Saturday, May 9, 2015

How would proportional representation have worked in Alberta's provincial election this year?





How would proportional representation have worked in this years’ Alberta provincial election?
 
I’m not talking about classic “list-PR” with candidates appointed by central parties. I’m talking about the model designed by the Law Commission of Canada, where every Member of Parliament represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today. The others are elected as regional MPs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. You can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. The region is small enough that the regional MPs are accountable.
 
Polls show more than 70% of Canadians support proportional representation for Canadian elections. The Alberta NDP included proportional representation in its policy. Liberal Leader David Swann has said he sees proportional representation as the key to overcoming the perceived political apathy among Albertans, and this year he signed Fair Vote Canada’s Declaration of VotersRights. So this is no longer an academic discussion. This is a practical discussion: if Alberta had PR, how would it have worked?

More people would vote, and vote differently

As Prof. Dennis Pilon says: "Now keep in mind that, when you change the voting system, you also change the incentives that affect the kinds of decisions that voters might make. For instance, we know that, when every vote counts, voters won't have to worry about splitting the vote, or casting a strategic vote. Thus, we should expect that support for different parties might change."
 


And when every vote counts, turnout will be higher -- perhaps 7% higher. So, when voters have more choice, the results will be far more representative of our diverse population and their diverse views. Who can say what would be the result of real democratic elections?

One thing we know for sure: it is extremely unlikely that Alberta voters would vote exactly as they did in 2015.

In 2012 in Alberta, people perceived you could vote for Redford to stop Wildrose, or waste your vote. In Alberta this year, the NDP vote, compared with 2012, went up 476,387. Turnout was up 196,535 this year. The total PC and Wildrose vote went down 236,581. The Liberal vote went down 65,455. Likely about 41% of Rachel Notley's victory came from the higher turnout.

Trying to guess how the public would likely have voted if this election had been carried out under PR is very difficult. However, in order to see an example of how PR would have worked, let’s take a likely example.

Turnout this year was only 53.7%, still pitiful. More voters will vote if they have more choices. Elections in PR countries often see turnouts like 78% or more. Let’s assume a modest 6.4% turnout increase to 60.1%.

Look at the polls

The Liberals and Alberta Party were doing a lot better in the polls until they got squeezed.

April 23 was the televised leader’s debate.  Before that, the NDP had been at 30% in public opinion polls, while the Liberals had around 12% support and the Alberta Party around 5%. But before Prentice tabled his “election budget” that doomed him March 26, his PCs were at 44% while the NDP and Liberals were both around 18%. After the debate, Wildrose dropped from around 31% to around 26%, while support for Prentice dropped from 27% to about 23%.

During the final two weeks, as voters absorbed that the race was between Prentice and Notley, Liberal support dropped to only 4% on election day, the Alberta Party dropped to 2%, and Wildrose dropped to 24%. PC support rebounded to 28% in the final days with Prentice’s “stop the NDP” campaign.

Since there was no Liberal in 31 of the 87 ridings, that helped depress their election-day vote. The Alberta Party was worse, running in only 35 of the 87. The Green Party of Alberta ran in only 24 ridings. With PR, all three parties would have been on the ballot everywhere, and no voters would have been voting “against” someone.

Five regions

I’m going to show a simulation proportional in five regions: Edmonton, Calgary, Central Alberta, Northern Alberta, and South Alberta. These regions provide good geographic representation, and accountable regional MPs.

Projected Result with higher turnout

If the turnout was 60.1%, this lets the Liberals stay at close to 12%, the Alberta Party at over 4%, and the Greens at over 1%, while the PCs get under 25%, similar to Wildrose. This higher turnout would cut the NDP percent down to 36%.

A PR system might have had a 4% legal threshold. However, to include the Greens in my example, let’s assume the only threshold is that imposed by the size of the five regions, like the Scottish model. Projected result: NDP voters would have elected 32 MLAs, PCs 21, Wildrose 20, Liberals 10, Alberta Party 3, Green Party 1.

Coalition governments are normal

Some pundits, who know better, try to confuse coalition governments with mergers. Post-war Germany has had coalition governments after every election but one. Of the 31 countries with parliamentary government in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), 81% are governed by coalitions.

Alberta would benefit from a stable coalition government representing a true majority of voters. An NDP-Liberal-Alberta Party coalition would have 45 seats (adding the Green makes 46), more than the alternative PC/Wildrose coalition with 41.

