Sunday, September 28, 2014

How would proportional representation work in Manitoba?

How would proportional representation work in Manitoba, for federal elections?

Polls show more than 70% of Canadians support proportionalrepresentation for Canadian elections. Canada’s Liberal Party has opened the door to start implementing PR within one year of the 2015 election. The NDP and Greens fully support PR.

So this is no longer an academic discussion. This is a practical discussion: if Canada gets PR, how would it work in Manitoba?

Mixed Proportional

With the Mixed Proportional system, you have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today.

With the other vote, you can vote for the party you want to see in government, and for your favourite of your party’s regional candidates. So you help elect a few regional MPs, to top-up the local results so that every vote counts: it’s proportional. You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal. There are no closed lists. Voters elect all the MPs.

Competing MPs

Every voter in the region would be served by competing MPs. You could choose to go to your local MP for service or representation, or you could go to one of your regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in your area, likely including someone you helped elect.

Accountable MPs

This open list method was recommended both by our Law Commission and by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Jenkins’ colourful explanation accurately predicted why closed lists would be rejected in Canada: additional members locally anchored are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

Every vote counts. Each province still has the same number of MPs it has today. No constitutional amendment is needed. Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”

Two models:

Under the Law Commission of Canada`s model, the 14 MPs Manitoba voters will elect in 2015 would be in one “top-up” region. Under the “moderate” model inspired by the UK`s Jenkins Commission Report, they could be in two top-up regions.

What would regional MPs do?

How would regional MPs operate? The regional MPs would cover several ridings each. Just the way it’s done in Scotland. They could have several offices, just as MP Candice Bergen has offices in both Morden and Portage, and Niki Ashton has three. 

How would it work out?

So what would these two models look like?

This simulation is only if people voted as they did on May 2, 2011. When every vote counts, turnout will likely be at least 6% higher, and no one will have to cast a “strategic vote.” We would have had different candidates - more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could even have different parties. Who can say what would be the result of real democratic elections?

Meanwhile, I’ve done simulations on the votes cast in 2011.

One region

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in Manitoba on the 2015 boundaries would be eleven Conservative MPs and three New Democrats. (Under the new boundaries, Rebecca Blaikie beats Kevin Lamoureux by 109 votes.) Yet those voters cast only 53.5% of their votes for Conservatives, 26% NDP, 17% Liberals, and 4% Green. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect eight MPs, New Democrat voters four, and Liberal voters two. (See technical note as to how close Green voters came.)

Since I’m projecting from the 2011 votes, I’ll start with the 2011 candidates. Suppose the nine local MPs were (depending on local nominations in larger ridings) Conservatives Shelly Glover, Steven Fletcher, Vic Toews, Candice Bergen (then Hoeppner) (or James Bezan), Rod Bruinooge, Merv Tweed, and Joy Smith; and New Democrats Pat Martin and Niki Ashton. In that case, NDP voters would also elect two regional MPs from across the province. So would Liberal voters. Conservative voters would elect one too.  

The regional MPs for each party would be the party’s regional candidates who ended up with the highest vote across Manitoba. Liberal voters would elect two regional MPs such as Anita Neville (who got 14,784 votes in 2011) and Kevin Lamoureux (9,097) or Terry Duguid (14,296) or Raymond Simard (13,314). NDP voters’ two regional MPs might have been Jim Maloway who got 14,998 votes and Rebecca Blaikie (9,053) or Rachelle Devine (11,727) or Arborg’s Sean Palsson (10,933), or Brandon’s John Bouché (8,845). Conservative voters might elect Sandy Lake’s Robert Sopuck (18,543) or Winnipeg’s Joyce Bateman (15,506).

Two regions

These smaller regions are intended to be “moderately” proportional, less likely to elect MPs from smaller parties like the Greens. But in return, they provide better geographic representation, and more accountable regional MPs.

Winnipeg

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be six Conservative MPs and two New Democrats. Yet those voters cast only 47% of their votes for Conservatives, 27% for New Democrats, and 23% for Liberals. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect four MPs, New Democrat voters two, and Liberal voters two.

