Saturday, October 13, 2007

Welcome to the revamped 'Liberals For Electoral Reform' site

With the defeat of the Citizens' Assembly's Mixed Member Proportional proposal this week, we've decided to revamp this site with a new title and mission: to promote the cause of electoral reform both in Ontario and across Canada.

Our official response to the referendum results and our recommendations on where we go from here on the issue of democratic renewal in Ontario will be posted here on Monday.

In the mean time, we wanted to bring to your attention two very different responses from Canada's two major newspapers in the post-referendum period.

The Toronto Star shamelessly printed misinformation about the MMP proposal on a few occasions during the campaign, contributing greatly to the false and unfortunately widespread belief that politicians would be "appointed" to the legislature if it had passed. This in turn contributed to MMP's defeat. Yesterday's Star editorial stayed true to the paper's establishment credentials by trying to argue the defeat for this particular proposal means the end of electoral reform in Canada. The Star even printed, "Ontario has now joined British Columbia and Prince Edward Island in rejecting proportional representation and choosing the status quo. That should be all the answer the advocates of electoral reform need."

Nothing could be further from the truth. First-Past-The-Post is still broken. Yes, MMP has been defeated in two provinces. But another form of proportional voting called Single Transferable Vote (STV) actually passed with over 57% support in the British Columbia referendum in 2005. But due to the high approval threshold of 60%, it wasn't implemented. To interpret this as a public "rejection" of change, as the Star does, is once again disingenuous. Indeed, British Columbians will get another chance to vote on STV in 2009.

For a better interpretation of the Ontario election and referendum results, check out the Globe & Mail's editorial today:

"Ontarians were not given a fair chance to reform the system; nor was there the full "debate" that Mr. McGuinty claims. Rather, a flawed model was put forward in a referendum that was barely publicized until the campaign's final days. By claiming the result settled the matter once and for all, Mr. McGuinty lends credence to claims that the referendum was intended only to reinforce the status quo.

"This much we know about Ontario's election results: The Liberals won, the Conservatives lost, and one particular brand of electoral change was rejected. Politicians should be careful not to read too much between the lines."


Anonymous said...

The urge to press for more and more referendums on electoral reform is akin to the PQ's former strategy of promising referendums on sovereignty even if there was tepid general support for one. It begs the question is it a best out of 3 series, you can't have a winner in a two game series. It would be better to let the issue stew, quietly for an entire election cycle (4-5yrs) and then fire up the engines if there is support, that way fatigue wont set in. To borrow a theme from Churchill maybe First Past the Post is the worst form of electing a government except all other forms.

Mark Francis said...

First off, please eradicate using the acronym MMP. Please.

As for the post above, claiming a continue call for electoral reform akin to the PQ constant seeking referendums is false and, frankly, speaking as a anglophone Quebecer 'evacuated' in 1977, offensive. Unlike a separatist referendum, voting in favour to change our electoral system will not cause social, economic and political upheaval in Canada like the succession of Quebec would.

'Anonymous' is just pushing more of the disingenuous arguments we saw during the campaign.

I suppose 'Anonymous' would also argue that since the Liberals won the election, we need not ever have another one?

He or she sounds like a faceless party hack, afraid they'll lose their backroom influence if (and, damnit, WHEN) a better, more representative electoral system is adopted.

Anonymous said...

I think the fairest system would be instant runoff voting.

Everyone can let their intents known - and if they only want to intend to vote for one person they can leave every rank except #1 empty.

It would be simpler and make sure every sitting member has the support of a majority of their constituents.

Mark Francis said...

I've used a similar system in the Green party.

Keep in mind that we should be trying to solve two problems: proper proportional representation within ridings, and proper proportional representation of the provincial aggregate vote.

The GPO got 8% of the vote, and no seats. Though I'm no longer a member of that party, they deserve at least one seat.

Andy said...

I don't know that the "appointed" thing is all that inaccurate. For example, in this election, if John Tory had headed up his party's list he would essentially have been undefeatable no matter what his own constituents (or prospective constituents) thought, unless the PC vote fell below 3%. So, practically speaking, the first few people on any established party's list could be said to be (sort of) "appointed". Someone would have to be exceptionally bad before a party would lose 97%+ of the party vote on the basis of his reputation alone. Thus people who are bad, but less than exceptionally bad, will get in despite the fact that few voters want them. Maybe that's not exactly "appointed" but it's also a pretty lukewarm form of "election".

In the MMP proposal the party vote is somewhat conflicted between being a vote for the party you think should lead the province and being a vote for a bunch of specific people that comprise that party's list. That's sort of the situation at the riding level with FPTP now, except that under MMP you are forced to vote for dozens of names on a party's list (or none at all) and may have a hard time finding any list that you feel entirely comfortable with. Under FPTP, if I don't like my party's local candidate, I can usually happily find at least one other person who's running that I'd be okay voting for.

Greg said...

I am glad there are some Liberals who support reform. It's unfortunate that the vast majority of your party worked tirelessly against it.

Abdul-Rahim said...

Good luck, you'll need it. 60 percent, damn.

Julien said...


As a GPC candidate, it is always refreshing to hear supporters of other parties, especially the two dominant ones, calling for proportional representation (not just instant runoff voting). Hope we'll be working together to make every vote count and bring to life an electoral system that favors good team work and not childish competition.

See you soon,

Julien Lamarche
Ottawa-Vanier, GPC