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Conservatives for MMP



Conservatives, whether supporters of the federal Conservative Party or the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party or not, who also support the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system.



Updated: 2017-01-08T05:18:55.252-05:00

 



MMP Referendum Defeated

2007-10-11T15:30:04.077-04:00

The results are posted on the Elections Ontario website.

63.2% of valid votes cast instruct the government to remain on the FPTP system.

It's disappointing to say the least, but we respect the decision of the electorate.

As of right now, this blog will not be posting any new items.

Thanks, everyone, who contributed.



Comment Moderation On

2007-10-09T21:57:29.133-04:00

Comment moderation has been enabled on this site until the polls in Ontario close.



The Truth About FPTP - The Summary

2007-10-09T09:42:45.958-04:00

Over five pieces, I have discussed the truth about FPTP. If you couldn't tell, most of it was in response to the ironically named "Truth" About MMP list put out by the advocates for the status quo.

The fact of the matter is, the referendum isn't about choosing whether or not we should move to mixed member proportional (MMP); it's about choosing to remain on the first-past-the-post or moving to mixed member proportional.

The advocates of the current system will tell you the real solution is to fix the current system and not to change, but somehow in the same breath argue that the system has worked well unchanged for a couple of hundred years.

The advocates of the current system will tell you they support electoral reform but that the real solution is to find a different electoral system other than MMP, but somehow fail to explain why we haven't explored a different electoral system for a couple of hundred years.

The fact of the matter is, the advocates of the current system want to remain on first-past-the-post. What they don't want you to know, however, is the truth about first-past-the-post.
This is the truth about FPTP.

Cross posted from The Progressive Right.



Andrew Coyne : Quick Hits

2007-10-09T07:43:25.368-04:00

Andrew Coyne is back with some quick hits on the biggest myths about MMP.

Parties breeding like rabbits, where Andrew shows that Germany under MMP has approximately the same average number of political parties as those under FPTP (Canada, UK, and the USA).

In unstable governments, Andrew breaks down the number of elections by electoral system.
No. of elections 1945 - 1998
PR: MMP
Germany 14

PR: party list
Italy 14
Norway 14
Finland 14
Netherlands 16
Belgium 17
Sweden 17
Denmark 22

Plurality (first past the post)
United Kingdom 15
Canada 17
Australia 22
Hordes of extremists shows us that the only extreme one-issue party we'll find is the "Party for the Animals" in the Dutch pure PR system.



The Truth About FPTP - Politics as Usual

2007-10-08T10:00:08.926-04:00

What is tactical voting? Why is it prevalent in FPTP?Tactical voting is voting for a party or a candidate that a voter may not want in an effort to defeat a candidate the voter does not want to win. Usually, the voter chooses the candidate most likely to defeat the candidate.For example, a voter prefers Candidate A, but really dislikes Candidate B. If the voter perceives Candidate C has a better chance of defeating Candidate B, the voter will vote for Candidate C in the hopes of making sure Candidate B is defeated.This has even occurred recently when Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty called for tactical voting. Hoping to defeat Opposition Leader, John Tory, he attacked the NDP by saying that "a vote for the NDP is in fact a vote for the Progressive Conservatives."Tactical voting is often described as a vote against someone instead of a vote for someone. This tends to lead to voter apathy.It's prevalent in FPTP for the simple fact it's only necessary to have the most votes in a riding, meaning close ridings have this occur more often. The candidate who benefits most from tactical voting will often play up fears in the hopes of just slightly tipping the balance in their favour.It's a compounding effect, as this negative campaigning also leads to voter apathy.I like some of the policies of one party, but I like some of the policies of another party. If I select FPTP, will the parties work together?Most certainly not. As false majorities are the norm, political parties that form governments declare they have the mandate to do as they see fit - that may be to implement a radical platform or to completely abandon the promises they were elected on.Voters are left to vote "all or nothing" and hope for the best.I support Party A, but my riding has consistently supported Party B. I feel like my vote is wasted. Is it?A vote is never truly wasted, but it may seem to you that your vote is unnecessary. This could lead someone to stop voting.I find I can't support the old line parties anymore. I like a smaller party - if I vote for them, what are the chances my candidate will win?It's not likely - in fact, it's a practical impossibility.The FPTP system, by setting the threshold for winning so low, makes it harder for smaller parties to get seats. Under FPTP, even a small party with a sizable portion of the popular vote may not get a seat in the legislature! Larger parties then use this as evidence to refer to these parties as "fringe" or not representative of electoral wishes.Wow, it's looking grim. But, if I do support the candidate of my choice and they win, they will bring the needs of the community to the legislature and represent the constituency first, right?No. If anything, political parties have more power over candidates, making them more responsible to the party brass than the voters of Ontario. All candidates will want to maintain high standing within the party - toeing the line to ensure they are not booted from caucus or removed as a candidate. This is over and above the party support and finance that a candidate needs to get elected at the riding level.Up next, a summary.Cross posted from The Progressive Right.[...]



