Posts Tagged ‘vote reform’

Waiting for Minister Monsef.

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Canadians have heard from the Conservatives and more recently the New Democrats about electoral reform. Voters are getting the impression that the Conservatives are vigorously opposed and the New Democrats very much in favour. Yet we seem to be hearing more from Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc about this government initiative than the minister responsible. The problem is that Elections Canada cannot handle any changes for the next election unless they are passed into law before May 2017. That is very little time to explore possible changes, frame a new law and have it passed by House and Senate.

Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef has said she will announce the committee of the House this month. If that committee expects to hear from Canadians about possible reforms, time is short.

And this is because of Justin Trudeau’s reckless promise during the last election that it will be the last one under First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) rules. With no real consideration of alternative systems of voting, Trudeau was sticking his head in a noose.

The Liberal Leader was obviously enamoured with the idea of preferential voting. That is a form of voting that gives a thin veneer of credibility to the concept of majority choice. It allows the voter to list candidate choices as 1, 2 or 3 etcetera until they have stated their preference in order for all. To count the vote you eliminate enough losers so that the first candidate with the most second, third or fourth choice selections to reach a majority of the votes is the winner.

What is disquieting for the opposition parties in parliament is this preferential system would have likely produced more than 250 seats in the 338-seat parliament for the ruling Liberals in the 2015 election. As it is, they won a 184-seat majority with 40 per cent of the vote under FPTP.

The New Democrats and other small parties have their hopes set on proportional representation whereby they would get roughly the same number of seats as their percentage of the popular vote. Under proportional representation, the New Democrats would have had the right to about 65 seats and have had the balance of power between the Liberals 130 or so seats and the Conservatives with about 95 seats. (These figures are approximate due to rounding and an unknown cut-off point for parties with a small number of votes.)

The New Democrats are so eager to see proportional representation in place that they are proposing an elitist citizens’ group—including “representation from historically under-represented groups”—to work along with the parliamentary committee. That would probably end up with the same mixed member proportional system proposed by the lottery winners who looked at voting systems in Ontario. The Ontario referendum defeated that proposal by about two to one. That would also be the likely opinion across Canada if anyone cares to check.

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