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No MMP campaign gets underway

I'm going to disagree with many of my friends who, like me, consider themselves progressive and left of centre and assert, unequivocally and without reservation, that I think the proposed MMP reform is a step backward onto a rusty nail for Ontario. The core of my objection to MMP comes down to the simple question: who represents who to who? To that end, I'm doing something about it. I've joined the No MMP campaign and we now have a website. Short and to the point, I invite you to see many of my objections and those of the unaffiliated No MMP campaign team at NoMMP.ca.

Who represents who to who?

In a representative democracy, the voter votes for a person to represent them and their interests to the government. This person is meant to be answerable only to the voters of his or her jurisdiction, in this case their riding, and not beholden to any other interests.

The advents of political parties and campaign financing have weakened this core principle of representative democracy. The proposal before us asks us to forego this notion of representation and accountability.

Under MMP, we are asked to reduce the number of representative ridings by a significant proportion, enlarging those already large ridings by around 20%. This will increase the workload and decrease the accessibility of local representatives for their ridings. This will weaken the effectiveness of these representatives and reduce their value as representatives of the public to the government.

Further, one third of our provincial parliament will be made up of representatives with an interesting, small, and highly over-represented riding: their political party. List members have no concrete accountability to anyone but the establishment of their party. If they are kicked out of their caucus for standing for what is right over what their party says is right, they do not have the option to seek re-election in the same manner they sought election in the first place, as their real riding representative counterparts do. Their accountability is therefore to their party only, and not directly to the voting public. The public will have to rely on the party's own sense of accountability for useful representation. Under this system, these list MPPs will act as representatives of their party to the government, and as representatives of their party to the voters.

Why would anyone vote for a system where we trade in our ability to select representation for ourselves to our governments and to our parties for a system in which we invite parties to represent themselves to our government and to ourselves?

Is there possible electoral reform? Absolutely there is. We could move forward with nearly any variation on preferential or approval voting, where strategic voting and vote splitting is reduced without the expense of the core principles of our democracy.

Vote for democracy. Vote against MMP.

Posted at 08:24 on August 07, 2007

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

Hostile bid for CP Rail could start toppling railway acquisition dominos | elections reform | Why no MMP?

Scott Tribe writes at Tue Aug 7 11:37:05 2007...

The fear of party establishment controlling the lists is a bit of a red herring. All that needs to be done is to ensure that the various party's constitutions ensure that list members are picked democratically by the various party's grassroots. If there are parties out there that do not do this.. you can be assured they will be called on the carpet for it by the other parties during the election campaign.. and those list members will be there for all the electorate to see.

cdlu writes at Tue Aug 7 11:58:05 2007...


It is not at all a red herring. As you state yourself in this very comment, we have to rely on the party's constitutions, not the law, to maintain the democratic core of our province.

Joseph writes at Tue Aug 7 12:18:31 2007...

Supporters of MMP think that all voters are strongly partisan and have strong party connections. That is simply not accurate. The vast majority of voters do not have that kind of preference for a party whatsoever.

They are very unlikely to put pressure on an organization that they have no strong attachment to. Even if political parties democratize and give votes to the grass roots, that still leaves the list makeup, and easy seats, up to a tiny fraction of the population. And even if there is a free vote inside a party, you can be pretty sure that the candidates at the top of the list will be the ones with the most influence and most power. I wonder if any party will allow anyone but their leader and shadow cabinet to be at the top of their list?

mushroom writes at Tue Aug 7 19:36:11 2007...


MMP will help make political parties a crucial factor in the democratization process. Cabinet ministers will become accountable BEFORE they are selected into their roles not afterward. Under FPTP, ministers serve their posts with the pleasure of the Prime Minister alone. The implementation of MMP will ensure that Cabinet ministers will serve under the mandate of the voters who have supported the party list over others.

cdlu writes at Wed Aug 8 08:23:41 2007...


I'm trying to grok your comment and it simply doesn't parse.

Cabinet ministers will become accountable *to who* before they are selected into their roles? Cabinet ministers today are accountable to their electors, their party's membership, and their party's leadership. Under MMP, list-originating cabinet ministers will no longer be accountable to the former which, to me, makes them less, not more, accountable.

Under MMP cabinet ministers will *still* be given their cabinet roles at the pleasure of the Prime Minister or Premier alone, and they will still come almost exclusively from riding MPPs as the governing party will be unlikely to receive any list MPPs. Nothing about cabinet ministers is going to change.

shoes writes at Thu Aug 9 15:33:06 2007...


I guess it is hard to argue against some type of electoral reform.

When the CA was formed I proposed the following guidelines for formulating a new electoral process.

Lets see how they did against my guidelines

1) Any new system must be understandable. I give MMP a B+

2) Any new system should not create different classes of MPP. I give MMP an F

3) Any new system should promote a stable government. I give MMP a D.

Any new system should be designed / selected to address the issues we are attempting to address in the Province ie we should have a made in Ontario/Canada system. I give MMP an F.

Clearly the CA's MMP recommendation fails to meet my criteria and I will vote NO.

Electoral refom could have been dealt with very simply with a preferential vote system.

cdlu writes at Thu Aug 9 16:04:50 2007...


I agree, although I would give point 3 an F as well.

Preferential voting can be simple, highly effective, and a much greater improvement than any form of proportional ballot can ever be.

You can read my submission to the citizens assembly here where I advocated for Approval Voting, the simplest alternative system I can think of. I should note this system did not find its way on to the Assembly's ballot.

I should also note that I do not hold the Assembly in as high regard as the many proponents of MMP as I found when they came to my town that their questions clearly indicated they were already of a mind to support MMP. My suspicion is that nearly anyone sufficiently interested in the topic to volunteer already had their minds made up.

mushroom writes at Thu Aug 9 20:49:48 2007...

"Under MMP cabinet ministers will *still* be given their cabinet roles at the pleasure of the Prime Minister or Premier alone, and they will still come almost exclusively from riding MPPs as the governing party will be unlikely to receive any list MPPs."

This is due to the fact that two-thirds of all MPPs will still be elected first past the post. Of course, the party leader of a junior partner in a coalition government will be a party list MPP. In Ontario, it will be difficult for Frank de Jong to win a seat first past the post as leader of the Ontario Green Party. However, if the Greens choose to enter into a coalition with the Liberals and/or the Dippers then he will get a cabinet post as a list MPP.

The question is this. Should the Greens be allowed a role to shape government policy. Under FPTP, the answer has been remote. In the MMP system, the answer is a definite maybe.

shoes writes at Sun Aug 12 21:44:07 2007...

CDLU, Yes you are probably correct, being too generous with my grading. Minority govt will be the order of the day. Coalitions are not part of the culture in ON / Canada, hence my fear about continual minority governments. ( Who in their right mind would entertain the idea of a working coalition with Hampton. But times change.)

I thought the concept of the CA was a good one. However, I think there error was to exclude practical political advice ie politicians from there resource pool. Look, MMP is going to fail because rural ridings are going to vote NO to preserve representation. And who will get blamed? McGuinty for setting the bar too high.

How can the proponents of MMP, who claim the system will increase 'representativeness' complain when the referendum demands a more representative response to invoke such a dramatic


jim writes at Mon Aug 27 12:14:58 2007...

i'm glad to see someone taking the no side. i have seen literature printed up supporting the yes side. who is paying for that? i thought it was illegal for anyone to campaign unless on behalf of a registered political party?

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