The case for proportional representation

by Aaron Wherry

Popular vote and seat totals for the province of Saskatchewan.

Conservatives 256,004 votes (13 seats)
NDP 147,084 votes (0 seats) 
Liberals 38,981 votes (1 seat) 




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The case for proportional representation

  1. To make a serious "case" for proportional representation you would need an actual argument, which would involve engaging alternative viewpoints. Glib headlines followed by a few bullet points will rarely if ever amount to a substantive "case" for anything.

    In any case, do you think that, for the election as a whole you might have contributed to the defeat of the federal Liberals, since several analysts (including Liberals) have suggested that one of the Liberals' problems was that they assumed the electorate had as much contempt for Harper as they did – in light of that, do you believe that the 24/7 Harper-hater echo chamber that you ran for the past several years contributed any of the bricks to the wall of that echo chamber?

    • Actually, the number paint a fairly convincing picture by themselves. It's an extreme case, but also one that actually happened.

      • "It's an extreme case" – ergo, a more nuanced case is needed, ergo, a different type of post than Wherry provides.

        • You are arguing that democratic disenfrachisement is ok as long it's just a few cases. nice.

          • come again …. What of the more then a million I have estimated who could not vote because of voter ID laws …. not a word about it this post election process but it was estimated over 3.5 million could not vote in the last federal election …

          • All electoral systems produce some form of disenfranchisement. One could argue that some forms are fairer – or produce less aggregate unfariness – than others, and I'm sympathetic to some arguments for proportional representation partly for those reasons. But those arguments require a degree of nuance which you and Wherry are evidently incapable of, which is why posts like his fail to justice to the complexity of the issues involved.

    • Yes. We need PR because the Conservatives won is hardly a convincing argument.

      • Winning 54% of the seats on 39% of the vote is a valid argument regardless of the party. Harper used to complain about it endlessly when the Liberals did it.

    • The fact that nearly 150,000 people have no representation while having voted is a major concern and therefore it is in and of itself a valid concern. Ignorance on your part is not an excuse.

  2. Of course, the NDP could make an effort to appeal to rural voters in Saskatchewan, since they have the urban vote sewn up. Even something as simple as withdrawing their support for the CWB would probably make the difference.

    • no.

      • Well, if they want Saskatchewan seats in the next election they are going to have to do something. Good luck getting the conservative majority to redraw the riding maps before the next election when it so obviously favours them.

        Also, oil field workers are moving into Saskatoon in droves since direct flights to Fort McMurray and other places started and we'll know how they'll vote, so… tick tock.

      • Well, if they want Saskatchewan seats in the next election they are going to have to do something. Good luck getting the conservative majority to redraw the riding maps before the next election when it so obviously favours them.

        I guess the NDP will have to decide whether their contempt of rednecks trumps their desire for seats in Saskatchewan.

        • Hmm… odd I thought my last comment was lost.

          • It does that.

          • often if you hit reply and add another both show up.

  3. I'm not a fan of proportional rep, but, even still, isn't it used for votes for a local riding – albeit some expanded riding. Why should votes in another part of Saskatchewan influence who is elected in one riding? There could be a great Liberal candidate in one riding and weak ones in other ridings.

    Anyway, I like some form of instant runoff voting. I don't like giving political parties even more power over choosing our MPs than they already have and I still expect something from my local rep. Not that he comes through. But, maybe one day he will get tossed for a local rep that does respond to his constituents.

    • "Why should votes in another part of Saskatchewan influence who is elected in one riding?"

      Exactly. This single biggest argument agains Proportional represenation right there.

      • Which is why PR would work better by adding representatives to those elected from ridings, not replacing them. But that means more MPs, which is unsellable in a Blue Canada, or maybe any Canada.

        • And to whom would those additional MPs be beholden? Who would they represent?

          If people are tired of seeing party hacks run for office then just wait until they see MPs elected from a list. Talk about party hacks.

          • So, then have the parties publish the names of their PR candidates in advance, and let the voters decide which party is presenting the best slate.

            There are solutions to all of the nitpicks people have with PR, but everyone's too lazy to look up how they do it elsewhere in the world. They'd rather just make assumptions.

          • Several of those sections have changed. Right up front, it says there shall be 308 members, but 'twasnt always so.

          • Talk about being too lazy to look something up …. For God's sake …. read Section 52 …. unless of course, you would rather just make assumptions.

          • I just want to know. Parts of that document have been changed. Do you have information that suggest other parts of it cannot be? Or that all of it is permanent from here on out?

          • It is Section 52 which allows for change of the number of MPs according to a limitations formula within Section 51 and Section 52.

            If you require more information about the rest of the Act, my rate is $480.00 an hour.

