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 believe 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).

  1. 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 formula:
    1. 70% of the seats will consist of elected representatives
    2. 30% of the seats will consist of people elected from the party pool
    3. parties must get at least 3% of the popular vote in order to be considered for drawing seats from the pool
    4. hopefully the parties will populate the pool list in a democratic way
    5. seats from the party pool will not be required to maintain a riding office
  2. FPTP is the best way to produce majority governments. Other systems almost always guarantee minority governments.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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 leader
  6. 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)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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:
    1. 5% is used in New Zealand, Germany and Russia
    2. 4% is used in Sweden and Austria
    3. 3% is proposed for Ontario. (this is worrisome to me and may be too low)
    4. 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:

  1. The Chrétien Liberals wasted their majority on what we now call the Quebec Sponsorship Scandal
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The Harris Ontario PC's secretly sold the rights for the Highway 407 to a Spanish-Australian consortium for 99 years.

Reference Links:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_member_proportional_representation
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Transferable_Vote
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FPTP
  4. http://www.407etrbook.com - read chapter #1 for free

Government Links:

(these links will go dead over time)

  1. www.YourBigDecision.ca
  2. www.VoteForMMP.ca
  3. http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca

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Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.