Alternate realities -

Alternate realities


Here is what the new House of Commons would look like with proportional representation.

Conservatives 122, NDP 94, Liberals 58, Bloc Quebecois 19, Greens 12

And here is an attempt to sort out what the House might look like if the election had been conducted with the alternative vote system.

Conservatives 148, NDP 122, Liberals 48, Bloc Quebecois 1, Greens 1


Alternate realities

  1. This is the one constant in the election….people don't like any of the parties or leaders, and in spite of what it says here people don't see much of a choice as to direction.

  2. Emily,
    Surely you jest?

    • What did the survey just say? I'm just agreeing with it, so the view is not unique to me.

  3. Given what has happened in Ottawa in the last 30 – 40 yrs it is obvious we have issues like democratic defict. – but its complex and we need full public debate. It may be affecting voter turnout with less than 60% voting last election…eg just look at party/leaders promises to get elected and then do the complete opposite. Ottawa – we have a problem including too much vote buying at taxpayer expense.

  4. If you Google: Harper delivers his plan of, Global Governance for Canada. That should scare the hell out of Canadians. Everyone present, who heard that speech were shocked. Harper said, Global Governance, has been worked on, since 1945.

    Harper gave, banks, mines, large corporations, gas and oil company's, billions of our tax dollars. I saw that motion pass, on the House of Commons TV channel. These giant company's get, huge tax reductions. Harper has just given them, another tax reduction. This reduction will come off Canadians paychecks. Why is Harper thieving from us to give to big business? Our tax dollars belong to us, not to Harper to give to, the wealthiest outfits in the world.

    Harper has involved Canada into two wars now. This has cost the tax payers, $18 billion so far. Now Harper has extended our troops stay in Afghanistan, costing billions more. Harper bought fighter jets, with no engines, costing billions. The most stupid waste of money of all was, the billion dollar fake lake. Harper is cutting $11 from the budget. Our health care, is one area he will cut. We lose our services, because of Harper's foolish waste of our tax dollars.

    Harper ignores our Constitution. Our Civil Rights and Liberties have been taken away from us. His henchmen stormed Guelph University, to stop the students from voting. They even tried to steal the ballot boxes. Democracy and Freedom in Canada is no more. Harper is an arrogant dictator, who had a 3x convicted felon working for him. His Conservatives are held in contempt by the House.

    If Harper wins, he will continue to sell Canada, until this country will be no more.

  5. Hey Aaron, delete this after you read it – but how about posting, separately, your Macleans discussion from yesterday. It's here:

    Elly Alboim @33:00 expresses views I fully endorse.

    • I always enjoy reading and listening to Elly Alboim, thanks for the link Dot. Maybe he should replace Allen Gregg on the At Issue panel… Paul Wells would be a good addition as Wells.

      A summery of Mr. Alboim's views from Dots link can be read here.

  6. If one believes that minority parliaments lead to too much partisanship, they should remember that proportional representation gives a lot more power to minor parties. We would have the tail wagging the dog with no hope of ever catching a break..Just think of the Bloc aving a perpetual veto….

    • I think it more as the majority of the people collectively wagging the dog. Instead of a quarter to two fifths of the people.

      • That may be your view, but in Canada, for example, a coalition of the Conservatives and LIberals, would likely reflect the views of many more Canadians than any government that is dependent upon the views of smaller parties.

        • …and before anyone remarks that the NDP is no longer smaller than the Liberal Party, this was a one off effect of a massive swing in Quebec. The NDP's prominence may well become the political norm in Canada, but we won't know for sure until after the next election.

          • Every election is a "one off" and it's those results that determine Parliament.

      • Imagine how well our system would work with every voter having to vote on each bill. That is the 'dog wagging the tail', but it would be a mess.

        This would be as well.

  7. I can see the NDP quickly putting the brakes on their proportional rep proposal.

    • NDP would be better off under both the models Aaron has projected. Under PR NDP could make an agreement with the Liberals and Greens to form government. Under AV NDP and Liberals could form a coalition government. Better then staying in Stornoway for 4 years.