The Truth About FPTP - False Majorities

2007-10-07T10:37:19.235-04:00

Wikipedia defines representative democracy thusly:
Representative democracy involves the selection of government officials by a majority of votes by the people being represented. Representatives may be elected by a particular district (or constituency), or represent the entire electorate proportionally proportional systems, with some using a combination of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate elements of direct democracy, such as referendums. A characteristic of representative democracy is that while the representatives are elected by the people, to act in their interest, they retain the freedom to exercise their own judgment as how best to do so.

Keep that definition in mind as we progress.

I've heard that one of the strengths of FPTP is that, in most cases, governments elected in this system are majority governments. Is that true?

Well, that is true. But, it's called a false majority.

A false majority is when representatives of one political party form a clear majority in the legislature, but were elected with a minority of the popular vote.

Surely though, it's rare for a political party to win a minority of the votes but to take a majority of the legislature. Right?

That's not right. In fact, that's the most common result in FPTP. It is rare for a political party to actually obtain a majority of the popular vote. Even advocates for the FPTP system acknowledge this.

For historical purposes, the last time an Ontario election resulted in a political party forming government receiving a majority of the votes was in 1937, when a coalition of the Liberals and Liberal-Progressives took 51.6% of the popular vote. They took 65 of 90 seats (72%).

But, FPTP just says that a party has to take the most votes to form government. So, FPTP always ensures that the party with the most votes forms government. Is that true?

That is most certainly not true.

  • In the 1998 Quebec general election, the separatist Parti Québécois took 42.87% of the popular vote compared to the Liberal Party which took 43.55%. Yet, the PQ formed a majority with 76 of the 125 seats.
  • In the 2006 New Brunswick general election, the Liberal Party took 47.1% of the popular vote compared to the Progressive Conservative Party which took 47.5%. Yet, the Liberals formed a majority with 29 of the 55 seats.
In short, FPTP cannot even guarantee that the party that forms government actually has achieved a plurality of the votes!

FPTP could be called "Second Place Forms Government Sometimes, Too".

Isn't it undemocratic to have a minority of the population electing a majority of the legislature?

It most certainly is, but supporters of FPTP will tell you this is the most desirable form of government.

Up next, politics as usual.

Cross posted from The Progressive Right.



Darryl Wolk : Why I Voted for Mixed Member Proportional

2007-10-04T11:02:04.276-04:00

Darryl Wolk tells us why he supports mixed member proportional, including the understanding that while MMP may not be perfect, it is far and away a better electoral system.
There is a lot still unknown with Mixed Member Proportional because we have to see how it works in practice. I believe this system addresses most of the problems with our current system. MPPs would be more accountable and free to cast their votes independently. Seats would be allocated closer to the percentage of the vote they receive. Less strategic voting and the opportunity to make your vote count. Voting Green would bring about a result in the legislature if 3% of the population supports them. I think people should be voting for something positive not the "lesser of two evils". I want to see the spirit of compromise among elected officials so that things can get done. The grass roots members would get more say because of the list not less by elected the people who appear on the list. Italy and Israel are often thrown around as examples of proportional representation is not working while Germany and New Zealand are examples of where it works well. I know what I am getting with the status quo and I am willing to take a bit of a risk in order to see some meaningful change and reform to our outdated system. MMP is not perfect, but it is better than what we currently have. I don't think it is the magic bullet to address low voter turnout; but it may over time inspire more people to get involved or at least feel their vote means something.



NEWS RELEASE: Bi-partisan campaign to ask Ontario voters to choose Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)

