June 6, 2016

10 good reasons to keep our voting system as is

By KERRY DIOTTE

The governing Liberals insist we must have a new system of voting for future federal elections. Here are 10 reasons why this is a very bad idea:

1 – There’s no groundswell in the Canadian public demanding a new voting system. While knocking on thousands of doors for the October 2015 election I cannot recall one person bringing up the issue.

2 – The Liberals have repeatedly ruled out sticking with our current system of first-past-the-post elections, a method that has served Canada well since Confederation.

3 – Despite pledges to do widespread consultations with the public before changing our system, there’s no plan to hold a national referendum on this historic change to our democracy.

4 – Critics rightfully point out that other systems of voting can favour the ruling Liberals. Under a so-called ranked ballot or proportional representation system, it’s predicted the Liberals would have increased their current seat count Oct. 19 from 184 to 224 in this current Parliament.

5 – The Liberals are already tipping their hand that they’re leaning to the ranked-ballot system. That comes amid news the Privy Council Office (that reports directly to the Prime Minister and minister in charge) recently hired Derek Alton, who founded a group that advocates the ranked ballot system.

6 – A ranked-ballot system would put Conservative voters at a disadvantage. Studies have shown NDP supporters would tend to pick Liberal candidates as their second pick while Liberal supporters would choose NDP reps for their second-string choice. Conservative voters frequently indicate they don’t wish to have a second choice of another candidate at all.

7 – Liberal Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef has actually claimed in the House of Commons that consultation on reform using Twitter and townhalls is more valid than holding a national referendum.

8 – Much has been made of the fact Liberals recently changed the makeup of a parliamentary committee tasked with coming up with a new voting system. Now opposition members from the Green Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP will get a vote. But the truth is, the committee is little more than a paper tiger. The ruling Grits can still ignore its finding and choose any new voting system it desires. Such are the perks of winning a majority government.

9 – There are precedents for holding voting referendums in Canada. Through referenda, in British Columbia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island voters rejected changes to their systems.

10 – Recent opinion polls show that nearly three quarters of Canadians believe a national referendum should be held if there is to be a change in our way of voting.

If you believe there’s no reason to change our voting system or you think we must hold a national referendum before doing so, take action. Write to the Prime Minister at House of Commons, Ottawa, ON. K1A 0A6. There is no postage required to send that letter.

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  • Occupy Awareness

    My comments keep getting censored if I put in links or images so we’ll try it this way.

    10 great responses to your 10 mostly incorrect reasons to keeping the current voting system

    By Julien Lamarche

    1 – There’s no groundswell in the Canadian public demanding a new voting system. While knocking on thousands of doors for the October 2015 election I cannot recall one person bringing up the issue.

    Candidates will canvass where they poll strongest. Go ask the 36% of voters who voted parties in favour of proportional representation in your riding.

    2 – The Liberals have repeatedly ruled out sticking with our current system of first-past-the-post elections, a method that has served Canada well since Confederation.

    There has been 16 majority governments, only 4 of them had majority support of voters. Roughly half of all votes don’t elect anyone in FPTP elections (see http://wastedvotes.ca/) Maybe we should keep the rotary phone while we’re at it?

    3 – Despite pledges to do widespread consultations with the public before changing our system, there’s no plan to hold a national referendum on this historic change to our democracy.

    It hasn’t been entirely discarded either. But this text by Mr. Diotte proves an informed decision is impossible with a pre-implementation referendum.

    4 – Critics rightfully point out that other systems of voting can favour the ruling Liberals. Under a so-called ranked ballot or proportional representation system, it’s predicted the Liberals would have increased their current seat count Oct. 19 from 184 to 224 in this current Parliament.

    DEAD WRONG: The claim that the seat count under a proportional system is FALSE.
    Éric Grenier, the author of the estimation for the seat increase from 184 to 224, made that estimation for preferential voting, not a proportional voting system.