  8. So PR would have given us a government held accountable by a parliament that truly represents the people's views. Just what our parliamentary democracy is supposed to deliver but doesn't. I'm up for that.

  9. It would be a more accurate reflection of the vote, yes?

    • Yes, but also a minority govt again.

      • So? We elect representatives. In a system that discounts more votes than it counts, representation is skewed.

      • Why the "but"? Minority government is only an issue if you're a party that wants total control rather than parliamentary democracy.

        • Canadians love minority govts….believe they get a lot done….until we have one, and get nothing but squabbling.

          After years of minority govts, Canadians are fed up and changed it just the other day.

          They won't like this any better….the word 'dictatorship' will make a return shortly, but they got rid of the squabbling.

          Other voting systems will give us squabbling on a permanent basis.

          • Actually, with minority governments we get squabbling AND we get things done. Autocracies have stability and little squabbling.

          • The last few minority govts have accomplished absolutely nothing.

          • And why's that? Because they're not willing to compromise. They want the absolute power given them by a majority government, not the democracy given them by a parliament that represents all the people. That's not a problem with minority governments; that's a problem with power-hungry parties.

          • No, it's the way the system works.

            And there isn't any other system that works any better.

          • Works at what? Isn't the point of our democracy to be… y'know… democratic? But instead we should ignore the will of the people so we can force majorities that aren't democratically suppourted? For 'stability'? Kings are great for stability…

            And how exactly has 'nothing gotten done' with the last minorities? Under the LP and later CPC minorities CIT has been slashed, military recruitment and spending is up, among a host of other reforms. It seems more got done under minorities than majorities, they were forced to be more responsive, and more accountable.

          • Ours is called the Westminister System…it's worked democratically in the UK for a thousand years.

            Nothing got done in the past few minority govts.

          • You don't say? The UK was using the Westminster system before they were even a country, and much of the island was ruled by Danish?

            Saying something is old doesn't grant it validity. Its not efficient, effective, or democratic.

          • Not exactly Westminster nor is it exaclty british…

            There is no doubt that the system could work effectively in a microstate where there is effectively only a single riding. The issue is that it is not democratic when applied an expansive and populous nation.

            I asked how exactly you contend that the system is working, and is the 'best' system and all you have done is changed the subject to say 'its been around a long time' being old doesnt mean its good. Our system is undemocratic – and the system has been further corrupted by precedent.

          • Well you nit-picked about exact dates, so you got one…and it is definitely the UK

            The Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot was the basis for it in England, and William of Normandy brought in a feudal system in 1066, so no, not exactly 1000 years. LOL

            It's a system Ethos…and a system that's worked well for a long time. It is open and democratic and as good as any other system in existence.

          • Tynwald was nordic based.

            The Witenagemot wasn't even a democratic institution…

            Being a 'system' is not a validation, nor is the fact that it 'works'. Autocracies 'work', and for much longer durations than our own system. The purpose and objective is not simply to 'work' but work well, and the objective of a democratic society is to work as democratically as possible. Ours is probably the least democratic system in the world.

          • Tynwald is in the UK…and Witenagemot was as democratic as it got in those days.

            Now how much longer are you going to argue this nonsense?

          • 'As democratic as it got in those days'.

            So in other words it wasn't democratic, but they reformed in order that it could be… So saying that the Westminster sytem has been in place for a thousand years – so why change it – is more than a little disengenious as it was a constantly evolving and reforming institution. It still has a ways to go.

          • Oh do stop.

            Greece has long been considered the birthplace of democracy, and yet their system was nowhere near as open as ours.

          • Tax rates dropped off quite a bit – for corporations at least – in the LP and later CPC minority governmnets. A host of economic stimulus and infrastructure spending, much needed increases in military spending (Again under both LP and CPC minorities) and most of the economic actions taken in response to the economic downturn took place because minority governments are forced to be responsive, instead of hoping people will forget, or the issue will take care of itself.