2007-10-04T06:58:55.127-04:00

For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 4th, 2007Bi-partisan campaign to ask Ontario voters to choose Mixed Member Proportional (MMP); Conservatives and Liberals now working together on electoral reform(Toronto) While each of Ontario's political parties are campaigning against each other for votes over the last week of the provincial election, members from both the Conservative and Liberal parties are campaigning together for the first time to ask voters to choose Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) when casting their ballots on electoral reform October 10th."More Ontario youth are voting for Canadian Idol than they do for candidates in either the federal or provincial elections," says Toronto school trustee and Liberal, Josh Matlow, "Under our current system, too many Ontarians simply don't believe their vote makes a difference. I'm hopeful that MMP will contribute to ending voter cynicism and make our democracy more accessible to the diverse priorities of Ontarians.""Adopting MMP would help introduce a degree of stability to the electoral process where swings in party support would be more moderate and in line with the overall popular vote," says Patrick Boyer, former Progressive Conservative MP (Etobicoke-Lakeshore). "Discuss it with family members, and friends; make your feelings known on this issue to them."If Ontarians choose the proposed Mixed Member Proportional system, voters will continue to be represented in local constituencies by 90 representatives. Ontarians will also benefit from an additional 39 representatives elected province-wide. Although the Citizens' Assembly recommended leaving it up to individual parties to decide how to nominate their province-wide candidates, all four major parties have already committed to choosing their list candidates in a democratic and transparent way.-30-For more information, please contact:Josh Matlow (Liberal) at (416) 809-5674 cell.Patrick Boyer (Conservative) (416) 225-3930Backgrounder:The Citizens' Assembly was a group of 103 randomly-selected citizens from the Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario - one from each of Ontario's electoral districts. With the Chair, George Thomson, 52 of the members were male and 52 were female. They were asked to assess Ontario's electoral system, and others, and make a recommendation whether Ontario should retain its current system or adopt a different one.Together, Assembly members consulted with the public through meetings and written submissions. Using what they learned and heard, they recommended that Ontario replace its First-Past-The-Post system with a new electoral system, the Mixed Member Proportional system now before Ontario voters. That recommendation was outlined in a report submitted to the government on May 15, 2007.The government promised to put the question of whether to accept the Assembly's recommendation to voters in a province-wide referendum in October 2007.Liberal members launched this Liberals For MMP blog during the summer of 2007 and have thus far received over 8,000 visits, averaging over 300 to 400 hits a day. Liberal supporters of MMP include:- Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Liberal MP for St. Paul's- Elinor Caplan, former provincial and federal Liberal cabinet minister- Michael Bryant, Attorney General and MPP for St. Paul's- John Gerretsen, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing and MPP for Kingston & the Islands- Dr. Shafiq Qaadri, MPP for Etobicoke North- Bob Rae, federal Liberal candidate in Toronto Centre- George Smitherman, Minister of Health & Long-term Care and MPP for Toronto CentreConservatives For MMP was launched by party member James Calder, and is supported by the following well-known supporters:- Hon. Hugh Segal, Senator (Kingston-Frontenac-Leeds)- Hon. Janet Ecker, Former PC MPP and Cabinet Minister- Hon. Nancy Ruth, Senator (Cluny)- John Oostrom, Former PC MP- Justin O'Donnell, Past President, Nia[...]



Andrew Coyne : And another thing...

2007-10-03T22:10:47.358-04:00

Andrew Coyne presents a quick post of some lines regarding proportional representation that he "didn't manage to work in, in four columns on proportional representation".

As Greg notes in his post (Truer words and all that), the big line worthy of repeating is when Mr. Coyne responds to a comment clearly based on a conservative concern that there will be endless NDP / Liberal governments filled with big spending.

Andrew comments:
[N]aturally I deplore that development [where governments become larger], unless that is what the people in those countries wanted. The test of a democratic institution is not whether it produces outcomes I happen to agree with, but whether it accurately reflects the public's preferences.

Emphasis mine.




The Truth About FPTP - How Political Parties Choose Candidates

2007-10-03T21:59:23.719-04:00

I heard that the people who get chosen to run in a political riding under FPTP would be named from a list of supporters of political parties. Is that true?That is correct. Only party members may run as a candidate for a political party under FPTP.So who gets to determine the makeup of the political candidates?The political parties are solely responsible for the composition of the party candidates under FPTP. They can either be determined by direct orders by the party leadership, or they might be determined by a vote by party members.No matter what, the candidates for election will be in the hands of members of political parties, who make up a tiny part of the population of Ontario.Non-aligned voters do not get a say at all.If I do not like the candidate representing the party that I want to vote for, can I alter the name so I can put the name of my preferred candidate in when it comes time to vote?No, you cannot. FPTP only allows for closed party candidate selection. This means that voters cannot cross off names or change the candidate's name in the ballot box. The only choice given to the voters under FPTP is to vote for the candidate chosen by the political party.Your preferred candidate may run as an independent, but they are unlikely to win under FPTP.But, under FPTP, I can still support the political party, by voting for the party but not the candidate, correct?No, that is not correct. If you want to support the political party, you must vote for the candidate you do not support.Wait. I will have to vote for someone I may not want to represent me? Isn't that undemocratic?Yes. You cannot support your political party and not support their preferred candidate. Similarly, you cannot support your local candidate and not support their political party.You must choose between selecting a political party you do not support, a candidate you do not support, or spoiling your ballot. Those are your only choices.That is undemocratic.Isn't giving political parties total control over selecting the candidate undemocratic?It is important to be highly regarded within the party to be selected or chosen as a candidate. It helps if the candidate is also well known in the community, but this is not always the case.If a candidate is highly regarded by the party but not well known in the community, he or she may be parachuted into a riding, most likely into a riding that's called a "safe seat" - one where support runs high for the party, regardless of candidate. The candidate will likely have no ties to the community - neither personal nor professional. He or she is then pretty much guaranteed a seat in the legislature, regardless of how well the party does in an election.So if you want to vote for a party but do not like whom they have running in your riding, you are pretty much stuck. Not only is this undemocratic, it is also unfair.If I don't like a candidate running in another riding, how can I make sure that he or she does not get into office?You could move to that riding, and vote in their election. For most of us, that's simply not possible. Once you have moved, you'd also have to convince the rest of the riding not to support that candidate - and if you don't have a lot of ties in the community, it may be all but impossible.How many political parties in Ontario use FPTP to select leaders?Neither the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, the Ontario Liberals, nor the Ontario NDP uses FPTP to select leaders. That is, of course, unless the candidate is acclaimed.How many political parties use FPTP to select candidates?Neither the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, the Ontario Liberals, nor the Ontario NDP uses FPTP to select candidates. That is, of course, unless the leader selects the candidate or the candidate is acclaimed.Why would partisan activists of political parties then support FPTP if po[...]



