Thursday, May 12, 2016

New column day

Here, on how Justin Trudeau's control over the federal electoral reform committee looks to extend a familiar pattern of top-down government into the design of our electoral system. (And I'll add one point here which didn't make it into the column: the committee design features a bare Lib majority which is itself likely to create strong pressure against any of their MPs acting with any independence.)

For further reading...
 - Ed Broadbent, Alex Himelfarb and Hugh Segal make their case as to what we should want from our electoral system:
The central problem with our winner-take-all system is that the composition of our elected parliament does not reflect how we actually voted. A candidate who receives a plurality of the votes wins, even if a majority of the voters chose others. The majority of the votes in such a case have no impact on the outcome of the election.

That means a party that receives only a minority of votes, say less than 40 per cent, can form a majority government, taking full control of the policy agenda. In fact, this is the norm in Canada. But this cannot continue. In a representative democracy, representativeness surely should matter.
While some are pushing preferential ballots – where we rank candidates – this is not an improvement over winner-take-all. Ranked ballots can be introduced in either our current system or in a proportional system, but, on their own, they do not solve the problems. Indeed, if introduced into our current system they will create even larger false majorities and make things even less representative, as they inevitably disadvantage parties challenging the status quo whose voters deserve as much fairness as any others.

Electoral reform is not about what works for any particular party or parties in general. It’s about the public interest, what works for voters, what makes our democracy stronger. The only alternative to what we have now is a proportional system.
- Meanwhile, Andrew Coyne is rightly suspicious that the Libs are conning us on electoral reform, while Chantal Hebert theorizes that the committee has been set up to fail. And Ryan Maloney reports on the Libs' continuation of the Cons' omnibus legislation and time limits.

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