            What ever really got accomplished under majority governments exactly? Its funny how people can point to a long list of things that got done in order to suppourt their party of pref. but whenever something good is said about minority govt's all of a sudden 'nothing got done!'.

            In Canadian politics minority governments are the only means of having any accountablity. And it offends me that people would suggest that democracy, and having the will of the people better represented, is pointless.

          • Well all that economic stimulus stuff was because Harp agreed to it at a G20 meeting when Bush hosted them…..and they didn't create jobs anyway, nor did they fix infrastructure.

            So nothing to do with minority govts.

          • Well, excluding all the things minority governments accomplished, I agree that they accomplished nothing…

            But what has majority governments achieved? Is our government in a worse place or better place than it has been in the past?

          • Gosh, I dunno Ethos….we live in a peaceful, secure, prosperous country and always have…so I guess you could say our govts have been good for something.

            Beats Somalia all to hell anyway.

          • Why elect a government at all then? Lets just set everything in stone and let it run its course, since obviously striving to improve our government and society is a pointless endeavor.

            Our system of government allows for a party with less than 40% of the populations suppourt to rule every level of government without challenge. Entire regions of our nation are effectively shut out of our government. The PMO has unparralleled power amongst democratic nations.

            Minorities struggle in our system because the parties know they dont have to suppourt them or work within them. They can force votes in order to extort majorities out of the electorate. This can be amended as well, Non-confidence votes can be removed to force cooperation and comprimise. There are a lot of changes that could be done to facilitate democracy.

  10. It's not an improvement if you're a party leader that wants power. It's an improvement if you're a Canadian who wants your voice represented. So the question is which is more important for democracy: Power for party leaders or representation for all Canadians? No-brainer for me.

    • You are correct that it will more accurately represent the % of people who voted a certain way. What Emily is saying is that it would give us a permanent minority gov't. Majority governments can get more done, much more efficiently.

      We do have a representative democracy, where the majority of votes in each riding elect someone to look after their interests in the HOC. We don't have a 'party' system, and the political party has no real power under the constitution.

      • Yes, majorities can get things done. But what things? What THEY want done. And what the 30 to 40 percent of the electorate that voted for them want done. "Getting things done" is not much of an advantage in and of itself.

      • Dictatorships can get things done even more efficiently. Let's not follow your logic path on that. I don't like where it leads.

        That said,we do have a party system. That's why there are tax credits for donations to the party. And while the political party may not have power under the constitution, in an election system that is privately funded they have massive power under our media system where the national campaign eclipses any and all of the locals.

        Now there are all sorts of ways that we can address this, but two of the best to my mind would be to first require that no tax-credits apply for funding that goes to the party. To qualify for a tax credit, the donation must go to a specific candidate, and the party has to repay any tax-credit given if that funding is used outside the local riding where it has been donated to.

        The second way would be to require that media coverage not of the local campaign be blacked out in all non-local regions.

        • "Dictatorships can get things done even more efficiently. Let's not follow your logic path on that. I don't like where it leads."

          That wasn't my logic. That's the logic of the "majorities are good, minorities are bad" argument. I'm arguing the exact opposite: "Getting things done" is not a good argument for change. It all depends on WHAT things get done.

          • No, it was modster99's logic, as that's who I was replying to. Replies to your posts are indented a little further. You can always find what post a person responded to by putting your cursor on the little arrow, and just scrolling stright up until it hits a post.

          • Eek, sorry. This commenting system confuses me, but your advice about following the arrow helps!

  11. The FPTP system forces major parties to move towards the centre to attract support. A PR system allows parties to adopt more extreme policies.

    • They still have to compromise on those policies if they want to achieve something, though. With the current system, it's easy for a majority government to steamroll its policies through parliament without making any compromises — despite having a support of only a minority of the people.