Andrew Coyne : The fearmongers debunked

2007-10-01T22:41:01.284-04:00

Andrew Coyne is back with another article arguing in favour of the mixed member proportional electoral system. This time, Mr. Coyne targets the myths that the group who advocate for the first-past-the-post system have dreamt up. Dreamt up, that is, after having long given up actually defending the first-past-the-post electoral system.
Indeed, apologists for the status quo have more or less given up arguing for first past the post on its merits. The pretense that it delivers “stable majorities” can no longer be sustained: recent elections in Ontario have produced, in order, NDP, Conservative, and Liberal governments, none with a majority of the votes, yet each interpreting the support of its own minority as a mandate to impose a succession of radically different policy regimes on the rest of us.

So instead first-past-the-posties have focused on raising fears about the alternative. These fall into two broad categories: fears about proportional representation in general, and fears about mixed-member proportional in particular.
Mr. Coyne systematically debunks the myths. His posts, as always, are worth the read.



The Truth About FPTP - Representation

2007-10-01T22:43:10.278-04:00

Does FPTP give us better representation than MMP?The answer is no, of course not.Right now, Ontarians, compared to citizens in other provinces, are already the most poorly represented citizens in Canada. In our current legislature, there are 103 Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP). Under FPTP, on average, there is one 1 MPP for every 118,061 citizens based upon the 2006 Census data (Ontario population, 12,160,282).Under the MMP model proposed by the Ontario Citizens' Assembly, the total number of members would rise to 129, thereby meaning 1 member for every 94,266 Ontarians.But, doesn't that just mean there is less direct representation?No, that's not true either.Under the current model, an Ontarian is represented directly by their local MPP, and indirectly by the Premier and the Cabinet. For example, if a citizen has an issue with education, they are free to contact their local MPP, the Minister of Education, or the Premier with their concerns.Under the new model, an Ontarian is represented directly by their local MPP, directly by thirty-nine other Ontario-wide MPP's, and still indirectly by the Premier and the Cabinet. In this example, if a citizen has an issue with education say, they can contact their local MPP, or one of the other thirty-nine Ontario-wide MPP's, the Minister of Education, or the Premier with their concerns. In this way, Ontarians are represented directly by 40 Members plus the Premier and his or her Cabinet. Remember, those 39 Ontario-wide MPP's are relying on your vote just as much as your local candidate (more so, in fact).Wait. How can a list candidate be relying on my vote more than my local candidate?If a local candidate is removed from caucus, they can still run in a local riding as an independent. Name recognition for the local candidate will run high, if he was a high performing candidate, such as a Chuck Cadman, or a maverick non-conformer, like a Garth Turner. However, the list candidate does not have a local riding to fall back on if they are removed from caucus.This means, if the list MPP is removed from caucus, and if they want to run again in the next election, they will need to find a local riding - which means, they will have to represent you to get your vote, in that riding. Or, at the very least, bring that name recognition to the local riding. That's no different under FPTP.Fine. But, isn't more politicians a bad thing?More politicians are a bad thing, if they do not represent anything. As it would stand under the proposal, there would be 1 Member of Provincial Parliament for about every 95,000 Ontarians, with the total number of MPP's being 129.By comparison, some other ratios are:Quebec has 1 Member for every 60,369 citizens (125 seats in the National Assembly; based on a population of 7,546,131).Alberta has 1 Member for every 39,643 citizens (83; population of 3,290,350)Manitoba has 1 Member for every 20,147 citizens (57; population of 1,148,401)PEI has 1 Member for every 5,031 citizens (27; population of 135,851)Nunavut has 1 Member for every 1,551 citizens (19; population of 29,474)So, Ontario is largely the true conservative bastion when it comes to the number of politicians (federally, they are a little more "conservative" in their representation) and will remain the conservative bastion it is, under MMP.Up next, how political parties choose candidates under FPTP.Cross posted from The Progressive Right.[...]



