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Why I will vote against MMP this fall

It is official: Ontarians will be asked this autumn to support changing our electoral system from first past the post to mixed member proportional. It is a shame, really, that the Citizens' Assembly would recommend a system so much worse than what we have.

Fundamentally, I believe the referendum on MMP and the switch to a form of proportional representation addresses the wrong problem.

The problem MMP attempts to address in a half-assed way is vote splitting. In each riding we will still have first past the post, there will still be vote splitting, and an unpopular candidate who gets just over half the vote of two of their opponents' combined vote who are on the same side of the political spectrum will still win. People will still be forced to vote strategically to block said candidates instead of supporting who they truly want to.

Then to top it all off the leadership of each party will be granted the ability to provide the electoral officer with a list of people who may have no qualifications whatsoever other than that they are known by the leadership. From this list the electoral officer will take the top portion, an amount defined by a percentage of the vote, and grant these arbitrary people seats. The parties, both small and large are thus further empowered. They are granted the ability to put their friends in office without even the guise of a nomination battle.

Is this not the worst of everything?

By granting seats to parties to assign more or less as they see fit to anyone they choose, we send an important and destructive message to the government: Under proportional representation, we elect parties to send representatives to the people and we give up the right to send representatives to the government ourselves, and we give up the right to independent representation. Under first past the post, we give up the right to vote for the candidate we choose lest the candidate we really don't want finds a way in.

The problem we truly need to be addressing is the power vested in political parties which the people of Ontario are blindly seeking to enhance. Our representatives, all of them, should represent us, the people, to the government at Queen's Park. The parties should not be sending us representatives.

There are definitely reforms needed in our political governance and electoral system. One for each, in fact.

For governance: Get rid of party whips. There should be no such thing as a whipped vote. All votes, including and especially confidence votes, should be free votes. The purpose of our representatives it to represent us and us alone, not their parties, not the government, not any special interests, just us, the electorate. MPs should be empowered to vote the way they believe is right at every vote. They are accountable to their constituents, who are free to vote them out at the next election. The party must have no place in displacing them for voting on behalf of their constituents.

For the electoral system: Do not limit voters to a single vote.

This may sound a little strange at first glance, but it is the most sensible form of electoral reform ever conceived, yet, to the best of my knowledge, no (party-controlled) government has ever been willing to try it.

Give us, the voters, the same ballots we have now and allow us to check off all the candidates we approve of. Vote splitting and strategic voting will become a thing of the past when there is an electoral system in which all voters can vote for all candidates who they would consider acceptable. This simple, ground-breaking system is called Approval Voting, and was presented to the Citizens' Assembly, yet they did not even put this option on their ballot for consideration. For shame.

Mixed Member Proportional, or MMP, takes away representation from the people and gives that power to the parties. Proportional representation is a misnomer, as there is no representation with proportional. There is no accountability for an MP who need only stay in his party's good stead to stay high on his party's list. There is no representation for the people when a party sends its own representatives to office. Parties are a means of allowing people to say they share values. Parties are not a special interest group that deserves special representation in Parliament over and above that of the people.

I don't care about minority versus majority governments or coalitions; without party whips it would be moot anyway. I care first and foremost about my ability to elect my representative to the government, and will not tolerate the introduction of a system that allows parties to have more power than the voters who elect them in any circumstances at any time.

I cannot and will not vote for MMP.

Posted at 07:25 on May 30, 2007

This entry has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.

Stphane Dion's honour | elections reform | The tory Question Period agenda

Herbinator writes at Wed May 30 11:23:17 2007...

MMP introduces proportional representation ... which is good; however, I agree with you on lists.

Give me Simple PR any day.

cdlu writes at Wed May 30 12:02:29 2007...

Herbinator, I don't agree that proportional representation is a good thing in the first place. From your own comment on your own blog:

Herbinator said...

Saskboy. They voted. They had a voice ... and an equal one at that. That is the beauty of Simple PR. Every vote counts toward getting your party representation in parliament -- just as every vote gets the party $1.75.

This is the fundamental problem I have. We are not supposed to be voting for parties, we are supposed to be voting for individuals. That is how our current system was designed and that is the best way to keep our system democratic. Parties should not have any form of official standing beyond being a loosely knit group of people with roughly common values. Approval voting keeps that voting for individuals concept while eliminating vote splitting and strategic voting. It is extremely simple, even simpler than pure PR as you describe it with even less unbalance.

Under pure PR with the system you propose some ridings do get two representatives and others none, as you suggest is not a problem. But one vote is not equal to the next under your system as is the case today as long as ridings differ in populations. If a candidate in PEI gets 30% of the vote in their riding, that might be only as many votes as 10% of the vote in a Toronto riding would have been, and so the candidate in the same party with nearly 3 times the vote and only 29% of the vote in their riding will be displaced on the election-generated list.

Give me Approval Voting any day, but keep PR's dirty hands off my country.

cdlu writes at Wed May 30 12:13:38 2007...

The other point to that is PR in all its forms gives up our rights to independent representatives. Say goodbye to the Chuck Cadmans and John Nunziatas of the Canadian political scene under PR. We have a right to be represented by independant MPs and PR sacrifices this, a completely inexcusable side-effect of the system.

Yeppers (www.youreadouche.com) writes at Fri Dec 14 10:39:13 EST 2007...

Youre a douche.

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