So this is no longer an academic discussion. This is a practical discussion: if Canada gets PR, how would it work in the Central West Ontario area from Waterloo to Owen Sound?
Voters would elect more than one MP, so they would have competing representatives, likely including someone they helped elect. Every vote counts. Fair Vote Canada says rural and urban voters in every region should have fair representation in both government and opposition.
There would be no closed lists. Voters would elect all the MPs.
Mixed Member Proportional
With the Mixed Member Proportional system, you have two votes: you vote for your local MP, and you can also vote for the party you want to see in government and your favourite of your party’s regional candidates. You can vote for the candidate you like best for local MP without hurting your party, since the party make-up of parliament is set by the party votes. In New Zealand, 30% of voters split their votes that way.
The region running from Cambridge and Caledon to Owen Sound will have 11 MPs under the new boundaries. On the votes cast in 2011 across Central West Ontario, that would be 10 Conservatives and one Liberal. Yet those voters voted only 51% Conservative, 23% Liberal, 19% New Democrat, 6% Green, and 1% other. If every vote counted equally, Conservative voters would have elected six MPs, Liberal voters would have elected two MPs, New Democrat voters would have elected two MPs, and Green voters one.
If they elected seven local MPs and four regional MPs, the seven local MPs would have been a Liberal from Guelph and six Conservatives. The four regional MPs would have been two New Democrats, one Liberal, and one Green, topping up the results.
But this is on the votes cast in 2011. When every vote counts, turnout will be at least 6% higher, and no one will have to cast a “strategic vote.” So who can say what would be the result of real democratic elections?
How would party members from Cambridge to Owen Sound nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with a live convention site in Kitchener (or Guelph or Fergus). But voters would have the final say, since they can vote for their party’s regional candidate they prefer.
The result is this: on top of having local MPs, voters would also elect regional MPs. With one regional Liberal MP, it might be one of those who got the most votes in 2011, such as Andrew Telegdi or Karen Redman from Kitchener. The two regional NDP MPs might have been those who got the most votes in 2011, Cambridge’s Susan Galvao and Bruce County’s Grant Robertson. The regional Green MP might have been Caledon’s Ard Van Leeuwen, Finance critic in their Shadow Cabinet, their top regional vote-getter in 2011, or Cathy MacLellan, their Energy and Natural Resources critic.
How would regional MPs operate? Many regional MPs would need several offices, just as Michael Chong already has offices in Fergus and Georgetown, and Gary Schellenberger has offices in Stratford and Mount Forest.
No doubt Liberal voters in Dufferin, Caledon and Halton Hills would look to their nearby local Guelph MP. The regional Liberal MP would need offices in Kitchener, Stratford and Owen Sound, and would have five of the seven (larger) local ridings to cover. I imagine Susan Galvao as a regional NDP MP would need offices in Kitchener and Guelph, while Grant Robertson as a regional NDP MP might have offices in Owen Sound, Stratford and Orangeville. Just the way it’s done in Scotland.
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. Parliament would reflect the diverse voters of every province.
With this kind of power-sharing, Canada would look quite different.
If we had a Proportional Representation voting system this is what 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 Lead the world in climate chaos mitigation and adaptation
Ø Affordable post-secondary education
Ø Financial regulations and fair trade deals that would have prevented the 2008 economic collapse and the austerity morass
Ø A national child care program
Ø Much healthier First Nations communities
If we had used province-wide totals with perfect proportionality the projected results on the 2011 votes with the extra 30 MPs would be: 140 Conservatives, 103 NDP, 64 Liberals, 18 Bloc, and 13 Green.
With this MMP model, with average region size of 12 MPs, the projected results are 143 Conservative, 108 NDP, 63 Liberals, 15 Bloc, and 9 Greens. Very close to perfect proportionality, while keeping all MPs accountable to real local and regional communities.
Unrepresented Conservative voters would elect eight more Quebec MPs, one more in Newfoundland, one more in PEI, and one more on Vancouver Island.
Our electoral system is broken and people know it:
Ø Disengaged citizens who are rejecting their right to vote
Ø Proroguing Parliament
Ø An unelected Senate that rewards loyal party members with expensive perks
Ø Majority governments with minority voting results
Ø A dysfunctional conflict-oriented political process
Ø Anti-democratic omnibus bills
Ø Robocalls and election manipulation
Ø Withholding budget implementation details from Parliament
Ø Broken election promises
Ø Elimination of evidence-based policy research (e.g. Stats Can)
Ø Increasing inequality of wealth and opportunity
Poll results on proportional representation
Environics asked “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 +/- 3.10%, 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.”