Referendum Discussion Online with Elections Ontario

2007-10-01T22:41:32.297-04:00

Cross posted from The Progressive Right.

Loren Wells, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario, will be online with the Globe & Mail discussing the electoral reform referendum between 1 pm and 2 pm this afternoon.

Loren Wells, the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario, has an extensive background in election administration in Canada, at both the federal and provincial levels.

At Elections Ontario, she deputizes for the Chief Electoral Officer and assists him with the administration of all aspects of the electoral process, including voter registration, the conduct of voting, the training of election officials and providing voter education and information to the public.

This will be an impartial discussion on the referendum:

By law, neither Ms. Wells nor other employees of Elections Ontario can take a position on the merits of the question on the referendum ballot. We will not forward to her any question that asks her to do that. Ms. Wells can answer your questions about the background to the referendum, the question, the mechanics of voting on it, the requirements for passage etc.



John Tory : Comments on Developing List Candidates

2007-09-27T12:48:17.933-04:00

The National Post quotes John Tory as saying that the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party "will likely find a democratic way to develop its list of candidates."
“The history of our party is that the party insists on choosing its candidates democratically. Even the notion that the leader would appoint candidates is something that has been not well received when it’s come up.”
This is a positive first step.

Mr. Tory should continue to explore the MMP electoral system and together with the party executive, determine that democratic method for electing list candidates.

See also:



Andrew Coyne : The case against first past the post

2007-09-27T12:14:42.999-04:00

Andrew Coyne posted yesterday a fantastic case against the first past the post electoral system.

By every one of these definitions, Canada, under the electoral system in use today, is not a democracy. We are not governed by majorities, competition between parties is not free and fair, nor do their relative fortunes depend on their popularity with the voters. Most striking of all, we do not give every citizen equal say at election time. Everyone may get one vote, that is true. But some votes count more than others. Some -- most, in fact -- do not count at all.

That is the record of plurality or "first-past-the-post" voting, the system Ontario voters are to be asked to replace in next month’s referendum. Its supporters appeal to a sentiment of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But it is broke, and this is the opportunity to fix it.

Mr. Coyne's piece is well worth the read.



Open Letter to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

2007-09-26T08:59:47.425-04:00

Fellow Tories:This past year, the Ontario Citizens Assembly, a body that had one member chosen at random from each provincial constituency, has been studying the issue of electoral reform in the province. After studying various electoral models and consulting with citizens across the province, the OCA has recommended that the province adopt a Mixed Member Proportion electoral system over the current First Past the Post System. A provincial referendum on the issue has been scheduled to coincide with the October 10 provincial election.The signatories of this letter have been longtime supporters of the PC Party of Ontario and are active members of Fair Vote Canada. Fair Vote Canada is a multi-partisan organization that has been actively campaigning for the adoption of some form of Proportional Representation. Although FVC does not endorse a specific form of PR, it is of the opinion that almost any form would be preferable to the current system.Proportional Representation, if adopted, will help to make the democratic process in Ontario politics more efficient and more reflective of voters' wishes in the Province. This is an issue that we, as a party, should seriously consider.Wilfred Day, a lawyer, electoral reform expert and member of Fair Vote Ontario, wrote an article entitled An Ontario Mixed Member Proportional Model, in which he conducted a simulation of the 2003 provincial election using an MMP model of PR in which there would be a total of 139 legislative seats, both constituency and regional. Day projected what the hypothetical results would be for each party had this system been used.Day's results demonstrated that the Liberals would only have won a minority government under MMP with 65 seats. The PC's on the other hand would have won 49 seats, almost double the amount of seats the party actually won in 2003. The NDP would have taken 24 seats and the Green Party would have taken 4 seats.(To read the entire report, e-mail justinodonnell@cogeco.ca to request a copy.)As you can see, this form of PR would have been of benefit to our party in 2003, in that our loss would not have been as severe, and that our party would have gotten more even representation throughout Ontario. PR can be very beneficial to our party, and not just to the NDP or Green Party as some critics have suggested.Had Ontario had a form of Proportional Representation in the 1987 Ontario election, the Ontario PC Party would not have suffered such a devastating defeat that reduced the party to third place in the legislature. Such big shifts as what occurred in 1987 are out of proportion to the more moderate shifts in the popular vote. Adopting MMP would help introduce a degree of stability to the electoral process where swings in party support would be more moderate and in line with the overall popular vote.Over the next two weeks, I would urge all party members to familiarize themselves with the issue. Discuss it with family members, friends and other party members and make your feelings known on this issue to them. If you want more information on the issue, go to the Vote for MMP website (http://www.voteformmp.ca/).It is only through a healthy debate that our party can make an informed decision on such an important issue. Our party has had a strong tradition of supporting grassroots democracy and respecting the wishes of Ontario voters. By endorsing MMP, we would be continuing with that tradition./Signed/Patrick Boyer, Q.C.Once and future MP forEtobicoke-LakeshoreJ. Justin O'Donnell, M.L.S.Past PresidentNiagara Centre P.C. Association[...]



