A view into the mind of Jason

Welcome to Evilness
Wednesday, February 28 2024 @ 02:09 MST

Why Proportional Representation will never happen in Canada.

Jason ramblingWith the upcoming referendum on a form of PR (specifically MMP) happening in Ontario, there's been much in the blogosphere about the various merits and flaws with PR and the MPP system specifically. This has me thinking about how hard it will be to change the current first past the post (FPTP) system we use. In fact it will likely be neigh impossible to make such a change, baring a party in power doing the change by legislative fiat. It's safe to say that none of the current political parties that have held power federal or provincially will change the voting system on their own. The parties are too invested in the FPTP system and the artificial majorities it creates to want to change the voting system. Really, why would they want a change? The current system works well for when you do get power you don't need 50% of the vote to get 100% of the power. So there is no real incentive for the current political parties to want to change the system. Even in the provinces where attempts at change have been made, the parties involved aren't behind the change, especially given the way the attempts have been made.

The way the attempt has been made is to convene a constituent assembly of citizens from across the province who then come up with a form of PR to put on a ballot. This form of PR is then put head-to-head with FPTP. This is the way you defeat PR, but still make it look like you tried change. The reason is this: within the PR camp, there are many factions. Each faction has it's own pet PR system that it wants elections decided by. To some extent this has caused some holy wars within the PR camp that precludes many of the people who support PR from voting for a "less true" version. These people, despite an alleged dislike of FPTP, would rather vote for FPTP than a less "holy" version of PR. This guarantees that whatever form of PR that's put head-to-head won't get a simple, let alone a qualified majority of people. This way of determining if we should have PR will doom us to continue to have FPTP.

A better way would be to first see if people are OK with the concept of PR by having a ballot that basically gives the following two choices:

Mark here if you wish to retain the current FPTP system.

Mark here if you wish to convene a constituent assembly to provide two (or more) choices of possible Proportional Representation systems to be voted on at a later date.

This then asks if people want PR. The disunified PR camp should, at this point, all vote against FPTP and then the constituent assembly with be called to present some choices of PR. At the next ballot, only the various PR choices would be on the ballot. The holy warriors in the PR camp get to vote for their favourite, or at least the one they hate the least as the FPTP choice won't be on the ballot this time. The FPTP proponents now have to choose between which system of PR they want, as they had their chance to defeat the concept with the first ballot.

Though this would take longer (assuming a victory on the first ballot for the PR forces) it would greatly improve the chances of some form of PR coming into effect as the vote splitting caused by the current way that governments are trying won't happen. It would even be cheaper than the current method if FPTP wins the first ballot, as the assembly wouldn't have to be called in the first place. It is unlikely to happen this way though, as the anti-PR forces know that they'd have a tougher time stopping PR if the choice was a simple yes or no to the FPTP system and the vote splitting amongst the various "sects" of PR were united.
Why Proportional Representation will never happen in Canada. | 6 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
even Mercer slamed mmp
Authored by: Anonymous onFriday, October 12 2007 @ 06:54 MDT
You missed the point. The reason mmp failed has
NOTHING to do with " waring factions" of proportional
rep. supporters.
It has everything to do with The Govt. being against it,
therfore not advertising information about it ( or very
little), and the entire"big" media being against it. All
newspapers and T.V.( even the T.O Star had it's lead
editorial against it.)
Rick Mercer of C.B.C slamed it as well ( at least his
slam was funny, although infuriating )
  • point taken - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, October 12 2007 @ 03:13 MDT
Why Proportional Representation will never happen in Canada.
Authored by: Anonymous onFriday, October 12 2007 @ 09:48 MDT
Perhaps not in the foreseeable future (e.g. the next ten years), but considering that PR strategies only emerged on the political landscape publicly in Canada in the early 90s (that being about the first time I noticed it being discussed at all in the public forums), it's actually gained more traction in that time than I would have expected.

I'd guess that in another twenty years people might feel they understand how it would work for them well enough that they'd consider it seriously. (and/or the politicians may recognize that implementing it would not necessarily wipe them out)

- Grog