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bill_barilko

Single Transferable Vote

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eb,

A LOT of Canadians feel like they're living in a democratic dictatorship.

In any case the chances of anyone ever securing a majority in Canada again are slim given the development of the Bloc. Another regional party or two would further reduce the chance of a majority to none. Its not that FPTP was so bad its just that it's really ill-suited for the multitude of parties and voices that have emerged in today's busier more complex world.

Its an anachronism that is out of time and place. Its time to move on.

We had a record 4 successive majorities after the Bloc appeared. We had 5 major parties in the early 1990s and today we have... I think... 5... IF you count the Green party.

To add: We also had 4 in the 1970s and the 1980s.

Edited by Michael Hardner

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The thing that is most irritating about PR advocates is that they presume that we have been living in democratic insanity until this point.

I've never heard the term democratic insanity before so you can retain ownership of it. I just think that a system that distorts the vote, rewards regional parties, and leaves large portions of the population unrepresented is wrong.

Did our FPTP produce the worst democracy in the world over the past 140 years or so ? I don't think so. I think it's, rather, one of the best that there is.

What an arrogant, uninformed thing to say. This is Canada where we just had a crisis because some parties tried to exercise their democratic prerogative to form a coalition to replace a government that lost confidence. We had a party leader exploiting peoples ignorance by calling it a coup d'etat and accusing the opposition of "making a deal with the devil". Under PR, a coalition could have been formed without the BQ.

This is Canada where we have serious regional conflict and rather than help build bridges, our electoral system is exacerbating them.

Who are you comparing us to?

I'm highly suspicious when people advocate large-scale change, understating the risk and overstating the benefits.

Well, the main benefit is that we will have a system where all points of view that have substantial support will be represented. I'm not sure what risk you're speaking of. Here in BC, the government has set an almost impossible level of 60% support for the referendum to bring in a new electoral system. The ironic thing is that they don't even need a referendum at all. The change could be made (or reversed) by an act of parliament.

Put bluntly, like all systems of discrimination, FPTP is being protected by those it favours, both the politicians and their supporters.

What do you tell the 940,000 people who vote Green every election, knowing that they're wasting their time? How many thousands of others have just given up because they know their votes won't count? What are you afraid of?

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What do you tell the 940,000 people who vote Green every election, knowing that they're wasting their time?

That about 3,000 votes per riding.

That sucks!

It isn't deserving of anything, anytime.

I think the fact that Elizabeth May receiving a pathetic 12,000 votes, while the LPC choose not to run a candidate is a sign that the GPC are not ready to hold a seat in office. They were not competitive in some 303 ridings.

The GPC run paper candidates to collect their $1.95/vote.

I would suggest the GPC run good candidates, and realize that they are competing against strong candidates in ridings across this country.

It's difficult to make a case for the Green Party.

However, for the voters, it is never a waste. It is never a waste regardless of whom they voted for. Votes are never wasted. People who say votes are wasted are are against democracy.

My problem with your argument is that you are not making the Provincial case for STV.

You need not bridge into Federal politics to make your point.

There is a Provincial GP which is probably better then the Elizabeth May Party.

The Provincial BCGP are polling quite high.

You might wish to make their case. Making a case where I know the only reason the GPC run candidates is to collect government public funding, doesn't sway me over.

I am very concerned about some of the problems with STV. However, As BC is the most likely to adopt STV, I think the ROC could benefit from watching STV in action.

It will either be great, ok, or suck.

Then other Provinces will change or remain status quo based on the BC experience.

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Reefer,

I've never heard the term democratic insanity before so you can retain ownership of it. I just think that a system that distorts the vote, rewards regional parties, and leaves large portions of the population unrepresented is wrong.

The large portions that are unrepresented smooth out over time.

What an arrogant, uninformed thing to say. This is Canada where we just had a crisis because some parties tried to exercise their democratic prerogative to form a coalition to replace a government that lost confidence. We had a party leader exploiting peoples ignorance by calling it a coup d'etat and accusing the opposition of "making a deal with the devil". Under PR, a coalition could have been formed without the BQ.

Really ? I thought PR was about the rules of election, not the rules of parliament. Does PR necessarily mean that the GG would have to obey the opposition parties demands when a coalition changes ? I don't think it does.

This is Canada where we have serious regional conflict and rather than help build bridges, our electoral system is exacerbating them.

Who are you comparing us to?

Comparing us to the US, and to Europe - the foundational democracies of the world. Canada has found a balance that provides a strong social safety net and an excellent business environment.

Well, the main benefit is that we will have a system where all points of view that have substantial support will be represented. I'm not sure what risk you're speaking of. Here in BC, the government has set an almost impossible level of 60% support for the referendum to bring in a new electoral system. The ironic thing is that they don't even need a referendum at all. The change could be made (or reversed) by an act of parliament.

That's a very nebulous benefit. You're saying that people feel bad about the system now, and will feel better when we're done. I'm not sure if that can be said of the 30% or so of conservative-minded voters in Canada who would see a significantly lower chance of having their party in power.

I don't think 60% is an impossibly high level of support, in fact I think it's low given that the change is so wide-reaching.

Put bluntly, like all systems of discrimination, FPTP is being protected by those it favours, both the politicians and their supporters.

I think that FPTP favours all of us.