You have two votes, with the Mixed Member system

With the Mixed Proportional system, you have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MLA as we do today. The majority of MLAs would still be local MLAs.

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 MLAs, topping-up the local results to make them match the vote shares. 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 MLAs.

Fair Vote Canada says “A democratic voting system must encourage citizens to exercise positive choice by voting for the candidate or party they prefer.”

More choice

For local MLA, 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, 32% of voters split their votes that way.

Local MLAs become more independent

This system makes it easier for local MLAs to get the support of people of all political stripes. They can earn support for their constituency-representation credentials, not just for their party. This boosts the kind of support MLAs bring with them into the Legislature, thus strengthening their independence.

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

What would regional MLAs do?

How would regional MLAs operate? The regional MLAs would cover several ridings each. Just the way it’s done in Scotland. They could have several offices, just as the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler has offices in Stettler, Hanna and Drumheller.

Who would the regional MLAs be?

Who would those regional MLAs be? First, each party would hold regional nomination meetings and/or vote online to nominate their regional candidates. These would often be the same people nominated locally, plus a few additional regional candidates. The meeting would decide what rank order each would have on the regional ballot. But then voters in the region would have the final choice.

Accountable MLAs

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.” Our own Law Commission saidallowing voters to choose a candidate from the list provides voters with the ability to select a specific individual and hold them accountable for their actions should they be elected."

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.”

Edmonton Region

Edmonton region NDP voters would have elected all 13 of its Local MLAs. But rather than all 23 MLAs being NDP, PC voters would have elected four of the 10 Regional MLAs, Liberals three, Wildrose two, and Alberta Party one.

The Regional MLAs for each party would be the party’s regional candidates who ended up with the most support across the region. Liberal voters might have elected incumbent MLA Laurie Blakeman, nursing educator Donna Wilson (Past-President of the University of Alberta Association of Academic Staff), and editor at Asian Vision Harpreet Singh Gill, or construction company co-owner Dan Bildhauer. Alberta Party voters might have elected Women’s Studies faculty lecturer Cristina Stasia, or Arts Council Chair and ACTRA board member John Hudson, or Gary Hanna, president of the Parkland Teachers’ Local. PC voters might have elected incumbent MLAs Stephen Mandel (former mayor), Cathy Olesen, Dave Quest, and Heather Klimchuk (Minister of Human Services), or Stephen Khan or Janice Sarich or David Xiao or Gene Zwozdesky (Legislature Speaker) or Thomas Lukaszuk (former deputy premier). Wildrose voters might have elected former Strathcona County mayor Linda Osinchuk who had run against Brian Jean for leader, and two-time candidate Jackie Lovely, caucus staffer and President of the Summerside Community League; or financial planner Jaye Walter.
Calgary

This year Calgary voters elected 15 NDP MLAs, eight PCs, one Liberal, and one Alberta Party. Instead, my projection shows Calgary NDP voters electing seven of the new 15 local MLAs, PC voters electing six local MLAs, Liberal voters electing one Local MLA (David Swann) and four Regional (city-wide) MLAs, Wildrose voters electing five Regional MLAs, Alberta Party voters electing one Local MLA (Greg Clark), and Green Party voters electing one regional MLA.

Liberal voters might have elected young lawyer David Khan, Shelley Wark-Martyn (former Ontario cabinet minister under Bob Rae), Realtor Avinash Khangura, paramedic and PR advocate Pete Helfrich, or proud PR advocate Naser Al-Kukhun. Wildrose voters might have elected health policy analyst Linda Carlson, entrepreneur Brad Leishman, former Calgary police officer Kathy Macdonald, petroleum engineer Blaine Maller, and former Wildrose Party President Jeff Callaway. Green Party voters would likely have elected their leader, Janet Keeping.

Central Alberta

Central Alberta voters elected six NDP MLAs, six Wildrose MLAs, and one PC. Instead, with eight local MLAs and five Regional MLAs, they would have elected four Wildrose MLAs (likely all local) and four NDP MLAs (maybe three local and one regional), four PCs (maybe one local and three regional), and one Liberal Regional MLA.

Liberal voters would no doubt have elected much-admired Red Deer historian Michael Dawe. PC voters could, in addition to Lloydminster Local MLA Richard Starke, have elected as Regional MLAs Minister of Environment and Water Diana McQueen, Minister of Justice Verlyn Olson, and PC MLA Kerry Towle (a floor-crosser from Wildrose).