            No Constitution is written in stone and it can be Amended according to the formula given within those parts of Constitution Act 1867 itself — 1) which requires the consent of either the whole of the country's voters by means of a national referendum [also known as a plebiscite or sometimes a ballot question] or 2) the consent of the provinces using the formula which is provided in the Constitution Act 1867 itself.

            I have argued constitutional law in the courts for some many years now … I do not teach it or research it for other people, however, a lot of people who are posting here seem indecently ignorant of what the law of this land is so I have made an exception to try to explain … I must note however, that wilful ignorance is a disease which is self curable.

        • Or else you just enlarge the ridings geographically, reduce the number of MPs representing specific ridings, and fill in the rest of the 308 with PR MPs. You could do it in as big or as small a way as you want. You could add something like 20% more people to the average riding size as it exists right now, or you could double the size of them.

          You could have 250 MPs representing ridings and 58 ones from PR, or you could have 58 MPs representing ridings and 250 ones from PR.

          • See my comments above and below.

          • Also some of the sections you cite have been repealed. Were those part of your argument?

            Seriously, there have been changes made to that document. There is nothing permanent about it. Try again.

          • Where changes have been made (other then by Amendment of the original British North America Act 1867), they (the changes) are authorized by specific sections within the Constitution Act 1867 … note Section 52 as an example to why a specific change can be made by the federal legislative body.

            The link I provided has a note up of those areas which were changed by a Constitutional Amendment or by the authority of specific sections within the original document which authorizes a change to the document by an Act of the Parliament ….
            http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/PRINT_E….

            Maybe you should read it ALL before you argue further.

          • You could get around that by applying PR to the provinces. So a certain number of seats in the House done via ridings, and then a given number of seats allocated by PR along provincial lines. Win 70% of the vote in Alberta? Then get 70% of the PR seats allocated to that province.

          • I am happy you discovered that …. now you know a way forward …. lobby your provincial MLA or MPP for a law in the province of your choice as it appears to me that there may be some power to do that, But I caution you, case law is against you (been in the courts twice in the last hundred years and was lost both times). Cost to the Supreme Court – over 2 million dollars.

            Who should I send the bill to?

          • Your charm school. They owe you.

          • Is that the best you can do …. snipping like a little powerless boy and hiding behind a secret identity and not your own name? Hahahahahaha What a cowardly c-shiz azz. you appear to be.

  4. Slowly, slowly now… that's right, just move away from the electoral reform. You've covered a big election. You've worked hard and done a great job. Just take a little break is all I am saying. Rest.

    The votes aren't there. Life isn't fair, especially politics. Let's not get overworked.

  5. PLEASE RAED the ACTUAl VOTE COUNT from the hand written Ballot cound and pen or pencil total. THEY ARE DIFFERENT than the "ELECTRONIC" total.

    #Wrigging #Elections #101 #CHAD #Canada

    • Brother, if you're raging against voting machines, you've got a friend in me.

      But seriously, what the heck are you trying to say here? Can you repeat, slowly, without the CAPS lock on?

      • He text'd from his phone on twitter.

        If she is your new hero, who was that guy that used to be your gravitar?

        • That was the great Dean Del Mastro who just today announced the New Harper Government ™ was going to widen the Trent Severn to enable cruise ships to dock at Little Lake. This way the new 500 million dollar rail line (that's being built with YOUR money) will have more people to carry than just the 60-80 people who work within walking distance of Union Station in Toronto!

          Ooooh- I need to move back NOW- Can't WAIT to see Julie and Isaac and Doc and and um, CHARO!!

          • Wait a cotton picking minute, you'd change when he is offering "Strong Leadership" and "A Better Canada" for an unknown college age bar maid? OK, good point.

            Slick looking website for Dean: http://www.deandelmastro.ca/

      • What voting machines? Where did we have voting machines? I watched a poll count, and it was all done with hands and a pen and a big enough space on a table (and two people). I have absolute confidence that the official count at my poll was bang on–not a doubt in my mind, not a single 'iffy' ballot.

        • I was wondering the same thing.

          • Gee, Dave – you are looking much better. :)

            Not sure I would trust you as a politician, though.

  6. I'm no fan of PR…Canadians will find it too complicated, and we have 40% of the electorate unable to manage a simple 'X' as it is.

    But really….this is absurd

    NDP 147,084 votes (0 seats)
    Liberals 38,981 votes (1 seat)

    • Dunno – I think this probably dulls the Dipper pain a bit:

      Quebec

      NDP % of pop vote 42.9
      NDP % of seats 77.3

      • That's a very good trade for sure. Many more seats gained there than lost in Saskatchewan.