Suppose the five local MPs were (depending on local nominations in larger ridings) Conservatives Shelly Glover, Steven Fletcher, Rod Bruinooge, and Joy Smith; and New Democrat Pat Martin. In that case, NDP voters would also elect a regional MP from Winnipeg, and Liberal voters would elect two.  The regional MPs for each party would be the party’s regional candidates who ended up with the highest vote across Winnipeg. Liberal voters would elect two regional MPs such as Anita Neville (who got 14,784 votes in 2011) and Kevin Lamoureux (9,097) or Terry Duguid (14,296) or Raymond Simard (13,314). NDP voters’ regional MP might have been Jim Maloway who got 14,998 votes, or Rebecca Blaikie (9,053) or Rachelle Devine (11,727).

Manitoba South and North

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be five Conservative MPs and one New Democrat. Yet those voters cast only 64% of their votes for Conservatives, 24% for New Democrats, and 7% for Liberals. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect four MPs and New Democrat voters two. (See technical note as to how close Liberal voters came.)

Suppose the four local MPs (from larger ridings) were Conservatives Vic Toews, Candice Bergen (then Hoeppner) (or James Bezan), and Merv Tweed; and New Democrat Niki Ashton. NDP voters would also elect a regional MP, and Conservative voters would elect one too.  NDP voters’ regional MP might have been Arborg’s Sean Palsson (who got 10,933 votes in 2011) or Brandon’s John Bouché (8,845). Conservative voters might elect Sandy Lake’s Robert Sopuck (18,543).

By using two regions, the region outside Winnipeg is sure of keeping six MPs, including regional MPs like Sean Palsson or John Bouché, and Robert Sopuck. On the one-region model, those two additional MPs might both have been from Winnipeg. Conversely, Winnipeg is sure of keeping eight MPs. On the one-region model, one of those regional MPs might have been from outside Winnipeg.

Regional candidates

How would party members nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with live conventions. Likely party members in each region would decide to nominate the same candidates nominated in the local ridings, and some additional regional candidates. (In Nova Scotia in 2011, in all 11 ridings the Liberals nominated only men. Additional regional candidates would surely have included some women, and since polls show 90% of Canadians want to see more women elected, we’ll elect women when given the chance.)

But voters would have the final say, since they can vote for their party’s regional candidate they prefer.

More choice

For local MP, you can vote for the candidate you like best without hurting your party, since the party make-up of parliament is set by the party votes. In New Zealand, 35% of voters split their votes that way.

Canada-wide consequences.

With the new 30 MPs, on the 2011 votes transposed by Elections Canada onto the new boundaries, the winner-take-all results for the 338 MPs would be 188 Conservative, 109 NDP, 36 Liberal, 4 Bloc, and 1 Green.

When every vote counts, the result is: 140 Conservatives, 104 NDP, 64 Liberals, 19 Bloc, and 11 Green, using full proportionality on province-wide totals.

With these two mixed models, the projected results are 140 Conservatives, 106 or 108 NDP, 63 or 67 Liberals, 15 or 18 Bloc, and 8 or 11 Greens. Close to perfect proportionality, while keeping all MPs accountable to real local and regional communities.

Canadian diversity

As Stéphane Dion says "I no longer want a voting system that gives the impression that certain parties have given up on Quebec, or on the West. On the contrary, the whole spectrum of parties, from Greens to Conservatives, must embrace all the regions of Canada. In each region, they must covet and be able to obtain seats proportionate to their actual support. This is the main reason why I recommend replacing our voting system."

This is not a partisan scheme. Unrepresented Conservative voters would elect eight more Quebec MPs than in 2011, one more in Newfoundland, one more in PEI, one more in Northern Ontario, and one more on Vancouver Island.

Of course, proportional representation would mean a lot for Canada. We would not likely have a one party government’s Prime Minister holding all the power. (The last Prime Minister to get more than 50% of the votes was Brian Mulroney in 1984.) Parliament would reflect the diverse voters of every province.