    • The presence of extreme parties does not necessarily make governments under a PR system more extreme.
      Consider a hypothetical election:
      Centre-Right Party: 48%
      Centre-Left Party: 47%
      Far-Left Party: 5%

      The Far-Left Party holds the balance of power so they should hold the balance of power; however they could never support the Centre-Right Party. So they end up supporting the Centre-Left Party regardless; this means that as long as the Centre-Left party is more left-leaning than the Centre-Right Party; they will be able to govern with the support of the Far-Left Party without having to govern from the far left.

    • Or, it forces political parties to be more moderate in order to appeal to a broader audience.

    • Meanwhile, a private funding system forces parties to move away from the centre to attract money.

      And of course both of these arguments have at their core the assumption that moving to the center is good, and away from it bad.

      Why can't there be a lot of fringe issues represented, and legislation passed through compromise between the fringes. You get a little of your issue, I get a little of mine.

  12. Also I notice that it would essentially give urban parties the right to perpetually ignore rural issues.

    If people want to go through the trouble of constitutional change for PR, they should also bring in a EEE Senate so that city interests don't dominate all.

    • Rural votes are already getting disproportionate value all over Canada – look at the riding size disparity.

      • I've used this argument before but I've not been dissuaded from it. How are the needs with regards to "federal" jurisdiction different for someone living in Calgary East different than a fellow Calgarian from Calgary Southwest? The flip side of the argument is that a person from Woodstock NB would have different needs than a fellow New Brunswick-er who lives in Burnt Church. Land locked and near the US border vs coastal area that vies for fishery resources. The residents of Athabasca County Alberta have diverging interests from those of Starland County Alberta.
        It's not about party choice. It's about having someone represent you that could claim to share consequences to policy and legislation.
        This PR and AV push is driven by ideology and generally by people who come across as sore losers pointing out how a system that isn't used would have given them something that isn't theirs to have.

  13. A major drawback of proportional representation is that it removes the connection between local concerns and representation. With our current system, that connection is already frayed by the dependence to each candidate on the approval of the party leader, but at least there is a locally elected person to approach with personal or local concerns. "Constituency work" is still part of the job for MPs.

    If, rather than changing the way votes are counted, party candidates were selected entirely by local constituency associations of the party, with no party leader approval, and those elected, the party caucus, then chose the party leader from among their number, it would make a real difference what the qualities and qualifications were of the candidates in your own consituency. This approach seems to me to be a better way of improving government in Canada.

    • I could definitely agree with that, but how could we possibly legislate how parties organize themselves? Each party has its own constitution and procedures, and I don't see any party could legislate a standard template for proposing candidates.

    • This is my only concern with a PR system. But I wonder if there isn't some system out there or yet to be devised that combines PR with local representation?

      • Second rounds or instant run off votes for any riding where no majority was achieved during the first round. At the very least we can eliminate MP's who only have the support of 1/3 of their riding.

      • Many proportional representation systems have a mixture of local representatives and members elected at large. In such as system, for example, a local MP is directly elected by his or her constituents, and then additional members are chosen from a party list to reflect the overall proportion of a party's vote. That preserves the principle of local representation, and has the addtional benefit, in some eyes, of freeing some politicians from the chores of local responsibility, and allowing them to concentrate on larger issues. New Zealand and Scotland have such systems.

    • Something along the lines of Nunavut's government perhaps?

  14. The idea of Alternative Voting is to get what a majority of people would be happy with, rather than people voting against what they don't want, or a minority of people electing a dictatorship over the majority.

    There are some great AV advocacy videos coming out of Britain at the moment.

    • I'm very much warming up to AV, although I still don't mind STV.

      AV has the feature of still being very much true to the idea (as frail as it is) that we elect MPs, not parties and/or PMs. I've read that it also tends to drive the candidates (parties) to be somewhat more moderate than they might be otherwise, since they need to appeal to more than just their base.