    Éric Grenier’s estimation for a proportional system (for 2015) was:

    A decrease from 184 to 134 for the Liberals

    An increase from 99 to 109 for the conservatives

    5 – The Liberals are already tipping their hand that they’re leaning to the ranked-ballot system. That comes amid news the Privy Council Office (that reports directly to the Prime Minister and minister in charge) recently hired Derek Alton, who founded a group that advocates the ranked ballot system.

    This is misleading: Derek Alton is from 123Guelph, which is pushing for Single Transferable Vote, which is a proportional voting system which increases competition between MPs because they have to compete for the same seats.

    The system preferred by Justin Trudeau is Preferential Voting. It is not a proportional system but a winner take all, like our current one.

    Both are ranked ballot systems, but the outcomes are different. The confusion is partly due to the 123 campaigns which aren’t making that distinction. Guy Giorno, a former staffer of Steven Harper, made a very good text about the difference.

    6 – A ranked-ballot system would put Conservative voters at a disadvantage. Studies have shown NDP supporters would tend to pick Liberal candidates as their second pick while Liberal supporters would choose NDP reps for their second-string choice. Conservative voters frequently indicate they don’t wish to have a second choice of another candidate at all.

    Misleading: Preferential Voting perhaps, but not a proportional voting system, which this text doesn’t make a good distinction of. If the CPC would advocate to make every vote count (and effective) with a proportional voting system, they would be joining about half the liberal caucus and pretty much the rest of the opposition.

    7 – Liberal Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef has actually claimed in the House of Commons that consultation on reform using Twitter and townhalls is more valid than holding a national referendum.

    Though I agree twitter is not the best way for an informed debate, Chantal Hébert made a strong case about why a referendum would be a can of worms too.

    8 – Much has been made of the fact Liberals recently changed the makeup of a parliamentary committee tasked with coming up with a new voting system. Now opposition members from the Green Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP will get a vote. But the truth is, the committee is little more than a paper tiger. The ruling Grits can still ignore its finding and choose any new voting system it desires. Such are the perks of winning a majority government.

    …. which is why we should have a proportional voting system. Conservative MP Dianne Watts said “I look forward to every committee looking like that” on a power and politics . This would be more the norm with a proportional voting system.

    9 – There are precedents for holding voting referendums in Canada. Through referenda, in British Columbia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island voters rejected changes to their systems.

    As FPTP advocates like to omit, BC-STV got 58% support in 2005. As for the other referendums that got ~40%, that’s about the same support a FPTP false majority gets.

    10 – Recent opinion polls show that nearly three quarters of Canadians believe a national referendum should be held if there is to be a change in our way of voting.

    I’m just going to say for the sake of argument: For voter equality, a referendum should not be necessary.

    MPs did not get all the votes of their constituents. Mr. Diotte only got 40% of the vote in his riding. If he wants to represent all his constituents, he should be advocating for a voting system where >90% of voters get an MP they voted *FOR*. A proportional system would also make more CPC votes in Quebec and urban areas effective. Shouldn’t those votes be effective too?

  • Will

    1. That’s because it seems few people understand the issue. I brought it up with my local CPC candidate.
    2. Not a reason not to switch, and also, it hasn’t served us well. It screwed up the last two elections. On top of this, you wouldn’t even be able to demonstrate that it has served us well, because we don’t know what people wanted with their vote!
    3. Yeah, a referendum would have been great, and we asked for it, but then the Harper government declared that the 2015 election would be the referendum. NDP and Green offered MMP, liberals offered “Other”. All parties are essentially agreeing that we don’t need a referendum.
    4. Well, ranked voting is math. The math favors Liberals. It’s not that it would be skewed towards them, it’s that our current system is skewed away from what the average Canadian wants. Not a good point at all.
    5. That’s not a reason not to switch voting systems.
    6. Same as #4. It’s math. If most Canadians don’t want a certain party, and would agree on two other parties, that is how the election would play out. If a party is only getting a small fraction of the vote, it means they need to change their policies. Simple, right?
    7. Same as #5. Also, that statement by the Liberal MP may be more sarcastic than serious.
    8. Same as #5.
    #9 and #10 are valid points though