An exciting prospect: voters have new power to elect who they like. New voices from new forces in Parliament. No party rolls the dice and wins an artificial majority. Cooperation will have a higher value than vitriolic rhetoric. Instead of having only a local MP -- whom you quite likely didn’t vote for -- you can also go to one of your diverse regional MPs, all of whom had to face the voters. Governments will have to listen to MPs, and MPs will have to really listen to the people. MPs can begin to act as the public servants they are. And all party caucuses will be more diverse.

With this kind of power-sharing, Canada would look quite different.

If we had a Proportional Representation voting system, here are only a few of the things Canadians could have accomplished over the past twenty years:
Ø Engaged and motivated voters
Ø A reinvigorated democratic system
Ø More women MPs and a fair mix of party representation
Ø Our electoral system is broken and people know it:
Ø Disengaged citizens are ignoring their right to vote
Ø A dysfunctional conflict-oriented political process
Ø Majority governments with minority voting results
Poll results on proportional representation

Environics asked in 2013 “Some people favor bringing in a form of proportional representation. This means that the total number of seats held by each party in Parliament would be roughly equivalent to their percentage of the national popular vote. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?”

Interviewing for this Environics National Telephone Survey was conducted between March 18th – 24th, 2013, among a national random sample of 1,004 adults. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
Result: support 70%, oppose 18%, depends 6%, don’t know 6%.

The Environics poll showed 93% of Green voters support proportional representation while 4% oppose; 82% of NDP voters support it while 11% oppose; 77% of Liberal voters support it while 15% oppose; 62% of Conservative supporters support it while 28% oppose; and 55% of voters undecided as to party support PR while 19% oppose and 27% said “don’t know” or “depends.”

This is not new. Poll results have shown this for 13 years.

Technical note

The rounding method used in the simulation is highest remainder, for the same reason the Ontario Citizens Assembly chose it: it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of their 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets smaller region sizes.

You might wonder why those Green voters across Manitoba elect no one. Here’s how the numbers of MPs turn out: Conservatives 7.53, NDP 3.63, Liberals 2.33, Greens 0.51. After the first 12 seats are calculated, the 13th goes to the “highest remainder,” the NDP; and the 14th then follows the “highest remainder” principle, and goes narrowly to the Conservatives. If discouraged Green Party voters had cast only 560 more votes across Manitoba, they would have elected an MP such as Winnipeg’s Jacqueline Romanow.

With the two-region model, Liberal voters outside Winnipeg elected no one. But if discouraged Liberals had cast only 250 more votes in those six ridings, they would have elected a regional MP such as Grand Chief Sydney Garrioch.

Would second preferences, used in the Jenkins model, have changed any results in 2011? Sometimes, using the EKOS poll taken April 28-30, 2011. But not in Manitoba in 2011.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How would proportional representation work in British Columbia?

How would proportional representation work in British Columbia, for federal elections?

Polls show more than 70% of Canadians support proportionalrepresentation for Canadian elections. Canada’s Liberal Party has opened the door to start implementing PR within one year of the 2015 election. The NDP and Greens fully support PR.

So this is no longer an academic discussion. This is a practical discussion: if Canada gets PR, how would it work in British Columbia?

Mixed Proportional

With the Mixed Proportional system, you have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today.

With the other vote, you can vote for the party you want to see in government, and for your favourite of your party’s regional candidates. So you help elect a few regional MPs, to top-up the local results so that every vote counts: it’s proportional.

You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal. There are no closed lists. Voters elect all the MPs.

This open list method was recommended both by our Law Commission and by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Jenkins’ colourful explanation accurately predicted why closed lists would be rejected in Canada: additional members locally anchored are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

These two models both let citizens of regions across Canada elect competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in your area, likely including someone you helped elect.

Every vote counts. Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”

Two models:

Under the Law Commission of Canada`s model, the 42 MPs British Columbia voters will elect in 2015 could be in four “top-up” regions, from larger ridings. Under the “moderate” model inspired by the UK`s Jenkins Commission Report, they could be in five top-up regions.