Northern Alberta

Northern Alberta voters elected six NDP MLAs, six Wildrose MLAs, and one PC. Instead, with eight local MLAs and five Regional MLAs, they would have elected four NDP MLAs (likely all local) and four Wildrose MLAs (maybe three local and one regional), four PCs (maybe one local and three regional), and one Alberta Party Regional MLA.

Alberta Party voters could have elected Grande Prairie City Councillor Rory Tarant or Peace River River City Cinema manager Sherry Hilton. PC voters could have elected, in addition to PC MLA Wayne Drysdale, PC Minister of Energy Frank Oberle, Jr., PC Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Pearl Calahasen, and PC Minister of Finance Robin Campbell or PC MLA Maureen Kubinec.

Southern Alberta

Southern Alberta voters elected nine Wildrose MLAs and four NDP MLAs. Instead, with eight local MLAs and five Regional MLAs, they would have elected five Wildrose MLAs (likely all local), four NDP MLAs (maybe three local and one regional), three PC Regional MLAs, and one Liberal Regional MLA.

Liberal voters could have elected Lethbridge practical nurse and teacher Sheila Pyne or Lethbridge Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer Bill West as their Regional MLA. PC voters could have elected as Regional MLAs PC MLAs Bruce McAllister and Ian Donovan, both Wildrose floor-crossers, and Okotoks councillor Carrie Fischer who defeated former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith for the PC nomination, or Newell County Reeve Molly Douglass, or former Minister of Municipal Affairs Greg Weadick.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What would PEI's election results be with proportional representation?

Prince Edward Island voters cast 81,988 votes yesterday. But only 46% of voters — 38,042 — helped elect an MLA. The other 54% of voters — 43,956 — found their votes did not count toward the result.

I’m not talking about classic “list-PR” with candidates appointed by central parties. I’m talking about the model designed by the Law Commission of Canada, where every Member of Parliament represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MLAs will be elected by local ridings as we do today. The others are elected as districtMLAs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your district so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. You can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the district list. The district is small enough that the district MPs are accountable.

If every vote had counted, the 41% of Islanders who voted Liberal would have elected 11 MLAs, 41%. The 37% who voted Conservative would have elected 10 MLAs, or 37%. The 11% who voted NDP and the 11% who voted Green would have elected three MLAs each, 11%.

Using the mixed-member system recommended by Norm Carruthers, or the similar systems proposed by the New Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy and the Law Commission of Canada, that would likely have meant 16 local MLAs elected from 16 local ridings a bit larger than today, and another 11 MLAs elected on a “top-up” basis by voters whose votes elected no one yesterday.

Let’s say PEI used three districts.

The Eastern District, instead of electing five Conservative MLAs and three Liberals, would have elected three from each party, plus an Island New Democrat – no doubt party leader Mike Redmond – and a Green MLA. The Greens’ Eastern District MLA would have been the candidate with the most support across the District, maybe musician Samantha Saunders or chef Nicholas Graveline.

The Western District, instead of electing seven Liberals and only three Conservatives, would have elected four of each, and a New Democrat and a Green. The district MLAs might have included New Democrat Jacqueline Tuplin, President of the Aboriginal Women's Association, Green businesswoman Lynne Lund or farmer Ranald MacFarlane, and Conservative businessman John Griffin or proud Acadian Debbie Montgomery.

The Charlottetown District, instead of electing eight Liberals and one Green, would have elected four Liberals, three Conservatives, a Green and a New Democrat. That might have included Conservative leader Rob Lantz, businesswoman Linda Clements, and realtor Jim Carragher or mental health advocate Dianne Young. No doubt the New Democrat would have been Gord McNeilly (who almost won yesterday).  

The result might have been a Liberal-NDP coalition government with 14 MLAs, or a Liberal-Green coalition government with 14 MLAs. Laws passed by such a government would have the support of a true majority of MLAs representing a true majority of voters. PEI would not risk having a one-man or one-party government, such as has been seen elsewhere.

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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Will proportional representation swamp the rural voice?



Many people fear that proportional representation “will dilute the power of rural Canada. Since the proportional composition of the House is based on the total number of votes, and urban Canada has far more people than rural Canada, the urban voice will swamp the rural voice. Further, with far more votes to be won in cities, parties may pay less attention to rural concerns. The disproportionately represented rural areas will lose out.
 
