Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Canadian electoral reform

This week in the Globe & Mail Neil Reynolds writes about Canada's inability to elect majority governments of late, and how that could jeopardize our democracy.
Well, I won't start rhyming off the jokes about democracy and the tyranny of the "majority" and how democracy is three wolves and two sheep voting on what's for dinner.......OK, sorry, I said I won't.
Mr. Reynolds makes the point that very few (25 out of 308) of our Federal Members of Parliament (MPs) actually received a majority in their ridings in the 2008 federal election. That fact can be viewed this way: only 59% of the qualified electorate actually voted and 37% of them actually chose candidates that form our current Conservative minority government. So our current government represents just 22% of the possible voters, but that speaks to the issue that voters feel powerless to change the system so they don't bother to vote. That last point of course, is why we have many little parties, Libertarians among them.
Mr. Reynolds suggests that allowing a "runoff election" in ridings where no candidate has a majority, as is done in many countries, will rectify the situation. He further goes on to blame our multi-party system especially the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP for our inability to elect a majority now, or in the foreseeable future. All this of course is true, just as its true and ironic that many of the smaller special interest parties receive the bulk of their funding from the public purse. It just makes me shake my head, we are paying for the Bloc to block a possible majority and allowing them to disrupt the running of our parliament and split the country apart, only in Canada!
Anyway, the odds of this issue being addressed by the current government is nil. Their primary attempt at electoral reform is to create more ridings in areas where more Conservatives can be elected, that is, in rural areas and out west while improving representation by population (also a good idea). This may be our only hope, but its affects will not be felt for years.
In the meantime some groups are pushing for what is called proportional representation, an idea that was defeated in the last Ontario election in a referendum and would further fracture our already fractured parliament. If it weren't so serious, it would be funny.          

4 comments:

  1. The first past the post system works - not perfectly, but it works. The redistribution of seats over the next few years based on better rep-by-pop seems to me the simplest approach. Anything else would require constitutional change and the "not withstanding" clause will stifle any change. This will take a while, thats all.

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  2. Why vote for people at all? I don't need someone to 'represent' me, the internet gives me access to directly vote on any issue I want.

    The federal fool that 'represents' my region doesn't represent my views nor the views of the majority. Why do I need him when the government has the power to ask me directly what I want and I have the power to answer back?

    Further, a vetting process needs to be done to allow only people who are educated on a specific issue to have a seat at the table. If you've ever read the comments to any particular 'hot button' news story you'll find it full of ignorant hysterics who understand little more than rhetoric. If a person wishes to have a say, they will need to demonstrate some level of competence with the issue and people are always free to become educated if they want.

    It's astonishing to me that politicians can vote or have a say on, for example climate science, when they have little to no understanding of science, in general. Consider the idiot Gary Goodyear, creationist and chiropractor, who is the Minister of Science and Technology. A man who denies most science is in charge of science!

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  3. I completely sympathize.
    In a libertarian country such issues are not dealt with by federal or even provincial governments but by the voluntary interactions of businesses, consumers, residents and privately funded lobby groups. All such interactions would only have a local effect. Businesses and individuals would be free to move to nearby towns that would compete with other nearby towns. The competition between local jurisdictions for business and residents (for a tax base) would allow both to have more "say" in matters that affect them directly where they live and work. Federal and provincial governments would not be making large scale back room "deals" with corporations (like BP). These governments would mediate disputes and problems (like oil spills). Companies specializing in environmental disasters (and working for profit) would take the place of FEMA or other incompetent government creations.
    It would be a different world, its time has come, but things may get much worse in the near term.

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