might even be ok if one could point to marked improvement in how countries are run. Unfortunately there's not a single bit of evidence that PR voting does anything to make life better for anyone.

But someone at least tell me what the ideal PR voting system is. Is it perfect proportionality? Is it the perfect proportionality of the electorate's wishes on a given day once every five years? What is it you're after? If it's perfect proportionality then say so. If it's not, what is it?

The problem is you can't pin down a PR supporter. I want to know which PR system is acceptable to all PR vote supporters. I imagined that it was perfect proportionality, because that is what they're all insisting is the problem with FPTP.

Is perfect proportionality the ideal for which we should be striving?

 

I did not dispute that you chose your words well. But you chose them unfairly, insulting any response such that people would leave your comment alone as you not being worth responding to. I assume that you are aware that there is little point responding to someone who starts off saying that those who disagree with his point of view are inflexible, can't think out of the box, are conservative etc.

Thanks for you condescending comment but I did know the distinction between Conservative and conservative. I am neither. Telling people who are advocating for change that they are conservative is hardly going to get people to want to discuss the details of the issue with you.

As it stands, I am happy to have any discussion with other people about specific models, compromise, principles. However, the way you set up the conversation I have no interest in talking with you about these things. Fact is you laid out your argument in a way that I thought was closed minded, inflexible and more provocative than thought provoking. So there you go.

Pondering is defending your use of rhetoric like you did to start the exchange with me. I personally do not think it is coincidence that she also likes your point of view.

I'll let others engage or not in the detail of your positions which leave me uninterested due to the frame you put them in. This is an open thread, you can see my position in speaking to others but I am in no way obliged to respond to your questions when you put them this way.

To say you cannot pin down a person of a specific point of view is an insult but you make it clear that you chose to do that carefully -- well good for you. You also say that you want a position that all PR supporters can agree on. That is just silly. There is no requirement that we have to magically have the same point of view in order to criticize yours from each position we hold. But this is the kind of rhetoric that makes your position unworthy of specific responses or engagement. That is why you are getting a rejection rather than a discussion. Since you say you chose well, I can assume that was your objective.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
When we look at the attributes we find that what makes one perfect damages another. I suggest a balance is therefore better than an absolute. If perfect in one category makes another a failure but a compromise allows both to be reasonable, we have an improvement. In this regard I could be in favour of any number of compromise positions that will not be universally perfect or universally terrible when it comes to electoral reform.

In practice, I agree.  When MMP was on the ballot here in Ontario, I voted for it in the belief that even if it was imperfect, it would probably be better than what we've got.

Quote:
Voters would make two choices: first for a party's list (used for the ranking of party candidates and choice of party) and one for local candidates. They could select a local candidate from one party or independent and a different party list if they wanted to.

The result would be imperfect but retain MPs elected through instant runoff yet be more proportionate. The result would be better than either a PR election with no local connect and better than a local instant runoff that does not adjust for proportions overall.

This is actually not that complicated and it handles more than one objective.

OK, but -- and I'm not saying this to nitpick or be argumentative -- when people frown on a referendum on the topic of PR vs. FPTP, the most common argument is that people don't understand what they're even voting for.  If that's really beyond their cognitive abilities, they'll never, ever get this.

That said, here's a small idea I had with regard to a referendum:  If we do have one, regardless of the exact question or its wording, let's not have it at the same time as some other general election.  Adding the referendum question to the electoral ballot just increases the chances that someone whose primary reason for showing up to the polls is to elect a government will say "Oh, what?  Whatever.  I'll just vote for what I already know".

If the referendum were its own thing then I'd feel a lot more comfortable assuming that anyone who chose to vote did so because they had an actual opinion on the matter, and not just because they didn't want to leave one box un-checked.

mark_alfred

Regarding the question of referendums, Dennis Pillon, the professor who appears in the Fair Vote videos, discusses this and other issues in an Electoral Reform Committee meeting (starts at the 10:00 spot  -- the meeting begins, some intros, then Pillon presents).  Highly recommended.

http://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/XRender/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20160728...

 

Mr. Magoo

Can you give us a tl;dr?

I'm guessing he says we don't need them.  Am I psychic?

mark_alfred

He does, yes.  At some point I'll type a synopsis of what he says.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
When we look at the attributes we find that what makes one perfect damages another. I suggest a balance is therefore better than an absolute. If perfect in one category makes another a failure but a compromise allows both to be reasonable, we have an improvement. In this regard I could be in favour of any number of compromise positions that will not be universally perfect or universally terrible when it comes to electoral reform.

In practice, I agree.  When MMP was on the ballot here in Ontario, I voted for it in the belief that even if it was imperfect, it would probably be better than what we've got.

Quote:
Voters would make two choices: first for a party's list (used for the ranking of party candidates and choice of party) and one for local candidates. They could select a local candidate from one party or independent and a different party list if they wanted to.

The result would be imperfect but retain MPs elected through instant runoff yet be more proportionate. The result would be better than either a PR election with no local connect and better than a local instant runoff that does not adjust for proportions overall.

This is actually not that complicated and it handles more than one objective.

OK, but -- and I'm not saying this to nitpick or be argumentative -- when people frown on a referendum on the topic of PR vs. FPTP, the most common argument is that people don't understand what they're even voting for.  If that's really beyond their cognitive abilities, they'll never, ever get this.

That said, here's a small idea I had with regard to a referendum:  If we do have one, regardless of the exact question or its wording, let's not have it at the same time as some other general election.  Adding the referendum question to the electoral ballot just increases the chances that someone whose primary reason for showing up to the polls is to elect a government will say "Oh, what?  Whatever.  I'll just vote for what I already know".