What do you tell the 940,000 people who vote Green every election, knowing that they're wasting their time? How many thousands of others have just given up because they know their votes won't count? What are you afraid of?

I'm afraid of disrupting a balance to make 1 million people out of 30 million slightly happier. I'm afraid of taking away the voice of 10 million people for those 1 million people.

I'm afraid that the Bloc will rightly see this as a limit to their ability to elect members, and it will disrupt national unity.

I'm afraid that a vocal minority is overstating the level of dissatisfaction with FPTP, and is too eager to experiment with our system, thinking that nothing could possibly go wrong. It isn't so.

If the problem is that we don't have a single Green MP, then let's make a rule saying every party receiving 5% of the vote gets at least 1 MP in parliament, or 5 MPs. You yourself have said that pure PR isn't the way to go, I think, so why not just put a limit as to how much PR we want so that the balance of power isn't affected ?

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That sucks!

It isn't deserving of anything, anytime.

I think the fact that Elizabeth May receiving a pathetic 12,000 votes, while the LPC choose not to run a candidate is a sign that the GPC are not ready to hold a seat in office. They were not competitive in some 303 ridings.

So, you're saying you think it's completely OK that about a million Canadians aren't represented? You think that's a good form of democracy?

I would suggest the GPC run good candidates, and realize that they are competing against strong candidates in ridings across this country.

Most people identify first with the party, second with the candidate. If people don't think the party has a chance, a lot of them cast their votes elsewhere, regardless of the strength of the candidate.

It's difficult to make a case for the Green Party.

No, it's not difficult at all. In most of the world's democracies, that is to say democracies where they're not all about suppressing minority opinion, the Green Party would have seats.

However, for the voters, it is never a waste. It is never a waste regardless of whom they voted for. Votes are never wasted. People who say votes are wasted are are against democracy.

What a smug, self-serving comment. People who don't feel represented feel like their vote has been wasted. From comments made in online fora such as this, I'd say that inculdes a lot of Green voters. Saying they're against democracy is arrogant and inane.

My problem with your argument is that you are not making the Provincial case for STV.

For people who think it's OK to leave large blocks of the citizenry unrepresented, there is no case for STV or any other form of PR.

You need not bridge into Federal politics to make your point.

PR isn't a provincial or federal issue. It's an issue of democracy. And lack of thereof.

There is a Provincial GP which is probably better then the Elizabeth May Party.

The BC voters don't appear to agree with you. The Federal Green Pary actually polled a bit better than the Provincial Green Party in the most recent respective elections.

The Provincial BCGP are polling quite high.

We'll see how that translates. I could be wrong but I believe that Greens usually poll higher before an electoin than they get votes during an election. Could be due to "strategic voting", yet another well known weakness with our ridiculous electoral system.

Making a case where I know the only reason the GPC run candidates is to collect government public funding, doesn't sway me over.

You don't know squat. And the citizens who vote Green are deserving of that funding going to a party that represents their point of view.

I am very concerned about some of the problems with STV.

So far, all I've heard are a bunch of fear-mongering and misinformation. The Irish population voted twice to retain the system. Maybe you could find some actual examples where STV produces worse results that FPTP. Because I have tons of examples where elections run under STV would produce more representative results.

However, As BC is the most likely to adopt STV, I think the ROC could benefit from watching STV in action.

That's depressing because with the artificial supermajority rules, it's going to be extremely difficult. Electoral reform (any system, not just STV) is difficult to explain to a largely apathetic population. The yes side has to be clear and persuasive. The no side simply has to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Still, I agree with you that if BC-STV fails to be adopted, there is a significant chance that PR will disappear from debate for perhaps a generation due to the experiences in Ontario, Quebec and PEI as well as BC.

It will either be great, ok, or suck.

Wow, you're really going out on a limb with that prediction.

Then other Provinces will change or remain status quo based on the BC experience.

Maybe. Or maybe they'll discover there are a whole world of different electoral systems out there.

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Accept my math???? Bill, you seem to be implying I don't know what I'm talking about, if not outright calling me a liar.

No, I'm questioning whether you have looked at ALL the factors! Hardly the same as calling you a liar. You seem to be saying that if I disagree with your pet idea I must be attacking you. I guess that's better than what you've accused Madmax of being, i.e. smug, arrogant, etc.

You do seem to like ad hominem responses. I do hope this is only your internet personality and you are more tolerant in face to face situations.

Federally at least, the NDP has never won anything near the number of popular votes as either the Liberals or the Conservatives. To my mind, there's no fixed pie where if they won 10% of the popular vote they are entitled to formulating 10% of the legislation passed by Parliament. They are still a minority view. To allow them their own way is to value a minority more than a considerably larger majority. Hardly a way to foment more unity.

Whenever you've posted about any form of PR I've been struck by how you always seem to talk in terms of overall numbers. You seem to feel that any riding level aspects as to representing the majority of the voters in that riding as irrelevant, if not downright worthless.

You are entitled to take such a view but not to expect that it should be taken as a fact of the universe for all other people. Many folks LIKE how our present system lets us send a reasonably local representative to Parliament! We frankly distrust the idea of having someone appointed for us under some mathematical formula and worse yet, from a list chosen by parties themselves.

This is perhaps the real reason PR was voted down in Ontario last election. Not because the population didn't understand it or it was poorly explained. Most of us understood it perfectly. We simply didn't LIKE it! Trying to portray us as all ignorant and only in need of the champions of PR to educate us is frankly patronizing and elitist, as well as dead wrong.

