Electoral Reform linkage

Here’s the IRPP study

Here’s the Canada West survey

Here’s me, drawing what I think is the main, somewhat disheartening, message from the IRPP study.

Here’s Robert Roach of the Canada West Foundation, writing in The Mark. I think this gets it almost right:

It is too bad that the provincial reform efforts failed as one or all of them would have provided a live Canadian experiment with an alternative system that we could learn from and a spur to change at the national level.

The only quibble I have is that it’s not clear to me what conclusions we can draw about national politics from provincial experiments in reform, given that the main problem federal PR is supposed to solve — regional fracturing — is not much of a problem in any of the provinces. That’s not to say we shouldn’t experiment, and it is possible that if a province were to give MMP a shot that voters would just get comfortable with it and it might tip more provinces to give it (another) shot. At which point it might become normalised, and it wouldn’t seem so exotic at the federal level.

For what it’s worth, I’ve started to come around on some proportional element for the House, largely for the reasons Coyne’s been hammering at for ages. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s persuaded me of something.


One thing that does have me wondering, and about which I have no good thoughts, is the relationship between the reform process and the ongoing reluctance of voters to endorse the proposed changes. The main conclusion of the Canada West paper is that the citizens’ assembly process is now entrenched as a required element of any reform. Yet the main conclusion of the IRPP study is that citizens continue to see electoral reform as “elite driven”, even when it is given the stamp of popular input and civic engagement. The only parallel I can think of is that it is like if the public had a veto over the jury system. The jury sits for weeks or months, considers the evidence, deliberates, and returns a verdict. And then the public then votes on that verdict and reject on the grounds that it is “elite driven”.

I’m not sure what to make of this.

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