The Truth About FPTP - What is it?

2007-09-23T20:51:01.295-04:00

On October 10th, you may be asking yourself, "What is First-Past-the-Post, and if it's the best system of democracy, why are so many calling for it to be reformed?"First, where does the term come from?The term first past the post (abbreviated FPTP or FPP) was coined as an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point on the track (in this case a plurality of votes), after which all other runners automatically and completely lose (that is, the payoff is "winner-takes-all"). There is, however, no "post" that the winning candidate must pass in order to win, as they are only required to receive the largest number of votes in their favour. This sometimes results in the alternative name "furthest past the post".That's nice, but how does it work?There is a very simple example that quickly illustrates how FPTP works.Imagine you and nine friends are trying to decide on where to go for dinner and suppose your group comes to the decision to use the FPTP method of voting - that is, whichever restaurant was picked the most, wins. Each of your friends and yourself pick a different restaurant, with the exception of two - they both choose McDonald's. All ten of you (having agreed to be bound by the will of the vote) are now off to enjoy Big Mac's or Chicken McNuggets.No consensus and certainly no majority of opinion. Seems trivial in this example, you might argue. Suppose however, you were deciding policy on something important like social services, taxation, or whether or not to go to war.Let's also clear out some misconceptions about FPTP.First Past The Post is used by the most people - about 45% - in the world living in democracies, in about 45 countries.This is due more to history than a true choice or selection of democratic traditions. If your parents have bad habits, the children will tend to copy or mimic those bad habits too.Of the 43 countries that currently use FPTP:32 are former colonies or protectorates of the United Kingdom, or former colonies of former colonies of the United Kingdom (Papua New Guinea from Australia, Samoa from New Zealand, Bangladesh from Pakistan). Remember, the United States and Canada are former British colonies too.India uses Proportional Representation in their upper house.The United Kingdom does not use FPTP in Scotland, Wales (local elections only), and Northern Ireland, nor to select representatives for the European Union.Louisiana does not use FPTP.FPTP is then the electoral choice for elections in Bhutan, Ethiopia, Micronesia, Morocco, Palau, South Korea, some of the United Kingdom, and Yemen.MMP is currently in use in Germany, New Zealand, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Lesotho.... and South Africa and the United Kingdom.Next up, how FPTP gives us poor representation.Cross posted from The Progressive Right.[...]



Andrew Coyne : Why conservatives should support proportional representation

2007-09-22T11:15:46.553-04:00

Andrew Coyne in today's National Post describes why "true" conservatives should support proportional representation and this October's referendum in Ontario.

So the case for electoral reform, it seems to me, is one that conservatives, if not Conservatives, should find appealing. It is a cause that has tended, historically, to be identified with the left, not least in the current referendum debate; many conservatives have accordingly rejected it. Yet it is not the left that has suffered most under the current system. It's the right.

By whatever combination of historical circumstances, the left has a party that will advance its ideas, free of the brokerage parties' grip: the NDP. Though not often in government, outside of the West, it has succeeded in dragging the entire political spectrum to the left, its policies adopted by Liberal and Conservative governments alike. Nothing like it exists on the right, federally or provincially, nor has since Reform's demise. Nor is one likely to emerge, so long as "first past the post" remains the rule.

Mr. Coyne argues that far too often the prevailing conservative party has had to compromise principle in the name of being elected. Under MMP, conservatives could vote for a conservative party that matched their principle - progressive (red Tory), fiscal (blue Tory), libertarian, or social conservative.




Political Staples : It Doesn't Get Worse Than This

2007-09-19T11:25:03.932-04:00

Originally posted at Political Staples. A reminder to those conservatives that hold FPTP as the model of democracy.

So I've been reading much of the pro-MMP and anti-MMP blogposting and op-eds and I don't think anyone has mentioned the ultimate abuse case of FPTP, the 1987 New Brunswick provincial election. Here are the results of that years popular vote.

