Democratic reform will break out tomorrow

by Aaron Wherry

Michael Urban repeats the case for proportional representation.

This structural bias is exacerbated by the fact that despite claiming to desire more cooperative politics, voters routinely punish politicians when they seek to cooperate.

The 2008 coalition debacle demonstrated that many Canadians, apparently unaware of – or at least uncomfortable with – how our parliamentary system works, opposed an unprecedented level of cooperation that would have installed a government supported by representatives who garnered a greater percentage of the popular vote (53.72 per cent) than any other peacetime government in Canadian history. Granted, some of this opposition was based on certain reasonable objections, but no small amount of it emerged from other mistaken notions that what the coalition proposed to do was somehow unfair or unconstitutional.

Similarly, the critiques of Stephane Dion, and more recently Michael Ignatieff, for supporting their Conservative opponents in parliamentary votes – what cooperation actually looks like in action – show some of the dangers for any politician that seeks to cooperate with another party, even when this cooperation could arguably benefit the country in the long-term.




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Democratic reform will break out tomorrow

  1. No PR system has been approved in provincial referendums. I doubt any would pass. People will complain about the system and support a vague change but when presented the details of a different system, they find the many flaws of that system as well.

  2. It may be that the way to go is to get a referendum in favour of the principle of proportional representation first, and work out the details later. I think that's how they did it in New Zealand.____Those who so ardently defend the status quo are good at picking out flaws in particular proposals, but it's hard to argue against the idea that we should get what we vote for.

    • The arguments against is that we already do get what we vote for, just not in the way some people think it should work out. That is why the details of a plan matter and need to be presented. If you're questions is "do you want a perfect system of political representation?" of course people are going to vote yes.

      • Almost all of us, like 90-95%, vote for a political party (or for a leader, which amounts to the same thing). But the wasted votes inherent in winner-take-all voting horribly distort the results of every election in this regard.

        Most of us are "represented" by somebody we voted against, and most MPs "represent" mostly people who voted against them.

        Usually one political party gets all the power, even though most people voted against them.

        The Bloc gets twice as many seats as the NDP with half the votes.

        The Green Party (or the Reform Party in Ontario) gets a million votes and elects nobody.

        Half a million Liberals in Alberta elect nobody. Half a million Conservatives in Toronto and Montreal elect nobody.

        And so on.

        It is absurd to suggest we get what we vote for under the current system.

  3. I'm going to argue with an ER zealot. In the 2nd referendum in BC, they campaign on "you don't have to understand it, just vote for it," how Stalinist.

    The STV here would destroyed local rep and gave the Parties more power. In my area an independent would have been faced with the chore of running in four combined ridings. 4 times the doors, 4 times the mainings, 4 times the candidates to sit with in an all candidates meeting. They've have no chance. We elected one ind in BC last election due to local issues. She would have stood no chance in the 6 or 7 combined ridings she would had to run in.

    The noise comes from the Green Party who sees each vote as a vote for a Party. They don't get what they poll and they've been dropping in support each election.

    This is just a case of those trying to gerrymander the vote to get themselves elected, no more.

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