Ontario liberal leader Steven Del Duca is promising to resign if he does not change how we carry out elections in Ontario. He might as well resign as leader now and save us all a lot of time and trouble. It is like premier Doug Ford’s promise of a ‘Buck a Beer.’ It isn’t going to happen.
Any serious study of existing alternative voting systems will find that all have weaknesses. Inventing a new system is not going to happen and be accepted by Ontario voters overnight.
And no political party is likely to get the support to change how Ontario votes without a referendum. At present we use the Westminster system of constituent representation in a bicameral parliament federally and unicameral provincially in Ontario. As old and as creaky as this system might be, our voters know it and trust it. Attempts at changing how we vote have been made in three provinces and each attempt has been rejected by the voters.
It is not that change itself is being rejected. People are not going to rush into a system of voting that they do not understand. Change that can gain acceptance across party lines can go a long way to reassuring people. Change that benefits some parties and not others are non-starters.
There are two basic types of voting that some people are promoting.
Preferential voting, what is erroneously called ‘instant run-off,’ can be an advantage for what are called middle-of-the-road party candidates. You saw how crowded that ‘middle-of-the-road’ can become in the last federal election. Mind you, it would be an interesting experience to have an election where all the candidates tried to prove how lovable they could be. They would all campaign hard for your second preference.
Proportional voting is another alternative. This one has the advantage that we could reduce the space needed for the legislative chamber. All you would vote for is a party. The leader of each party would have a list available for people who would sit in parliament as though you also voted for them. There are many variations on this around the world but they all have the same problems with minority parties trying to negotiate with other parties to form a government.
And I would miss not having a local member to take me to lunch in the parliamentary dining room when visiting.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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