Tag Archives: mmp

Those Status Quo Folks Are Hilarious

“No MMP” just put out the following in a press release:

While the No MMP campaign’s organizers agree that they have more public support leading up to October 10th vote, they are also aware of the fact that more support does not necessarily translate into more votes. They point to past elections where political parties with fewer members won surprise victories over larger parties.

Wait, WHAT? Got a problem with the results of past elections, huh? Not sure they accurately reflect voter intention? Interesting point. Perhaps we should strike some kind of Citizens’ Assembly to explore the issue and report back with recommendations.

They go on to complain that “many voters are either apathetic or confused about the upcoming referendum on October 10th.” Yeah, um, do you think that might have something to do with the fact that you guys blocked the distribution of materials from the Citizens’ Assembly explaining what they’re proposing and why? Think it might have something to do with the mass-circulation of anonymous emails that paint MMP as a mysterious government-driven plot? Just maybe?

Appointed Politicians

Imagine a voting system where politicians or “party hacks” can be appointed in back rooms by other politicians and be practically guaranteed a spot in the legislature, regardless of what the voters really want.

Stop imagining. That’s the system we have now. When it comes to how parties appoint their candidates, there are almost no requirements for transparency. And, if party bosses decide they’re going to parachute a candidate into a “safe” riding, local people have nothing to say about it. Possibly even worse, at least some people will feel like they have to vote “strategically” for that candidate even if they don’t like them or object to how they were appointed, because they’re too afraid of who else might get elected.

Now, imagine a system where parties are required to disclose the process they use to nominate their candidates. A system where the make-up of their candidate list (gender balance, regional balance, ethnic diversity, etc.) as well as the democratic (or not) process they used to create it becomes an election issue.

Stop imagining. That’s just one of the advantages of MMP, the new voting system proposed by the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly. And, since voters get two votes (one for the candidate, and one for the party), they’re able to reward or punish parties and candidates accordingly. For example, if a party foolishly nominates unpopular candidates to their list, voters can punish them without needing to vote against their preferred local candidate. On the other hand, if a voter is happy with a party overall but dissatisfied with their local candidate, they can express that with their vote (by voting for the party but not the party’s local candidate). In that way, parties and candidates are even more accountable to voters.

To learn more or get involved with the campaign, go to voteformmp.ca.

TVO Battle Blog: MMP Winners

Crossposted to tvo.org. Today’s question: “Who has the most to gain if Mixed-Member Proportional representation goes forward?” (400 word limit)

For me, the most important thing to remember about the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) recommendation is that it was designed by people, not just politicians. 103 randomly-selected Ontarians worked for eight months on our behalf studying, consulting, and deliberating on which voting system is best for Ontario. They were not beholden to any political party or special interest—they were just everyday Ontarians trying to make the best decision they could. And in the end, by an overwhelming vote of 94-8, they decided that it’s time for change.

It’s also interesting to note that MMP is supported across the political spectrum, by Conservatives like Hugh Segal, Liberals like Carolyn Bennett, and New Democrats like Ed Broadbent. Therefore, we must conclude that the people most likely to benefit from this new system are voters themselves.

Here’s what I mean by that. Under MMP, we would each get two votes: one for a local candidate, and one for a party. So, we could decide to vote for a good candidate but not her party, or vice versa. In this way, MMP gives voters more choice. Then, the percentage of the vote each party wins determines how many seats they get, so that 10% of the vote would mean approximately 10% of the seats (unlike our current system). In this way, MMP produces fairer results. Finally, voters would be able to hold every party accountable or go to any party’s “list MPPs” with a request, since the fact that every vote counts forces parties to work hard for every vote in every region of the province. In this way, MMP provides for stronger representation.

Of course, no system is perfect. Opponents of MMP are quick to point out its flaws, conveniently ignoring all of the flaws with our current system (most notably that a party can, with less than 40% of the vote, get 60% of the seats and 100% of the power). They also ignore the fact that no group of people is more familiar with the advantages and flaws of both our current system and MMP than the Citizens’ Assembly that recommended the change.

What’s worse, some opponents of MMP resort to fear tactics and distortions, making claims about MMP that are not substantiated by any examples from countries that use the system (New Zealand, Germany, Scotland, and Wales). They do this because they know, as we learned from the Citizens’ Assembly process, that when Ontarians learn all of the facts about MMP, they overwhelmingly favour it to the status quo. October 10 is an exciting opportunity to make democracy better.

Where’s The “Yes To FPTP” Campaign?

The ballot question for the October 10th Ontario referendum on electoral reform will ask voters to choose between “The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post),” and “The alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional).” A number of grassroots campaigns have sprung-up to argue that MMP is the best voting system for Ontario, including Vote For MMP, Equal Voice In Politics (women for MMP), Liberals for MMP, and more.

So, where’s the campaign to argue that FPTP (the current system) is the best for Ontario? It doesn’t exist. Instead, we get this, the “No MMP” campaign. Some of their criticisms are legitimate (no one ever said MMP was a perfect system), others are intentional distortions of the truth. (Isn’t there a word for when someone intentionally distorts the truth? I’m sure I’ll think of it later….) What the campaign doesn’t do, however–because it can’t–is defend or advocate for our current system, which the majority of Ontarians and Canadians acknowledge is no longer serving us well. If we actually had a province-wide discussion that pitted the merits of MMP against the merits of FPTP, MMP would win hands down. The “No MMP” folks know this, which is why they’re instead basing their campaign on fear of the unknown and misinformation.

By the way, who are the “No MMP” folks? We don’t know. While Vote For MMP and other progressive referendum campaigns are comprised of grassroots citizens and politicians of integrity from all political parties, the No MMP campaign has decided to remain anonymous (they announced their campaign through one unknown spokesperson, and have placed no detailed “contact” or “about” information on their site). How much credibility should they therefore be granted? Until they can demonstrate that they’re a legitimate group with at least some popular support and backing, next to none.

Update: Cam helpfully points out that the above sounds to him as if I’m saying that individuals who don’t support MMP lack credibility. That’s absolutely not my intention. (As I do mention above, some criticisms of MMP are legitimate.) I am, however, suggesting that we deserve to know what kind of support and membership the No MMP campaign has so that we can assess their credibility as an organization.