        I also notice it isn't used an example of proportional representation because it favours the Dippers. I guess it is harder to work up a sense of injustice when it is your guys who won!

    • As it turns out there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Liberal seat total.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • I did.

          In Saskatchewan, the Liberals 'deserved' 1 seat, they go one seat.

          I accept your apology in advance. ;-)

          • I said the campaign is over. Return to the topic.

          • Your originating post…

            I'm no fan of PR…Canadians will find it too complicated, and we have 40% of the electorate unable to manage a simple 'X' as it is.

            But really….this is absurd

            NDP 147,084 votes (0 seats)
            Liberals 38,981 votes (1 seat)

            I gather you find the discrepancy between NDP and Liberal seat totals to be "absurd", and I'm stating that there is nothing wrong with the Liberal seat total.

            If that wasn't your point, feel free to clarify – I'm all eyes.

  7. Wow. Leave out Goodale's 15,800 votes in Wascana, and the Libs got about 5% of the popular vote in the rest of Sask.

    • John Goodale lives in a riding with lots of provincial government workers.

  8. I wonder why the boundaries are drawn as they are. Saskatoon and Regina could each hold two all-urban seats, as opposed to the conservative-gerrymandered-looking slivers of city attached to huge swathes of countryside.

    • All the stranger is that the districts are drawn by commission rather than politicians. I have to wonder what they were thinking to do it this way.

      • Probably that the rural ridings would be too large to get the necessary population for a riding.

    • The Electoral Boundries Commission draws them up. No Conservative gerrymandering is allowed.

    • Both cities became too large as a share of Saskatchewan's population to be represented with only two seats. So they became most of three seats. The Tories could only win those seats if they were competitive within the cites, and then dominant in the sticks.

  9. The "case for proportional representation" you offer here only makes sense if you would have us believe that the heavy concentration of votes for the one Liberal winner had NOTHING AT ALL to do with the one candidate in question, Ralph Goodale. Since that is a completely absurd belief, the status quo remains intact.

    There are compelling cases to be made for PropRep. This most certainly is NOT one of them.

  10. I find it asburd that the same people who argue that we elect MPs, not leaders (when talking about coalitions), are also the people that complain about FPTP (when not talking about coalitions). Because if you say we elect MPs, then summing up the votes from 14 individual elections with different choices makes no sense. None of those 14 elections are the same, so you can't sum them up and make some grand declaration.

    Make up your mind.

    Do we elect MPs, or not? Does each riding elect its representative in the house of parliament, or do we have one giant national vote from which seats are allotted and dished out according to some formula which has nothing to do with MPs?

    • It doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.

      • What needs to be mutually exclusive is arguing:
        -that it's perfectly fine for the party with the most votes to be shut out of government
        -that it's not perfectly fine for the parties without the most votes to be shut out of parliament

        So it's fair for the winner of the election to be shut out completely, but it's not fair for the loser of the election to be shut out completely.

        Yeah. That makes a lot of sense.

        • Good man! Good summation!

          Only suggestion I would make is that you replace "party" in your comment with "the person elected" and "the person not elected" where applicable.

          Thumbs Up To You!

    • multiplying the votes by aggregating constituencies makes the argument clearer, but you could look at each individual riding and say, whoa, that's a lot of spoils for the candidate with one more vote. The Liberal win in this case makes it easier to make a flippant argument about unfairness, but it doesn't mean that PR or STV isn't a fairer system in representing a diverse population.

      In addition and differently, you mutual exclusive argument is kind of naff, because of course there will be different valid arguments under a totally different election format. Or, with things the way they are now, this is acceptable. It would be nice to change the way things are, because that would be even better. Unless I totally missed your point.

    • I'm partial to STV. Then we're still electing people, and not parties, and we don't end up with issues where 20% of the population of a province or region votes for a party but has no representation. Even worse when it's the government. Say, Toronto for the last 5 years.

  11. Goodale lives in the most "urban" riding – plus decades of name recognition. Every other SK riding includes huge tracts of rural area. As a SK resident who lives in the city – it would be great to have some City-only ridings so my concerns can be addressed by my MP. At this time I truly don't think they are.

    • What distinctly urban issues do you have that aren't covered by your MLA or councilor? I'm sure you have some, I'm just wondering about the particulars.

      • Exactly. It seems the Federal Government is now involved in everything from garbage collection to national defence. I think a lot of people in this country should be enrolled in a remedial civics class – provincially-administered of course : )

  12. It's awful nice of you, who I assume lives in Toronto, to tell the people of Saskatchewan that "change is needed there".

    But I suspect the NDP's 0 seats have a lot more to do with the former provincial NDP government there, than any boundaries, or PR, or anything else. They just hate the Dippers right now in Sask.

