Saturday, March 05, 2011

A Liberal policy that can lead to a Liberal government

If (as is unlikely right now) the Harper government's March 22 budget does not gain the confidence of the House and the government falls, there is a  policy that the Liberals can announce once the writ is dropped that might leverage it into a strong minority government in the election.

Check the standing of the parties over the past 2 ½ years (2008 – 2011).

The national polls show the Tories with around 35%, with room to grow to around 40%. The Liberals gather between 27% and 32%.

Now the key: the Greens cluster around 10%, and the NDP seems to have settled in around the 15 – 17% mark.

Now consider just two battlefield provinces – BC and Ontario.

The Tories gather around 32% to 38% in BC, with the NDP in the 19% - 25% range and the Greens in the 10% - 16% range. The LPC is in the 20 – 25% range.

In Ontario the Tories polled in the 35% to 45% range, with the NDP garnering around 15% and the Greens between 7% and 10%. The LPC is in the 30 – 35% range.

Now consider a policy of the Liberals that could draw at least half the Green vote and one-third of the NDP vote to this party. This would boost the Liberal votes by around 10% to between 37% and 42% nationally, to between 32% to 47% in BC, and between 40% and 45% in  Ontario.

The policy that could do this is one that offers voters who would normally vote Green or NDP a chance to change the rules of our elections in such a way that in all subsequent elections their votes would count for much more. It would help change the democratic deficit in our country that has lead to a Tory government that represents around a third of the votes cast, and yet has managed to disregard the wishes of the other two-thirds and govern in a right wing way.

What is this policy?

The Liberals should commit that if they become the government, they will immediately launch a Citizens Panel to examine the best type of proportional representation for federal elections, and that the Liberal government would table legislation for the change recommended by such a Citizens Panel.

This will attract voters who prefer the Green and NDP parties because such a change would give their votes in all future elections a much fairer weight.

The Greens would see Green MPs in Parliament in the following elections. The NDP would see a fairer representation of MPs than it currently gets.

And we would then have a system of governments which are forced to consider the wishes of a much broader spectrum of voters.

And the Harper Tories will be toast until they undergo their own revolution and purge the Reformer element which took over the old Progressive Conservative Party, and revert to a more representative set of policies that are much closer to the ones that party used to have.

All of Canada would gain.


  1. Dream on. All of the 'opposition' parties (except the Bloc) have a PR stanza in their platform books. The NDP could do the same thing and rise from mediocrity to a serious player, but they've been sitting on their hands for the last decade wondering how they can appeal to Harper.

  2. I would say yes if the citizens panel picks the new system (and I prerfer no referenedum,) and the house votes on it after the decision. If there is to be a referendum its not a yes or no but "which of these PR systems do you want," with voting by STV.

    The system is failed and the first vote in the house should state this fact and specify the citizens panel will choose a proportional system for all of Canada, AV needs to highlighted as a non proportional system in this bill and not a valid choice, as there are always liberal poisoning PR talk with this AV falacy, it does not give proportional representation but consolides votes to the median ie the Liberals, given the chance they WILL fix the game.

    If we go the way of BC and Ontario having a panel only to have the party who launched it cheat by not campaigning for it, or actively against it, or simply not properly educating the public, or setting the bar far too high like a super majority, it will sit the cause of PR back a generation, it needs to be done right,, I would suggest Fair Vote Canada be involved in some oversight capacity, while supporting PR they do not promote a particular flavour

    Unfortunately I don't trust the liberals to give us exactly what they promise for our one time support, some will try to claim AV is proportinoal(its not)and some will miss the vote so nothing gets passed but they get power or vote their concience, AS IF they had one.

  3. Unless political parties become strong advocates for proportional representation and democracy during the next federal election campaign, and unless they have the credibility to do so, I won't be voting in the election. Supporting a parliamentary study on voting reform is not good enough. Political parties need to be strong advocates.

  4. What Skinny said. No major commitment for electoral reform, no vote.

  5. i am a non-voter. i would never vote for harper. and i have never voted liberal. i might have at one time voted NDP. and i have more recently though reluctantly voted green.

    i think this idea is smart. would i vote liberal for the first time in my life?

    i doubt it. i think those numbers - jumping in - are pie in the sky.

    still, the liberals would have nothing to lose by proposing it.

  6. great post, you're right on though I think the split up of the Conservatives is pushing it a bit far. I agree with others that we should all demand politicians and parties have an answer to fixing our democratic system, but I will vote regardless. But I will vote strategically based on the the conditions in my riding, not on any party loyalty, unless someone (other than the Greens) has a clear message on bringing in reform.

    By the way, are you on twitter at all? this article is being discussed and passed around by politicos and journalists a fair bit on twitter.

