Electoral Reform to be on Ontario Ballot


folcar
#1
McGuinty won't try to influence voters on electoral reform

/ CP
Ontario - Thursday, April 05, 2007 @ 12:00

Ontario voters will be free to make up their minds when it comes to electoral reform without any influence from the government, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.

The Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, which is deliberating whether there's a better way to elect politicians, is studying a system called mixed member proportional.

Under such a system, voters mark two ballot boxes - one for a local representative and one for a political party.

The group of 103 randomly-selected citizens will vote next weekend on whether the new system should be presented to the public in a referendum question on Oct. 10, election day.

While the Liberals haven't yet formulated an official position on electoral reform, they wouldn't try to influence the voting public in the run up to the election, McGuinty said.

"I think it's really important that the people of Ontario know they have a completely free hand in making a determination as to the best system they want," McGuinty said.

"I'll live with any arrangement chosen by the people I work for."

Supporters of the proportional system say it would usher in a more fair, inclusive process that would make the popular vote better reflect the distribution of seats in the legislature and help introduce more women and minorities to government.

It would also let people choose which party they want to run the province, while still being able to support another party to represent their local riding.

New Democrat Michael Prue studied the impact of reform in countries that adopted the proportional system. He found the number of female representatives in government went through the roof immediately after the changes were made.

"The best examples that I saw were Wales and Scotland. With the advent of (mixed member proportional) they went from about 10 or 15 per cent representation in those respective parliaments to one at 48 and one at 52 per cent," he said.

"We have never had an aboriginal person elected to this legislature. It would be an opportunity for all parties to support and have people ... representing those communities."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This reform is badly needed in Ontario, numerous Elections in this province have left many parties who have recieved as much as 40 percent of the vote with almost no seats. The existing system has resulted in a large portion of the population in Ontario with almost no representation, and contributed to voter un-rest and lost confidence. I for one would urge all in Ontario to vote in this election and choose the reform as recommended by the citizens council, as it has the potential to be a monumental change for the better in Canada as a whole.
 
folcar
#2
Another article today sighted the downside that would be a result of the change over. See following from todays paper.
The proposed system would increase the number of legislature seats from 103 to 129 - 90 politicians would be elected in enlarged ridings across the province using the current first-past-the-post system and another 39 would be appointed by parties from a public list of candidates according to the percentage of popular vote.

Although there would be more politicians in the legislature, Docherty said larger ridings would likely cause constituency service to suffer, but there would be a greater variety of critical voices in the legislature to hold the government to account
Overall i think the slight decrease in service will be unnoticeable. The only thing i think they should do is for those who will recieve appointed positions to be chosen from those folks who ran and were defeated based on the largest number of votes recieved there. That way they are still being chosen by the people and those spots don't become cushy appointments to a PM's friends.
 
SVMc
#3
I am both looking forward to and dreading this question. I think this is a much needed reform, but the government has but the double super majority in place just like they did in BC. For it to pass no only does it have to pass by at 50% majority at the ballot box (which is fair) in each poll, it also has to pass in 60% of ridings. In the BC vote if they had counted it proportionally (ironically) it received a resounding 77.9% of popular vote but only passed in 57 ridings.
I fear that without a public education campaing to at least educate people why our voting system is archaic and not representative, that sound bites like "you'll loose your constitutal representation" which are blatentely untrue under the MMP system (but would be true under a pure system - making it a red herring) will deflate the vote, and the vote may be depedant almost entierly on how many of us are simply fed up with our current system. Which is hopefully a large amount.
 
SVMc
#4
Many MMP systems operate on open lists. So for example you would list all of your candidates that are running in a priority order, this would include candidates who are running for constitual seats and for list seats. When the election happens those who are elected for constitual seats get them. Then you are left with how many "list" seats you get.
These list seats are based on party, the parties would get a number of list seats to fill based on the populare vote that they secured.
This is where the lists become important political tools. Many countries (most European) who use this system publish these lists in advance. You as the voter know that if you cast a vote for your constitual candidate and your list (i.e. by party) that when you vote for that list, that if they get a high enough percentage then likely the first half of that list will have seats, but if they only get a low percent then maybe only the top three or four people get seats.
The reason they become political tools is then you can see how a party organizes it's candidates, are all it's women and visitble minority candidates at the bottom of the list. If you were voting for that party because you liked a particular policy brand of theirs and the politicians that represent that brand of policy in the party are at the bottom of the list you may vote otherwise.
 
folcar
#5
Todays article on the subject was on the issue of open debate on the subject, it seems the liberals and McGuinty don't want to trouble the NDP or Conservatives with an open discussion on the advertising campaign for the reforms. The liberals feel they can do so on there own without any help, and that the need for open discussion in the house is simply not neccesary. I for one think if it affects us all it should be addressed openly, it will be damn near impossible for it to get in with the percentage limitations already imposed by Mcguinty's liberals. And the liberals of all party's in Ontario have the most to lose, as they have more often than not been the beneficiaries of the first past the post system in Ontario. I am sure most folks from around the country would agree with that assuption, based on consecutive Ontario liberal dominated federal governments. And in many cases the liberals lost the majority vote in Ontario, but found themselves in the fortunate spot of having the opposition split the vote and allow the liberals to get a majority.
 
