Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Alex Himelfarb to Tasha Kheiriddin: “it’s false because it’s not true.”

That was a great debate April 2 between Andrew Coyne and Alex Himelfarb, advocating for proportional representation, and Conservatives Tasha Kheiriddin and Michelle Rempel.  

My favourite moment was at 38:45.

Tasha Kheiriddin had not done her homework.

“There would be a list. The parties would choose that list. You would not vote for a local MP. The party could re-appoint people. The party would choose . . .”

Moderator Even Solomon interrupts: “Some people are yelling out “false.” And so was Alex Himelfarb, former Clerk of the Privy Council, the very top position in Canada’s civil service.

Tasha Kheiriddin: “I don’t see why it would be false.”

So Evan Solomon calls on Himelfarb. 

“It’s false because it’s not true” say Alex Himelfarb, to great laughter and applause. 

“Almost invariably what the Commissions have recommended has local MPs . . . There are systems which are designed otherwise, but not for Canada.”

Andrew Coyne spelled it out: “Not all PR system use lists. The members on the lists can be elected by the members at large. People can choose names off the lists, voters can vote directly off the list. Lists are not the caricature that’s being presented.”

Worth sharing.

Multi-MP ridings in big cities, proportional single-MP ridings in the rest of the country

In the excellent debate on proportional representation April 2 at the Broadbent Institute’s 2016 Progress Summit, Andrew Coyne said most of our population live in large-urban areas, so you could have multi-MP ridings quite easily in those areas. “You may wish to have some kind of hybrid where the other areas could have one MP per riding. That’s going to be part of the debate.” See 46:55:

This echoes the similar suggestion by Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer from 1990 to 2007, who has gotten great interest by suggesting an urban/rural hybrid system.

So some of us have started to discuss an urban+rural model for proportional representation.

Multi-MP ridings in big cities, single-MP ridings in the rest of the country.

Large urban centres over 100,000 people contain 60.0% of Canada’s population, says Statistics Can from the 2011 census. A couple of those are cities with a bond to the single MP: Kingston just elected its former mayor Mark Gerretsen as its MP, while Guelph elected Lloyd Longfield. On the other hand, a couple of centres under 100,000 – like Saint John (N.B. – could be in a multi-MP riding. So could some people living near those large urban centres.

Still, that leaves at least 96 MPs from the other ridings (see list below). In Ontario and the West the majority of those seats are safely held by Conservatives. No other party will agree to hand them these seats.

Whichever parties hold those 96 seats, those voters are the ones most in need of having their voice no longer silenced. In Quebec, 428,000 Conservative voters cast ineffective votes last October. In Atlantic Canada, everyone but Liberals was shut out. So we have to give unrepresented voters in those 96 ridings representation too.

Top-up (adjustment) seats

If 61% of MPs come from multi-MP ridings, it will be easy to add a few “adjustment seats” as Sweden calls their top-up seats, to adjust for those disproportional results. Sweden elects 13% of their MPs this way, because their multi-MP districts have a range of sizes, some as small as two MPs.

We could add some single MP ridings, and still need only about 14% of MPs in “adjustment seats” (top-up seats). To keep the House of Commons the same size, the single-MP ridings would become about 16% larger.  That’s better for those communities (and their MPs) than having the ridings become 56% larger under an MMP model.

So who would elect the 49 MPs in those “adjustment seats?”

Two-vote option

They could be elected from a regional ballot, where voters have two votes, as in MMP.

Swedish option

Or they could, as in Sweden, be the best runner-up candidate in the region where that party’s voters were the most under-represented. Some people fear that MMP would mean list MPs from large urban centres would swamp the small-urban and rural communities. They prefer the Swedish model.

How would the Swedish option work?

Take Saskatchewan. It has 14 MPs. Four will be elected from the Saskatoon region, three from the Regina—Moose Jaw region. Five single-MP ridings are only about 17% larger than today. That leaves two adjustment seats.

On the votes cast in 2015, the Conservatives win two seats in the Saskatoon district, the Liberals and NDP one each. Each party wins one seat in the Regina—Moose Jaw district. The NDP still wins the northern single-MP district, and the Conservatives win the other four. The two parties under-represented are the Liberals and NDP. Therefore, they each get a adjustment seat.