Competing MPs

These models let citizens of regions across Canada elect competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in your area, likely including someone you helped elect. Every vote counts. Each province still has the same number of MPs it has today. No constitutional amendment is needed. Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”

For local MP, you can vote for the candidate you like best without hurting your party, since the party make-up of parliament is set by the party votes. In New Zealand, 35% of voters split their votes that way.

Regional candidates

How would party members nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with live conventions. Likely party members in each region would decide to nominate the same candidates nominated in the local ridings, and some additional regional candidates. (In Nova Scotia in 2011, in all 11 ridings the Liberals nominated only men. Additional regional candidates would surely have included some women, and since polls show 90% of Canadians want to see more women elected, we’ll elect women when given the chance.)

But voters would have the final say, since they can vote for their party’s regional candidate they prefer.

What would regional MPs do?

How would regional MPs operate? The regional MPs would cover several ridings each. Just the way it’s done in Scotland. They could have several offices, just as MP John Weston has three.

How would it work out?

So what would these two models look like?

When every vote counts, turnout will likely be at least 6% higher, and no one will have to cast a “strategic vote.” Who can say what would be the result of real democratic elections?

Meanwhile, I’ve done projections on the votes cast in 2011.

BC Interior region

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be eight Conservative MPs and one New Democrat. Yet those voters cast only 52% of their votes for Conservatives, 33% NDP, 7.1% Green, and 6.6% Liberals. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect five MPs, New Democrat voters three, and Green voters one. (See technical note as to the Liberals.)

Since I’m projecting from the 2011 votes, I’ll start with the 2011 candidates. Suppose the six local MPs (from larger ridings) were Conservatives Dan Albas, Cathy McLeod, Ron Cannan, Bob Zimmer, and David Wilks; and New Democrat Nathan Cullen. In that case, NDP voters would also elect two regional MP such as Alex Atamanenko and Michael Crawford or Nikki Inouye or Lois Boone. Green voters would elect a regional MP such as Greig Crockett or Alice Hooper.

Vancouver Island

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be four NDP MPs, two Conservatives and one Green. Yet those voters actually cast 72 more votes for the Conservatives than for the NDP. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect three MPs, New Democrat voters three, and Green voters one.

Suppose the four local MPs (from larger ridings) were New Democrats Jean Crowder and Denise Savoie, Conservative John Duncan; and Green Elizabeth May. In that case, Conservative voters would also elect two regional MPs such as James Lunney and Gary Lunn or Troy DeSouza. (Or a new female candidate, if Vancouver Island Conservatives, nominating additional regional candidates, didn’t just nominate six men.) NDP voters would also elect a regional MP such as Ronna-Rae Leonard or Randall Garrison.

Lower Mainland

The 26 MPs until the new electoral boundaries could be in two “top-up” regions, with 12 and 14 MPs in each. Or they could be in three “top-up” regions, with eight or nine MPs in each. These smaller regions are intended to be “moderately” proportional, less likely to elect MPs from smaller parties like the Greens.

Vancouver—Burnaby—North Shore—Maple Ridge

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be eight Conservative MPs, four New Democrats and two Liberals. Yet those voters cast only 39.8% of their votes for Conservatives. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect five MPs, New Democrat voters five, Liberal voters three, and Green voters one.

Suppose the nine local MPs (from larger ridings) were Conservatives James Moore, John Weston, Andrew Saxton, Randy Kamp, and Wai Young; New Democrats Libby Davies, Peter Julian and Don Davies; and Liberal Joyce Murray. In that case, NDP voters would also elect two regional MPs such as Kennedy Stewart and Fin Donnelly or Meena Wong. Liberal voters would also elect two regional MPs such as Hedy Fry and Ujjal Dosanjh or Taleeb Noormohamed. Green voters would elect a regional MP such as Adriane Carr.

Surrey—Richmond—Abbotsford—Langley

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be ten Conservative MPs and two New Democrats. Yet those voters cast only 53% of their votes for Conservatives, 26% for New Democrats, 16% for Liberals, and 4.5% for Greens. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect six MPs, New Democrat voters three, Liberal voters two, and Green voters one.

