Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Coalition should agree to test for proportional representation

My personal wishlist for the Coalition is that the NDP hold the line on the new government taking steps with respect to changing our system of voting to that of a modified proportional representation system.

One idea for the Coalition to consider: agree to test the waters, by having a citizens group come up with a method of modified proportional representation, and then hold a plebiscite in each province and territory. Of course, both the Yes and No sides should be adequately financed by the federal government …

If the required majority of votes are cast in a province, then institute proportional representation in that province. If any province does not produce the threshold votes, it continues with the current first past the post system.

However, the legislation should require a further plebiscite within two years after any general election held after the first plebiscite, in those provinces which did not reach the required threshold.

This will give voters there a chance to reconsider, after seeing what actually happened in the provinces which adopted the modified proportional representation system.

16 comments :

  1. I agree. We should implement a PR system, using Condorcet voting in the ridings.

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  2. Depending on the type of PR decided upon, allowing provinces to opt out might not work.

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  3. Canada is one of the most innovative political systems, used to coping with differences; designing a PR system that allows provinces to opt in or stay out should be easily done.

    Be a wonderful thing, not so?

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  4. Let a Citizens' Assembly decide on the type of voting system. As for the provincial opting out, if Quebec and Ontario opted out of PR, there would be no point in the other provinces having PR.

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  5. Alberta and Saskatchewan, too (the other big cluster of unequal distribution of large numbers of seats).

    Beyond that, no, having people in different provinces vote in different ways is a terrible idea. It'd be like the American system where things are done differently at state and even county level. One method of voting, for all Canadian voters.

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  6. IslandLiberal, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, it has been said; we could certainly tolerate a lack of uniformity across the provinces if the result is a more democratic system in some provinces which have a PR system!

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  7. The number one item on the agenda should be the economy.

    The number 2 item should be electoral reform, I don't really care what form as virtually anything would be better than what we have now.

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  8. I don't know... this seems like a big mistake. Stay focused. The coalition has a limited mandate and shouldn't overstep itself. We need to focus on the economy. Canadians are hurting, and are going to be hurting a lot more. You might not have felt it yet, and may never feel it, but being unemployed, broke and in debt is an awful experience that many of us now face.

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  9. Getting far too far ahead of yourselves here - the coalition should just govern throught the crisis.

    Besides, you're acting like the NDP would be in charge? Not a good idea and probably won't be.

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  10. As I've said, we should not mess around studying it but go straight to implementing preferential voting. It's the quickest easiest way to introduce some element of proportionality without any fuss: everything can stay exactly the same, ridings, ballots, etc., except the circles on the ballots willbe a touch bigger so people can fit in 1,2,3 etc. beside their candidate of choice. Dion favours it, easy to do & understand, & NDP & Bloc both claim to be infavour of proportional representation. I view its introduction as an act of self-defence for Canadian democracy. It'll take an extra hour to count the ballots on election night, but we can live with that.

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  11. Eugene Forsey Liberal:

    Preferential voting in single member ridings is not proportional representation. It would stifle diversity even more than our current system. It might elect more Liberals, but it is a phony reform, and would be a step backward.

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  12. Curiosity Cat:

    While it would be OK to have different systems of proportional representation in different provinces, having some provinces use proportional voting and others use majoritarian systems would be disastrous. It would build in regional party distortions. Like the current system.

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  13. WS: The perfect is the enemy of the good. I said introduce an "element" of PR. Would probably increase NDp & Green support a bit. I think effects would be marginal and often unintended consequences. But a few seats here and there would makle a big differnce. Probably see a couple more non-Con seats in AB and a couple Con seats in 416, 514 & Vancouver. Overall, would make majorities difficult and force parties to centre and with more respectful discourse, as need voters of other parties to give them 2nd, 3rd, 4th choices, etc. Point is, easy to understand and do, and would be hard to get entire Cdn population to go for completely different system. Might be first step to further PR. but only realistic 1st step, given Cdn political realities. After all, it's the system all parties use to pick their leaders, so already some idea of it. If good enough for parties, why not for all?

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  14. Preferential voting in single member ridings (also known as Alternative Vote {AV} or Instant Runoff Voting {IRV}) is not "an element of proportional representation". It is anti-proportional. It would result in fewer third-party members, not more. Yes, you get to vote for your sincere choice without losing your strategic vote, but your first choice still doesn't get elected, is even less likely to get elected.

    IRV/AV is a good system to use for electing a single-winner office like a mayor, governor or president, where the idea is to reduce all choices to one winner. But it is unsuitable for electing members to a representative assembly, where the idea is to make sure everyone is represented. For that, you need real proportional representation.

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  15. P.S. Eugene Forsey was not a Liberal.

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  16. He became one when the NDP succumbed to the siren song of QC nationalism and recognised QC as a nation. My moniker is an implicit joke recognising this. Can you figure out the reference?

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