If the referendum were its own thing then I'd feel a lot more comfortable assuming that anyone who chose to vote did so because they had an actual opinion on the matter, and not just because they didn't want to leave one box un-checked.

Some interesting thoughts here. I agree- and if you had the referendum free standing then other issues would not obscure this as they would in a standard election.

mark_alfred

Quote:

Can you give us a tl;dr?

I'm guessing he says we don't need them.  Am I psychic?

Okay, regarding referendums in deciding upon electoral reform, here's what Dennis Pilon, the professor who appears in the Fair Vote videos, had to say to the Committee:

Quote:

We've seen three views emerge since this process has started.  One frames the issue as a question of the constitution and the need to have a referendum; another argues that voting systems are just a matter of taste and it depends what you like or what you prefer; and the last argues that voting systems are essentially a matter of democratic reform.  And I argue that only the last view is really credible. 

On the constitutional arguments there are no merits to these.  We've seen a range of views from the uninformed to the ridiculous, and the rapidity with which they are appearing in the media signals the kind of desperation from the right wing think tanks that are sponsoring them.  The referendum arguments are often clothed in a veneer of democratic rhetoric but they are also weak and contradictory. 

Normitavely referendums should be restricted to situations where voters can become reasonably informed to be able to participate in the discussions.  Canadian provincial referendums on voting systems have shown this not to be possible.  Referendum advocates would have us believe that they lead to reasoned debate and decisions on this question but evidence suggests otherwise.  The research on referendums both Canadian and comparitive shows that the way voters will deal with this issue of complexity is to reject the question entirely.  So when people have rejected different options it's often because they have no clue what they're being asked and in many cases they didn't even know a referendum was going on. 

The referendum arguments are themselves internally inconsistent.  We are led to believe that we must at least have a majority to change our voting system but a government that has 39% of the electorate is okay to make all of our decisions in the interim.  Why a majority for one question but not for the other?  It seems to me that if a majority is the ultamite test of decision making then it should be applied in all democratic situations. 

And finally, as I'll spell out in a moment, I think this issue is one of voter equality and you don't put equality rights to a vote. 

Now onto the idea that voting systems are a matter of voting preference or taste....

It's not an exact transcript.  Anyway, the video is here:  http://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/XRender/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20160728...

Dennis Pilon's statement starts at 10:04 and goes until 10:08 (for the above) and continues beyond until 10:13:30.  Good listening.

 

Mr. Magoo

Huh, wow.

Quote:
We've seen a range of views from the uninformed to the ridiculous, and the rapidity with which they are appearing in the media signals the kind of desperation from the right wing think tanks that are sponsoring them.

I'm not sure what to make of this, since I also think that it should be put to a referendum, and I'm positive that I'm not a "right wing think tank".

Quote:
Normitavely referendums should be restricted to situations where voters can become reasonably informed to be able to participate in the discussions.  Canadian provincial referendums on voting systems have shown this not to be possible.

If us Canucks are too slow-witted to understand the pros and cons of a different electoral system, how on earth will we ever use it?

Gawsh, not to be a dummy here, but I rank the parties in order of the issues I approve of, and the overhang gets added to the riding with the greatest regionality????  Is that it, Professor Pilon?

Quote:
and in many cases they didn't even know a referendum was going on.

Is that why that "PR" fellow I voted for is never at his constituency office? 

Quote:
We are led to believe that we must at least have a majority to change our voting system but a government that has 39% of the electorate is okay to make all of our decisions in the interim.

And also the decision that we need to change electoral systems.  If not them, and the 39% who voted for them, then who's making this decision?

Seriously though:  whose decision was this if not the Libs, representing that 39%?

mark_alfred

Quote:
I'm not sure what to make of this, since I also think that it should be put to a referendum

But why?  Because a majority is required to make decisions?

If it's essential for decisions by government to be made by either representatives of the majority of the electorate and/or via a majority of the electorate via a referendum, otherwise it's not valid, then an electoral system MUST be put in place that requires government to obtain majority representation of the electorate in the House of Commons in order to properly govern Canada, right?  Of course.  This goes without question.  Thus no need for a referendum.

Sean in Ottawa

mark_alfred wrote:

Quote:
I'm not sure what to make of this, since I also think that it should be put to a referendum

But why?  Because a majority is required to make decisions?

If it's essential for decisions by government to be made by either representatives of the majority of the electorate and/or via a majority of the electorate via a referendum, otherwise it's not valid, then an electoral system MUST be put in place that requires government to obtain majority representation of the electorate in the House of Commons in order to properly govern Canada, right?  Of course.  This goes without question.  Thus no need for a referendum.

Interesting the way you worded this. Perhaps instead of needing PR we could just set the standard for house votes accordingly. So if a government got 45% of the vote and 50% of the seats they would need 55% to pass legislation for their program. Each election the pass rate for government legislation oculd be calculated. I am not advocating this specifically -- just saying that there are mechanisms to meet some of the objectives beyond strict PR. The idea that they be rejected as a whole raises interesting questions.

mark_alfred

Quote:
Perhaps instead of needing PR we could just set the standard for house votes accordingly. So if a government got 45% of the vote and 50% of the seats they would need 55% to pass legislation for their program.

Interesting thought.  It does kinda seem after the fact though.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

And also the decision that we need to change electoral systems.  If not them, and the 39% who voted for them, then who's making this decision?