Suppose the seven local MPs (from larger ridings) were Conservatives Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Ed Fast, Alice Wong, Mark Warawa, Nina Grewal, and Mark Strahl; and New Democrat Jinny Sims. In that case, NDP voters would also elect two regional MPs such as Jasbir Sandhu and Gwen O'Mahony. Liberal voters would also elect two regional MPs such as Sukh Dhaliwal and Hardy Staub or Pam Dhanoa or Joe Peschisolido. Green voters would elect a regional MP such as Larry Colero or Michael Wolfe.

Moderate model

Instead of those two regions, take the option of three smaller regions.

Vancouver—Richmond—Delta

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be five Conservative MPs, two New Democrats and two Liberals. Yet those voters cast only 37.8% of their votes for Conservatives. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect three MPs, New Democrat voters three, Liberal voters two, and Green voters one. (See technical note as to the Green.)

Suppose the five local MPs (from larger ridings) were Conservatives Kerry-Lynne Findlay and Alice Wong, New Democrats Libby Davies and Don Davies; and Liberal Joyce Murray. In that case Liberal voters would also elect a regional MP such as Hedy Fry or Ujjal Dosanjh. NDP voters would also elect a regional MP such as Meena Wong.

Conservative voters would also elect a regional MP such as Wai Young or Deborah Meredith. Green voters would elect a regional MP such as Adriane Carr.

Burnaby—North Shore—Coquitlam—Maple Ridge

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be six Conservative MPs and two New Democrats. Yet those voters cast only 46% of their votes for Conservatives. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect four MPs, New Democrat voters three, and Liberal voters one

Suppose the five local MPs (from larger ridings) were Conservatives James Moore, John Weston, Andrew Saxton, and Randy Kamp; and New Democrat Peter Julian. In that case NDP voters would also elect two regional MPs such as Kennedy Stewart and Fin Donnelly. Liberal voters would also elect a regional MP such as Taleeb Noormohamed or Dan Veniez.

Surrey—Fraser Valley

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be seven Conservative MPs and two New Democrats. Yet those voters cast only 53% of their votes for Conservatives. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect five MPs, New Democrat voters three, and Liberal voters one

Suppose the five local MPs (from larger ridings) were Conservatives Ed Fast, Mark Warawa, Nina Grewal, and Mark Strahl; and New Democrat Jinny Sims. In that case NDP voters would also elect two regional MPs such as Jasbir Sandhu and Gwen O'Mahony. Liberal voters would also elect a regional MP such as Sukh Dhaliwal. Conservative voters would also elect a regional MP such as Dona Cadman.

Canada-wide consequences.

With the new 30 MPs, on the 2011 votes transposed by Elections Canada onto the new boundaries, the winner-take-all results for the 338 MPs would be 188 Conservative, 109 NDP, 36 Liberal, 4 Bloc, and 1 Green.

When every vote counts, the result is: 140 Conservatives, 104 NDP, 64 Liberals, 19 Bloc, and 11 Green, using full proportionality on province-wide totals.

With these two mixed models, the projected results are 140 Conservatives, 106 or 108 NDP, 63 or 67 Liberals, 15 or 18 Bloc, and 8 or 11 Greens. Close to perfect proportionality, while keeping all MPs accountable to real local and regional communities. 



BC-wide consequences
By a province-wide calculation, BC Liberal voters should have elected six MPs (well, 5.68). But no matter which model we use, the BC Liberal vote in 2011 was so low in the Interior and Vancouver Island that it fell below the level of the Greens, and we find only five Liberal MPs elected. With the four-region model, the spare seat goes to the Greens, so the provincial totals are 19 Conservative MPs, 14 NDP, five Liberals, and four Greens. (This is just as well, since splitting Alberta into at least three regions costs the Greens a seat there. That’s what’s nice about this Scottish model; with proportionality in at least 27 regions across Canada, rounding errors tend to cancel out.) With the five-region “moderate” model, the bad luck of rounding leaves the Liberals short two MPs, to the benefit of the Conservatives (one) and the NDP (one).
 