What do we say when someone argues this?
 
(It’s not even true that many rural areas are disproportionately represented, but I’ll get to that later.)

 
All communities keep a local MP

First, a Mixed Member model as recommended by the Law Commission of Canada will keep local MPs from both urban and rural areas. You get both a local MP and some diverse regional MPs.

So we’re not talking about classic “list-PR” with candidates appointed by central parties.

As Liberal Democratic Reform critic Scott Simms, an MP from Newfoundland, told a FVC webinar recently, he doesn’t want to “lose that local aspect. If there is one thing Liberals do believe in, it’s that direct representatives are a true function of our democracy. . . And one of the best selling items of MMP is, you have a ballot where you can vote for a candidate and a party. I agree with that. It’s actually a selling point.”
 
Almost half of Canadians need their local MP

When many people say “urban,” they mean “large urban.” Stats Can classifies “large urban population centres” as “larger than 100,000.”

So it’s not just rural areas that fear their community will lose their MP accountable to no one else. Small and medium population centres, and even ten population centres over 100,000 like Guelph and Moncton, have only one MP representing them.

We’re talking about 44% of the population of Canada.
 
Both rural and urban voters will have fair representation

Second, MMP will not change the urban/rural balance at all.

Fair Vote Canada's principles includeWe must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”

The numbers of MPs from each province stay the same. Within each larger province, the number of MPs from each region stays the same (Northern Ontario will still have nine MPs north of the French River.)

Within each region, three present ridings become two larger ones, or five present ridings become three larger ones. That doesn’t change the urban/rural balance.

The Greater Toronto Area, Montreal, and Metro Vancouver will have their own regions. Likely Calgary and Edmonton will too.

But in other regions, if about 37% of the MPs are elected by regions, won’t they all be from the largest city in the region?

No. On the regional ballot will be a group of candidates from across the whole region, often the same candidates who are running in the local ridings. Voters in the region’s biggest city will tend to vote for one leading candidate, the urban star. That will tend to leave the second regional spot open for a candidate from a smaller community. Furthermore, that leading urban star will quite likely win his or her local riding, dropping off the regional list. That will tend to leave the top regional spot open for a candidate from a smaller community.

How will regional MPs do their work? See how it works in Scotland.
 
An urban myth: rural areas are not over-represented

Third, where exactly are those “disproportionately represented rural areas?”

People sometimes think of rural areas within the larger provinces, which become over-represented by the end of the ten-year cycle, due to urban growth. But of course the new boundaries taking effect this year, based on the 2011 census, correct that problem. The only systematic over-representation within a province is Northern Ontario’s two extra seats. But 66% of Northern Ontario’s people are urban; no problem of disproportionately represented rural seats there.

Often, people are really talking about smaller provinces like PEI.

If the smaller provinces were represented exactly by population, Manitoba would have 12 MPs not 14, Saskatchewan would have 10 not 14, Nova Scotia would have 9 not 11, New Brunswick would have 7 not 10, Newfoundland & Labrador would have 5 not 7, and PEI would have 2 not 4. Those 2,357,325 people have 60 MPs, rather than 45: that’s 15 extra MPs.

First, only 4.4% of the 338 MPs are those 15 extra MPs for the smaller provinces.

But look at the 5,835,270 Conservative voters. They would, on the votes cast in 2011, elect 188 of those 338 MPs, rather than the 141 they deserve. That’s 47 extra MPs by party, compared with 15 extra MPs by province.

Voting system disproportionalities are much bigger than provincial disproportionalities.

Secondly, are those 15 extra MPs really more rural than MPs from the larger provinces?

Manitoba’s 14 MPs are eight from Winnipeg, and one from Brandon—Souris which is more than half urban. Saskatchewan’s 14 MPs are six from Saskatoon or Regina, and a seventh from Prince Albert which is more than half urban. (And the suburban Saskatoon riding is 45% urban too.) Total urban: 16 of 28.

In Atlantic Canada, four of Nova Scotia’s ridings are in Halifax, and Sydney-Victoria is largely urban. In New Brunswick Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, Saint John—Rothesay and Fredericton are urban. In Newfoundland & Labrador, both St. John’s ridings are urban, along with 54% of Avalon. In PEI, Charlottetown is urban.