Liberals: 60.4%
Progressive Conservative: 28.6%
New Democrats: 10.6%
Other: 0.4%

Clearly a huge victory for the Frank McKenna led Liberals, a clear majority and a clear mandate. So how many seats did they win? All 58 of them! If you were part of the 40% that did not vote for the Liberals you got zero representation - it is the ultimate example of wasted votes.

Think about this a little further keeping our Westminster Parliament system in mind. There was no leader of the opposition sitting in Parliament or any opposition members to challenge the government in the legislature. If I remember correctly they had to make special compensation to allow the opposition leader into the House to ask questions just so Parliament wasn't a complete farce.

Think it can't happen again, just watch the Newfoundland and Labrador election going on right now.




John Tory : Comments on MMP

2007-09-17T21:31:55.069-04:00

In a recent National Post column, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory made some comments in reference to the proposal to move to the mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system. Unfortunately, those comments seem to have been expressed without a true understanding of the proposal. Indeed, they appear to stem more from frustration with the existing system then with any real problems with the proposal.These comments are especially unfortunate in light of Senator Hugh Segal's speech in favour of the proposal.In the first case, Mr. Tory talks about the increase in the number of representatives."I'm very skeptical about a system that ... adds more politicians to begin with," Mr. Tory said. "I haven't met a single voter yet who has told me they're looking to add more politicians to the Ontario legislature, or any other place."More politicians are a bad thing, only if they do not represent anyone. These new representatives will represent the province-wide will of the people to choose who wields legislative weight proportionately.Further, as it would stand under the proposal, there would be 1 Member of Provincial Parliament for about every 95,000 Ontarians, with the total number of MPP's being 129.By comparison, some other ratios are:Quebec has 1 Member for every 60,369 citizens (125 seats in the National Assembly; based on a population of 7,546,131). Alberta has 1 Member for every 39,643 citizens (83; population of 3,290,350) Manitoba has 1 Member for every 20,147 citizens (57; population of 1,148,401) PEI has 1 Member for every 5,031 citizens (27; population of 135,851) Nunavut has 1 Member for every 1,551 citizens (19; population of 29,474)So, Ontario is and will remain still, the "least" represented province in Canada with far and away less politicians by capita.Secondly, Mr. Tory talks about the accountability of list representatives. I certainly haven't run into anybody who thinks it would be better to have MPPs, or any other kinds of politicians, who are appointed by party bosses and accountable to no constituents.It's clearly a frustration with the current system that is leading Mr. Tory to believe this, but clearly he misunderstands the proposal.The MPPs are not appointed by party bosses and are certainly accountable to Ontario. He is referring, of course, to the list candidates who would be elected to represent the province as a whole. Those MPPs will be elected by the will of the people.It should be clear that no amount of political patronage is going to improve a list candidate's success in the province, if the people do not wish to be governed by that party.Many conservatives that support MMP are also supporters of John Tory and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. We believe firmly that Mr. Tory will ensure that the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party institutes a fair and accountable processes to select list candidates.To that end, we invite Mr. Tory to declare that the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party will adopt a democratic and transparent process when determining the Progressive Conservative list candidates, should Ontario recommend that it adopt the mixed member proportional electoral system.[...]



Will Ontario Conservatives vote with Sheila Copps in the referendum?

2007-09-16T21:47:16.059-04:00

Former federal Liberal cabinet minister, Sheila Copps, has an editorial out today advocating for Ontario to remain under the first-past-the-post system. Now, opposition to the referendum is to be expected - and encouraged.

Normally, when opposition to an idea is presented, one likes to debate facts and ideas.

Instead, Sheila begins by presenting an argument against selecting an electoral system that is not even up for selection in the referendum. She describes the Israeli Knesset in the same breath as the recommendation put forward by the Ontario Citizens' Assembly. Israel uses pure proportional representation, not the mixed member proportional proposed.

Imagine you were going to buy a bicycle. You've done your research, and you have read all the reviews and you're convinced you've made the right decision. Now, suppose someone came running up to you, waving their arms in the air telling you you should absolutely not buy a bicycle because car insurance is too expensive.

That's what Ms. Copps is doing.

Secondly, she argues that the political party will ultimately control the candidates who appear on the list. Yet, two paragraphs above, she decries the current system for "the appalling shortage of women in elected office" due to "a nomination process controlled by political parties."

No wonder she believes the falsehood about the unaccountability of list candidates; she has no faith in the current system for which she advocates.

Finally, and likely most appalling, is her linking of an electoral system with "religious extremism" and calling those that support it "naive" or "nuts". She calls the mixed member proportional system a system that is "built on empowering extremes" - yet she does not provide one single example of a country, city, province, or state that uses mixed member proportional run by the naive, the nuts, or the extreme.

