Canada needs proportional representation

Here are both sides of the debate on electoral reform, the right one (written by me) and the one opposed. Electoral reform is not a side issue: it goes to the heart of who and what government is for, of who gets to shape the future, the many or a powerful few.

We cannot be complacent. In the US, an extreme minority has taken over the Republican Party, captured the Supreme Court, and is remaking the country – obliterating reproductive rights, adding to the proliferation of guns in an already dangerous place, and generally threatening democratic, civil and economic rights. All this should make evident the urgent need for proportional representation where no party representing a minority view could hope to win a majority and run the table, where every vote counts and every riding matters, where women and minorities are fairly represented, and where parties cannot afford to ignore or take for granted any region of the country or segment of society. We need an electoral system which yields government built out of cooperation, representative of our diversity and more inclined to govern for the common good. We need proportional representation.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/the-saturday-debate/2022/06/25/the-saturday-debate-it-is-finally-time-for-electoral-reform-in-ontario.html

Comments
16 Responses to “Canada needs proportional representation”
  1. omegaphallic says:

    And the Democrats are useless gits who have their thumbs up their asses and are just as corrupt as the Republicans. The only way out for America is a third party.

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  2. Merrill Smith says:

    I agree 100% with you, the problem is that the people who benefit from the current system are the only ones who can change it. How do we convince them?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rubennelson says:

    I wholly agree that . “We need an electoral system which yields government built out of cooperation, representative of our diversity and more inclined to govern for the common good.” However, a ranked ballot would get us to the same place without the downsides of proportional representation. It is a pity that Canadians have been sweet talked into thinking that PR is the only way to a more civil society.

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    • himelfarb says:

      A ranked ballot would in many respects simply amplify the problems with FPTP. The evidence is pretty clear that countries with an electoral system that combines local representation and proportionality produces the best government and the greatest trust.

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      • rubennelson says:

        Let’s have a ranked ballot and 60% as the percentage of votes required to elect a member. This would defeat the troubles of FPTP, which I agree are now very serious.

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      • himelfarb says:

        Then you would have to require people to vote for more than their first choice or it’s possible that no one would win and so we would quite possibly be requiring people to vote for candidates that can’t stand. But I’m pleased you didn’t include ‘pure drivel’ in this response.

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      • rubennelson says:

        Life is full of “if I can’t have my first choice, then here’s what I’ll settle for”. No reason this should not apply in political choices. To try to glorify “My first choice should be sacred” is just silly. (Not drivel.)

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      • himelfarb says:

        ‘Silly’ .
        ‘Drivel’ you keep doing it and frankly using derogatory words to label arguments you don’t like is not the same as making a counter-argument, and you really might consider stopping that. In any case this is about democracy, not whether your kid can have licorices, and I don’t believe either for the quality of government or for enhancing trust in and legitimacy of government having people vote for a candidate they don’t agree with does the trick.

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    • himelfarb says:

      Though I can see why some, depending on partisan interest, would prefer this approach even if it would fail to yield a parliament and majority truly reflective of the (first) choices of voters. https://canadians.org/analysis/ranked-ballots-would-have-given-liberals-224-seats-past-election

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      • rubennelson says:

        A national election is about electing MPs from each constituency. All that matters is that folks in each local place can elect the person they trust to do the best job. That is what a ranked ballot achieves. It is pure drivel to talk about “a parliament that represents the will of the people” as reflected in the national sum of votes in each constituency.

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      • himelfarb says:

        What kind of discussion includes “pure drivel” as a rebuttal or simply declares that the only thing that matters is what I say matters.

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  4. brad Odsen says:

    The answer to your question (posted at 2:53 am), is pretty much every Twitter “discussion”.

    As to your position on PR, while I agree that it makes sense, it appears that North American society has become so polarized on the fringes, and the fringes are both the most vocal and politically active, that we truly do have a silent majority that despairs. As I read the opposing opinion published in the Star, it seems to come down to FPTP can work to produce good government – it’s just that it isn’t doing that right now because voters aren’t sufficiently motivated to vote. I suppose the Australian model, where every citizen that is eligible to vote is required by law to vote, in an FPTP system, might serve to address that issue. But it doesn’t seem to be working very well in Australia in terms of producing governments that are any less polarized.

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    • himelfarb says:

      While I’m not particularly opposed to compulsory voting there’s some evidence that if disinterested voters are forced to vote they do so in a disinterested way eg voting for whoever is first on the list. I keep going back to the actual evidence which suggests that PR countries are less polarized, more likely to see electoral outcomes as fair and see their governments as legitimate – and they get good government. So while there is no magic bullet, no one thing that will address the democratic malaise or social fragmentation, I’m not ready for despair and I’d sure like to give PR a chance and follow the evidence.

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  5. Brad Odsen says:

    I don’t know that I’m ready for despair yet either, but when I see what’s happening in the U.S., and the adoption of Trumpism by Conservatives both federal and provincial in Canada, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid that. Everywhere I look I see ideology trumping (pun intended) evidence. I suppose the thing that is most upsetting to me is that so many voters continually seem to vote for those that, the evidence clearly shows, will govern contrary to the interests of those voters.

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