    • To Right Mr. Ommen ….. Toronto left wingers want to govern the world … LOL

    • No, only rural voters hate the NDP, though the provincial government did play a role in that. Provincial constituencies are divided urban/rural and the NDP held a bare majority by appealing only to urban voters and screwing over the rural ones.

    • I have lived all over our fair land and believe me you are incorrect.

  13. Did the LPC even run any candidates in SK other than Goodale?

    But I've been seeing a lot of PR talk after the election now. I guess this is what the left is going to squawk about for the next 4 years? Bad idea, since voters in ON and BC have already discussed and disposed of the idea.

    • The Liberals run candidates in SK the way that the NDP run candidates in Quebec. Empty suits given few resources.

    • Holy crap, did you ever see the STV proposal in BC? My god, it was needlessly complicated. I voted against it twice for a number of reasons, primarily that I prefer the simplicity of FPTP. Especially considering BC is more or less a two party province*, FPTP works just fine here, the 1996 election notwithstanding

      *the Green party gets some votes, but they are largely irrelevant. You never hear anything from them unless it's election time.

      • I agree, STV as proposed in B.C. was terribly complicated. One of the things that turned me off most was the sheer size of the proposed constituencies under STV, each of which would be represented by 3 or 4 MLAs. How do you hold 3 or 4 different MLAs accountable for one vast constituency? Very challenging. I was told at the time that MMP would have been a better choice, but was not put forward as an option.

        And FPP, though much maligned, does have certain points in its favour, like the ability to form clear majority governments with strong mandates. Admittedly this an unappealing feature when it's your team that's down, but still not something I'd throw out lightly. I'm still open to the idea of proportional representation, but it would depend strongly on the proposed system.

        I guess we'll find out tomorrow what our friends across the pond have to say on the issue.

        • The BC proposal was damned good. A lot better than a silly pure PR or mixed-member PR system would be. SVT is complicated, but necessarily so. This way, you can add some PR into the system to make it more representative, but still have each candidate attached to a riding. You can avoid both the excesses of the FPTP system, and the ridiculous "slates" populated by political flunkies that are standard under PR. SVT works well in Ireland. It can work here too.

      • if by needlessly complicated you mean most fair, sad. Otherwise, it's kind of like ordering dinner.

        You'd like the Pasta. Sorry, we're all out. Pizza? sorry that specials all gone too. Burger? Great.

        That's STV. If your first choice is gone, there's something else on the menu, you just have to know your rank before the waiter comes over.

      • STV isn't all that complicated to the voter. They list their honest preferences in order. They don't need to know how that gets counted.

        I agree that the size of districts is a problem. The best solution is probably to increase the number of legislators overall (which has some other benefits) and keep rural districts smaller (like two or three members).

  14. There was a chance to redistribute ALL the Saskatchewan ridings in 1996 and 2004. Even though those presiding over the hearings (few people presented) knew there was a unique issue with Saskatchewan they maintained the status quo regarding the urban rural split with few exceptions. Wascana was formed in 1996 by merging two-thirds of Regina-Wascana with one-third of Regina-Qu'Appelle. Wascana is the only Saskatchewan riding where it is 90% urban and 10% rural. http://www.elections.ca/scripts/fedrep/sask/repor

  15. As a formal Liberal and party worker from Saskatchewan, there is so much more than what is being said here. A lot of resources went in to Goodale's riding every election because "he almost lost last time". Which wasn't true. However, ask any Liberal that may still exist in Saskatchewan, who has ran in all the other ridings or has worked for others, and I bet they will tell you Goodale has received an inordinate and unequal amount of resources just to ensure he was re-elected. I was back at Easter and realized there is a shell of a party in play there.

    • What's a formal Liberal? Hey, are you one of the elitists I hear so much about in our party? I guess I'm an informal Liberal because I never get dressed up.

    • One seat was all the Liberals were shooting for. Sask. wasn't a much higher priority for the federal NDP, and hasn't been since Layton took over; Dippers' vote totals here reflect that. Also, the Tories took 56% percent of the vote in Sask.; they'd have been big winners in any system you can name. (Especially given that it's a three-way race.)

    • "I was back at Easter and realized there is a shell of a party in play there."

      There's a shell of party everywhere now.

  16. Those that advocate PR do so only because they are perpetual losers.

    • No.

    • Because no one could possibly have strong moral values and believe in something just because it seems just, even if it gives them a disadvantage? Nice world view.

      • You'll come to learn that is is the standard tone from Atchison.

        Though in my view he showed a modicum of restraint by avoiding his or her customary CAPS and exclamation pointssss!!!!! Also, a complete absence of invitations to Suck It.

        • As, apparently is personal rudeness from you!