Anyhow, I understand your passion for your ideal but if you're going to keep being grumpy then I for one will just 'ignore' you and not play with you anymore. This may not matter to you but hey, what do I care? If I want to be abused I'll pay for it!

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So, you're saying you think it's completely OK that about a million Canadians aren't represented? You think that's a good form of democracy?
Let's say we lived in a country where 50%+1 of the people consistently voted for a single party. This would mean that 49% of the population would never have any say in the government. I assume this would be ok with you because democracy says the majority rules?

The point I am trying to make is people who only represent 10% of the population have no business believing that their minority views should be 'represented' in the government on a regular basis. Trying to manipulate the system in a way that gives too much power to these minority views actually undermines the principals of democracy.

I think part of the issue is you can't understand that the current system may allow a majority to take power with 35% of the vote but once they are in power they know they have tread very carefully because a small shift in votes will get them booted out at the next election. This means the party in power needs to consider the wishes of the people that did not vote for them and that is why virtually every party that actually takes power tends to campaign from the left/right but govern from the center.

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Reefer,

The large portions that are unrepresented smooth out over time.

No, they're not. Nationally, smaller national parties like the NDP and the Green Party are perennially grossly under-represented. The bloc is over-represented. I don't see this changing any time soon. The goofy cat-and-mouse games that have been played over the last two elections are because Harper has been angling for a majority government. He doesn't deserve a majority government (and we certainly don't deserve him having one) because he doesn't represent a majority of Canadians.

The more I write about this, the more I wonder whether it might be possible for groups like the smaller parties and Fair Vote Canada to launch a charter challenge on behalf of the voters who are continually discriminated against by our electoral system.

Really ? I thought PR was about the rules of election, not the rules of parliament. Does PR necessarily mean that the GG would have to obey the opposition parties demands when a coalition changes ? I don't think it does.

You missed the point. Under PR, the coalition wouldn't have needed the support of the Bloc to form a government. In fact, it isn't clear that the Conservatives could have formed a government at all, given the support they have.

Comparing us to the US, and to Europe - the foundational democracies of the world. Canada has found a balance that provides a strong social safety net and an excellent business environment.

Ask all of the people out there who can't get UI about our "strong safety net".

That's a very nebulous benefit. You're saying that people feel bad about the system now, and will feel better when we're done. I'm not sure if that can be said of the 30% or so of conservative-minded voters in Canada who would see a significantly lower chance of having their party in power.

If having a legislative assembly that's representative of the population is a nebulous benefit, perhaps you would be more comfortable with a military dictatorship. Most of them are conservative so you should be very happy with that.

I don't think 60% is an impossibly high level of support, in fact I think it's low given that the change is so wide-reaching.
There's no legitimate reason for giving no voters 1.5 votes and yes voters 1 vote.
I think that FPTP favours all of us.

Assuming that when you say "all of us", you mean the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the Bloc, you're right.

I'm afraid of disrupting a balance to make 1 million people out of 30 million slightly happier. I'm afraid of taking away the voice of 10 million people for those 1 million people.

What balance? Have you noticed how FPTP produces wild swings from one party to another? How are you taking away the voice of 10 million by allocating power according to the level of support?

I'm afraid that the Bloc will rightly see this as a limit to their ability to elect members, and it will disrupt national unity.

That's a valid concern but it needs to be presented correctly. This isn't anti-Quebec, it's offering Quebeccers representation more in line with their views. The scenario that worries me is that parties like the Bloc will start showing up in other provinces because they are so effective at inflating their representation. It's not hard to imagine an 'Alberta party, followed shortly by a BC party. Suddenly national parties are out the window and everything is seen through the lens of regional politics.

I'm afraid that a vocal minority is overstating the level of dissatisfaction with FPTP, and is too eager to experiment with our system, thinking that nothing could possibly go wrong. It isn't so.

Throughout history, whenever there's been systemic discrimination, it's been up to the group being discriminated against, supported by a group of fair, open-minded citizens from the majority to make enough noise to get the system fixed. Every time, the people who benefit from the discrimination rationalize the system and resist change. Just as you are doing now.

If the problem is that we don't have a single Green MP, then let's make a rule saying every party receiving 5% of the vote gets at least 1 MP in parliament, or 5 MPs. You yourself have said that pure PR isn't the way to go, I think, so why not just put a limit as to how much PR we want so that the balance of power isn't affected ?

I don't think there are any perfectly proportional systems but I think that STV does a good job of balancing proportionality with regional representation. Look at the STV website.

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WB,

Federally at least, the NDP has never won anything near the number of popular votes as either the Liberals or the Conservatives. To my mind, there's no fixed pie where if they won 10% of the popular vote they are entitled to formulating 10% of the legislation passed by Parliament. They are still a minority view. To allow them their own way is to value a minority more than a considerably larger majority. Hardly a way to foment more unity.

This is a smart observation. 10% of opposition or 30% of opposition is still opposition. Only when it comes to forming governments and changing the balance does this really come into play.

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Reefer,

No, they're not. Nationally, smaller national parties like the NDP and the Green Party are perennially grossly under-represented. The bloc is over-represented. I don't see this changing any time soon. The goofy cat-and-mouse games that have been played over the last two elections are because Harper has been angling for a majority government. He doesn't deserve a majority government (and we certainly don't deserve him having one) because he doesn't represent a majority of Canadians.