It's unfortunate that the advocates for the status quo have to debate an important referendum in such a manner.



Rick Anderson on CBC Newsworld

2007-09-16T07:41:36.371-04:00

Rick Anderson, the Vote for MMP Campaign Committee Chair, on CBC Newsworld.

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Janet Ecker : Choose Electoral Reform in this Fall's Referendum

2007-09-15T21:21:17.819-04:00

This piece is from former Ontario Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, Janet Ecker, who was joined by Liberal Elinor Caplan and New Democrat, Marilyn Churley.
Women in politics
Globe and Mail
July 26, 2007
By Equal Voice Members and former Ontario Ministers:
JANET ECKER (PC)
ELINOR CAPLAN (Liberal)
MARILYN CHURLEY (NDP)


Toronto -- We can say from our own considerable experience that more women would be elected to the Legislature if some of the barriers to their participation were removed (Ontario Parties Chip Away at Old Boys' Club - July 24). That would mean fair, transparent nominations; strict spending limits to remove the financial impediment that hampers many women; and electoral reform to get more women nominated.

In the present system, nominations are the business of local riding associations, which - 80 per cent of the time - decide a male candidate is preferable. This spring, the Ontario Citizen's Assembly recommended adding to the Legislature a minority of seats, which would be elected by proportional representation.

For these seats, parties would publicize "lists" of candidates chosen to redress imbalances in current representation, i.e. more women, minorities and first-nations candidates. This system is used successfully in many countries and enjoys high voter satisfaction. It also gets results, with far more women in politics than we have ever achieved with the first-past-the-post system in Ontario.

Queen's Park has been a mostly male club too long: We urge voters to chose electoral reform in this fall's referendum.



Political Staples : I'm Officially Off the Fence

2007-09-14T20:38:29.547-04:00

Greg Staples, from Political Staples, tells us why he is off the fence. He articulates clearly one of the strengths of the proposed system - the separation of your preferred candidate from their party.

And I have decided that I will voting for MMP in the upcoming referendum. This was a tough decision for me and my opposition to the closed list variation of MMP selected is well know. However, I have decided that the positives out weigh the gains. This article in the National Post points to the reason I finally made up my mind.

...The Ontario Liberal and Conservative election platforms are so "uncannily similar" that they deprive voters of different visions for the province, a political science professor said.

"The promises are so starkly similar. You really wonder whether Ontarians have much of a choice here," said York University professor Robert MacDermid.

"Another thing that struck me was how much the Conservative party has moved to the centre. When you compare this to the Common Sense Revolution, it is worlds apart."
I understand that some see this as a feature, I see it as a bug and I just can't get behind any of the mainline parties in the Ontario election.

Modern Canadian elections have become a defacto republican style election of the leader of the executive branch as people typically vote for their preferred leader with their local candidate being a secondary (or lower) consideration. For most Ontarians in this election it comes down to who would you rather have as premier, Dalton McGuinty or John Tory. I don't like either. On the other hand I don't have a problem with my local MPP, Gerry Martiniuk. If I vote for a "fringe party" to protest against John Tory I could contribute to Gerry Martiniuk losing the Cambridge riding. If the Mixed Member Proportional system were in place for the current election I could vote for Gerry Martiniuk as my local candidate and vote for some party other than the Progressive Conservatives as the list candidate, thereby getting the local representative I want and being able vote for a party I want.

The double ballot would become a win-win for me. Hence I am voting for yes to MMP on October 10th.
Originally posted at Political Staples.

I will be cross-posting Greg's electoral reform posts to the site.



Jim Harris : What MMP Means to Conservatives in Toronto

2007-09-14T20:48:52.008-04:00

On his blog at Vote for MMP, former Green Party of Canada leader, Jim Harris, describes what MMP would mean to Toronto-area conservatives after listening to Senator Hugh Segal's speech.
From my own perspective, as a former Progressive Conservative, it's important to point out that 225,000 Progressive Conservative voters in Toronto did not elect a single MPP in the last provincial election. Similarly more than 400,000 Conservative voters in Toronto did not elect a single MP in the 2006 federal election. So the largest city in the province and country goes unrepresented in the Conservative caucuses federally and provincially.

This is deeply troubling -- because the first past the post system (our current system) creates deep regional divisions -- polarizing the province and the country. This in turn twists public policy formation.

With the MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) system Toronto would be represented at Queen's Park -- as the PC party would would likely elect high on their list the most popular PCs from Toronto such as David Crombie -- the former tiny perfect mayor of Toronto.
Toronto needs to send a conservative voice to Queen's Park.