          • Think of me as operating along GIGO principles.

        • In fairness, he only says that to Emily. Certainly understandable.

      • Parties that advocate PR do so because they only draw support from urban ridings. The majority of Canada is rural. The majority of Canada's resources come from rural regions. The current system ensures these regions receive representation.

        • So is this why we continue to emphasize primary industry over secondary and tertiary, and lose jobs and profit because of it, while selling our resources to the US at low prices?

        • You're kidding, surely. Most Canadians live in cities. Most of Canada's land mass is rural, but we're not rep-by-dirt, we're rep-by-pop.

  17. I have never seen so many people who cannot understand how our democracy works.

    Point1) Section 52 of the Constitution Act 1867 allow proportional representation ON A PROVINCIAL LEVEL already.

    Point 2) Every constituency in Canada already allows proportional representation in that the person getting the most votes in that consistency is elected.

    Point 3) The only person elected within the Commons is the speaker – Sections 44 through 49 inclusive.

    Discussion:

    Nothing in our constitution speaks to organized political parties nor does any constitutional document ever produced in Canada address the right of anyone to organise themselves in any such way (except the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – Section 2.(d).

    Political parties are NOT constitutionally guaranteed but only a somewhat practical construct …. we do not, in any way, elect political parties, just individual herd members who group themselves into parties for reasons best known to themselves.

    Conclusion:

    The idea that any local electoral group could have their vote set aside by a method in which their proportionally elected member would not be able to assume his chair in the House of Commons would not be constitutional, and I, for one, would file a challenge of that law if it came by the means of any Federal legislation.
    __________________

    Suck it up boys and girls … you would need an Amendment to the Constitution to do that one.

    And to think that I am one of the least educated people in Canada, never having finished grade 10 …. Hahahahahaha

    • We elect individual MPs, yes.
      But this election has shown, as no other, that as Canadians, we tend to vote for political parties, not MPs.

      Now, if we want to institute rules that disallow any political coverage in a region that is not that of the local riding candidates, there'd be some merit to your point.

      As it is, a system which discards over 50% of its input to reach a conclusion is not a very good system.

      • Thwin …. as to your comment respecting the system – So what!

        Please explain on what legal constitutional basis you could change the current "system" without a Constitutional Amendment.

        As a matter of fact, I am complicating challenging the right of Elections Canada to mention political parties on any document or webpage they produce …. I might lose the application pursuant to Section 1 if I proceeded by means of an application citing the Charter – but, there is no practical need to involve the Charter at all.

        Fair? – it is what it is and not educated wishing is just so much hot air only. Not the best system …. I take it you lost locally in enough places so you are only a disgruntled and somewhat unhappy person …. as I said before, suck it up or lobby to change the Constitution in a way you may believe is more fair.

        • So then SVT would require a Constitutional amendment. So what? Other countries do such things all the time. France just amended their Constitution a few years back. They made a change. Voted on it. Then had a referendum. It passed. All within the span of a year. No biggie. It can be done you know.

    • Hear, hear.

    • I trust your challenge would include exhortations for opposing counsel to "suck it up, boys and girls", and end with "Hahahahahaha"? Because I'd buy advance tickets to that show.

      • You owe me at least a couple of dollars because I said and did exactly that when I won a concession from the Province of Alberta in court forcing them to provide Alberta Health Care Insurance cards for those with no fixed address.

        As I said …. either suck up your loss or lobby to change the Constitution into any way you believe it would be more fair.

        To be fair, this issue is hardly an overarching one for me. I worry much more about voter identification laws which have disfranchised hundreds of thousands of Canadians right across the country …. last election, the Green Party claimed that was some 3-1/2 million but I do not go that far …. this election, to the best of my knowledge no one has raised the issue publicly (or at least – no one has published any stories on that issue kinda like no one raised any substantive issues respecting Canadian sovereignty losses to proposals for a North American Union (see – http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2005/01/05OTTAWA268.htm… —– and other sources) or why we are running the show in the assassination attempts in Libya on Gadaffi (our very own Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, deputy commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, has been designated head of the alliance's military campaign in Libya) or why we don't just pack up and leave Afghanistan when there is little point in staying there or the implications of CETA – Canadian European Trade Accord (see – http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates… ) or new laws allowing our fresh water to become a commodity … and on and on.

        Now, not one of those issues became an election issue did it, nor have they become a post election issue yet have they …. people want to argue this type of low consequential bullscat.

        You just had your circus, did you get your bread Halo_Override?

        • That's quite the disparate and disjointed list of concerns. On a different thread, it might even be relevant.

        • You owe me at least a couple of dollars because I said and did exactly that when I won a concession from the Province of Alberta in court forcing them to provide Alberta Health Care Insurance cards for those with no fixed address.