The NDP has shared power in several governments. The Green Party, as has been pointed out, wouldn't benefit much more from having 10 seats, except as a balance of power which should be a rare occaision.

QUOTE

Really ? I thought PR was about the rules of election, not the rules of parliament. Does PR necessarily mean that the GG would have to obey the opposition parties demands when a coalition changes ? I don't think it does.

You missed the point. Under PR, the coalition wouldn't have needed the support of the Bloc to form a government. In fact, it isn't clear that the Conservatives could have formed a government at all, given the support they have.

Ok. I misunderstood this: " Under PR, a coalition could have been formed without the BQ."

You made it sound like PR would have helped solve the situation that occurred in December. What you meant to say is that it wouldn't have happened in the first place, because we would have had a coalition to begin with. Right ?

My response is that we would always have a coalition under PR and that this wouldn't be a good thing.

Ask all of the people out there who can't get UI about our "strong safety net".

Ok, well move to the US or Asia and ask about our "strong safety net". Or move to Europe and ask about our "strong business environment". My point is that we have a balance, and you response is that you want things to go more to the left.

I'm an NDP supporter too, but I don't want social progress imposed on Canada - I want at least 30% the people to vote for it.

If having a legislative assembly that's representative of the population is a nebulous benefit, perhaps you would be more comfortable with a military dictatorship. Most of them are conservative so you should be very happy with that.

Again, you have presented an extreme and partisan response.

Anybody who doesn't like PR is clearly pining for a fascist dictatorship, including me who worked for the NDP in every decade since the 1970s.

Assuming that when you say "all of us", you mean the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the Bloc, you're right.

QUOTE

I'm afraid of disrupting a balance to make 1 million people out of 30 million slightly happier. I'm afraid of taking away the voice of 10 million people for those 1 million people.

What balance? Have you noticed how FPTP produces wild swings from one party to another? How are you taking away the voice of 10 million by allocating power according to the level of support?

So you're not concerned by the fact that Conservatives could effectively be legislated out of power with PR ?

That's a valid concern but it needs to be presented correctly. This isn't anti-Quebec, it's offering Quebeccers representation more in line with their views. The scenario that worries me is that parties like the Bloc will start showing up in other provinces because they are so effective at inflating their representation. It's not hard to imagine an 'Alberta party, followed shortly by a BC party. Suddenly national parties are out the window and everything is seen through the lens of regional politics.

If you're afraid of more parties popping up, then PR should be your last option.

Throughout history, whenever there's been systemic discrimination, it's been up to the group being discriminated against, supported by a group of fair, open-minded citizens from the majority to make enough noise to get the system fixed. Every time, the people who benefit from the discrimination rationalize the system and resist change. Just as you are doing now.

As I said, I believe the entire nation benefits from the system. Talking about history doesn't help your argument - I could easily say that throughout history, a dissatisfied minority stirs up trouble in order to benefit itself, and replace the ruling class with its own people, then point out that you are that minority.

I don't think there are any perfectly proportional systems but I think that STV does a good job of balancing proportionality with regional representation. Look at the STV website.

I've read those sites before. Like you, they soft pedal radical change without concern for the risks involved.

Unfortunately, most PR supporters tend to have that same religious mindset that you have. I'm sorry, but I'm not a true believer. The party with the most votes wins, and gets to drive the bus until the next time.

Parties can negotiate over power, but if nobody ever clearly holds power, we will only have chaos.

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So, you're saying you think it's completely OK that about a million Canadians aren't represented? You think that's a good form of democracy?
I believe that those 900,000 are represented to the degree that they have support. Getting 2,000 votes in a riding or 800 votes isn't going to change the face of politics. Its just not going to happen.
Most people identify first with the party, second with the candidate. If people don't think the party has a chance, a lot of them cast their votes elsewhere, regardless of the strength of the candidate.
Then you concur.
No, it's not difficult at all. In most of the world's democracies, that is to say democracies where they're not all about suppressing minority opinion, the Green Party would have seats.
Oh come on, an independant can get elected, at that is one hell of a more difficult battle then one orchestrated by the GP or any other Political Party. If the GPC ran a candidate worthy of getting a minority of the vote, they would have at least ONE seat. An argument for PR on the basis of the GPCs needs vs that publics needs is distasteful.

If you cannot get ONE member elected in 308 ridings, there is a problem and it isn't democracy. There are many many reasons why a candidate gets elected. And alot of that is strong local community work. Not just flying a flag with a paper candidate.

What a smug, self-serving comment. People who don't feel represented feel like their vote has been wasted. From comments made in online fora such as this, I'd say that inculdes a lot of Green voters. Saying they're against democracy is arrogant and inane.
I vote in every election, municipal, Provincial, Federal. Often my candidate of choice is NOT elected. My vote has NEVER been wasted. I am waiting for more people to back the candidate or party that I am supporting. If you work hard, it will happen, without trying to Jerry rig the system on the needs of a political party.
For people who think it's OK to leave large blocks of the citizenry unrepresented, there is no case for STV or any other form of PR.
The people who don't vote are represented. Everyone is represented. You just may not like the choice made by the other voters in your riding.
PR isn't a provincial or federal issue. It's an issue of democracy. And lack of thereof.
It is a different form of electing officials. Some argue it is more democratic, some suggest it is more representative. What is certain is that everyone has the ability to participate in democracy today and are not denied the right to vote.
The BC voters don't appear to agree with you. The Federal Green Pary actually polled a bit better than the Provincial Green Party in the most recent respective elections.
The Federal Green Party in BC finished at 9.4% in BC, the highest of any province. They are currently polling in at 16% Provincially.