      In the bigger picture, this whole discussion should occur in two steps:
      – first, a yes/no decision about whether folks support FPTP or they want to examine options
      – second, an evaluation and then a decision about which system to move to.

    • Too bad for the warm-and-fuzzies that AV itself was rejected by a landslide in Britain today, eh?

      • The warm-and-fuzzies? Do you mean democracy? Yes, it is too bad that Britain voted against the opportunity to make a better political system.

        • People like and understand FPTP. In Britain, they endorsed it in a landslide of 68%. That's democracy – and you don't get to whine about it or curse the stupid proles for not knowing what's good for them.

          • Funny, you would think that – living in Alberta – I'd be used to the opinion that democracy means shutting up and supporting the will of the majority. But I guess I just have a contrarian nature, and think that one of the core tenets of democracy means being able to 'whine about it' and 'curse the stupid proles' to my heart's content.

            Please forgive me kind sir, I didn't know that my role was to keep my mouth shut, my head down, and paying my taxes like a good little citizen.

            Back on topic, I truly don't understand why people would be against a system that better reflects the will of the people. It just doesn't make sense to me. My understanding is that there were several reasons for the way the vote went, many of them having little or nothing to do with the actual electoral system, but that could just be AV supporters complaining about a better campaign by AV opponents.

          • Thats democracy in Britain, not Canada. I want my chance to vote for it.

  15. Australia evolved over time – wonder what effect compulsory voting has on any system?

    "The Australian electorate has experienced three types of voting systems: first past the post, preferential voting and proportional representation (single transferable vote). First past the post (a plurality system where the winner is the candidate with the most number of votes, though not necessarily an absolute majority of votes) was used for the first Australian parliamentary elections held in 1843 for the New South Wales Legislative Council and for most colonial elections during the second half of the 19th century. Since then there have been alterations to the various electoral systems in use around the country."

    Today, two variants of preferential voting and two variants of proportional representation are used for all Australian parliamentary elections. Preferential voting is a majority system which attempts to ensure that a candidate secures an absolute majority of votes. Proportional representation systems are designed to allocate parliamentary seats to parties in proportion to their overall vote. These systems are explained in detail below.

  16. This assumes people would vote the same way if the system were different. A highly dubious assumption.

    • Exactly – was going to make this point myself. Given AV or PR, people will vote differently because the rules are different. I would expect, for instance, the Green number to shoot up under AV, since a lot of people who want to vote for them choose to vote for someone else seen as more electable.

      I would also not be surprised if AV or PR was enough to split the CPC back into Reform/PC wings. Since they could always choose the other as second in AV or know that the vote wasn't wasted in PR, there is no reason for the two wings to be forced into the same party.

      Regardless, this assumption that the inputs (votes) after voting reform would be mostly like the inputs before voting reform seems to be what killed AV in the UK referendum. Too many voters upset with the Lib Dems for being the Tories' lap dogs in the coalition voted against AV because they did not want to put the Lib Dems in a position where they were always in government, just as part of changing coalitions. But, most scientific assessments have actually shown that the Lib Dem vote would decrease substantially in a more representative voting system, as many voters unhappy with Labour or the Tories would switch to the Greens, UKIP, or one of the regional parties rather than the Lib Dems. It's only the FPTP voting system that encourages all dissatisfied voters to go for the Lib Dems.

  17. Canada will never have a pure proportinal system where seats are distributed according to the national vote percentages. The provinces would never agree to that.

    What MIGHT be feasible is if the seats within each province are distributed proportionally according to the vote percentages in each province.

    Using that method, the House would be something like this:

    Con 125, NDP 95, Lib 60, Green 10, BQ 18, Total 308
    (I took the three Territories and lumped them as a province to do this. If you go through the exercise you may get slightly different results depending on how you do rounding.)

    But any way you do it, Proportional Rep will almost always produce minority parliaments, and rob voters of a specific MP who is answerable to them. Plus I believe it would give more power to party leaders because they could just stack their slate with yes-men insiders.