          If true, well done, that's a fine cause.

        • So you said "Suck it up boys and girls" and "Hahahahahaha" in court? And you won?

          As for not being able to vote without ID, suck it up. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

    • Your second point makes no sense. The person getting the most votes might only get 30% of them. Yet they get 100% of the representation. This is not proportionate.

      The first and third points don't seem to be relevant to the discussion at all.

  18. The biggest problem with proportional representation is that a proportional government would completely disenfranchise rural voters. Urban and Rural voters simply have different economic interests that have to be mediated. With PR you are essentially giving all the votes to urban voters and parties, and largely leaving rural voters no fighting chance of protecting their interests.

    With ridings and a first past the post system, rural votes actually have a say in government.

    • The way we run elections is based upon Constitutional law – not some losers wishful thinking which is what this whole issue is about …. see my posts above.

      • My party won. Which means this one time, I'm not a loser. Yet I still entertain arguments for SVT. I'm silly like that.

    • STV can mitigate this issue in a way straight PR can't. It can make for some big ridings, which is a drawback, but for the potentially 60% of rural voters that pick a loser, it might feel franchising.

    • Hear, hear. Those that promote PR are those that promte parties that only succeed in urban areas. The majority of Canada is rural and the majority of Canada's resources reside in rural regions. Rural regions deserve equal say.

      • The majority of Canadians live in cities.

        Conservatives in those cities — just like left-leaning rural voters — currently have a largely-unmet expectation that their vote is worth something more than two dollars. (And soon we'll probably be able to eliminate those last four words as well.)

        A PR system, carefully crafted and properly applied, could not only help address the back-and-forth power imbalance of FPTP, but in doing so could maybe also give urban and rural voters one less reason to always be perpetually angry at each other.

      • The majority of Canada is rural. The majority of Canadians are not. I come from a rural area in central Manitoba. I'm not some latte-sipping urbanista. But your arguments are making less sense the more I read them. I'm willing to concede that it could be just a comprehension thing on my part. Several commenters have pointed out my weakness in that area.

      • We live in a democracy. Dirt and oil don't get votes… people do.

    • I don't think they would be disenfranchised at all. If the major parties didn't sufficiently support rural concerns, they could form a new party to represent their interests. With PR, it would be relatively easy for them to elect enough representatives to form a wedge in parliament, allowing them to support unrelated issues favoured by one or another of the other parties in return for support of rural concerns by those parties.

  19. They are talking about this in the UK right now – and it is not going well….

    U.K's voting referendum cleaves governing coalition

    But it has proven even worse than anyone expected, as the voting-scheme debate has turned Mr. Clegg and Mr. Cameron, who sit side-by-side on the government benches in Parliament, into political opponents denouncing one another on the hustings, and has turned some of Mr. Clegg's key ministers and part of his party rank-and-file against him.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/europe/

    • Well, that's all very interesting. But it doesn't make much of a case against SVT.

      Clegg & Cameron are fighting! We'd better not go down that road!!!

  20. Is anyone aware of a movement (or party or ongoing discussions) in any of the countries around the world that do have a PR system that is advocating to abandon PR and move to a FPTP system?

    • I read that there were proposals in Ireland to junk STV and in Germany to junk MMP for FPTP, but nothing came of it. The two referendums in Ireland failed, and nothing came about in Germany. Incidentally, if PR does come to Canada, it will be probably either of these two systems.

      • Thanks muchly!

        I'll try to do some reading about Ireland – I'd assume that they moved to STV only fairly recently, so that seems like a locale that a person could learn something from.

        I'd be OK with STV, as long as the ridings are kept fairly smallish (3 seats max). In a pinch I'd even be willing to try out STV with one seat per riding.

        • Ireland has had STV since independence. IIRC, districts with 3 tend to produce less proportional results; you need something like 5-7 seats for it give give reasonable proportional results. As for the system itself, while does give the voter a lot of control, it's really hard to count properly or understand. We would wait much longer to get election results.

          • Ahh, since independance…wow.

            And I do realize that smaller numbers tend to reduce the proportionality of the results – I'm just indicating that I would settle for somewhat less than perfect proportionality in order to keep the ballots a little bit smaller. Also, if I understand correctly, running an STV system with one seat per riding basically amounts to having an instant runoff system, which I would also be OK trying for a few elections, fully realizing that instant runoff only goes very slightly in the direction of pure PR.

            As far as the counting goes, I would be very disappointed if we let that stand in the way of adopting STV. Obviously computers could be used, and if we don't trust those, then, yes, we would need to be prepared to invest a few more hours while election officials do the tedious task of hand counting. We only get to vote every four years, lets get it right.