Seriously though:  whose decision was this if not the Libs, representing that 39%?

I think the all-party committee in practice will be the ones making this decision. The decision likely be reached through consensus since no party has a majority on the committee.

The Liberals, NDP, and Greens all supported electoral reform during the last election and they received over 3/5ths of the votes.

JKR

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

mark_alfred wrote:

Quote:
I'm not sure what to make of this, since I also think that it should be put to a referendum

But why?  Because a majority is required to make decisions?

If it's essential for decisions by government to be made by either representatives of the majority of the electorate and/or via a majority of the electorate via a referendum, otherwise it's not valid, then an electoral system MUST be put in place that requires government to obtain majority representation of the electorate in the House of Commons in order to properly govern Canada, right?  Of course.  This goes without question.  Thus no need for a referendum.

Interesting the way you worded this. Perhaps instead of needing PR we could just set the standard for house votes accordingly. So if a government got 45% of the vote and 50% of the seats they would need 55% to pass legislation for their program. Each election the pass rate for government legislation oculd be calculated. I am not advocating this specifically -- just saying that there are mechanisms to meet some of the objectives beyond strict PR. The idea that they be rejected as a whole raises interesting questions.

I think this kind of system would mean that Elizabeth May's vote in the House of Commons would be worth 10 times what it is now. It would also mean that people from different ridings would be represented by MP's with great differences in political power. Currently ridings with Liberal MP's would have less clout than other ridings. I think this would be unconstitutional.

mark_alfred

Quote:

Canadians who fear that scrapping the first-past-the-post electoral system would lead to instability and extremism should look for comfort on the other side of the world, argued James Shaw, the co-leader of New Zealand's Green party.

"In our experience, we had exactly the same concerns, but none of them ever happened," Shaw told a news conference Friday in Ottawa.

Shaw was on hand alongside his Canadian counterpart, Green party leader Elizabeth May, to make the case for changing the way ballots are cast in this country's federal elections.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/green-electoral-reform-new-zealand-1.370...

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:
Sean in Ottawa wrote:

mark_alfred wrote:

Quote:
I'm not sure what to make of this, since I also think that it should be put to a referendum

But why?  Because a majority is required to make decisions?

If it's essential for decisions by government to be made by either representatives of the majority of the electorate and/or via a majority of the electorate via a referendum, otherwise it's not valid, then an electoral system MUST be put in place that requires government to obtain majority representation of the electorate in the House of Commons in order to properly govern Canada, right?  Of course.  This goes without question.  Thus no need for a referendum.

Interesting the way you worded this. Perhaps instead of needing PR we could just set the standard for house votes accordingly. So if a government got 45% of the vote and 50% of the seats they would need 55% to pass legislation for their program. Each election the pass rate for government legislation oculd be calculated. I am not advocating this specifically -- just saying that there are mechanisms to meet some of the objectives beyond strict PR. The idea that they be rejected as a whole raises interesting questions.

I think this kind of system would mean that Elizabeth May's vote in the House of Commons would be worth 10 times what it is now. It would also mean that people from different ridings would be represented by MP's with great differences in political power. Currently ridings with Liberal MP's would have less clout than other ridings. I think this would be unconstitutional.

The concern about the constitutionality is an interesting question.I don't see the basis for it -- at this point any more than a riding be able to complain that its MP has become Speaker and has a reduced role.

The point would be that some MPs have more weight of votes behind them than others and so those MPs would have a weighted vote that increases. You would need to have a significant change to allow it but it is a mechanism that could be used if there were enough support. The issue is not that one region or another would have a change in weight but that a temporary adjustment be made for the life of a parliament -- the same region could have an advantnge the following election.

This is not a firm proposal and I am sure there are details that may make it perhaps more or perhaps less workable. I raised it as an illustration of the breadth of possible adjustments to create a greater proportionality.

It is possible that such a change to allow greater proportionality would only exist on certain key national votes and notothers. For example -- confidence votes. Requireing confidence is a matter of policy that in fairness could require a super majority should the parliament have a "false" majority. All other votes which would cause the above concerns could be held by regular vote. Essentially MPs would be equal except in a confidence vote where the percentage of voting mandate would apply.

Rev Pesky

I commend this to Sean in Ottawa, from a Mark Alfred post, paraphrasing Denis Pilon:

Quote:
...On the constitutional arguments there are no merits to these.  We've seen a range of views from the uninformed to the ridiculous, and the rapidity with which they are appearing in the media signals the kind of desperation from the right wing think tanks that are sponsoring them.  The referendum arguments are often clothed in a veneer of democratic rhetoric but they are also weak and contradictory. 

Normitavely referendums should be restricted to situations where voters can become reasonably informed to be able to participate in the discussions.  Canadian provincial referendums on voting systems have shown this not to be possible.  Referendum advocates would have us believe that they lead to reasoned debate and decisions on this question but evidence suggests otherwise.  The research on referendums both Canadian and comparitive shows that the way voters will deal with this issue of complexity is to reject the question entirely.  So when people have rejected different options it's often because they have no clue what they're being asked and in many cases they didn't even know a referendum was going on. 

Is the above the sort of rhetoric you were thinking of when you said

Quote:
...this is the kind of rhetoric that makes your position unworthy of specific responses or engagement...

or does your statement only apply to those who disagree with you?

 

 

Pondering

mark_alfred wrote:

Quote:

In practice P3 does deliver as proportionate a result as most proportionate systems. While not exact it comes close. At least that is what Fair Vote Canada says.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyLeClCrfgQ&feature=youtube

In the video the narrator mentions that Dion refers to P3 as a system that's "moderate-proportionality, which means, it wouldn't be as competitve as more fully proportional systems" (IE, MMP or STV).  They do see a difference.