There is a change in the public mindset when you crest double digits.

Regardless, this is discussion appears to be about changing a system for the needs of the Green Party.

We'll see how that translates. I could be wrong but I believe that Greens usually poll higher before an electoin than they get votes during an election. Could be due to "strategic voting", yet another well known weakness with our ridiculous electoral system.
Its not rediculous, but it does get the losers ticked off because the winner never has a majority.
You don't know squat. And the citizens who vote Green are deserving of that funding going to a party that represents their point of view.
Actually the GP don't deserve that funding. However all parties want their entitlements to the public purse. If the Natural Law Party had maintained their status and then ran candidates in all ridings, and maintained a prescence after 1993, I wouldn't be surprised to see them receiving government funding and yogic flyers everywhere.

Sorry, I don't believe that the public purse should fund political parties. They all take advantage of it and it is wrong. If we went to a PR system, there is even more reason to get rid of the Public Funding.

So far, all I've heard are a bunch of fear-mongering and misinformation. The Irish population voted twice to retain the system. Maybe you could find some actual examples where STV produces worse results that FPTP. Because I have tons of examples where elections run under STV would produce more representative results.
It is a change in representation. Many people don't believe that the FPTP is all bad. People have lived with the results of a FPTP and will in the future. Just as people would live adapt and become apathetic to a different PR system.
Still, I agree with you that if BC-STV fails to be adopted, there is a significant chance that PR will disappear from debate for perhaps a generation due to the experiences in Ontario, Quebec and PEI as well as BC.

Its dead in Ontario.

BC is the best chance and even with all the worry and skepticism, I would rather see it tried in a PRovince before considering it on the Federal Scene.

I really am sick of political parties or party activists trying to push PR just because they will benefit. It appears so opportunistic, it makes people not want to vote :)

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No, I'm questioning whether you have looked at ALL the factors! Hardly the same as calling you a liar. You seem to be saying that if I disagree with your pet idea I must be attacking you. I guess that's better than what you've accused Madmax of being, i.e. smug, arrogant, etc.

You do seem to like ad hominem responses. I do hope this is only your internet personality and you are more tolerant in face to face situations.

None of my responses are ad hominem. I didn't say Madmax was smug or arrogant - I said what Mad Max said was smug and arrogant. There's a difference. In terms of my response, you openly questioned what I said. It seems reasonable for me to interpret that as you either questioning my competence or my honesty. There's nothing ad hominem about that either.

Federally at least, the NDP has never won anything near the number of popular votes as either the Liberals or the Conservatives. To my mind, there's no fixed pie where if they won 10% of the popular vote they are entitled to formulating 10% of the legislation passed by Parliament. They are still a minority view. To allow them their own way is to value a minority more than a considerably larger majority. Hardly a way to foment more unity.

So do you think giving an NDP vote equal weight to a Liberal vote means you're valuing them more?

Whenever you've posted about any form of PR I've been struck by how you always seem to talk in terms of overall numbers. You seem to feel that any riding level aspects as to representing the majority of the voters in that riding as irrelevant, if not downright worthless.

I like to support my opinions with facts. I'm just funny that way. My experience with local representation is that if your local MLA doesn't agree with you, you are unrepresented. STV provides you with a choice of representatives, increasing the odds that at least one of them will be aligned with your position.

You are entitled to take such a view but not to expect that it should be taken as a fact of the universe for all other people. Many folks LIKE how our present system lets us send a reasonably local representative to Parliament! We frankly distrust the idea of having someone appointed for us under some mathematical formula and worse yet, from a list chosen by parties themselves.

I'm sure NDP supporters in Saskatchewan are thrilled by their local representation. Same with Liberal supporters in Alberta. And Green supporters everywhere. STV would represent the regions much more honestly that FPTP can ever hope to.

This is perhaps the real reason PR was voted down in Ontario last election. Not because the population didn't understand it or it was poorly explained. Most of us understood it perfectly. We simply didn't LIKE it! Trying to portray us as all ignorant and only in need of the champions of PR to educate us is frankly patronizing and elitist, as well as dead wrong.

It may seem patronizing. It certainly is not elitist. In fact, FPTP is a much more elitist system. In terms of being wrong, I'm sorry but I doubt it. You seemed to be unaware that most "majority" FPTP governments represent a minority of the voters. Frankly, most people probably haven't given it much thought. And I've seen so much fear-mongering and misinformation about BC-STV that I know there are a lot of people who don't understand PR or STV.

Anyhow, I understand your passion for your ideal but if you're going to keep being grumpy then I for one will just 'ignore' you and not play with you anymore. This may not matter to you but hey, what do I care? If I want to be abused I'll pay for it!

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Let's say we lived in a country where 50%+1 of the people consistently voted for a single party. This would mean that 49% of the population would never have any say in the government. I assume this would be ok with you because democracy says the majority rules?

