Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mixed Member Proportional

How do you actually vote in provincial and federal elections in Canada? If you're anything like me, sometimes you vote for a person, sometimes for the party. But more often than not, I tend to vote strategically for the party that best represents my own views about current issues.

Now in Ontario we're facing a referendum on 10-Oct-2007 in which we can vote for one of two options:

  1. continue exclusively with first-past-the-post election results

  2. continue with first-past-the-post in local ridings as well as a vote for a party

The clear advantage of the mixed member proportional scheme recommended by the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform is this: all our votes for political parties will count, not just the ones for the party representative with the plurality of votes in your particular riding.

Here are some other reasons why MMP makes sense:

  • MMP has multiple-party support in this Ontario provincial election campaign.

  • most democracies modified exclusive FPTP over a century ago

  • all citizens are entitled to representation, not just those who voted for the representative with the highest number of votes

  • most votes cast in any election in Canada, federal or provincial, elect no representative

  • many majority governments are not truly results of majority popular voting (in the current provincial legislature, for example, the Liberals have 70% of the seats with only 46% of the popular vote)

  • legislatures do not yet have appropriate representation for women and visible minorities

  • without proportional representation, voters tend towards apathy and cynicism

What bothers me most about this referendum campaign in Ontario is that there is insufficient discussion of the issue. We read occasional newspaper articles, mainly from those opposed to MMP, but very few know why the Citizens Assembly presented MMP to the Ontario electorate - in fact, only 12% of the electorate knows anything about MMP at all.

Here's how the vote will work under MMP.

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