Thursday, 1 March 2012

An open response to "A False Majority by Fraudulent Means?"

You can find the Green party's press release here.

Canada needs electoral reform - no doubt about it. No matter what happens with this robocall scam one thing is evidently very clear: our system can be easily manipulated, and we have little or none of the tools we need as citizens to investigate sources of manipulation. It's quite likely we'll discover we have even less recourse 9 months (and counting) after the fact.

I'm not going to get into any details or speculation on the robocalls in this post; from my perspective this late in the game it doesn't matter who perpetrated the fraud. What worries me even more than if this election was stolen is: now that we have discovered a problem (vulnerability) in our electoral system we must take great care not to implement solutions that may put us in worse positions in the future. In the Green's press release they advocate a "proportional" voting system and I believe we should be very cautious going down such a path.

Let me ask you a simple question and please be honest with yourself. Who did you vote for in the last election? Think of your answer before continuing.

I expect four "types" of answers to this question:
  1. A name of a political party.
  2. The name of a political party's leader.
  3. The name of an MP.
  4. No one/threw my ballot/whatever.
Now, think about why you chose the one you did. For instance: if your answer was "The Conservatives", is it because you identify as a "conservative"? If your answer was a specific leader, was it what you saw them say in the debates? If it's the name of an MP, do you identify with a political party or even a specific party platform or ideology at all?

A proportional system is proportional for the parties running. Its proportional for the promotion of political ideology, but is it proportional for me? Maybe the MP I chose to vote for got my vote because I respected his or her own personal ethic? Maybe I voted for an MP that I had faith in would advocate for their constituents even if what a majority of their constituents want in some cases may be against their ideology. Maybe I voted for an MP that would represent *me*, as a person -- not a brand name -- instead of dictating to me? If I did would a "proportional" system represent me at all? I don't think so.

Our electoral races are strange. Take any typical party press conference: the leader stands behind a podium and somewhere within camera view is (lately) usually a sign that says something like: "[Party Name] party! Vote for [Leader Name]". However when it comes to election time most Canadians will not find [Leader Name] on the ballot. To vote for the "leader" you must vote for the party. Not the MP.

Lets say, theoretically that the liberals won last election, but say for the sake of argument Michael Ignatieff still lost his seat. You would have a situation where the party wins, the leader has no seat, and probably a majority of voters who voted liberal because they like the leader are all like 'WTF?'. Sure the leader will probably trade with another MP to have a seat, but the point remains: What are you really voting for?

If you're voting for ideology or the party line, proportional representation will do wonders. However if you're like me and view MPs as having a responsibility to their constituents regardless of the party line proportional representation isn't for you.

Just think about the joke that is question period. Partisan bickering, finger pointing, and fantasy facts on all sides. It's a big real time flame war - and how often do you ever EVER get a straight answer? That is what proportional representation will bring: all flame war, all the time.

We need to focus on the MP, the individual. All the parties have some good MPs - people I think still have honor. I say forget your political allegiance.. the party brand name because in a war of ideology, everyone loses.


  1. I think most people do vote according by party, and by extension the leaders, so proportional representation would be welcomed by many people. But I do see value in being able to elect by individuals, even though there are few MPs/MLAs right now that I would trust to put constituents first & party second. So, compromise... mixed member proportional system?

  2. Oh, I'm not saying it wouldn't be welcomed or that it is "wrong or right". I more wrote this to address those who seem to think that proportional rep solves all the problems they'd like to see solved in the system itself. It's a double edged sword though.

    I'd like to hear more about mixed member proportional system and how that would work within our current system. I can't quite visualize how it would look.