This is a recipe for a very dysfunctional country. Eventually, it's going to split into two countries.

But in this example, at least the 49% of the population has an opportunity to send representatives to the legislature to present the views of the minority.

The point I am trying to make is people who only represent 10% of the population have no business believing that their minority views should be 'represented' in the government on a regular basis. Trying to manipulate the system in a way that gives too much power to these minority views actually undermines the principals of democracy.

How does giving equal weight to votes for smaller parties give them too much power?

I think part of the issue is you can't understand that the current system may allow a majority to take power with 35% of the vote but once they are in power they know they have tread very carefully because a small shift in votes will get them booted out at the next election. This means the party in power needs to consider the wishes of the people that did not vote for them and that is why virtually every party that actually takes power tends to campaign from the left/right but govern from the center.

So, then you must agree that in the current electory system, the majority of the power actually exists in the 10-15% of "swing" voters. But is that democratic?

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Reefer,

The NDP has shared power in several governments. The Green Party, as has been pointed out, wouldn't benefit much more from having 10 seats, except as a balance of power which should be a rare occaision.

We don't now what the true support of the Green Party would be if they were allowed to participate according to basic democratic principles. Maybe people would vote for them if they knew their votes might help elect someone. Or maybe the Green Party is really only attacting protest votes which would go somewhere else. We're not allowed to know because of a system that effectively bars new entrants. Kind of like a political monopoly.

My response is that we would always have a coalition under PR and that this wouldn't be a good thing.

There are lots of countries that always have coalitions and do just fine. They forget about the principles of dictatorship and learn a new concept called consensus building.

Ok, well move to the US or Asia and ask about our "strong safety net". Or move to Europe and ask about our "strong business environment". My point is that we have a balance, and you response is that you want things to go more to the left.

No, I don't want things to go to the left or to the right. I want a system that accurately reflects the views of the population. It's funny you say that because there are a LOT of NDP supporters who complain the Green Party is too right wing and Libertarian.

I'm an NDP supporter too, but I don't want social progress imposed on Canada - I want at least 30% the people to vote for it.

Well, in BC 4 years ago, we had 58% approval for an improvement in our voting system. The powers that be sighed with relief and said sorry, that's not good enough.

Anybody who doesn't like PR is clearly pining for a fascist dictatorship, including me who worked for the NDP in every decade since the 1970s.
That's not what I said. You said that there was nebulous benefit to having all substantial points of view represented. The obvious reply is that if democracy isn't about representing the people, what good is it?
So you're not concerned by the fact that Conservatives could effectively be legislated out of power with PR ?

I don't think that democracy should be about power, it should be about representing all points of view and building on the strength of diverse opinions. There are some countries in the world where coalitions are built on specific issues. That is where we should be going. I've lived through 8 years of BC Liberal government and what bothers me most isn't what they've done. It's that they've been so bloody dishonest about it. During the campaign, they mouth platitudes. They get a 4 year dictatorship and ram through all kinds of things that weren't mentioned during the campaign. I absolutely believe that Stephen Harper will do exactly the same thing federally if he ever gets a majority.

If you're afraid of more parties popping up, then PR should be your last option.

I think there should be as many parties as there are points of view. However, the Bloc is getting a huge advantage from the premium that FPTP gives to a party with concentrated support. That advantage will favour other regional parties and if that starts to happen, Canada could easily go up in smoke.

You say you're an NDP supporter. Are you happy that in terms of electing MP's, every Bloc vote is worth more than 2.5 NDP votes?

As I said, I believe the entire nation benefits from the system. Talking about history doesn't help your argument - I could easily say that throughout history, a dissatisfied minority stirs up trouble in order to benefit itself, and replace the ruling class with its own people, then point out that you are that minority.
I've read those sites before. Like you, they soft pedal radical change without concern for the risks involved.

So, all of the countries that use PR are radical? Someone should tell NATO about all of our radical allies.

Unfortunately, most PR supporters tend to have that same religious mindset that you have. I'm sorry, but I'm not a true believer. The party with the most votes wins, and gets to drive the bus until the next time.

Yes, I'm religious in my belief that my vote should be worth the same as everyone else's. I'm sorry you don't believe in that. And if you think that a democracy is like driving a bus, well, I can see why ours doesn't work all that well.

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eb,

We had a record 4 successive majorities after the Bloc appeared. We had 5 major parties in the early 1990s and today we have... I think... 5... IF you count the Green party.

To add: We also had 4 in the 1970s and the 1980s.

How many were real majorities based on more than 50% of the votes though? I guess if you just don't care about that missing aspect of democracy it'll never matter. I would describe the system we use as being very conservative by design with the intent being to deny and resist any kind of change or reform, to the extent that I would characterize it as being stuck-in-the-mud, stagnant and even degenerate.

I just think our democracy would be more productive if it was more diverse, like a coral reef. The analogy is apt because democracy should be as alive as the people that use it. Voting usually just feels like an excersize of futility, at best its a rubber stamp of disapproval for most people who usually vote against something when they do.

As for the pizza analogy, pepperoni and chesse gets really boring after you've eaten a dozen or so.

Edited by eyeball

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RM,

There are lots of countries that always have coalitions and do just fine. They forget about the principles of dictatorship and learn a new concept called consensus building.

Again, with name calling. When you compare FPTP to a dictatorship, you show yourself as being strident and you lose my interest.