            Don't have a good argument against it being harder to understand, other than I will volunteer to explain it to up to 100 people in my riding.

          • Using optical character recognition, the votes can be scanned and counted very quickly. Scrutineers can later inspect each and every ballot/run their own OCR programs to see if their results match.

    • Now there's an interesting question for our new constitutional scholar.

      • Who the hell cares …. it would still require a full federal and provincial Constitutional Amendment in Canada to make it possible. Election law was framed in the Irish Constitution after independence and they are living with what they have in their constitution. The FPTP Irish have the same problem Canadians would have to go PR, a change to their constitution for a different system … and you, Halo_Override are a uninformed and snide little azzhole. Feel better?

        • So, I hear people pay you $480 an hour?

        • Breath. That's it. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Slloowwwwly.

          OK. I get it now. Apparently we can't ever change the constitution, so no electoral reform is possible. Because that Constitutional door is slammed shut for ever and ever. Actually, I think the Queen chewed up and swallowed our only copy right after signing it in 1982. So we can't change it. Ever. Got it.

  21. if votes received is an indication of how much a party ISN'T liked, they must really hate Harper and a defeated Liberal candidate will probably be the next premier.

  22. The best way to have PR in Canada has already been exhaustively studied and recommended by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004. Their model has never been rejected. In Saskatchewan, voters in nine larger ridings would elect local MPs as we do today. You would also have a second vote for a party and your favorite of that party's provincial candidates. Voters for a party under-represented by the local results (in this case, the NDP, but in Montreal that would be the Conservatives) elect some of those five provincial MPs. If voters voted as they did on May 2nd (which they wouldn't when they knew every vote would count equally) NDP voters wouold have elected all five of the provincial MPs, namely, the five who got the most votes. All MPs are personally elected and faced the voters.

    • But it isn't that just MMP, which was rejected in referendums in Ontario in 2007 and Prince Edward Island in 2004 by wide margins (36% to 61%)?

      • As I said, the Law Commission's recommendation has never been rejected. Both of those recommendations were on a closed-province-wide list model. For example, the NDP's strongest region in Ontario is Northern Ontario, yet Northern Ontario rejected the Citizens' Assembly's model more strongly than any other region of Ontario — because it failed to provide that Northern votes would elect northern MPPs, while reducing the number of local MPPs from the North. Only Toronto voters were favourable to a model with province-wide lists, precisely as one would expect.

  23. I would feel better about PR if someone could convince me that:
    a)We wouldn't have perpetual minority governments.
    b)There wouldn't be war between the Rural and Urban areas.
    I would guess that it would be great if we could all vote on each bill. The technology is pretty much already here. I wouldn't be in favor of that for many reasons, of which here are two:
    a)This will sound elitist, but not everyone should vote. (and I mean this in elections right now as well.) Let me explain. I saw a girl on FB talking about wanting to vote NDP. When questioned, she admitted that she knew nothing of their policy, and didn't even know who the local MP was. She just liked Jack. To me, that is wrong, and she should just stay home. (I would say this regardless of which party leader she was saying this about. I feel it is a wrong reason to vote). To qualify: I don't think she wasn't smart enough to read and come up with a valid opinion; it just bothered me that she didn't. These folks would be voting for whatever looked pretty.
    b)How many things do we all agree on? Not that much.

    • Minorities on their own are not a problem. The problem arises when you have majorities and a highly ill-conditioned electoral system like FPTP, where a few percentage point swings can be the difference between party A minority and party B minority, or minority and majority. There is a huge incentive to capitalize on any transient, small swings in poll numbers. In more proportional systems, this leverage does not exist, and parties do not have an incentive to dissolve Parliament until popular support diverges greatly from the current composition.

      In this environment, it's more tenable for parties to work together. Especially when vote-splitting isn't such a deadly problem to parties. There can be two ideologically related parties that can coexist and cooperate, like Reform and the Progressive Conservatives.

  24. Question for the Maclean's hoi polloi: if you choose any electoral system in canada, what would it be? You can say FPTP, if you do not want any changes.

    See choices here: http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/es/esd?toc

    I'd probably go with MMP, myself.

    • STV gets my vote as a compromise choice!

    • I think wasting votes is the worst thing any system can do, and I don't like where lists are established by the parties, as I feel they already have too much power.

      So given those choices, STV.

      That said, I also dislike systems that require voters to rank candidates (due to the extra confusion/costs of making sure people know how to vote) and systems that require yet more seats in government. So my preference is the percentage proportional system. Hm. I should probably do up a web-page about it and perhaps see what the data from this most recent election would have given.