So 28 of those 60 MPs are urban: 47%. Therefore, those 15 extra MPs are seven urban, eight rural. Are rural areas disproportionately represented? Hardly.

Conclusion: the “disproportionately represented rural seats” are an urban myth, a distraction.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

How would proportional representation work in Alberta?

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

I’m not talking about classic “list-PR” with candidates appointed by central parties. I’m talking about the model designed by the Law Commission of Canada, where every Member of Parliament represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today. The others are elected as regional MPs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. You can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. The region is small enough that the regional MPs are accountable.

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 Alberta?

Mixed Proportional
With the Mixed Proportional system, you have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today. The majority of MPs would still be local MPs.

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, topping-up the local results to make them match the vote shares. 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.”

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 LaVar Payne has offices in Medicine Hat, Brooks and Taber.

Two models:
Under the Law Commission of Canada`s model, the 34 MPs Alberta voters will elect in 2015 could be in three “top-up regions.” Under the “moderate” model inspired by the UK`s Jenkins Commission Report, they could be in four “top-up regions.”

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.


Winner-take-all results
On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in Alberta on the new 2015 boundaries would be 33 Conservative MPs and one New Democrat. Yet those voters cast only 67% of their votes for Conservatives, 17% NDP, 9% Liberals, and 5% Green.

If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect 23 MPs, New Democrat voters six, and Liberal voters three, and Green voters two.

Calgary`s ten MPs
Calgary elects ten MPs in 2015. With either of the two models, Calgary is the right size for a “top-up region.”  Six of the ten would still be local MPs. The other four would be city-wide regional MPs, topping up the total Calgary results to make them match the vote shares.

In 2011 Calgary voters elected eight Conservative MPs, and no others. Yet those voters cast only 66% of their votes for Conservatives, while 14% voted Liberal, 12% New Democrat, and 8% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect seven MPs, Liberal voters one MP, New Democrat voters one, and Green voters one. (See Technical note below.)

Since I’m projecting from the 2011 votes, I’ll start with the 2011 candidates. Let’s suppose the six local MPs were Conservatives Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, Diane Ablonczy, Michelle Rempel, Lee Richardson, and Deepak Obhrai.

In that case, voters for each party would also elect one regional MP.

Conservative voters can vote for the regional Conservative candidate they prefer. Many would prefer Harper, Kenney, Ablonczy, Rempel, Richardson, or Obhrai, but on election day, since they already won a local seat, the regional seat would go to the next most popular. In other words, Conservative voters whose personal preference was not one of those six can, if they wish, elect the seventh Conservative MP.

Maybe Punjabis and other South Asians would prefer Devinder Shory. Women Conservative voters might have preferred a new regional female candidate such as Joan Crockatt. Chinese-ancestry voters might have preferred a new regional candidate such as Gary Mar. In single-nomination contests, white males predominate. But when Calgary members of any party city-wide meet to elect a group of regional candidates, can you imagine them failing to nominate a woman or a visible minority?

Liberal voters would elect a regional Liberal MP, such as Jennifer Pollock or Cam Stewart. NDP voters would elect a regional MP, such as Paul Vargis, Collin Anderson or Holly Heffernan. Green voters would elect a regional MP, such as Heather MacIntosh.

Three regions
The other 24 MPs could be the 11 from metropolitan Edmonton, and the 13 from Northern and Southern Alberta.

Metropolitan Edmonton
Metropolitan Edmonton elects 11 MPs in 2015. Seven of the 11 would still be local MPs. The other four would be regional MPs, topping up the total results to make them match the vote shares.

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be ten Conservatives and one New Democrat. Yet those voters cast only 58% of their votes for Conservatives, 24% for New Democrats, 10% for Liberals, and 4% for Greens.

If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect seven MPs, New Democrat voters three, and Liberal voters one. (See technical note as to how close Green voters came to electing an Edmonton MP.)

Let’s suppose the seven local MPs included Conservatives Rona Ambrose, James Rajotte, Brent Rathgeber, Tim Uppal, Mike Lake and Laurie Hawn. Conservative voters whose personal preference was not one of those six can, if they wish, elect the seventh Conservative MP: maybe Peter Goldring or Ryan Hastman or a new regional female candidate.

Suppose New Democrat Linda Duncan is still a local MP. NDP voters can vote for the regional NDP candidate they prefer. Many would prefer Linda Duncan, but on election day, since she already won a local seat, the two regional seats would go to the two next most popular: maybe Ray Martin and Lewis Cardinal or Nadine Bailey.