Quote:

The Green party would be earning many second votes which would help them reach the 20% threshold in many ridings. Many NDP votes would go 2nd green as would many Conservative votes

Only parties that reach the cut off point (which according to the video is 16.7% in the average 5 person riding) receive votes from eliminated parties who've received less.  So, regarding "Many NDP votes would go 2nd green as would many Conservative votes", that would only be the case if the Greens achieved 16.7% of the vote and the NDP and the Conservatives failed to achieve this -- then the NDP and Cons would be eliminated and their Green second choices (assuming your scenario) would go to the Greens, influencing how many of the five MPs would be awarded to them.  If the Greens get less than 16.7%, then the Greens' second choice party gets additional votes.  So, unlike STV, there's no chance in P3 for a party to build up to the threshold from second choice preferences -- they're just out and screwed. 

This is why I'm guessing the Greens would be screwed in P3, with the possible exception of the area around May's riding, where the Green votes are concentrated enough that a few gains would be realized (IE, maybe one extra MP).  Mind you, if the Greens remain at around 3% nationwide, I don't think any of the current PR systems would help them much.  But if they were at 10% with a relatively even distribution nationwide, then they'd be screwed under P3, whereas they would see gains under either STV or MMP.

Quote:
Independents could be listed on part one of the ballot.

Grouping independents together as a "party" would be a problem.  Certain independents may have diametrically opposed policies, so they shouldn't be grouped together.  So, for example, if one very left-leaning independent is so popular that she ("Ms Popular") pulls 90% of the vote for the Independent Party whereas the other independents pull in 0.001% of the vote for the Independent Party (IE, the "Independent Party" gets 90.001% of the vote, with Ms. Popular receiving 90% and four other independents in the "Independent Party" getting 0.001% -- each of them get their own vote and maybe a couple of buddies).  So, the all other parties fail to get the quorum of 16.7% and are eliminated, meaning the Independent Party gets all five seats, primarily on the strength of that great lefty Ms Popular.  However, perhaps the other independents are right-leaning fascist knuckleheads who each received less votes than candidates of many of the eliminated parties.  Doesn't matter.  Those parties were eliminated.  And the "Independent Party" won all five seats due to Ms Popular.  So in go the knuckleheads.

It's a problem to focus first on parties with the candidates being a secondary thought.  Only P3 does this.  Both STV and MMP focus on the candidates first, with proportionality of the parties' won votes being a secondary thought. 

P3 has too many problems to be taken seriously as a choice, I feel.

Edited to correct a typo. 

There would be no need to list independents as a group anymore than there is now.

3% spread over the entire country means they don't represent any geographic community. But their support isn't 3% spread evenly across the country.

Admittedly I don't know the numbers, but I thought the Greens were close to winning a few seats. The 3% isn't evenly spread out. Communities have different priorities. Support of 20% of the population in a given area is not that high a threshold to reach. If they had to reach it cross country I would agree with you.

I feel the others have too many problems to be taken seriously as a choice. I am completely opposed to party lists or any system that makes MPs even more beholden to their parties.

The only perfectly proportion system is one in which everyone is their own representative. Outside of that our choices are limited to of few groups of people none of whom may accurately represent our views.

A country wide proportionate system would allow all kinds of crackpot extremists to get elected and grow their support which is why many if not all PR systems have assigned mimimum thresholds.

Pondering

There seem to be two views of how representatives are viewed. I elect a representative to reflect my views and to make the decisions I would make for myself.

The other view is that when you elected a representative you are giving them your power of attorney in a manner of speaking. It is up to them to decides what's best for you.

I don't agree with that view at all. That is the one that is in keeping with the notion of changing the system without a referendum.

That big changes have been made in the past without a referendum is immaterial. In the past fewer people were educated and it was far more difficult to communicate.

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

I commend this to Sean in Ottawa, from a Mark Alfred post, paraphrasing Denis Pilon:

Quote:
...On the constitutional arguments there are no merits to these.  We've seen a range of views from the uninformed to the ridiculous, and the rapidity with which they are appearing in the media signals the kind of desperation from the right wing think tanks that are sponsoring them.  The referendum arguments are often clothed in a veneer of democratic rhetoric but they are also weak and contradictory. 

Normitavely referendums should be restricted to situations where voters can become reasonably informed to be able to participate in the discussions.  Canadian provincial referendums on voting systems have shown this not to be possible.  Referendum advocates would have us believe that they lead to reasoned debate and decisions on this question but evidence suggests otherwise.  The research on referendums both Canadian and comparitive shows that the way voters will deal with this issue of complexity is to reject the question entirely.  So when people have rejected different options it's often because they have no clue what they're being asked and in many cases they didn't even know a referendum was going on. 

Is the above the sort of rhetoric you were thinking of when you said

Quote:
...this is the kind of rhetoric that makes your position unworthy of specific responses or engagement...

or does your statement only apply to those who disagree with you?

I wonder if you have read anything about logic and know the all cat's are black argument:

Goes something like this -- I saw a cat. It was black. I saw another. It was black. I saw 50 cats, all black. All cats must be black.

That is an unsupported generalization to the absolute. Like yours.

It is different than -- Based on the evidence of 52 cats, cats appear to be black (leaving open the posibility that a cat may not be).