The Liberals are most under-represented in the group of five single-MP ridings. Their best candidate in those ridings was aboriginal leader Lawrence Joseph, who came close to winning in the Northern riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.

The NDP are most under-represented in the Saskatoon Region. If current MP Sheri Benson still won the first NDP seat there, those voters elect a second Saskatoon Region MP such as Claire Card.

Lawrence Joseph and Claire Card have dual mandates. They were each ranked as a near-winner by voters in their district, but were elected thanks to voters in the rest of Saskatchewan. So they would make themselves available to voters across the region not already served by a local MP of that party. They would be allowed to open satellite offices where needed across the region, just as Conservative MP Robert Kitchen has offices today in Estevan, Weyburn and Moosomin.

It is proportional

On a simulation from the votes cast in 2015, the total results are (compared with perfect province-wide proportionality) Green 8 (10), Liberal 138 (137), Conservative 109 (109), NDP 68 (67).

But how robust is this model? If the Green vote doubled (from non-voters, and except in Saanich—Gulf Islands), can it handle such a shift? The results are (again compared with perfect proportionality) Green 19 (22), Liberal 135 (132), Conservative 105 (104), NDP 64 (65). The differences are little more than the inevitable rounding anomalies, except in one region: Northern Ontario becomes two 2-MP regions and four single-MP ridings, all won by the Liberals and NDP, leaving only one top-up MP for the Conservatives when they deserve two, and none for the Greens when they deserve one.  We have used only nine 2-MP ridings across Canada, and only when necessary, since voters generally want to have representation from more than two parties.

The seat totals are the same under the Swedish option or the two-vote option. Those options change who fills the seats, not the party totals.

Accountable and proportional

The result of the simulation shows that this model lets voters elect MPs who are both highly accountable to the small regions or local ridings that voted for them, and very proportional to the votes cast.


The 96 present ridings become 84 single-MP ridings. The 239 larger-urban MPs become 205 MPs from multi-MP ridings.

The large urban multi-MP ridings could use any good PR system. (The Swedish open-list system, STV, or Dion’s P3.) For the simulation we used the Swedish system because it is the simplest calculation (it requires no assumptions about second choices).

The 84 single-MP ridings use a winner-take-all ballot: FPTP or AV.

The typical adjustment region (top-up region) might contain 20 MPs: 12 from multi-MP districts and five from single-MP ridings, topped up by an additional three MPs (15% of the region), being the party’s candidate in the adjustment region who was the best runner-up in the area where that party’s voters were the most under-represented; either a multi-MP district, or an aggregation of single-MP districts. For the seven smaller provinces the province is the adjustment region.

This model lets communities under 200,000, and almost all medium-urban, small-urban and rural communities, keep their local MPs in ridings only about 16% larger than today, not 60% larger. This will not only please those voters, it will reassure many current MPs.

Regions all keep their number of MPs

The regions will ensure that, for example, only Northern Ontario votes help elect Northern Ontario MPs, GTA votes elect GTA MPs, BC Lower Mainland voters elect Lower Mainland MPs, and all regions keep their present numbers of MPs.

Will voters in big cities accept this?

Take Toronto. The multi-MP districts would not include the whole megacity. They might be six MPs from the area served by the “Community Council” for Toronto and East York, five from North York, five from Scarborough, and five from Etobicoke—York. If the GTA’s 55 MPs are in one “top-up region” it has eight adjustment seats. So, no MP specifically from Beaches—East York. But a candidate who was already, for example, a ward councillor might get enough local support, added to support from the rest of the larger district, to elect him or her as one of those six MPs.

Similarly, a seven-MP district in Metro Vancouver might include Burnaby, North Van, West Van, the Tri-Cities, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. Will they be happy in the same district? So far, I think so.

Option: A bigger House 

If MPs wish, these 49 additional MPs could be added to the House by expanding its size, so that the 338 present ridings would continue either as multi-MP ridings or single-MP ridings. 

What would the map look like?

Of course, the actual multi-MP districts and single-MP districts would be set by the normal Boundaries Commission process.

Still, here’s the map I used for my simulation.

A group of seven present ridings becomes (in large urban areas) a 6-MP district, or (in other areas) an aggregation of six single-MP ridings. Eight becomes seven, nine becomes eight, six becomes five, five becomes four, and four becomes three.