    • Agree Canada won't go for PR. That's why most electoral reformers have pushed AV, AV+, or STV, all of which maintain the theory that the MP represents a specific geographic area and has specific voters who elected her (though, in STV, that geographic area is the size of like 5 or 6 ridings in AV or AV+).

  18. if there are issues of concern to a certain portion of Canadians it is important to examine and address them, but I am concerned about remedies which dilute the idea of making each vote equal.

    • How would you feel about PR Commons+ EEE Senate FPTP?

      Limit the Senate to its sober second thought role (doesn't create legislation) but it gives the rural votes a chance to fight back against the urban interests of the cities?

  19. Alternate realities, eh? Has anybody run the possibilities if Iggy had an evil, menacing goatee, and Stephen Harper had a 'Tantalus Field' that made his enemies vanish from existence?

    • Overheard in 1998 in alternate reality: "But how did the entire population of Ontario and Quebec just…disappear?"

    • I wish for the one where each candidate must win their riding by single combat to the death. Take that coalition-mongers!

  20. So you're saying a rural person is worth more than an urban wage slave?

    Well, at least you're open about it.

    • Listen you have 7 urban people for every 1 rural person.

      By in large the 7 urban people are going to vote as a bloc because they all have the same economic and domestic issues. They want to go work for their boss and master for a wage, then go home and maximize their off hours because it is the only time that they are free men and women.

      The rural person is going to be swamped by the 7 votes. Rural ridings ensure that the ratio is more like 2 to 7. Sure that doubles the amount of influence the rural vote has, but it still is largely something you can ignore. It just means we have a bit more say when you guys are divided up.

      Is it a perfect solution? No, but I think there should be something to keep the majority from simply steamrolling over the minority in the political process.

  21. Elections which are ultimately made pointless by the phrase 'tow the party line'.

    We vote for MPs to represent our riding, but the Party dictates to MPs how they will vote… What we are left with is a broken system where not only ridings are not adequately represented, but the nation at a whole being poorly represented. Regionalism could be addressed in the senate, with the popular vote in the House.

  22. Our system is never going to change, so I'm not sure why people keep talking about changing it. In provincial referendums here, and in a national referendum in the UK, people have convincingly voted to keep a system that allows for a kind of stability not seen with the pizza parliaments associated with PR, AV, or even or four $300 million elections in seven years.

    The system is what it is. It has its merits. For one, it's local constituents who decide what members represent them, and not party bosses.

    So, instead of complaining about, why not play by the rules available to everyone else?

    In fact, isn't that exactly what Elizabeth May chose to do by focusing most of her party's resources in her riding to get her elected? She finally understood the system, although I' m sure it won't stop her from complaining about it every time she gets to speak in the House, which will probably be about once a month.

    • And its party bosses that decide how local MPs vote.

      We elect local MPs to represent our concerns in Parliament but precedent has established that MPs only facilitate Party agendas… Parties which gain their mandates in spite of popular suppourt, frequently leaving whole regions of the country with no effective representation in government.

      What are the merits again? That it ignores democracy in favour of giving unearned majorities that are 'stable'. We can make further reforms which will create stability, we needn't consign ourselves to a democratic 'process' which amounts to a decidedly undemocratic result.

      • Isn't democracy about the will of the people? And some of you don't actually care what they want. And, in every referendum in Canada and UK on the matter, the people have convincingly decided to stick with the system they have. How isn't that democracy? There is no groundswell for change, and there never has been – except among those who think they know better than the people that democracy is supposed to serve.

  23. IMHO any voting system that makes minority/coalition governments inevitably is incompatible with responsible government, since parties can be neither held to their promises , nor is any party responsible for government policy and its repercussions. The lack of responsible government is why the US and much of Europe is a mess IMHO, and why Canada is on the whole much better and more soberly governed.

    This ad from the UK humorously makes the point:

  24. By in large the 7 urban people are going to vote as a bloc because they all have the same economic and domestic issues.


    You should probably rethink this.