No, I don't want things to go to the left or to the right. I want a system that accurately reflects the views of the population.

The 'system' doesn't need to reflect the population, but the result should.

As I have said, we have a good balance now.

You say you're an NDP supporter. Are you happy that in terms of electing MP's, every Bloc vote is worth more than 2.5 NDP votes?

The NDP holds the Liberals' feet to the fire, and sometimes can get something good done. I think that Quebec has more power within Canada than befits its population, and I think that helps keep them in confederation.

I think they would not accept reduced regional representation.

QUOTE

I've read those sites before. Like you, they soft pedal radical change without concern for the risks involved.

So, all of the countries that use PR are radical? Someone should tell NATO about all of our radical allies.

By radical change, I mean means large scale and quick change.

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I believe that those 900,000 are represented to the degree that they have support. Getting 2,000 votes in a riding or 800 votes isn't going to change the face of politics. Its just not going to happen.

You're avoiding the question. Do you think it's OK that about a million Canadians are unable to look at their legislature and find someone who can represent their views?

Oh come on, an independant can get elected, at that is one hell of a more difficult battle then one orchestrated by the GP or any other Political Party. If the GPC ran a candidate worthy of getting a minority of the vote, they would have at least ONE seat. An argument for PR on the basis of the GPCs needs vs that publics needs is distasteful.

Not very many independents get elected. And most of the independents that do show up originally entered politics under a party banner.

If you cannot get ONE member elected in 308 ridings, there is a problem and it isn't democracy. There are many many reasons why a candidate gets elected. And alot of that is strong local community work. Not just flying a flag with a paper candidate.

According to Political Scientist Dennis Pilon, the primary criterion for most people voting is party. There are other reasons but that is the most important.

I vote in every election, municipal, Provincial, Federal. Often my candidate of choice is NOT elected. My vote has NEVER been wasted. I am waiting for more people to back the candidate or party that I am supporting. If you work hard, it will happen, without trying to Jerry rig the system on the needs of a political party.

I'm happy for you.

The people who don't vote are represented. Everyone is represented. You just may not like the choice made by the other voters in your riding.

Both federally and provincially, I have had e-mails to my elected representatives go unanswered. Is that the type of local representation that the anti-STVers are afraid we'll lose? There are two types of representation - non-partisan (e.g. difficulties dealing with government agencies) and partisan (policies, government direction). You can get support for the first out of any type of system. If the party of your representative isn't with you on policy, you get nothing. That's one of the great things about STV.

It is a different form of electing officials. Some argue it is more democratic, some suggest it is more representative. What is certain is that everyone has the ability to participate in democracy today and are not denied the right to vote.
Yes, that's great. We can trudge off to the polls every 4 years and cast a largely meaningless ballot. Yippee.
The Federal Green Party in BC finished at 9.4% in BC, the highest of any province. They are currently polling in at 16% Provincially.
They often poll higher before an election. Let's see what happens during the election. Under our current, antiquated, backwards electoral system, people often vote for parties they don't want because the parties they do want don't have a chance. This practise has the bizarre euphenism strategic voting.
Regardless, this is discussion appears to be about changing a system for the needs of the Green Party.
Absolutely not. This is about having all substantial points of view recognized in our democracy. It may benefit the Green Party today but things change over time.
Its not rediculous, but it does get the losers ticked off because the winner never has a majority.
It is ridiculous and so are all of the rationalizations as to why a party with 40% of the vote gets unfettered political power for 4 years.
Actually the GP don't deserve that funding. However all parties want their entitlements to the public purse. If the Natural Law Party had maintained their status and then ran candidates in all ridings, and maintained a prescence after 1993, I wouldn't be surprised to see them receiving government funding and yogic flyers everywhere.

Sorry, I don't believe that the public purse should fund political parties. They all take advantage of it and it is wrong. If we went to a PR system, there is even more reason to get rid of the Public Funding.

There has been public funding for political parties as long as there has been tax break to support them. They've been there as long as I can remember. The funding model has simply been changed from indirect funding to direct funding. The move was done to prevent the perception (and a well founded one at that) that corporations, unions and wealthy individuals were buying government influence.

It is a change in representation. Many people don't believe that the FPTP is all bad. People have lived with the results of a FPTP and will in the future. Just as people would live adapt and become apathetic to a different PR system.

I doubt that most people even know what FPTP means.

I really am sick of political parties or party activists trying to push PR just because they will benefit. It appears so opportunistic, it makes people not want to vote :)

Just to set the record straight, I'm not a party activist - I'm not even a party member. I'm just someone who believes in the basic tenets of fairness. It's fine to say one person, one vote. How about all votes are equal?

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But in this example, at least the 49% of the population has an opportunity to send representatives to the legislature to present the views of the minority.
So sending representatives that are ignored is more important than a system which encourages the party in power to moderate its views?
How does giving equal weight to votes for smaller parties give them too much power?
Because they become the king makers that decide which of the majority parties gets to govern.
So, then you must agree that in the current electoral system, the majority of the power actually exists in the 10-15% of "swing" voters. But is that democratic?
It would not be if the swing voters had their own party which needed to justify its existence via grandstanding and the adoption of policies that it could take credit for. But as a block of mobile voters they are essential to ensuring the main parties do not sway too far from the center where the majority of voters are politically. A system which gave the balance of power to minority parties would tilt the system towards satisfying fringe viewpoints instead of the center.