 

Now your comment was sweeping, claiming a defining characteristic of the people (not even their arguments) who disagreed with you -- an absolute generalization. It was an unsupported absolute that was meant to insult and characterize those who disagreed with you, saying they were -- by definition -- unable to be open minded.

The comment you quote here, firstly is a quote not from this place so not leveled within a small community. But let's unpack and compare shall we?

It first speaks about a specific set saying there was no merit to a particular set of constitutional objections -- not a generalization becuase it only refers to a specific set of observed statements. It does not say that there could be no merit to ANY objection.

Then it says that arguments are "often" ... Clearly no absolute there.

Then there is this: "Referendum advocates would have us believe that they lead to reasoned debate and decisions on this question but evidence suggests otherwise."

Again it makes a generalization based on observance but then refers only to a specific set of data called the "evidence" that "suggests otherwise." Note the word suggests.

Then we have another statement with the word often.

So here we have a perfect comparison of two types of arguments:

1) Yours: where you characterize anyone who holds a certain point of view and definitively apply characteristics to them.
That are so absolute that they make any and all possible arguement against yours invalid as your starting point.

and

2) This quote which speaks in gereralizations but uses words like "often"; "we have seen"; "people have rejected (not assuming they always will)" "suggests" and references to specific "evidence" not presuming that all evidence or that any others, by class must be the same.

So this is exactly what I am talking about. It is possible to make strong statements like this with evidence -- even generalizations and it be merely a debate. Or, like you, you can make sweeping generalizations, that insult, characterize and are totally absolute -- by stating an unacceptable characteristic of all those who disagree with you by definition.

It is possible to attack this quote on the basis that the generalization, despite being qualified is still too strong but it is at least based on the argument and not defining all those on the other side as defective in being able to see the point (as you did).

The former style can lead to a vigorous debate between opposing positions where that evidence is debated and other evidence may be introduced. Your style leads to people wanting to having little to do with you because you already have a conclusion that the people who disagree with you are by definition incapable of being open-minded.

Also this statement refers to the arguments being made. Yours refers to the people making the arguments you don't like and characterizing them rather even than their argument.

So by contrast yours is insulting, absolute and pointless and the other is a debatable generalization that is not absolute.

***

I hope this was helpful in showing you the clear difference between the two that apparently you were having so much difficulty with.

mark_alfred

Quote:
I feel the others have too many problems to be taken seriously as a choice. I am completely opposed to party lists or any system that makes MPs even more beholden to their parties.

No one is suggesting closed-list MMP.  The list is open, so it's up to the voters not the parties who gets elected.

Or if you prefer, there's STV, which has no lists and is ranked.  It's similar to Dion's P3, but candidates rather than parties are ranked, which actually works better.  See https://youtu.be/l8XOZJkozfI

As Dennis Pilon (the poli-sci guy) has said, there are no perfect systems, but there is an imperfect one, that being FPTP.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
If it's essential for decisions by government to be made by either representatives of the majority of the electorate and/or via a majority of the electorate via a referendum, otherwise it's not valid, then an electoral system MUST be put in place that requires government to obtain majority representation of the electorate in the House of Commons in order to properly govern Canada, right?

I propose that we name this Alfred's Paradox.

"The necessity of ensuring that governance follows the clear will of the majority is so great that such governance be chosen without the clear will of the majority".

Here's the fly in the ointment.  The last four times the possibility of changing the electoral rules was put to Canadians to decide for themselves, they said no.  I think that should give anyone pause to consider whether it's really appropriate to simply go ahead with it anyway.

Like this:

Wife:  why the hell did you order ANCHOVIES on our pizza??

Husband:  because the last four times I asked you if you like anchovies you said no.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

There seem to be two views of how representatives are viewed. I elect a representative to reflect my views and to make the decisions I would make for myself.

The other view is that when you elected a representative you are giving them your power of attorney in a manner of speaking. It is up to them to decides what's best for you.

 

This is an important point and I agree it may define why we cannot agree on this.

At its core there is a fundamental difference of opinion here in what a representative democracy actually is and the whole point of political accountability.

We have people who do not agree with representative democracy who feel that it is somehow less legitimate than a secret ballot on everything. They miss the point of representative democracy which is public accountability in context and over time.

I do not elect a person to make specific decisions as I would make them, or based on my opinion of each one. If I feel strongly on something I can express that to whichever representatives I have but I do not expect them to mirror my process, opinion, or knowledge. Instead I do choose those I trust to vote to give my power of attorney (to use your expression) for a given period. Together with that I expect them to listen to me but not to follow my every whim. I expect them to gather opinion, and rank it based on the source based on the values I expect, and they are to consider what is best not based on opinions about individual initiatives but to consider how they fit together and are coherent. I expect them to consider the longer term. And, I hold them to account to consider the effects not just on opinion and present factors but what will happen next year and for as long as the decision has impact. Finally, I expect them to pay attention to all decisions, not just the ones I might be interested enough to form an informed opinion on.

I feel able to blame a representative who decided the same why I was inclined on an issue if it turned out to be wrong and they had access to better information than I did and did not use it.

This is the core of representative democracy. It allows, on the one hand, a vote by the public without any accountability or requirement for coherence, and on the other, a representative who is charged with a period of responsibility and is judged on a complete rather than partial record.

This is also why I firmly disagree with over-use of referenda. Referenda place decisions beyond accountability for a longer term and beyond context and a requirement for coherence. The test for a referendum, ought to be something so great that it requires no context of other options, and a choice that the public are widely familiar. As a rule, I expect referenda for things that are fundamental and irreversible.