  25. Yeah, I have to admit that I'm 'somewhat' aware of Emily's reputation. But, but, but, this just seemed so, oh, I don't know, so, innocent, just a factual correction, how could that go so wrong?

    OTOH, there are occasions where I think that Emily's comments are actually somewhat insightful which then reminds me of that old saw "There is a very fine line between genius and insanity."

    • Perhaps you meant inciteful? (That's not a real word, I know.) She's not stupid. Not in the least. But she has serious problems harnessing that intelligence and using it to produce a cogent argument. It's a very common experience to challenge her on a point, only to have her come back and move the goal posts with something completely unrelated, while admonishing you for not focusing. It's surreal. I suspect bi-polar disorder, but of course I'm not qualified to make that kind of diagnosis.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • In your mother's basement of course. Anyone who challenges the omniscient and erudite Emily is clearly an unemployed basement-dwelling shut-in who hasn't traveled more than two blocks from home in his entire life.

  26. Again, rep-by-pop, not rep-by-dirt. In PR, the 20-30% of rural voters would and could retain a great deal of influence. They just wouldn't control 40 or 45% of the seats.

    • "…rural voters would and could retain a great deal of influence."

      In Halifax that bus literally stops at the edge of urban centre but the rural residents of HRM still pay for it, still pay its unionized driver, still pay for the library 45 mins away, still pay for a sewage treatment plant when everyone is on septic, still pay for water when everyone has a well, still pay for a downtown convention centre…

      I'm living the dream and have zero influence over my backyard. The city represents itself, not the rural communities it has annexed. PR doesn't and will never work.

      • The the urbanites still pay for the paving, snow and garbage removal even though these services are far costlier per resident in rural areas. More broadly, urban areas cross-subsidize electrical and telecommunications services to rural areas, which would be far costlier or just completely unavailable without government mandates.

        Typically water/sewer is and should be run on a cost-recovery basis, so that would seem moot.

        In other words, boo hoo. You sound like you are oblivious to the benefits that accrue to you out of the arrangement.

        • The benefits I receive are negligible when considered against the multitude of services I pay for but don't receive.

          • If you say so. Analyses of all the benefits and costs aren't simple and probably can't be assessed by gut-check. Truthiness is not truth.

  27. Proportional representation is the the only popular way to make the present sham democracy more democratic. We got a Conservative majority, but the vast majority, a whopping 60%, voted against the Conservatives! We are being represented by a party for which the vast majority of Canadians did not vote. That is unfair and undemocratic. If your vote had counted in a different riding, there might have been an entirely different result. Redrawing the riding boundaries will not solve the problem. You cannot draw boxes around similar people in the hope that nobody's vote will have been in vain. But in Monday's vote, 60% of voting Canadians voted in vain.

    People say that the West would lose influence in a fairer proportional system, but that is also untrue. Even in Alberta, 33% of voters did not vote Conservative. That could have translated into a significant number of seats for non-Conservative parties. The Bloc Québecois would, unfortunately, have gotten 23% of the seats (hopefully a continuing trend) in Québec, but it is still a lot less than what they had in the past.

    The German version of proportional representation is very interesting, in that it combines our present and inadequate system with a proportional system, in that half of the seats are according to ridings and half of the seats are proportional, hence, there is more fairness without the extreme volatility as seen in some other countries.

  28. When 60% of the voting population observes that their votes don't count, is it any wonder that 40% of eligible voters don't exercise their rights to vote?

  29. I looked at this for southern Ontario and found it very interesting. Something like Lib 1.4 million votes – 11 seats, NDP 1.4 million votes, 22 seats and Cons 2.4 million votes and something in the 70s for seats. Yikes.

  30. I have some sympathy for those that say it's not FPTP's fault for the result, because all parties agreed to participate knowing the rewards and pitfalls, and played anyway. However, look at who created the system, and then look at who exists now, and it doesn't seem so fair anymore. Why does the status quo, the Liberals and Conservatives, and even the NDP get to continue the system even though most people feel it's not being very fair anymore?

    Yes, changing the rules of the electoral system now might result in some other parties getting a voice in parliament, but why is that bad? If the ideas of the Conservatives (and Liberals) are so weak as to be overcome by the ideas of minority parties, then maybe they aren't good ideas after all! Do Canadians want to protect the jobs of current politicians, or tease out the best ideas to run our nation?

  31. One form of proportional representation is to allow everyone to vote for a candidate in their own riding (first-past-the-post) along with a second party vote, which ends up determining the overall house composition. Parliament consists of both regional and party representatives

  32. Actually, Harper never complained for electoral reform. He blamed vote splitting, and worked to unite conservative forces under one banner. Even the Reform Party was never a proponent of electoral reform along PR lines. They favoured an elected Senate to put a check on the House.

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