Ontario and MMR
Note: On 2007-10-10 Ontario voters rejected changing the
electoral system from FPTP (first past the post) to MMR (mixed member
proportional). I beleive this was a missed
opportunity to control our politicians so I'm going to keep this page in place
until there is a new proposal.
On the weekend of
2007-Oct-06 I watched two one hour programs about voting systems on TVO (see:
www.TVO.org for more information).
The first program (Big Ideas) was composed of five,
mostly academic, presenters speaking on the pros and cons of MMP (Mixed
Member Proportional) and FPTP (First Past The Post).
The second program (The Agenda with Steve Paikin)
consisted of six debaters who were mostly politicians.
So here are a few points I came away with:
- MMP is not fully proportional. It is a hybrid of
“first past the post” and “fully proportional”. (this may be a good thing;
radical changes may not be desirable). What is proposed for Ontario is this
- 70% of the seats will consist of elected representatives
- 30% of the seats will consist of people elected from the party pool
- parties must get at least 3% of the popular vote in order to be
considered for drawing seats from the pool
- hopefully the parties will populate the pool list in a democratic way
- seats from the party pool will not be required to maintain a riding
- FPTP is the best way to produce majority governments.
Other systems almost always guarantee minority governments.
- Some speakers claimed that past majority governments
were much more productive than minority governments (The post war activities
of the "Louis St. Laurent" "Federal Liberals" came to mind)
- One speaker claimed that FPTP is not for electing but
evicting. For example, if the local representative turns out to be a
scoundrel you just vote against him at the next opportunity and he’s out.
- In any proportional system it is much harder to evict
the local representative. You might vote against a scoundrel but he might
get in on secondary party-choices from the ballots.
p.s. on the flip side, if you like the local representative but hate his
party leader, MMP allows you to vote for the local rep while turfing out the
- Proportional representation systems are much better
for getting women and minorities into office (I’m convinced that women are
less likely to go to war – If women were more involved in the American
system maybe they wouldn’t be in Iraq right now)
- Israel has always had a fully proportional system
which has allowed too many minority parties (many representing religious
fundamentalists) to make demands while forming coalitions). Israel is
currently considering a system much closer to MMP.
- One of the speakers claimed that STV (Single
Transferable Vote) might be a better choice for Ontario. Check the link
below for more information on this topic.
- The trigger level for tactical voting is used filter
out weirdo voting. While a lower level provides more proportionality it is
not always desirable. Here are some examples of other systems:
- 5% is used in New Zealand, Germany and Russia
- 4% is used in Sweden and Austria
- 3% is proposed for Ontario. (this is worrisome to
me and may be too low)
- 1.5% is used in the Israeli Knesset
Here’s my 2 cents worth:
majority governments, possible with FPTP, might have been a good idea for an
earlier time when our elected representatives were more honorable. In today’s
political climate we all need more protection from these crooks. Consider these
recent majority government fiascos:
- The Chrétien Liberals
wasted their majority on what we now call the
Quebec Sponsorship Scandal
- The Mulroney PCs gave
us the GST and Free Trade. Ask people who their lost jobs as a
result of Free Trade if it was good or bad. Personally, I believe this step
toward globalization will turn out to be a big mistake.
- The Rae NDPs of Ontario were elected with a very small
popular majority but they ended up in complete control of Queen's Park and
almost bankrupted the province.
- The Harris Ontario PC's secretly sold the rights for the
Highway 407 to a Spanish-Australian consortium for 99 years.
http://www.407etrbook.com - read chapter #1 for free
(these links will go dead over time)
- Article by Sheila Copps:
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.