Other choices that require context, investigation, coherence and long-term accountability should be by representative who has  a public responsibility that I do not want or expect with my secret ballot. That person must explain while I owe nobody knowledge about my choice nevermind an explanation for it.

This difference is often behind some of our disagreements yet is a fundamental part of how I see democracy in practice.

So when it comes to a referendum on electoral reform I would say good arguments can be made on both sides. A voting system is reversible; the public are not widely familiar with the options (the argument for referenda improves when they are). However, there is increasing opinion about this issue and it is becoming more fundamental.
Arguably, the decision can be informed by experts and studies but it does not require a lot of context as it is a fairly discrete aspect of public policy. As such I could build a case to have a referendum on electoral reform or not to. It is in the grey area where debate can exist with reasonable argument on both sides.

We can see clearly that opinions about PR, electoral reform, a referendum and how an election and representative is viewed and even what their job is form the basis for our often profound disagreements and misunderstandings. How can we debate policy when we cannot even agree on what the job of an MP is? To me it certainly is not agreeing with me or even a majority in the riding that is not why I vote for a person.

 BTW you reference education -- without opening this into a long digression, people would define an educated/infomred person in many ways and with many different biases. It is not really that useful a statement. I could argue that the fragmentation of public discourse has lead to people having more specific knowledge and less general knowledge and perhaps less adaptable critical thinking. I reject your argument on this point as well.

mark_alfred

Quote:

"The necessity of ensuring that governance follows the clear will of the majority is so great that such governance be chosen without the clear will of the majority".

Here's the fly in the ointment.  The last four times the possibility of changing the electoral rules was put to Canadians to decide for themselves, they said no.  I think that should give anyone pause to consider whether it's really appropriate to simply go ahead with it anyway.

Like this:

Wife:  why the hell did you order ANCHOVIES on our pizza??

Husband:  because the last four times I asked you if you like anchovies you said no.

Last election Canadians were asked and the majority voted for parties that felt FPTP was a problem and vowed electoral reform, which presumably is what we're getting.

Speaking of pizza, check out this video:  First Past the Pizza

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Last election Canadians were asked and the majority voted for parties that felt FPTP was a problem and vowed electoral reform, which presumably is what we're getting.

So the rest is just a money argument, or an expediency argument.  The democracy part is taken care of because voters voted for the NDP too, for about a million different reasons, one of which may or may not have been their desire for a new electoral system.

I'm just curious.  Deep, deep down, are you just an eensy bit scared that if it were to put another referendum, the dummies might vote No?

mark_alfred

Re:  P3

Quote:

There would be no need to list independents as a group anymore than there is now.

Yes, you might be right, now that I think of it.  Each independent could be listed in the first part (as a "party" of one) and then be chosen in the second part.  So the first part could look like:

[] Conservative

[] Liberal

[] NDP

[] Green

[] Joe Independent

[] Jane Independent

___

So if someone ranks "Jane Independent" as #1 in the first part, then in the second part they go down and choose Jane Independent.  The only potential problem would be, in a 5 member riding, if Jane Independent won so many votes (IE, 90%) that other parties were eliminated, meaning that the "party" of Jane Independent is entitled to all five seats in the riding, whereas Jane Independent has only herself for one seat.  An exception could be made, I suppose, and go to the the second and if need be third place party for the rest of the seats regardless of not meeting the threshold.  Anyway, it's a scenario that's very unlikely, but it is a potential issue.  Still, this could be a work around for dealing with independends.

I still feel the threshold for consideration of 16.7% within a 5 person riding just wouldn't provide a proportional enough result overall.  It'd be a little better than FPTP, but it'd be a shame to get a half measure like this, I feel.

JKR

Maybe we should have a referendum on whether minority opinion should continue to be allowed to override majority opinion?

But if a majority of people voted to allow minority opinion to override majority opinion, why should the majority opinion of the referendum be respected?

JKR

Maybe referendum questions should concern the values and principles of an electoral system rather than a specific electoral system?

mark_alfred

Quote:

Quote:
Last election Canadians were asked and the majority voted for parties that felt FPTP was a problem and vowed electoral reform, which presumably is what we're getting.

So the rest is just a money argument, or an expediency argument.  The democracy part is taken care of because voters voted for the NDP too, for about a million different reasons, one of which may or may not have been their desire for a new electoral system.

I'm just curious.  Deep, deep down, are you just an eensy bit scared that if it were to put another referendum, the dummies might vote No?

No one is a "dummy".  People don't have time to study things in depth.  And when you've not studied something in depth, particularly something that requires understanding systems and histories and comparitive analysis, then the default answer will be "no".  But having a population's vote count toward a reflective result is something everyone does believe in.  Voting, it's a right.  Everyone agrees with that.  People feel there's issues with the current system and elected the current government who promised to look at it, consult, and improve it. 

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
No one is a "dummy".  People don't have time to study things in depth.  And when you've not studied something in depth, particularly something that requires understanding systems and histories and comparitive analysis, then the default answer will be "no".

And yet you feel we can safely assume that people voted "yes" for that which they don't understand, by voting for the Libs and the NDP.

How is their presumably inchoate "yes" any more valid than the presumably inchoate "no" of a referendum?

JKR

I think referendum questions should be limited to questions that most voters understand. A referendum question could be: "should seats allotted in the House of Commons generally reflect the votes cast by the electorate?" I think that would rule out FPTP.

Mr. Magoo

How about "should our voting system be familiar and easy to understand?"

You're asking a leading question.  And it has no opportunity cost, either.

