Posts Tagged ‘Proportional voting’

Horgan pays the price.

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

British Columbia premier John Horgan is paying his debts. He wanted to be premier and it cost him an accord with the BC Green party, headed by MLA John Weaver. One of the conditions is to again offer BC voters an opportunity to vote on changing how they elect their provincial government. John Horgan’s NDP government is calling for this vote later this year. It is a small price to pay for the continued support of the three Green Party members in the B.C. legislature.

But nothing ever runs smoothly. People are taking the government to court over the proposals and regulations for the referendum. In addition, the Green Party MLAs are talking about ending the accord over the NDP offering incentives for a very large Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) proposal. It is easy to understand the eagerness of the NDP for $40-billion LNG project that offers jobs for BC workers and long-term revenues to the province. The Greens are less eager to increase the carbon emissions and potential environmental problems with loading ocean-going LNG tankers.

If the NDP government had announced its proportional representation on FaceBook, it would probably have received more initial dislikes than likes. The government allows for three alternative plans, each more confusing than the previous proposal. The least complicated is the mixed-member proportional system such as was rejected by Ontario voters in 2007 by a vote of about two to one. The second is more like the single-transferable vote that B.C. voters failed to approve twice. And the third choice is a previously untried system of rural voters voting proportional and urban voters voting for a MLA in normal electoral districts. None of the options is truly proportional.

But most of the emerging arguments are over how the NDP government is managing the voting. It will be a mail-in ballot and ignores the Internet availability. The main bone of contention is that the NDP government will select who will be the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides and only those two groups will be allowed to advertise and promote their opinion. No ‘Maybe’ or ‘What If’’ options are to be considered.

Mind you, the good news is that after two elections with one of those options, the populace will be allowed an opportunity to vote to return to First Past the Post (FPTP) voting. I guess that opportunity would be better than the only recourse to be an insurrection.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Minister Monsef ‘s measure.

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

How would you like to have a job based on proving your boss is right? It seems the same as Canada’s Fraser Institute that is always commissioning studies designed to prove the Institute’s right-wing theories. Now we have a cabinet minister trying to implement her leader’s campaign promise that Canadians will never again use first-past-the-post voting to elect a federal government. It was a rash promise and neophyte Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef might not measure up to the task of implementing it.

It is hardly her fault. Psephology (the study of elections and voting) is not a common topic at dinner tables in this country. Nor do civics classes delve deeply into the subject. And judging by what we read from published political science post-graduates, real expertise is rare.

But that does not preclude lots of opinions that people are quite willing to share. For all we know, Minister Monsef might be more knowledgeable than her leader. She might even be wondering how the government would explain a change in voting to Canadians.

While Prime Minister Trudeau leans towards preferential voting systems, Ms. Monsef has probably already figured out that that would be a really hard sell. Quite a number of amateur experts have already figured out that in the election just past, the Liberals would have even more seats if a form of preferential voting was in place. There were lots of Canadians who preferred the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens while the Conservative support was sliding. Best guess, the Liberals would have won about 30 more seats if being elected required a 50 per cent or more preference.

Conversely, a run-off vote in those electoral districts where nobody won a majority would likely have produced more victories for the Greens and NDP. It would be a clear indication that preferential voting is not the same as a run-off election. Since run-off elections can be much less costly when using Internet voting, that is something that needs to be considered.

And proportional voting is far more complex a question. There are many variables in proportional voting. And there are more things it does not do than it accomplishes. It does not ensure more women and minorities are selected. It does not often produce majority governments. It does not improve the transparency of government. And since proportional voting was designed for voters who are mostly illiterate, why would we need it in Canada?

Minister Monsef is an unusual choice to address such a complex question for the government. She might be very willing and adroit in the task but she is coming from a serious lack of experience in government. She is going to have to prove to be a very, very quick study.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to peter@lowry.me