Monday, October 09, 2017

Good news coming on electoral reform says Andrew Coyne

In a thoughtful article Coyne ranges over the positive news springing up at levels below the federal level, regarding changes to our undemocratic first past the post electoral system (the one that PM Trudeau favours, given his decision to walk away from his campaign promise to end it).

Ontario is showing political and democratic leadership, starting with optional changes for municipal elections:

Ontario has passed legislation allowing the province’s municipalities, if they choose, to use ranked ballots for their elections: earlier this year, London became the first to take them up on it, while Kingston will hold a referendum on the idea in 2018. This isn’t proportional representation: it’s still one member per district, winner-take-all, rather than the sharing of representation among several members on which PR is based. But it’s something other than the status quo.

And in BC, with the conservative, money-grubbing Liberal Party thrown out of power and fresh faces in the Legislature, a referendum with a better than even chance of passing will be held next year:

With the coming to power of the NDP, however, the issue is back on the table: both the NDP and the Green Party, on whose support it depends, had made proportional representation part of their election platforms. Refreshingly, the government may even keep its promise — I take nothing for granted — with a referendum now scheduled for November of next year. 

Unlike the two previous referendums, a majority of 50 per cent plus one will be sufficient. 

Another key difference: this time the government will be campaigning in favour of reform.

That still leaves much to be decided: how many questions to ask and what kind; what sort of reform proposals to put on the ballot, and how many; and so forth.

Let’s hope three things take place within months:

First, that the Ontario model of letting local governments choose more democratic systems of election town and city members, spreads to other provinces, including BC.

Second, that the Ontario government either hold a referendum similar to the one planned for BC, or  change its own laws so that elections to the provincial legislature become more democratic.

Third, that Canadians take advantage of the opportunities becoming available by forming groups to vote for candidates for city and provincial governments who will adopt the new democratic methods of electing representatives.

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