If you asked Canadians "should every Canadian receive a free monthly supply of tater tots?", I'm betting the electorate would say "YES PLEASE!"... and why not?  There's no apparent downside to this, or cost to this.  Just free tater tots.

Maybe more to the point:  if it was indeed a problem that too many electors didn't understand what they were voting for in the last four referendums, phrasing the question your way only ensures that they can say "yes" without ever having to.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

How about "should our voting system be familiar and easy to understand?"

I think an electoral system should accomplish much more important things than just being easy to understand. I think being easy to understand is the only advantage of having FPTP. I think producing equitable results is much more important than being easy to understand.

Rev Pesky

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:
...Is the above the sort of rhetoric you were thinking of when you said

Quote:
...this is the kind of rhetoric that makes your position unworthy of specific responses or engagement...

or does your statement only apply to those who disagree with you?

 

Also this statement refers to the arguments being made. Yours refers to the people making the arguments you don't like and characterizing them rather even than their argument.

So by contrast yours is insulting, absolute and pointless and the other is a debatable generalization that is not absolute.

...

You could have saved yourself a lot of words, and still answered correctly by just saying 'Yes'.

Rev Pesky

JKR wrote:
...I think producing equitable results is much more important than being easy to understand.

I put this questoin before, and no one felt like answering it, but you are pointing in this direction.

Is perfect proprotionality the ideal that you're aiming for?

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
I think an electoral system should accomplish much more important things than just being easy to understand. I think being easy to understand is the only advantage of having FPTP. I think producing equitable results is much more important than being easy to understand.

I wasn't suggesting that simplicity or familiarity are more important than any other consideration.  I was just giving an example of a leading question that would lead in the other direction.  Here's a couple more, non-electoral examples

"Should Canadians have the right to be free of the dangers of terrorism?"

"Should police have the right to defend themselves or the public from potentially dangerous individuals?"

"Should criminals convicted of violent crimes enjoy free food and medical care financed by your taxes?"

See how hard it is to say "no" to those questions when the opportunity costs of those changes aren't mentioned?

A referendum question should be plain and simple and as factual as possible.  Something like "Do you believe that Canada should replace the existing FPTP (First-Past-the-Post) electoral system with MMP (Mixed Member Proportional)?

Anyway, I think you gave the game away when you said:

Quote:
I think referendum questions should be limited to questions that most voters understand. A referendum question could be: "should seats allotted in the House of Commons generally reflect the votes cast by the electorate?" I think that would rule out FPTP.

Indeed, ensuring a vote against FPTP is about the only reason I can see for wording like that.  Why not just add "... or do you hate Canada"?

mark_alfred

Re: post 89

You forgot the second part of my post, that being:

mark_alfred wrote:

But having a population's vote count toward a reflective result is something everyone does believe in.  Voting, it's a right.  Everyone agrees with that.  People feel there's issues with the current system and elected the current government who promised to look at it, consult, and improve it.

Likewise...

But having [reliable health care; infrastructure spending; a justice system that respects our rights; a thriving economy; immigration; etc.] is something everyone does believe in.  These things are expectations / rights.  Everyone agrees with that.  People feel there's issues with the current system and elected the current government who promised to look at it, consult, and improve it. 

Should the government have a referendum on all the changes they make?  Perhaps, to give it even more validity.  But, again, lack of time for study can lead to a bias toward either the status quo or other things within those voting in a referendum.  Take the example of capital punishment.  This was eliminated after experience and study and consultation by the government (and also along with years of lobbying by different people too).  Do you feel this should have been subjected to a referendum?  Or is there something to you that makes the studying and consultation by government on the issue of democratic reform with the intent to introduce changes to improve it different from the studying and consultation by government on the issue of the judicial system with the intent to introduce changes to improve it?  To me there isn't.  Referendums are not useful in these circumstances.

ETA:  another less melodramatic parallel could be the government's implementation of official bilingualism in Canada.  This change covered not only government services but also parts of the private sector as well, such as labels on food needing to be bilingual.  Should this have been subject to a referendum?  Many people were not happy about it.   Likewise with implementing use the Metric system as Canada's official system of measure -- a change of system not verified by a referendum! (if they tried it would have lost, I'm guessing, same with bilingualism)  Anyway, systemic change, including democratic reform, happens all the time without referendums.  Introducing creating the PBO, fixed date elections, mandating there be designated polls with technology to allow blind people to vote on their own (that change was fought for), changes in requirements for ID to vote, not allowing polling within certain time periods, changing the riding boundaries, revising the ballot to include both candidate and party, etc.  Basically when we speak of PR, we're speaking of improving the vote count.  That's it.  Improving the vote count.  This requires a referendum?

Here's a quote for you and all others advocating for direct democracy:

Quote:

Reform Party of Canada

The party's platform included traditional prairie populist reform panaceas such as free trade and direct democracy (referendums, initiatives and recall), and some contemporary proposals such as the Triple-E (equal, elected and effective) Senate.

Too bad they went soft after merging with the Progressive Conservatives, eh?  Maybe the new leader will revisit this policy for you.

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

JKR wrote:
...I think producing equitable results is much more important than being easy to understand.

I put this questoin before, and no one felt like answering it, but you are pointing in this direction.

Is perfect proprotionality the ideal that you're aiming for?

No. Proportionality is just one of the values and principles that a good electoral system has. There are other principles that an electoral system should also have that require that proportionality not be perfect and be reduced. These other values include: effective parliament, strong government, strong parties, local representation, majority rule, voter choice, legitimacy, inclusiveness, voter trust, political unity, voter engagement, and the ability of the voter to not have to worry that voting for their preferred candidate or party will instead perversely help elect a party or candidate that they dislike instead.