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A system which gave the balance of power to minority parties would tilt the system towards satisfying fringe viewpoints instead of the center.

FPTP does the same thing when so-called big-tent parties come to dominate the political landscape, especially the one's on the right.

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FPTP does the same thing when so-called big-tent parties come to dominate the political landscape, especially the one's on the right.
You really need to look beyond your own baises. Your problem with FPTP is not that it is undemocratic - it is that you think changing the system will prevent policies that you don't like from being enacted. The reality is a fringe right wing party could just as easily be in a position to pull the government puppet strings as a fringe left wing party. e.g. Harper has told the social conservatives in his party to shut up. He could not do that if they were represented by a seperate party whose support he needed to stay in power.

You also cannot argue that the center voters would abandon the CPC because they formed a coalition with a social conservative party. Under a different system those center voters could not switch their vote as easily because the alternative of a Liberal party propped up by the NDP or Greens could be much worse.

Bottom line, STV would take away my ability to vote for a moderate centrist party. I would be forced to choose between groups of fringe lunatics that would be pulling the puppet strings of the party that I would actually vote for.

Edited by Riverwind

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Your problem with FPTP is not that it is undemocratic - it is that you think changing the system will prevent policies that you don't like from being enacted.

That's right I just want a better way to vote against everything.

I think changing the system will breathe some life into it and resuscitate it.

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In Conservative Riding of Haldimand Norfolk....

Independant Gary McHale received more votes then the Green Party by almost 2.5 to 1.

Will the people that supported Gary McHale be represented in a PR system?

Will there vote be wasted?

Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Conservative Diane Finley 19,657 40.83% -7.47%

Liberal Eric Hoskins 15,577 32.35% -1.95%

New Democrat Ian Nichols 5,549 11.53% -1.27%

Independent Gary McHale 4,821 10.01% +10.01%

Green Stephana Johnston 2,041 4.24 +0.74%

Christian Heritage Steven Elgersma 501 1.0% 0.0%

Total valid votes 48,146

Gary McHale received 10% of the vote, and qualified for a return on election expenses etc.

Gary McHale will not receive the same Public Funding as the Green Party Candidate who finished below him.

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In Conservative Riding of Haldimand Norfolk....

Independant Gary McHale received more votes then the Green Party by almost 2.5 to 1.

Will the people that supported Gary McHale be represented in a PR system?

Will there vote be wasted?

Party Candidate Votes % ±%

Conservative Diane Finley 19,657 40.83% -7.47%

Liberal Eric Hoskins 15,577 32.35% -1.95%

New Democrat Ian Nichols 5,549 11.53% -1.27%

Independent Gary McHale 4,821 10.01% +10.01%

Green Stephana Johnston 2,041 4.24 +0.74%

Christian Heritage Steven Elgersma 501 1.0% 0.0%

Total valid votes 48,146

Gary McHale received 10% of the vote, and qualified for a return on election expenses etc.

Gary McHale will not receive the same Public Funding as the Green Party Candidate who finished below him.

Under STV, all of these candidates would be competing in a larger constituency. If McHale can attract a sufficient number of votes in this larger constituency, he will be elected. In fact, the Irish experience is that STV will be quite good for independent candidates.

The system continues to allow representation to small parties and to independents, 13 of whom were elected in 2002. While many PR systems enable small parties to win seats in the Parliament, STV seems to give an unusual opportunity to independent candidates to do the same because of its essentially candidate-centred rather than party-centred nature.

Link

You continue to bring up the Green Party. While the Green Party is a readily available example of discrimination in our FPTP system, STV and PR are about giving proper representation to parties, not the Green Party.

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In FPTP, we have an electoral system that produces results that are entirely disproportionate to the way people vote. If your party can get 40% of the vote, you can get 60% of the seats and 100% of the power. It's a system that extremely erratic. Sometimes 40% of the vote gets you 60% of the seats, sometimes it gets you 30% of the seats. In one Federal election, Manitoba Conservatives got over 40% of the vote and no seats. The seats all went to a variety of parties, none of whom got half as many votes as the Conservatives. People claim the system favours moderation but in fact it swings crazily back and forth. With just a few percentage points difference, the opposition leader who previously had 30% of the seats now has all the power. Worst of all, it's discriminatory. Large numbers of people are disenfranchised to give all the power to the largest minority.

Even the one great strength of the system, local representation, has been turned completely on its head by the major parties. MLA's and MP's are supposed to be representing the people in the legislature. Instead, they are representing the parties to the people. Do you doubt me? Here's a quote from Rafe Mair, former cabinet minister in the BC Government.

When you go to the polls, you are told by each of the candidates in your riding why he or she will do the best job. You will hear friends say so-and-so will make a good MLA. This is all stuff and nonsense. The MLA under our system, unless there is a rare hung parliament which we haven’t had sine 1952, is virtually powerless. He can be, in the old expression, a fencepost with hair, for all it matters. When that MLA enters the chamber to represent your constituency he does precisely what he is told. He speaks when the leader tells him to or says that it’s OK to do so and doesn’t dare stray from the party line. He votes as he is told. Even an abstention will bring reprisals.

So, Michael Hardner, when you get all huffy because I call our current system a dictatorship, what would you call it?

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