These multi-MP districts are from metropolitan areas with at least 200,000 residents, sometimes including adjacent communities. They also include, of necessity, St. John’s, Barrie, Kelowna, Sudbury, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, Moncton, and Thunder Bay. 

Newfoundland & Labrador (2+4+1):
St. John's 2                                      
Singles 4
Nova Scotia (4+5+2):
Halifax 4
Singles 5
PEI (3+1)                                                                              
Singles 3
New Brunswick (6+3+1):
St. JohnFredericton 3      
Singles 3
Eastern Quebec and Estrie--Mauricie 27 (14+9+4)      
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean 2                                 
Singles 9      
Quebec City 6                                                          
Lévis—Lotbinière—Bellechasse 2           
Trois-Rivières—Bécancour 2         
Sherbrooke—Estrie 2         
Montreal-east and environs 32 (23+5+4)
Montreal-est 5                                                         
Montreal-nord 4                                                       
Longueuil region 6                                                  
Roussillon—Suroît 2                                                           
Laval 3                                              
Terrebonne (Les Moulins + L'Assomption) 3
Singles 5
Montreal West—Laurentides—Outaouais—Abitibi-Témiscamingue—Nord 19 (12+4+3)
Montreal West 6                                                      
Laurentides 3
Gatineau 3                            
Singles 4 (incl. Vaudreuil—Soulanges)
Eastern Ontario (19: 8+8+3)
Ottawa-East—Prescott-Russell—Cornwall 4 (was 5):
Ottawa West 4 (was 5)       
Singles 8 (from Renfrew and Leeds—Grenville to Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes)
Greater Toronto Area 55 (46+9)
Toronto and East York 6
Etobicoke—York 5
North York 5
Scarborough 5
Vaughan—Richmond Hill 4
Markham—Aurora—Newmarket—Georgina 4
Durham Region 4
Brampton—Caledon—Dufferin 5
Mississauga 5
Oakville—Halton 3
West Central Ontario (Hamilton—Barrie—Owen Sound) 18 (11+4+3) 
Hamilton (incl. Burlington) 5                                  
Niagara Region 3
Barrie-Simcoe 3       
Singles 4
Southwestern Ontario (WaterlooLondon—Windsor) 20 (11+6+3)
Waterloo Region 4  
London—Elgin 3
Windsor--Essex-Chatham-Kent 4
Singles 6
Northern Ontario 9 (4+4+1)
Sudbury region 2                
Thunder Bay region 2                     
Singles: 4
Manitoba 14 (7+5+2)
Winnipeg 7
Singles 5
Saskatchewan 14 (7+5+2)
Saskatoon 4 (incl. N½ of Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan)
Regina—Moose Jaw 3
Singles 5
Alberta 34 (18+10+6) 
Metropolitan Calgary incl. Banff—Airdrie 9
South-Central Singles 5
Metropolitan Edmonton 9
North Singles 5
British Columbia Lower Mainland 26 (22+4)
Vancouver—Richmond 7
Burnaby—North Shore—Maple Ridge 7
Surrey—Delta 5
Abbotsford—Langley 3
BC Interior and North and Vancouver Island 16 (8+6+2)
Kelowna—Okanagan 3
Victoria 3
Nanaimo--Alberni--Cowichan 2
Singles 6
Territories 3 unchanged

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Canada’s 75 missing MPs in 2015

Canada’s 75 missing MPs in 2015

Electoral reform is not a partisan issue, as every electoral reformer knows. But some people, including some in the media, aren’t so sure.

To show this, let’s look at 75 missing MPs: the MPs who would have been in the House of Commons right now, if so many of us had not cast ineffective votes. Last October voters for every party were shut out in some regions, electing MPs only in their strongholds.

Of course, as Prof. Dennis Pilon says in this video: "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?

For more information on the mixed compensatory proportional voting system, click here.

Meanwhile, I’ve done simulations on the votes cast in October 2015. You can see how proportional representation would have given each region balanced representation:

18 missing Liberal MPs (or at least 16)

In Alberta, voters cast enough Liberal votes to elect eight or nine MPs, not the four who went to Ottawa. They would have elected another MP from Calgary like Matt Grant or Nirmala Naidoo (or both), one from southern Alberta like Lethbridge’s Mike Pyne, another from Edmonton like Karen Leibovici, and one from the north like Fort McMurray’s Kyle Harrietha.