So proportionality is just one important principle of a democratic electoral system that is offset by other very important considerations. I think FPTP meets far fewer of these values than almost all other electoral systems.

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:

I commend this to Sean in Ottawa, from a Mark Alfred post, paraphrasing Denis Pilon:

Quote:
...On the constitutional arguments there are no merits to these.  We've seen a range of views from the uninformed to the ridiculous, and the rapidity with which they are appearing in the media signals the kind of desperation from the right wing think tanks that are sponsoring them.  The referendum arguments are often clothed in a veneer of democratic rhetoric but they are also weak and contradictory. 

Normitavely referendums should be restricted to situations where voters can become reasonably informed to be able to participate in the discussions.  Canadian provincial referendums on voting systems have shown this not to be possible.  Referendum advocates would have us believe that they lead to reasoned debate and decisions on this question but evidence suggests otherwise.  The research on referendums both Canadian and comparitive shows that the way voters will deal with this issue of complexity is to reject the question entirely.  So when people have rejected different options it's often because they have no clue what they're being asked and in many cases they didn't even know a referendum was going on. 

Is the above the sort of rhetoric you were thinking of when you said

Quote:
...this is the kind of rhetoric that makes your position unworthy of specific responses or engagement...

or does your statement only apply to those who disagree with you?

I wonder if you have read anything about logic and know the all cat's are black argument:

Goes something like this -- I saw a cat. It was black. I saw another. It was black. I saw 50 cats, all black. All cats must be black.

That is an unsupported generalization to the absolute. Like yours.

It is different than -- Based on the evidence of 52 cats, cats appear to be black (leaving open the posibility that a cat may not be).

 

Now your comment was sweeping, claiming a defining characteristic of the people (not even their arguments) who disagreed with you -- an absolute generalization. It was an unsupported absolute that was meant to insult and characterize those who disagreed with you, saying they were -- by definition -- unable to be open minded.

The comment you quote here, firstly is a quote not from this place so not leveled within a small community. But let's unpack and compare shall we?

It first speaks about a specific set saying there was no merit to a particular set of constitutional objections -- not a generalization becuase it only refers to a specific set of observed statements. It does not say that there could be no merit to ANY objection.

Then it says that arguments are "often" ... Clearly no absolute there.

Then there is this: "Referendum advocates would have us believe that they lead to reasoned debate and decisions on this question but evidence suggests otherwise."

Again it makes a generalization based on observance but then refers only to a specific set of data called the "evidence" that "suggests otherwise." Note the word suggests.

Then we have another statement with the word often.

So here we have a perfect comparison of two types of arguments:

1) Yours: where you characterize anyone who holds a certain point of view and definitively apply characteristics to them.
That are so absolute that they make any and all possible arguement against yours invalid as your starting point.

and

2) This quote which speaks in gereralizations but uses words like "often"; "we have seen"; "people have rejected (not assuming they always will)" "suggests" and references to specific "evidence" not presuming that all evidence or that any others, by class must be the same.

So this is exactly what I am talking about. It is possible to make strong statements like this with evidence -- even generalizations and it be merely a debate. Or, like you, you can make sweeping generalizations, that insult, characterize and are totally absolute -- by stating an unacceptable characteristic of all those who disagree with you by definition.

It is possible to attack this quote on the basis that the generalization, despite being qualified is still too strong but it is at least based on the argument and not defining all those on the other side as defective in being able to see the point (as you did).

The former style can lead to a vigorous debate between opposing positions where that evidence is debated and other evidence may be introduced. Your style leads to people wanting to having little to do with you because you already have a conclusion that the people who disagree with you are by definition incapable of being open-minded.

Also this statement refers to the arguments being made. Yours refers to the people making the arguments you don't like and characterizing them rather even than their argument.

So by contrast yours is insulting, absolute and pointless and the other is a debatable generalization that is not absolute.

***

I hope this was helpful in showing you the clear difference between the two that apparently you were having so much difficulty with.

What?

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Anyway, I think you gave the game away when you said:

Quote:
I think referendum questions should be limited to questions that most voters understand. A referendum question could be: "should seats allotted in the House of Commons generally reflect the votes cast by the electorate?" I think that would rule out FPTP.

Indeed, ensuring a vote against FPTP is about the only reason I can see for wording like that.  Why not just add "... or do you hate Canada"?

I think another possible reason for my wording is that I think democracy requires that seats allotted in the H of C generally reflect the votes cast by the electorate. I think if people voted for that proposition, FPTP would not be a system under consideration as it is not an electoral system that meets that criteria.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
I think another possible reason for my wording is that I think democracy requires that seats allotted in the H of C generally reflect the votes cast by the electorate. I think if people voted for that proposition, FPTP would not be a system under consideration as it is not an electoral system that meets that criteria.

Except that it does.  NO, not as well as (say) MMP would, but saying "generally reflect the votes cast by the electorate" does not actually rule out FPTP.

More to the point, as long as it's even slightly ambiguous like that, it's methodologically useless.

Let me reduce your question right down to the nub of it:  "Do you want the very best possible electoral system for Canada".

When 99% of voters say yes to that, they're not saying yes to whatever you, or Justin Trudeau, or Denis Pilon thinks is the very best.  You really, really need to tell people in concrete terms what they're voting for or against.  That means actually saying the names of the systems.

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