Canadian diversity

As Stéphane Dion says "I no longer want a voting system that gives the impression that certain parties have given up on Quebec, or on the West. On the contrary, the whole spectrum of parties, from Greens to Conservatives, must embrace all the regions of Canada. In each region, they must covet and be able to obtain seats proportionate to their actual support. This is the main reason why I recommend replacing our voting system."

Each province still has the same number of MPs it has today. No constitutional amendment is needed.

This is not a partisan scheme. Unrepresented Conservative voters would elect eight more Quebec MPs than in 2011, one more in Newfoundland, one more in PEI, one more in Northern Ontario, and one more on Vancouver Island.

Of course, proportional representation would mean a lot for Canada. We would not likely have a one party government’s Prime Minister holding all the power. (The last Prime Minister to get more than 50% of the votes was Brian Mulroney in 1984.) Parliament would reflect the diverse voters of every province.

An exciting prospect: voters have new power to elect who they like. New voices from new forces in Parliament. No party rolls the dice and wins an artificial majority. Cooperation will have a higher value than cheerleading or vitriolic rhetoric. Instead of having only a local MP -- whom you quite likely didn’t vote for -- you can also go to one of your diverse regional MPs, all of whom had to face the voters. Governments will have to listen to MPs, and MPs will have to really listen to the people. MPs can begin to act as the public servants they are. And all party caucuses will be more diverse.

With this kind of power-sharing, Canada would look quite different.

If we had a Proportional Representation voting system, here are only a few of the things Canadians could have accomplished over the past twenty years:
Ø Engaged and motivated voters
Ø A reinvigorated democratic system
Ø More women MPs and a fair mix of party representation

Our electoral system is broken and people know it:
Ø Disengaged citizens are ignoring their right to vote
Ø A dysfunctional conflict-oriented political process
Ø Majority governments with minority voting results

Poll results on proportional representation

Environics asked in 2013 “Some people favor bringing in a form of proportional representation. This means that the total number of seats held by each party in Parliament would be roughly equivalent to their percentage of the national popular vote. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?”

Interviewing for this Environics National Telephone Survey was conducted between March 18th – 24th, 2013, among a national random sample of 1,004 adults. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Result: support 70%, oppose 18%, depends 6%, don’t know 6%.


The Environics poll showed 93% of Green voters support proportional representation while 4% oppose; 82% of NDP voters support it while 11% oppose; 77% of Liberal voters support it while 15% oppose; 62% of Conservative supporters support it while 28% oppose; and 55% of voters undecided as to party support PR while 19% oppose and 27% said “don’t know” or “depends.”

This is not new. Poll results have shown this for 13 years.

Technical note

The rounding method used in the simulation is highest remainder, for the same reason the Ontario Citizens Assembly chose it: it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of their 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets smaller region sizes.

You might wonder why those 6.6% Liberal voters in the BC Interior elect no one. Here’s how the numbers of MPs turn out: Conservatives 4.75, NDP 3.00, Greens 0.65, Liberals 0.60. After the first seven seats are calculated, the 8th goes to the “highest remainder,” the Conservatives; and the 9th then follows the “highest remainder” principle, and goes to the Greens.

You might also wonder how Green Party voters in Vancouver—Richmond—Delta would deserve an MP, despite the “moderate” region size of only nine MPs. The numbers work out as follows: Conservatives 3.43 MPs; New Democrats 2.73; Liberals 2.25, Greens 0.59. After the first seven seats are awarded, the 8th goes to the "highest remainder” (the NDP), and the 9th seat goes to the next highest (the Greens.)

Would second preferences, used in the Jenkins model, have changed any results in 2011? Sometimes, using the EKOS poll taken April 28-30, 2011. But not in BC in 2011.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How would proportional representation work in Simcoe, Muskoka and Dufferin?

How would proportional representation work in Simcoe County, Muskoka and Dufferin County, for federal elections?

