Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Excellent column in today's Niagara Falls Review on MMP

Check out this excellent column by University of Victoria professor Dennis Pilon in today's Niagara Falls Review, "Ontario can make history with new voting system".

Here's an excerpt:

"The back-story to this historic vote is the legacy of ridiculous election results produced by Ontario's traditional voting system - single member plurality. Remember the NDP 'majority' government that gained only 38 per cent of the vote? Or how about the 'strong' government of Mike Harris, another regime that was rejected by a majority of Ontario voters twice, but nonetheless won a majority of seats in both contests.

Or how about the postwar dominance of the old provincial Conservative party? This party was 42 years in power, but never with the support of a majority of the voters. Such results make a mockery of one of key tenets of democratic government - that the majority should rule. But with plurality voting, Ontario is almost always dominated by a minority of its voters...

...A host of newspaper columnists have speculated this new MMP system would balkanize the province, possibly allowing religious extremists to gain election, while others have raised concerns about the role of the politicians who would be elected from the list of extra seats.

But most of these concerns are empty and uninformed. It's not like PR is a new voting system, untried in the western world. In fact, many western countries similar to Canada have been using PR for a nearly a century. MMP specifically has been used in Germany for more than five decades, with excellent results. There is little evidence, either from voter surveys in Canada or comparative experience with this voting system, that supports these absurd predictions.

The adoption of MMP would be an historic triumph for the people of Ontario and the quality of their democracy. In the months ahead, we can only hope our politicians and media serve the public interest by helping citizens with this important question."

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