  7. Voters vote according their pocketbooks not "inside baseball" things like electoral reform. BCers have sounded rejected a move to STV twice so obviously it would not be a factor to influence their vote.

  8. BC has twice, T-W-I-C-E, said no. Do you really think voters in BC are going to run to that? A citizens panel? Gawd, there is no originality left on the left.

  9. Conservatives just have to open their eyes and see that Harper is neither a CHRISTIAN nor a CONSERVATIVE... he is a reformed Alliance with Satan himself and would sell Canada if he thought he would gain a chance at being President of the USA. He would likely sell his own Mother or even his wife if you offered him enough. He is a self serving infidel who doesn't stand for anything unless it empowers himself or his own interests. He advocates lying to the house, cheating on his own rules, cheating on any rules that don't suit him, lying to Canadians saying that a coalition robs them of their vote, it's their vote that makes it possible for the other three to out number and unseat Harper on a non confidence vote and thus form a perfectly legal coalition! It would have served Canada much better than his 5 years of horror have with the 56 billion dollar deficit. A coalition would have enveloped a much larger demographic of Canadian voters than his narrow sited minority of Canadians running Canada into a third world country!
    It's vote Liberal or prepare to enter preJan25 Egypt; called Harper's Canada! Wake up people this guy us a dictator in the making and he will continue to push the envelope until he can't push it anymore, by then he will just lock up anyone who apposes him and take over and we will be powerless to stop him.

    Prepare to be dumped on for the next 30 years or vote Liberal and bring this tyrant to justice.
    Pretty simple choice, so what's it going to be?

    Remember your children's children are depending on you to make the right choice for them!

  10. Let me get this straight. They'd vote Liberal once to get the electoral system they want, and then they'd go back to voting for the parties they used to support?

    You're a strategic mastermind.

  11. Anon 2.55 - You got it right.

    But you missed something: once we have a more democratic system of eletions in Canada, everyone will benefit.

    Liberals will have MPs from all provinces in the West, from Central Canada, and from the East.

    So will the Tories. And so will the NDP. And the Greens will have some MPs.

    And geographic tensions in Canada will subside because people will have their interests represented in Parliament.

    Oh, and we will have minority governments which have to work with the other parties in order to pass significant legislation.

    Right now we have a minority government that cocks its snoot at the majoriy of voters and goes its merry right-wing way ...

    So which system would you prefer? More of the same, or a more democratic country?

  12. One of the hurdles to be overcome in Canada is the self-serving myth that a proportional system is "too complicated", which is ridiculous, given that at least 80-odd countries use some kind of PR system. Are their populations brighter than Canadians?

  13. You want a 'pizza parliament' of porn stars, treehuggers and yogic flyers? Take a look at the European countries that have already done this with disastrous results...

  14. What we are all forgetting is that these polls representing the percentage of voters or votes are too inaccurate. Too many young Canadians do not have home phones and are therefore not consulted on these surveys, among several other issues. The surveys mostly represent the older generation of Canadians, although I will admit they are more likely to vote. The idea is a great one, but the issue is getting the publicity to the young voters. Younger Canadians watch most of their tv on the internet so we can throw tv advertising out the window and what are we left with? Radio? Canvassing? The issue in modern elections is getting the people properly informed and with the challenges that we face, caused mostly by technology, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get the young voters informed and so they become apathetic. Find a way to get to us, and you win the election, period.

  15. Fred from BC - I happen to think that many European countries have far more democratic and representative parliaments than north America has. The old first-past-the-pole system is dated, ends up with skewed results, does not give citizens equal votes in elections, and leads to polarization because of the inability of smaller pockets (geographic and beliefs) being represented in parliament.

    In fact, I would much rather have a yogic flyer in the House (if the flyer was elected or chosen by a party), then some of the questionable MPs elected by Harper's new Tories ...

  16. Based on popular vote the CPC are the defacto government.

    You don't get to add up the opposition after the ballots are counted. That's why the outrage and a poll pushed the CPC to 46% in Dec 3 2008.

    5-15% of Liberal,Green,NDP voters don't want a coalition. It appears the separatists 38.1% pop in 2008 and Quebec is interested in using their 23% population to control Ottawa.

  17. CuriosityCat said...

    Fred from BC - I happen to think that many European countries have far more democratic and representative parliaments than north America has.

    Yes. Their economies are also flirting with bankruptcy, as every one of the small parties represented tries to extort as many concessions as possible in return for their support.

    "More windmills!"

    "More free day care!"

    "More bike routes no one will use!"

    "Free drugs for everyone!"

    "Tax the rich for every dollar they have!"

    (you're already bankrupt and I've just started)...


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