Polls show more than 70% of Canadians support proportional representation for Canadian elections. Canada’s Liberal Party has opened the door to start implementing PR within one year of the 2015 election. The NDP and Greens fully support PR.

So this is no longer an academic discussion. This is a practical discussion: if Canada gets PR, how would it work in Simcoe, Muskoka and Dufferin?

Mixed Proportional

With the Mixed Proportional system, you have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today.

With the other vote, you can vote for the party you want to see in government, and for your favourite of your party’s regional candidates. So you help elect a few regional MPs, to top-up the local results so that every vote counts: it’s proportional.

You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal. There are no closed lists. Voters elect all the MPs.

This open list method was recommended both by our Law Commission and by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Jenkins’ colourful explanation accurately predicted why closed lists would be rejected in Canada: additional members locally anchored are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

These two models both let citizens of regions across Canada elect competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in your area, likely including someone you helped elect.

Every vote counts. Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”

Two models: the Law Commission model

Under the Law Commission of Canada`s model, the 13 MPs Central East Ontario voters will elect in 2015 could be in one “top-up” region with eight local MPs, from larger ridings. The other five would be regional MPs, topping up the total results to make them match the vote shares. All as described here.

Or perhaps the 15 MPs Simcoe, Muskoka and York Region will elect could be in a top-up region, rather than the York—Durham  alignment described here. (Note: for the Law Commission model, I’m assuming the riding of Dufferin--Caledon is part of the Peel—Halton region, described here.)

Two models: the Jenkins model

Under the “moderate” model inspired by the UK`s Jenkins Commission Report, the eight MPs to be elected from Simcoe County, Muskoka, Guelph and Wellington County could be in one top-up region with five local MPs and three regional MPs.

So what would that look like?

When every vote counts, turnout will likely be at least 6% higher, and no one will have to cast a “strategic vote.” Who can say what would be the result of real democratic elections?

Meanwhile, I’ve done projections on the votes cast in 2011.

Barrie—Guelph region

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region would be seven Conservative MPs and one Liberal. Yet those voters cast only 53% of their votes for Conservatives, 18% Liberals, 17% NDP, and 7% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect four MPs, Liberal voters two MPs, New Democrat voters one, and Green voters one.

Since I’m projecting from the 2011 votes, I’ll start with the 2011 candidates. Suppose the five local MPs were Conservatives Tony Clement, Kellie Leitch, Patrick Brown, and Michael Chong or David Tilson; and Liberal Frank Valeriote. In that case, Liberal voters would also elect a regional MP such as Steve Clarke from Orillia. New Democrat voters would elect a regional MP such as Barrie’s Myrna Clark or Parry Sound’s Dr. Wendy Wilson. Green voters would elect a regional MP such as Ard Van Leeuwen from Caledon or Valerie Powell from Coldwater.

Regional candidates

How would party members nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with live conventions. Likely party members in each region would decide to nominate the same candidates nominated in the local ridings, and some additional regional candidates. (In Nova Scotia in 2011, in all 11 ridings the Liberals nominated only men. Additional regional candidates would surely have included some women, and since polls show 90% of Canadians want to see more women elected, we’ll elect women when given the chance.)

But voters would have the final say, since they can vote for their party’s regional candidate they prefer.

For local MP, you can vote for the candidate you like best without hurting your party, since the party make-up of parliament is set by the party votes. In New Zealand, 35% of voters split their votes that way.

Competing MPs

These models let citizens of regions across Canada elect competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in your area, likely including someone you helped elect. Every vote counts. Each province still has the same number of MPs it has today. No constitutional amendment is needed. Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”

What would regional MPs do?

How would regional MPs operate? Just the way it’s done in Scotland. The regional MPs would cover several ridings each. Many regional MPs would need several offices, just as  Kellie Leitch already has offices in Alliston and Collingwood, and Bruce Stanton has offices in Orillia and Midland.

Canada-wide consequences.

With the new 30 MPs, on the 2011 votes transposed by Elections Canada onto the new boundaries, the winner-take-all results for the 338 MPs would be 188 Conservative, 109 NDP, 36 Liberal, 4 Bloc, and 1 Green.