In Saskatchewan, Liberal votes would have elected two more MP, not just Ralph Goodale. One from Saskatoon like Tracy Muggli, and another like indigenous leader Lawrence Joseph.

In the BC Interior and North, Liberal votes would have elected two more MPs, like Tracy Calogheros from Prince George and Metis lawyer Karley Scott from West Kelowna.

On Vancouver Island, two more Liberal MPs like Victoria lawyer David Merner and Parksville city councillor Carrie Powell-Davidson.

In Manitoba outside Winnipeg, two Liberal MPs like Brandons Jodi Wyman and Rebecca Chartrand.

In Southwestern Ontario three more MPs like Chatham’s Katie Omstead, Huron’s Allan Thompson and Windsor’s Frank Schiller.

In West Central Ontario one or two more Liberal MPs like Barrie’s Brian Tamblyn or Owen Sound’s Kimberley Love, or both. 

24 Missing Conservative MPs

In Toronto, Conservative voters cast enough ballots to elect six MPs like Joe Oliver, Mark Adler, Marnie MacDougall, Roxanne James, Bin Chang, and Borys Wrzesnewskyj.

In Peel Region, three Conservative MPs like Mississauga’s Stella Ambler and Brad Butt, and Brampton’s Kyle Seeback.

In Metropolitan Montreal, four Conservative MPs like lawyer Marc Boudreau, Côte Saint-Luc architect Robert Libman, Laval architect Roland Dick (of Lebanese ancestry), and Longueuil’s Afghan-born management expert Qais Hamidi.

In Metro Vancouver, four more Conservative MPs like cabinet minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay, incumbents Wai Young and Andrew Saxton, and former MLA Douglas Horne.

In Nova Scotia, incumbent Scott Armstrong and one more like Arnold LeBlanc or Michael McGinnis. In New Brunswick, two or three incumbents like Rob Moore, Tilly O'Neill Gordon and John Williamson or Robert Goguen. In PEI, incumbent Gail Shea. In Newfoundland and Labrador, one MP like former provincial cabinet minister Kevin O'Brien.

27 missing NDP MPs

In the GTA, NDP voters cast enough ballots to elect eight MPs like incumbents Craig Scott, Peggy Nash, Andrew Cash, and Rathika Sitsabaiesan, along with Oshawa’s Mary Fowler, Mississauga’s Dianne Douglas, Brampton’s Harbaljit Singh Kahlon, and Newmarket’s Yvonne Kelly.

In Eastern Ontario, three MPs like incumbent Paul Dewar, new star Emilie Taman, and Peterborough’s Dave Nickle. In Northern Ontario, another MP like incumbent Claude Gravelle or Kenora’s Howard Hampton. In West Central Ontario, an MP like Waterloo’s Diane Freeman. In South Central Ontario, another MP like incumbent Malcolm Allen.

In Nova Scotia, two MPs like incumbents Megan Leslie and Peter Stoffer. In Newfoundland and Labrador, an MP like incumbent Jack Harris. In New Brunswick, two MPs like Jason Godin and Jennifer McKenzie.

In Montreal, another MP like incumbent Isabelle Morin or James Hughes. In the rest of Quebec, three more like incumbents Annick Papillon in Quebec City, Pierre Dionne Labelle in Saint-Jérôme, and Mylène Freeman in Mirabel.

In Saskatchewan, one more like Saskatoon’s Claire Card. In Alberta, three more like Calgary’s Laura Weston, Cheryl Meheden from Lethbridge, and Edmonton’s Janis Irwin.

At least six missing Green MPs

In BC, two more Green MPs like Ken Melamed and Jo-Ann Roberts. In Alberta, one Green MP like Mike MacDonald from Cochrane. In Ontario, two or three Green MPs like Gord Miller from Guelph and Chris Tolley from Toronto. In Quebec, maybe one or two Green MPs like Daniel Green and JiCi Lauzon.

NDP MPs and candidates who improved their vote total from the transposed 2011 results

NDP MPs and candidates who improved their vote total from the transposed 2011 results

(Note: most posts on my blog are about proportional representation, but not this one. If you are looking for information on proportional representation, click here.)

