Elections

Two things caught my eye:

  • A repots by Candice Malcom, a well known Trudeau critic, in the Toronto Sun in which she says that “The opposition Conservatives are ringing the alarm bell following an exclusive Sun report revealing that Elections Canada sent a voter registration card to an asylum seeker who has only been in Canada for 18 months … [and] … Concern over possible voter fraud continues in light of the Trudeau government’s plans to weaken voter integrity measures and make it easier for non-citizens to vote in the 2019 federal election … [because] … A potential voter would not be required to show any ID aside from an Elections Canada voter card in order to vote in the federal election;” and
  • An opinion piece in the Globe and Mail by former NDP Leader Ed Broadbent and retired Senator High Segal say that “Within the next year … [Canada] … may see proportional representation take root in three provinces … [and they add] … Both of us, despite very different partisan perspectives, have been long-standing supporters of a proportional voting system for Canada – one in which the number of seats a party gets in the legislature corresponds with its popular vote. Indeed, the vast majority of industrialized countries have long used this system. The fact that Canada still uses an archaic first-past-the-post system, dating from before Confederation, is increasingly anomalous in the world. Even Britain, whose system is the basis of our own, now uses proportional representation for elections in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

I think the Conservatives are right to sound the alarm … it is beyond just foolish to weaken the voter identification requirements; if anything they should be tightened. If as Ms Malcom says “The Liberals’ Bill C-76 [which]  is an omnibus bill that, among other measures, seeks to reverse the previous government’s Fair Elections Act and undo the Conservative safeguards implemented to ensure greater integrity in our elections system,” passes into law then the Conservatives must promise to reverse it, as a matter of priority, and reaffirm and, in fact, promise to strengthen the Fair Elections Act (2014) so that Canadians may be assured that ONLY bona fide Canadian citizens may vote in national elections. What the Trudeau regime proposes is nothing short of legalizing voter fraud.

The issue of proportional representation is almost a perennial and it’s a silly idea, too. There is, in fact, nothing seriously wrong with the First Past The Post (FPTP) system. I have looked at a quite a few elections and I observe that the FPTP system does, indeed:

  • Reward the party which achieves a plurality of the popular vote by, if its vote share is about 40% or more, giving it more than 50% of the seats in the House of Commons. In 2015 Justin Trudeau’s Liberals got 39% of the vote and 54% of the seats. Is that really unfair? The system rewards the party that offers most people the policies and programmes they want;
  • Tend to treat the second place party fairly ~ in 2015 the CPC got 31% of the vote and 29% of the seats, in 2011 the NDP got 30% of the vote and 33% of the seats and in 2006 the Liberals finished second with 26% of the vote and got 25% of the seats; and
  • Punish the parties who finish below second place. Thus, in 2015 the NDP got 19% of the vote and only 13% of the seats and the Greens who got 3% of the vote got less than 0.3% of the seats. But I don’t think that’s unfair. Over 96% of voters rejected the Green’s policy and programme proposals, why should they be rewarded for offering so many Canadians what they don’t want.

In short, FPTP works, It rewards parties that offer Canadians what they want and punishes those who offer things Canadians don’t want … that seems more than fair to me. In fact the slight level of inequality is a positive feature, a virtue, not a flaw, because FPTP, more often than not, gives majority governments which are able to propose and implement coherent political programmes. The last time any Canadian political party won 50%+ of the popular vote in a federal general election was in 1984, almost 35 years ago, but the nine election since then, all won by considerably less than 50% of the popular vote produced six, stable, majority governments.

Of course Messers Broadbent and Segal argue that “knowing a number of parties are likely to be elected causes leaders to be more collaborative and less confrontational with each other. This makes for better government.” That’s poppycock! What proportional representation (PR) does is to cause a proliferation of parties ~ look at Europe and Israel, for example ~ and the business of forming a government creates huge confrontations and then the business of governing in a coalition, which is the norm in most PR countries, is anything but collaborative, it is more like bargaining for trinkets in an Eastern bazaar. Look at the recent experiences of Germany, Italy and Sweden, just as examples … do we really want that? I think not. The notion that political parties will listen to every point of view and collaborate is a pipe-dream. What is far more likely is that after an election leaders will start to bargain with other leaders to try to form coalitions ~ which were, most likely, never mentioned during the election campaign. It happened, you may recall in 2008 in Canada, and Canadians were, by and large, appalled, as they should have been.

The most likely outcome of a move to PR is that Canada’s three main political parties will split. My guess is that NDP will lose its hard left wing to a new party which I am calling the Labour Progressive Party, which was the name of the old Canadian communist party in the 1940s and ’50s; I think it will also lose its right wing. I suspect that the Liberals will split in much the same way. My guess is that the right wing of the NDP and the left wing of the Liberals might form a new minor party which I’m calling the Liberal-Democrats. The Liberal right wing will be the so-called Manley Liberals who are, already seriously disenchanted with Justin Trudeau. I think they will form a new, fairly substantial parry which will be socially progressive and fiscally conservative … let’s call it the Progressive Conservative Party. The Conservative Party is already splitting with Maxime Bernier heading a new group which I’ll call Libertarians, even though I know there is, already a party by that name. I suspect that, in a PR system when they feel they might get a few seats, the social conservative/religious right wing of the CPC might split, too and for what I’ll call a Christian Democrat party. And, of course, there will be Greens, Quebec Nationalists and Independents, too. My guess is that it might look something like this:

seats.001.jpeg

I’m also guessing that, since Canada is a slightly left of centre country, there are likely to be a few more seats to the left of the 0 line than there are to the right … maybe something like 160 left and left leaning vs 140 right and right leaning in a 350 seat parliament which means that the goal will always be to shift the Progressive Conservatives and the Independents to one side or the other. In other words, Canadian politics, in a PR system, will look a lot like Israeli or Italian politics … is that what we want? Again, I think not.

Once again I believe that the Conservative Party if Canada should make it clear that a CPC government will NOT pursue electoral reform because the FPTP system works well enough; it’s imperfect but this is a very imperfect world; and PR would be a nightmare, and e.g. ranked voting or multi-member constituencies offer too few real advantages to compensate for the complexity they create. The FPTP system rewards the campaign that makes the most sense to the greatest number of people and punishes the campaigns that make some sense to only a few people … and that’s fair. They may need a couple of their own tame academics and experts to make that case in the pages of e.g. the Globe and Mail or the National Post.

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