Liberal voters would elect a regional Liberal MP, such as Mary MacDonald or Richard Fahlman.

Northern and Southern Alberta
Alberta voters outside Calgary and Metropolitan Edmonton elect 13 MPs in 2015. Eight of the 13 would still be local MPs. The other five would be regional MPs, topping up the total results to make them match the vote shares.

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be 13 Conservatives and no one else. Yet those voters cast only 75% of their votes for Conservatives, 14% for New Democrats, 5% for Liberals, and 5% for Greens.

If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect ten MPs, New Democrat voters two, and Liberal voters one. (See technical note as to how close Green voters came to electing an MP in this region.)

No doubt the eight local MPs would have been Conservatives: depending on the new boundaries, let’s say Kevin Sorenson from Killam, Grande Prairie’s Chris Warkentin, Fort McMurray’s Brian Jean, Whitecourt’s Rob Merrifield, Innisfail’s Earl Dreeshen, Airdrie’s Blake Richards, Medicine Hat’s LaVar Payne, and Claresholm’s Ted Menzies. Conservative voters whose personal preference was not one of those eight can, if they wish, elect the two regional Conservative MPs: maybe Vermillion’s Leon Benoit, or Lacombe’s Blaine Calkins, or St. Paul‘s Brian Storseth, or Jim Hillyer from Lethbridge, or a new regional female candidate. New Democrats voters would elect two regional MPs such as Mark Sandilands in Lethbridge and Grande Prairie’s Jennifer Villebrun, or Janine Giles from Canmore. Liberal voters would elect a regional MP such as Medicine Hat’s Norm Boucher, or Karen Young from Lac La Biche.

Four regions
The other 24 MPs could be the eight from the City of Edmonton, the eight from North Alberta, and the eight from South and Central Alberta. These smaller regions are intended to be “moderately” proportional, less likely to elect MPs from smaller parties. But in return, they provide better geographic representation, and more accountable regional MPs.

The Jenkins model uses second preferences. But in Alberta, using the EKOS poll taken April 28-30, 2011, they would have changed nothing.

Edmonton
The City of Edmonton elects eight MPs in 2015. Five of the eight would still be local MPs. The other three would be city-wide MPs, topping up the total results to make them match the vote shares.

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in Edmonton on the 2015 boundaries would be seven Conservatives and one New Democrat. Yet those voters cast only 55% of their votes for Conservatives, 29% for New Democrats, 11% for Liberals, and 4% for Greens.

If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect five MPs, New Democrat voters two, and Liberal voters one. (See technical note as to how close Green voters came to electing an Edmonton MP.)

Let’s suppose the five local MPs included Conservatives Rona Ambrose, James Rajotte, Brent Rathgeber, and Peter Goldring. Conservative voters whose personal preference was not one of those four can, if they wish, elect the fifth Conservative MP: maybe Mike Lake, Laurie Hawn, or a new regional female candidate.

Suppose New Democrat Linda Duncan is still a local MP. In that case, New Democrat voters would elect a regional MP. NDP voters can vote for the regional NDP candidate they prefer. Many would prefer Linda Duncan, but on election day, since she already won a local seat, the regional seat would go to the next most popular: maybe Ray Martin or Lewis Cardinal or Nadine Bailey.

Liberal voters would elect a regional Liberal MP, such as Mary MacDonald or Richard Fahlman.

North Alberta
North Alberta voters elect eight MPs in 2015. Five of the eight would still be local MPs. The other three would be regional MPs, topping up the total results to make them match the vote shares.

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be eight Conservatives and no one else. Yet those voters cast only 72% of their votes for Conservatives, 13% for New Democrats, 5% for Liberals, and 4% for Greens.

If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect six MPs, New Democrat voters one, and Liberal voters one. (See technical note as to how close Green voters came to electing an MP in this region.)

No doubt the five local MPs would have been Conservatives: depending on the new boundaries, let’s say Grande Prairie’s Chris Warkentin, Whitecourt’s Rob Merrifield, Fort McMurray’s Brian Jean, Vermillion’s Leon Benoit, and Sherwood Park’s Tim Uppal.

