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No MMP campaign issues final press release

A few months ago, Ontario unceremoniously gave FairVote Canada and its whacky notion of Mixed Member Proportional its walking papers.

It is no accident that MMP was defeated. Polls through the campaign clearly showed the trend that as people learned about MMP, they were disgusted with it. By voting day, 2/3s of those casting their ballots rejected the system designed to empower parties on a previously unimagined level. Voters did not feel empowered by the opportunity to implement this voting system, choosing in the largest numbers ever to stay home. It would be an understatement to say that election reformers have been sent back to the drawing board. While some note that 2/3s of young voters voted for MMP, the reality is that these people, too, will grow older and come to understand the true ramifications of this system better. MMP will never have a home in Canada.

If electoral reformers are serious about reform that is actually an improvement to the voters of Ontario, they will need to come up with something that well and truly empowers voters, not partisan interests. I direct them to the lower house model of preferential ballots in Australia as the only likely such change to succeed.

Without further ado, here's the text of the No campaign's final press release.

NO MMP wraps up, says that voters clearly endorse the current system

TORONTO, February 18, 2008 - NO MMP, the non-partisan political organization that successfully campaigned to defeat the Mixed Member Proportional electoral system in last provincial election, wrapped up its operations.

The results of the referendum clearly indicate that FPTP is the democratically chosen electoral system for Ontario. The results also show that the Mixed-Member Proportional system drawn up by the Ontario Citizens Assembly was thoroughly rejected by Ontarians on October 10. While the Ontario public might accept other more reasonable alternatives to the existing electoral system, it is clearly that MMP is not one of them. NO MMP was quite happy to contribute in this historical debate and dialogue, but we were very discouraged by the reaction of those on the other side of the debate.

Press releases from Fair Vote Canada said that voters rejected MMP not because they thought that it was not an adequate electoral system for Ontario, but because voters did not understand the referendum question or MMP, or that media was biased against MMP, and that Elections Ontario did not do enough to sell the merits of MMP to Ontario voters.

This is a most unfortunate reaction to a democratic vote. However, as our last official press release we would like to communicate the plain facts of the matter. It is unfortunate that some proponents of MMP wish to rewrite the story of the referendum so that history is told with blinding inaccuracies.

Polls by Environics and the Strategic Counsel done early in the campaign showed that there were many who did not know about the referendum and were undecided. But as the campaign wore on, all polls indicated that people were more informed, less undecided, and less willing to vote for MMP. Every poll indicated that FPTP had momentum among voters. Two Angus Reid polls done on September 7th and October 4th indicate similar trends. An SES poll on October 9 showed that only 17% of people surveyed felt uncomfortable making a decision on the referendum. These numbers clearly indicate that Ontarians were becoming more informed about the issue, and more likely to vote for the system.

Proponents of MMP cannot be faulted for pushing an idea that they believe in so strongly. But the referendum result cannot be interpreted any other way. MMP was thoroughly rejected by the people. It cannot be spun to indicate that there should be another referendum on this issue.

The NO MMP Financial Committee will soon table its donations and expenditures to Elections Ontario. It raised just over $14,000 which it used to finance a modest run of radio commercials in Toronto, Ottawa, and the London region, as well as posters and flyers which were distributed across the province.

Posted at 14:27 on February 25, 2008

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

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M writes at Mon Feb 25 16:44:24 EST 2008...

How about the Single Transferable Vote (STV) model for British Columbia in the 2009 referendum? The main difference between BC's STV and Australia's Alternative Vote (AV) is that STV uses multimember ridings while AV uses single member ridings. STV is a very proportional system while AV is not.


David Graham (cdlu.net) writes at Mon Feb 25 16:52:51 EST 2008...

M,

I do not agree with STV. STV, like other forms of PR tries to achieve proportionality. Proportionality is the principle that parties matter more than the members. That and multi-member ridings is precisely why I oppose STV. Multi-member ridings weakens representation for individual constituents. If I lived in BC, I would be opposing STV quite vigorously as I believe it is a weakening, not a strengthening, of democracy.


Donovan Hill (www.lazyeyez.net) writes at Mon Feb 25 17:20:15 EST 2008...

As a British Columbian, I'll tell you my perspective. First, understand that I live in the GVRD (Vancouver for you folks not from the area). I did vote for STV, but in retrospect I'm glad it failed. But not because I don't believe in the system.

Personally, I think that FPTP is a horrible system. It's what allowed the BC NDP to take the reigns of the province for 10 years and really mess up the economy. The only benefit to FPTP is that it is easy to implement and count.

STV is a good system for a region such as the GVRD where you have a fairly large common interest in one geographical area. It can be well represented by multiple MLAs covering the same voter base while affording a representation model that accounts for the popular vote.

However, it is a terrible system for the BC Interior and the Island. It would have consolidated power to a handful of municipalities (Notably Victoria, Kelowna and Prince George) and would have deprived all other municipalities of a real representative voice.

Knowing what I know now, I'd be all for voting for BC-STV again IF it was confined to the GVRD (Langley west to Vancouver and White Rock north to the North Shore) and did not amalgamate the entire region into one riding, but only merged 3 or 4 ridings each.


David Graham (cdlu.net) writes at Mon Feb 25 17:43:36 EST 2008...

Donovan,

Thanks for that insightful comment.

I agree that FPTP is a highly suboptimal system. I just happen to see PR systems as worse.

The compromise position for me, which hands power entirely to the voters and takes power entirely away from the parties, is a simple preferential ballot. Vote splitting and strategic voting are nearly completely eliminated. Its use, unlike MMP's in New Zealand, is from what I have learned entirely non-controversial in Australia.

The compromise you suggest where STV is only implemented in major urban areas is one I could live with and support. The use of IRV, which is what STV is with only one winner, in geographically larger ridings with BC-STV in only the most popular regions is a good balance.

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