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Day 50 of the Guelph campaign

With only 32 days left to voting day, it's just about the home stretch.

Yesterday, Guelph NDP candidate Tom King said "I consider (the Liberals) to be in the same bed as Stephen Harper." The irony and hypocrisy are palpable in light of the exposure of collusion between Stephen Harper and Jack Layton to keep the Greens out of the federal debate.

In the same article, Green campaign manager Stan Kozak is purported to have said, paraphrased by the paper, that "none of the major parties have ever advocated for proportional representation, which means they're not serious about working together." This grates me particularly because it is the push for proportional representation itself that tells me that the Green party is not sincere about democratic values.

A single-winner, single-seat preferential ballot would offer more honest choices to electors and would have my unqualified support. The system would allow most-liked instead of least-disliked candidates to win as strategic voting is weakened. Preferential balloting allows voters to always vote for who they truly want to win, without ever worrying about voting for someone they don't like to keep out someone they really don't like. Preferential balloting allows them to make a statement about a particularly bad candidate by ranking them dead last on their ballot.

Proportional representation offers none of this. It is all about dis-empowering and unrepresenting voters to the benefit of political parties. Under proportional representation, an MP is not entitled to exercise judgement of his or her own. The system works by eliminating ridings as we know them, and putting the whole country on list systems. Parties provide lists to Elections Canada, voters vote for the parties, and seats are assigned as a proportion of the vote. 30% of the vote in a 300-member parliament means 90 seats, with no geographic requirements.

But who are those 90 people? Under proportional representation, it does not matter who they are; they could be chicken sandwiches, because they have no effect on the decision making process, they exist only to rubber stamp the policies of their parties. The demographic representation in parliament could improve, but it would be hollow. A parliament made up of 50% women who are completely muzzled is not an improvement over a parliament with 25% women who are free to speak their minds. Under proportional representation, they do not represent anyone but their party and have no recourse if they step out of line. While having 50% (or perhaps more) of parliament be empowered women would be hugely beneficial to the function of government, proportional representation completely misses the mark.

If an MP from a list system is kicked out of caucus, they lose the legitimacy of having a seat in parliament at all. They do not represent a constituency, only a party list, and have no recourse to re-election outside of that list. Someone ranked highly on a party's list has no danger of not being returned to parliament.

But I can see the appeal of this to the Green Party in Guelph, whose own candidate does not even live in the riding. Their slogan here is "Guelph is Going Green," their message clearly that they want the Green Party represented in Guelph, not Guelph represented in Ottawa.

While the Liberal candidate here has made it clear in that same article that a cooperative left-of-Harper movement is needed and worthwhile, the Greens and the NDP candidate in Guelph and the NDP's leadership have shown that the only cooperation they are interested in is collusion to break the fabric of our democracy, the NDP by working with the Conservatives to keep out the Greens, and the Greens by pushing to take the weak electoral system we have and turn it into a completely dysfunctional one.

Posted at 07:30 on September 12, 2008

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

Bloc, NDP, Conservatives against democratic debate | politics reform | First public meeting for GO train expansion to Guelph and Waterloo region


Sean S. (www.seaninsaskatchewan.wordpress.com) writes at Fri Sep 12 10:56:40 EDT 2008...

"Yesterday, Guelph NDP candidate Tom King said "I consider (the Liberals) to be in the same bed as Stephen Harper." The irony and hypocrisy are palpable in light of the exposure of collusion between Stephen Harper and Jack Layton to keep the Greens out of the federal debate."

So the debate fiasco equals 2.5 years of Liberals supporting (through physically voting, or physically leaving the HofC)? Way to white-wash the Liberals record!

"While the Liberal candidate here has made it clear in that same article that a cooperative left-of-Harper movement is needed and worthwhile, the Greens and the NDP candidate in Guelph and the NDP's leadership have shown that the only cooperation they are interested in is collusion to break the fabric of our democracy, the NDP by working with the Conservatives to keep out the Greens, and the Greens by pushing to take the weak electoral system we have and turn it into a completely dysfunctional one."

Sure it is worthwhile, but apparently only if it is the Liberal who benefits, right? As for the rest of this quote, could you lay on the hyperbole any thicker?


Sean S. (www.seaninsaskatchewan.wordpress.com) writes at Fri Sep 12 10:58:52 EDT 2008...

That should read: 2.5 years of Liberals supporting the Conservative government...


Harry S writes at Fri Sep 12 17:03:53 EDT 2008...

Could a PR HoCs co-exist with an appointed Senate?? I think not.

Nevertheless, a federal PR system would require constitutional change, and that is as likely as Danny Williams supporting Stephen Harper.

Btw .. have the Guelph police charged any of the Liberal homeowners for public mischief for defacing their property??


David Graham (cdlu.net) writes at Fri Sep 12 22:01:30 EDT 2008...

Harry,

"Have you stopped beating your wife?" That's the same kind of idiocy you keep asking.


Deb Prothero writes at Wed Sep 17 02:27:27 EDT 2008...

Sean S. seems to fail to realize that it was Harper who abused the Parliamentary system by invoking confidence motions on more legislation than any other PM in the history of this country. A confidence motion used to be a rare thing - Harper has made it ridiculous.

Maybe Sean S. also forgets that Jack Layton is responsible for doing so much damage to this country's public interest by bringing down the Martin government. Let's see we lost the Kelowna Accord, Dryden's child care agreement and many other great ideas to serve Jack's interest rather than the country's interest.

By the way, Dave that's the best explanation of the merits of a single winner, single seat, preferential ballot that I've seen. Might borrow that for future reference (with appropriate credit).


Chris W writes at Sun Sep 28 00:46:40 EDT 2008...

I'd just like to point out that the list system of proportional representation you mentioned is actually just one of many different types.

In the green party platform they pledge to "create a Citizens' Assembly, like the one struck provincially in Ontario, to study electoral systems used around the world, with a view to designing several models that are proportional and fairer than our current system. The recommendations of the Citizens Assembly will be presented as options to Canadian voters."

http://www.greenparty.ca/files/VisionGreen.pdf ,p. 117

The most likely outcome of a citizens assembly would be a recommendation for a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system or a Single Transferable Vote (SVP) system, which is quite similar to the Preferential Ballot method you mentioned.


David Graham (cdlu.net) writes at Sun Sep 28 09:37:33 EDT 2008...

Chris,

I'm well aware of the Greens' position on PR and their pledge to strike a CA. MMP is easily the worst electoral system ever derived and was soundly defeated in Ontario last year, something I would be more than happy to repeat nationally.

The STV system is neither proportional, nor is it a good electoral system as it royally screws ridings outside of major urban centres. People I have spoken to in countries using STV warn me that the result of the multi-member ridings is that members compete to handle local issues, upstaging municipal councils and creating jurisdictional conflicts.

Single-member, single-winner STV, aka IRV or AV, is the only electoral reform that addresses most of the problems with our existing electoral system without creating a whole new set of them.

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