Conservative voters whose personal preference was not one of those five can, if they wish, elect the regional Conservative MP: maybe St. Paul‘s Brian Storseth, or a new regional female candidate. New Democrat voters would elect a regional MP such as Grande Prairie’s Jennifer Villebrun or Innisfree’s Ray Stone. Liberal voters would elect a regional MP such as Karen Young from Lac La Biche or Bonnyville’s Rob Fox.

South and Central Alberta
South and Central Alberta voters elect eight MPs in 2015. Five of the eight would still be local MPs. The other three would be regional MPs, topping up the total results to make them match the vote shares.

On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in this region on the 2015 boundaries would be eight Conservatives and no one else. Yet those voters cast only 74% of their votes for Conservatives, 14% for New Democrats, 5% for Liberals, and 5% for Greens.

If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would elect six MPs, New Democrat voters one, and Liberal voters one. (See technical note as to how close Green voters came to electing an MP in this region.)

No doubt the five local MPs would have been Conservatives: depending on the new boundaries, let’s say Kevin Sorenson from Killam, Innisfail’s Earl Dreeshen, Airdrie’s Blake Richards, Claresholm’s Ted Menzies, and Medicine Hat’s LaVar Payne. Conservative voters whose personal preference was not one of those five can, if they wish, elect the regional Conservative MP: maybe Lacombe’s Blaine Calkins, or Jim Hillyer from Lethbridge, or a new regional female candidate. New Democrat voters would elect a regional MP such as Mark Sandilands in Lethbridge or Janine Giles from Canmore. Liberal voters would elect a regional MP such as Medicine Hat’s Norm Boucher, Michael Cormican from Lethbridge, or John Reilly from Canmore.

Two models: summary
By using three regions, all regions are sure of keeping all eight MPs. With the two-region model, in theory all five regional MPs from North and South Alberta could have been from one-half of the province. And with only eight MPs per region, the proportionality is more moderate. But that might make it harder for Greens to elect someone.

However, in this simulation the Alberta results are almost the same with either model: 24 Conservative MPs, five or six NDP MPs, three or four Liberal MPs, and one Green.

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. 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
With two votes, you can vote for the party you want in government. And you can also vote for the local candidate you like best regardless of party, without hurting your party, since it's the second (regional) ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 32% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand with a similar system.

Local MPs become more independent
This makes it easier for local MPs to get the support of people of all political stripes. They can earn support for their constituency-representation credentials, not just for their party. This boosts the kind of support MPs bring with them into the House of Commons, thus strengthening their independence.

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 regional mixed models, the projected results are 141 or 144 Conservatives, 108 or 107 NDP, 62 or 65 Liberals, 17 or 15 Bloc, and 10 or 7 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

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 a Calgary MP. The numbers work out as follows: Conservatives 6.615 MPs; Liberals 1.375 MPs; New Democrats 1.241 MPs; Greens 0.770. After the first eight seats are awarded, the 9th seat goes to the ``highest remainder” (the Green), and the 10th seat goes to the next (the Conservative.)

How close did Green voters come to electing an Edmonton MP? We know that many potential Green voters don’t bother casting futile (ineffective, wasted) votes. With the larger-region model of 11 MPs from Metropolitan Edmonton, if another 6,000 voters had cast Green votes, they would have elected an MP such as Valerie Kennedy or Peter Johnston, taking a seat from the Conservatives. With the smaller-region model of eight MPs from the city of Edmonton, which was already better territory for the Greens, it would have taken only 3,500 more Green votes to elect an MP and take a seat from the Conservatives.

How close did Green voters come to electing an MP in North and South Alberta? With the larger-region model of 13 MPs, it would have taken only 3,000 more Green voters to elect an MP such as Airdrie’s Mike MacDonald or Jasper’s Monika Schaefer, but he or she would have pushed the Liberals into fourth place, taking their seat away. With the smaller-region model of eight MPs in North Alberta, it would have taken only 3,500 more Green voters to elect an MP such as Jasper’s Monika Schaefer or William Munsey from New Sarepta, but again she or he would have pushed the Liberals into fourth place, taking their seat away. In South and Central Alberta with eight MPs, it would have taken only 2,100 more Green voters to push the Liberals into fourth place and elect an MP such as Airdrie’s Mike MacDonald or Red Deer’s Mason Sisson.    

I said Calgary elects ten MPs in 2015. But a new Boundaries Commission might include Airdrie, Rocky View County, Cochrane, Chestermere, and so on, bringing Metropolitan Calgary up to 11 MPs in the larger-region model.