Lotuslander
#6
I do not like the fact that you get two ballots and hence vote ofr two different parties. I think the Citizens Assembly's recommendation would have been improved if they used an MMP system with a top up instead of two votes. So a party that is over represented in constituency seats vis a vis their share of the popular vote would receive no list members, whereas a party that is under represneted in constituency seats would recieve more list seats. I don't know which is more equitable in terms of popular vote v. representation in the house but, I think the idea of being able to have 2 votes is a bit like having your cake and eating it too.
 
SVMc
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by LotuslanderView Post

I do not like the fact that you get two ballots and hence vote ofr two different parties. I think the Citizens Assembly's recommendation would have been improved if they used an MMP system with a top up instead of two votes. So a party that is over represented in constituency seats vis a vis their share of the popular vote would receive no list members, whereas a party that is under represneted in constituency seats would recieve more list seats. I don't know which is more equitable in terms of popular vote v. representation in the house but, I think the idea of being able to have 2 votes is a bit like having your cake and eating it too.

I agree that I like the top up votes as compared to the two ballots, the benefits of lists still exists in either system as you still know who would be topped up based on the lists, and areas that have a strong candidate that they want to support can still return an individual person.

I am hoping that people who support either system will in general support a change because although I may not seem my exact preference of PR put forward I still think that either option is better than what we have now.

What I fail to understand is why was 50%+1 good enough for the referendum on separation, but not good enough for changing the voting system. That just bothers me, and it is true that the liberal party does benefit the most from the first-past-the-post system since it encourages strategic voting.
 
Avro
No Party Affiliation
#8
The idea is dumb, vote against it.
 
folcar
#9
What I fail to understand is why was 50%+1 good enough for the referendum on separation, but not good enough for changing the voting system. That just bothers me, and it is true that the liberal party does benefit the most from the first-past-the-post system since it encourages strategic voting.

The simplest explanation to that is because a province seperating does not threaten the power base of the status quo. Every political party in our system would balk at this, because if succesful it will end there ability to rule like a dictatorship.
 
SVMc
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by folcarView Post

What I fail to understand is why was 50%+1 good enough for the referendum on separation, but not good enough for changing the voting system. That just bothers me, and it is true that the liberal party does benefit the most from the first-past-the-post system since it encourages strategic voting.

The simplest explanation to that is because a province seperating does not threaten the power base of the status quo. Every political party in our system would balk at this, because if succesful it will end there ability to rule like a dictatorship.

I think there's two important points there. The first is the threat to the power base. It is easy to argue that all parties except the liberals will benefit from a mixed-PR system. The current system encourages strategic voting which works very much in favour of the liberal party and campaigns that operate more on scare tactics and less on content. The basic difficulty with our system is that more people over all can vote Conservative / NDP but if numerically more people vote for the Liberals individually they win.

Hypothetical 10 votes in a riding (assume everyone votes).
3 votes Conservative
3 votes NDP
4 votes Liberal.

Even though more people voted not to have the Liberals they win because they had the most individual numbers. This is why scare tactics and strategic voting have such power. For example in a riding where the tight race is between the Liberals and Conservative the Liberals gain a lot by scaring voters that may vote NDP to thinking that if they vote NDP then the conservatives will get in because they're vote is wasted.

And in the current system that notion of wasted votes is very real. In our hypothetical riding the 6 people who voted for NDP and Conservatives elected no one. But then there are also other wasted votes.

Hypothetical Riding: 10 votes
1 NDP
1 Conservative
8 Liberal.

Sure in this case the Liberals clearly win the riding both from an overall vote perspective but also from a basic numbers perspective. The trouble is that only 6 of those 8 votes actually went into electing the Liberals. The other 2 votes don't really have any value assigned to them, they are in essence extra, or wasted. Just like the 2 votes for the NDP and Conservatives effected no real outcome 2 of the 8 votes for the Liberals effected no real outcome. In a PR system those votes can contribute a value towards the overall proportionality and help elect list seats, then no longer being wasted.

So in this way all parties benefit from the system, those where they know that an MP was being elected by a numerical minority will know that their votes will go towards the proportional count, and those who have a riding which almost always votes the same way can now strengthen the overall proportional position of the party.

The perhaps larger issue for many voters will be the loss of the "dictatorship" style majorities. It is less likely in a proportional system to return a majority style government that is able to rule on their own mandate for 4-5 solid years.

Personally I don't think this is a bad thing, in fact if we are electing people as our leaders and decision makers then I think that the least we can expect from them is to govern on behalf of us all, which includes listening to discenting voices. The best way to make sure that voices are heard is not to return unproportional majorities that truly represent a slim minority of the population, but to make sure that those discenting voices are proportionally represented in our parliament.
 
folcar
#11
"And in the current system that notion of wasted votes is very real"

Too true, the two most common complaints i hear from from friends, co-workers and family who no longer vote is. It doesn't matter who i vote for, they'll just ignore what the public wants and do what they want anyway! And the age old complaint of not seeing your votes count, it's frustrating to many voters and has left many feeling that voting has become a waste.
The perhaps larger issue for many voters will be the loss of the "dictatorship" style majorities. It is less likely in a proportional system to return a majority style government that is able to rule on their own mandate for 4-5 solid years.

Personally I don't think this is a bad thing, in fact if we are electing people as our leaders and decision makers then I think that the least we can expect from them is to govern on behalf of us all, which includes listening to discenting voices. The best way to make sure that voices are heard is not to return unproportional majorities that truly represent a slim minority of the population, but to make sure that those discenting voices are proportionally represented in our parliament.

I couldn't agree more! I can't speak for other areas of the country but several previous elections prove this as do a few stats takne from here.
uc.org/~dan/FairVoteCanada/pr...leases/16.html (external - login to view)
1. Ontario elections had the highest percentage of wasted votes (51%) of any province, meaning Ontario voters are the least likely to have an MPP that represents their political views. On average about two million Ontarians cast wasted votes in each election.

2. The last time Ontario had a majority government elected by an actual majority of voters was more than seven decades ago in 1929.

3. Among all provinces, Ontario had the phoniest majority government (i.e., elected by the lowest percentage of voters) when the Ontario NDP won 57% of the seats with only 38% of the popular vote in 1990.

4. Ontario had the second worst average voter turnout (61%).

And a glimpse at the 1997 Federal elction (A little off topic but fully supports overall issue) Also proves the point.
Lib Rfrm BQ PC NDP Oth
SHARE OF POPULAR VOTE38.4%19.4%10.7%18.9%11.0%1.6%12,984,069SEATS15 5604420211301
 
tamarin
Conservative
#12
The system does deserve review. I'm not sure if voters are ready for an overhaul. I hope candidates are fully versed in electoral reform before they meet the voters in the fall. This one could be very confusing for many unless presented adeptly.
 
folcar
#13
accidentally double posted
Last edited by folcar; Apr 24th, 2007 at 04:47 PM..
 
folcar
#14
Reposting these numbers as they came out a little messed up the first time and this issue seems to habe gone federal as per the article in my local paper from Monday. Although i highly doubt the liberals will seriously look at reform, as the numbers below show they have benefited perhaps more than any other party from the first past the post system.

...........................................Lib.... . Rfrm. BQ..... PC.....NDP.. Oth
SHARE OF POPULAR VOTE.........38.4....%19.4%.10.7%..18.9%..11.0%... 1.6%SEATS.....................................155. .....60.......44......20.......21.......01
Dion agrees to look at electoral reform

Joan Bryden / CP
National - Monday, April 23, 2007 Updated @ 8:04:45 AM

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has agreed to explore reforms to Canada's electoral system as part of his non-compete agreement with Green Leader Elizabeth May.

However, it's unlikely Liberals, who've long benefited from the first-past-the-post system, will endorse the kind of proportional representation championed by many Greens as a means of finally gaining a toehold in Parliament.

"Our party is open to discuss electoral reform. We're not sure where it will lead us, but we agree that the current system has some shortcomings," Dion said in an interview.

But he added: "It's very unlikely that we will conclude that pure PR makes sense, because pure PR is only applied in Israel, not necessarily with good results."

He said there is "a panoply" of other possibilities. on error resume next MM_FlashCanPlay = ( IsObject(CreateObject("ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFla sh." & MM_contentVersion)))

Dion and May inked a non-aggression pact earlier this month in which the Liberals agreed not to run a candidate against the Green leader in the next federal election and the Greens agreed to not to run a candidate against the Liberal leader.

May briefly mentioned electoral reform at the joint news conference with Dion. In an email and talking points subsequently sent to Green party members, she was more explicit in stating that the deal included Dion recognizing "the need for electoral reform, which the Green Party sees as the need for proportional representation."

In an interview, May said Dion's willingness to study electoral reform was not a condition for her participation in the leaders' non-compete pact. But she said it was important in helping to make the deal more palatable to Greens.

"I certainly recognize that a lot of Green Party members were encouraged by that signal," she said in an interview.

"The thing that Greens care about more fundamentally than anything - perhaps for some Greens it matters more than climate - is that we fix the voting system."

Under the current system, parties have been known to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons with as little as 37 per cent of the popular vote. The Greens have been consistently shut out even though they captured 4.5 per cent of the vote in 2006.

Proportional representation is often advanced by small or marginal parties as a way to achieve a beach head in the Commons, giving them seats in direct proportion to their share of the popular vote.

Critics contend PR would tend to result in splintered Parliaments, with minority governments forced into unstable coalitions with fringe parties whose clout ends up far outweighing their actual electoral heft.

Dion noted that five provinces have examined electoral reform and all have come up with alternatives to pure PR. Most have proposed adopting a mixed member proportional system, like New Zealand or Germany, in which some members would be chosen by the traditional first-past-the-post method and others would be chosen from party slates based on the percentage of popular vote won by each party.
 
tamarin
Conservative
#15
The main point about the present system, both provincially and federally, is that voters don't feel represented. They want their reps to have more freedom to support the local viewpoint. I don't see how electoral reform, as presented, is going to do that. It will further complicate the house and make it all that more difficult to govern without enormous backroom deals and slush funds. Looks like Ontario will have to present its case before the province buys in.
 
SVMc
#16
The biggest challenge that the fair vote campaign will face is the lack of information / education to the average citizen. Following up on the BC referrendum which passed with will over 70% of the popular vote and 59% of the ridings (which was not enough to put it into effect since it needed over 50% popular vote and 60% ridings) findings showed that many people did not know the question was even appearing on the ballot, many voted in favour simply to get a change from what they recognized as an ineffective, inefficient system.

The Liberals could shoot this movement in the foot by forwarding the question before voters are really informed about it.

Of course once voters are informed about it then the big question is if factionalism will not destroy it. As I mentioned in an earlier post there are some other permutations of MMP that I like more than the one being proposed, and some people with be Single Transferable Vote people, but which ever system comes up I'm voting for simply because it's better than what we have, but the questions will be how will most people consider this. Will someone who really likes the Single Transferable Vote support the MMP system?
 
tamarin
Conservative
#17
Factionalism... a spaghetti legislature. It is a real concern.
 
SVMc
#18
I think in the MMP system, especially with the proposed thresholds the chances of ending up with dozens of small parties jockeying for positioning and encouraging factionalism is small, this is also aided by not increasing the number of seats (even though I am in general of a small increase to make the proportionality more direct).
 
folcar
#19
Factionalism... a spaghetti legislature. It is a real concern.

Factionalism is already deeply entrenched, when was the last time free voting was alowed without party permission before hand. The only elected members able to actually perform there jobs without towing the party line in recent memmory, and by doing so truly represent there constituents have been independants. Free voting is the key to any electoral reform and it is far more important than any other aspect of electoral reform, without it the dictatorship party dominating style we have now will remain intact.
Last edited by folcar; Apr 28th, 2007 at 11:10 AM..
 
tamarin
Conservative
#20
You're right. I fail to see why electoral reform of the type mentioned should have precedence over House reform, either provincially or federally. We want better representation.
 
SVMc
#21
Electoral Reform does not have to take precedence over House Reform. They are both necessary. Electoral Reform may help a bit with House Reform, but they are not mutually exclusive and I would support either one and both as necessary. I'm not going to vote either one down just because I'd like to see both happen.
 
tamarin
Conservative
#22
And yet if House reform was successfully introduced there might be a great deal less clamour for the other.
 
SVMc
#23
I don't think so, if my vote doesn't count, I don't care if the MPP, MP that I didn't elect doesn't have to adhere to party lines. This doesn't mean that if Electoral Reform comes though that don't also think that free votes and elected senate seats are unimportant.
 
folcar
#24
They are both neccesary the figures i posted demonstrate that nicely, a majority government elected on 38.4 percent of the vote means that the vast majority of the country didn't support them.
61.6 % of the population got stuck with a government that did not represent there views, who once elected acted on an agenda that was not supported by the majortity of us. This is equally of concern, as one of the major issues resulting from this have been policies and laws that most of the population do not feel are in tune with the majority public interest. Without change here the lack of voter interest and confidence will not only continue, but will most likely continue to grow as well. The numbers from 97' election especially for those of the PC's clearly show the defficiency in the system, with 18.9 % of the vote and only 20 seats compared to the NDP and Bloc's numbers it shows why the system is failing to maintain voter confidence.
 
Toro
#25
Canada works.

Why mess it up?
 
tamarin
Conservative
#26
It works for Quebec. Who else?
 
SVMc
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by ToroView Post

Canada works.

Why mess it up?

Does it?

I mean it could be worse, but it could also be better.
 
folcar
#28
Actually i think one of the greatest strengths we have here in Canada is that we can change our system if it is not up to par. Change is never easy but it is neccesary, the existing system worked 200 years ago but today is a far different world. In every other aspect of life adapting and upgrading are a part of the norm, and we need to apply that to government.
 

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