This is the beginning of my own exploration of the proposed election reform in Ontario. This will be voted on in a referendum this coming October.
The problem this effort is trying to solve is that in our current electoral system, Parliament does not reflect the popular vote of the entire Province. Here’s a quote from fairvotecanada:
“In the 2006 federal election, more than 650,000 Green Party voters across the country elected no one. Meanwhile, fewer than a half-million Liberal voters in Atlantic Canada alone elected 20 MPs. In the prairie provinces, Conservatives won three times as many votes as the Liberals, but were given nearly ten times as many seats. But more than 400,000 Conservative voters in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver couldn’t elect a single MP. The NDP attracted a million more votes than the Bloc, but the voting system gave the Bloc 51 seats and the NDP 29.”
Further, note that in the 2003 Ontario election, the popular vote went about 46% Liberal, 35% PC, 15% NDP and 4% other. The makeup of Parliament was 70% Liberal, 23% PC and 7% NDP. Those numbers are pretty far off and are clearly not a true representation of the intentions of the voters, and are the results of the current First Past The Post system.
A panel recommended for Ontario to adopt a version of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) which is used in many areas of Europe. The basic changes to our current system are:
- You vote for both a local candidate and a party
- 39 new seats are added to Parliament, which are allocated between the parties to make their overall representation reflect the popular vote for the parties
I’ve read quite a bit of debate on the issue so far and I’m leaning towards supporting it. I think it will be an improvement in that MMP will better reflect the intentions of the electorate.
It seems the typical arguments against MMP are:
- More minority governments
- The 39 “list members” are not directly elected by a constituency, so are perhaps less accountable
On #1, while I think MMP will change the way politics works, I can’t assume that’s a bad thing since that’s really what the voters intended. Our current liberal “70% majority” was only elected by 45% of the population. Coalitions might ensure more peoples interests are covered and is typical operating procedure in most of Europe.
On #2, this is what causes me some hesitancy. Parties will likely hold some kind of semi-democratic vote for their list members, but it’s still not truly democratic. I don’t know what the best answer is but I don’t think this is enough cause to not implement the system. I might hope for a clause in the law like “The system for choosing list members should be revisited in 2015.”