Many people will be surprised to learn that, of the 44 NDP MPs, almost half – 20 of them – won more votes last October than the NDP vote in 2011 (transposed onto the new boundaries). In other words, they not only ran ahead of the party in 2015, they were such stars they even ran ahead of the 2011 support. Nine of them are new MPs, 11 incumbents.

Of those 20, 12 were in BC, where the NDP picked up three seats while losing votes in other ridings, as clever BC voters cast strategic votes against the Conservatives. But the other eight stars were across Canada: Three in Ontario, three in Quebec, one in Manitoba and one in Saskatchewan.

MP                                      2011               2015 (Riding)
Tracey Ramsey                17528             25072 Essex
Gord Johns                       23400             26582 Courtenay—Alberni
Wayne Stetski                   20510             23529 Kootenay—Columbia
Rachel Blaney                   21239             24340 North Island—Powell River
Nathan Cullen                   19550             22531 Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Richard Cannings              21886             24823 South Okanagan–West Kootenay
Ruth Ellen Brosseau         20193             22942 Berthier—Maskinongé
Niki Ashton                        10962             13487 Churchill—Keewatinook Aski
Brian Masse                       21592             24085 Windsor West
Fin Donnelly                       17580             19706 Port Moody—Coquitlam
Don Davies                        18752             20763 Vancouver Kingsway
Peter Julian                        21200             22876 New Westminster—Burnaby        
Jenny Kwan                       27794             29316 Vancouver East       
Randall C. Garrison           22324             23836 Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke
Alistair MacGregor             20818             22200 Cowichan—Malahat—Langford
Alexandre Boulerice          27644             28672 Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie
Guy Caron                         18360             19374 Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata
Cheryl Hardcastle              22235             23215 Windsor—Tecumseh
Georgina Jolibois                9454               10319 Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River
Kennedy Stewart               16072             16094 Burnaby South

And 32 other NDP candidates improved their vote total from the transposed 2011 results, even without winning, including three incumbent MPs:

Candidate                             2011               2015 riding
Philip Toone                         10186             12885 Gaspésie—Les-Iles-de-la-Madeleine
Maria Mourani                      14550             16684 Ahuntsic—Cartierville
Jinny Sims                           11459             11602 Surrey—Newton

And 29 others, including eight in Alberta, five in Ontario and three in P.E.I. (candidates who got less than 10% not included):

Candidate                             2011               2015 riding
Mira Oreck                          10670            14462 Vancouver Granville
Howard Hampton                 6855             10420 Kenora
Jason Wayne McMichael   14856             18102 Sarnia--Lambton
Sara Norman                      12477             15400 Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam
Jacqui Gingras                   15075             17907 North Okanagan—Shuswap
Aaron Paquette                    9082             11582 Edmonton Manning
Cameron Alexis                    4859              7127  Peace River—Westlock
Janis Irwin                          14151            16309 Edmonton Griesbach
Bob D'Eith                          13404            15450 Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge
Gil McGowan                     11127             13084 Edmonton Centre
Herb Dickieson                    2369               4097 Egmont
Jack Iyerak Anawak            1525               3171 Nunavut
Melissa Atkinson                 2308               3943 Yukon
Doug Hart                           5805               7055 Red Deer—Lacombe
Diane Freeman                    8014              8928 Waterloo
Duane Zaraska                    4621              5513 Lakeland
Trent Derrick                        13016              13879 Cariboo—Prince George
Carolynn Ioannoni              12681              13525 Niagara Falls
Bill Sundhu                        20682           21466 Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
Claire Card                       13344           14115 Saskatoon—University
Lon Borgerson                  10482           11244 Prince Albert
Brian Fleck                             9159               9846 Edmonton Riverbend
Constance Barnes              10952             11618 Vancouver Centre
Guy Desforges                      5655               6166 Sturgeon River—Parkland
Martin Singh                       7498             7946 Brampton North
Carol Baird Ellan                 15219             15537 Burnaby North—Seymour
Joe Byrne                           4632             4897 Charlottetown
Billy Cann                              2164               2503 Cardigan
Seonaigh MacPherson        8972               9218 Chilliwack—Hope