When every vote counts, the result is: 140 Conservatives, 104 NDP, 64 Liberals, 19 Bloc, and 11 Green, using full proportionality on province-wide totals.

With these two mixed models, the projected results are 140 or 141 Conservatives, 106 or 108 NDP, 63 or 64 Liberals, 15 or 17 Bloc, and 8 or 10 Greens. Close to perfect proportionality, while keeping all MPs accountable to real local and regional communities.

Across Ontario, NDP voters would elect 32 MPs rather than 24, Liberals would elect 31 or 33 rather than 14, and Greens would elect 3 or 5, while Conservatives would elect 53 MPs rather than 83. 

Canadian diversity

As Stéphane Dion says "I no longer want a voting system that gives the impression that certain parties have given up on Quebec, or on the West. On the contrary, the whole spectrum of parties, from Greens to Conservatives, must embrace all the regions of Canada. In each region, they must covet and be able to obtain seats proportionate to their actual support. This is the main reason why I recommend replacing our voting system."

This is not a partisan scheme. Unrepresented Conservative voters would elect eight more Quebec MPs than in 2011, one more in Newfoundland, one more in PEI, one more in Northern Ontario, and one more on Vancouver Island.

Of course, proportional representation would mean a lot for Canada. We would not likely have a one party government’s Prime Minister holding all the power. (The last Prime Minister to get more than 50% of the votes was Brian Mulroney in 1984.) Parliament would reflect the diverse voters of every province.

An exciting prospect: voters have new power to elect who they like. New voices from new forces in Parliament. No party rolls the dice and wins an artificial majority. Cooperation will have a higher value than vitriolic rhetoric. Instead of having only a local MP -- whom you quite likely didn’t vote for -- you can also go to one of your diverse regional MPs, all of whom had to face the voters. Governments will have to listen to MPs, and MPs will have to really listen to the people. MPs can begin to act as the public servants they are. And all party caucuses will be more diverse.

With this kind of power-sharing, Canada would look quite different.

If we had a Proportional Representation voting system, here are only a few of the things Canadians could have accomplished over the past twenty years:
Ø Engaged and motivated voters
Ø A reinvigorated democratic system
Ø More women MPs and a fair mix of party representation

Our electoral system is broken and people know it:
Ø Disengaged citizens are ignoring their right to vote
Ø A dysfunctional conflict-oriented political process
Ø Majority governments with minority voting results

Poll results on proportional representation

Environics asked in 2013 “Some people favor bringing in a form of proportional representation. This means that the total number of seats held by each party in Parliament would be roughly equivalent to their percentage of the national popular vote. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?”

Interviewing for this Environics National Telephone Survey was conducted between March 18th – 24th, 2013, among a national random sample of 1,004 adults. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Result: support 70%, oppose 18%, depends 6%, don’t know 6%.

The Environics poll showed 93% of Green voters support proportional representation while 4% oppose; 82% of NDP voters support it while 11% oppose; 77% of Liberal voters support it while 15% oppose; 62% of Conservative supporters support it while 28% oppose; and 55% of voters undecided as to party support PR while 19% oppose and 27% said “don’t know” or “depends.”

This is not new. Poll results have shown this for 13 years.

Technical note

The rounding method used in the simulation is highest remainder, for the same reason the Ontario Citizens Assembly chose it: it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of their 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets smaller region sizes.

You might wonder how Green Party voters would deserve an MP. The numbers work out as follows in the 8-MP region: Conservatives 4.37 MPs; Liberals 1.56; New Democrats 1.48; Greens 0.60. After the first six seats are awarded, the 7th seat goes to the "highest remainder” (the Greens), and the 8th seat goes to the next highest (the Liberals.)

Would second preferences, used in the Jenkins model, have changed any results in 2011? Sometimes, using the EKOS poll taken April 28-30, 2011. Here, the second preferences might have helped Frank Valeriote win the larger Guelph—Wellington riding: