Monday, September 1, 2014

How would proportional representation work in Toronto?


How would proportional representation work in Toronto, 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 Toronto?

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.”
 
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 107 NDP, 63 or 67 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.  
 
Toronto’s 25 MPs

Toronto elects 25 MPs in 2015. With the mixed proportional system, 15 of the 25 would still be local MPs, from larger ridings. The other ten would be regional MPs, topping up the total results to make them match the vote shares.
 
So what would that look like?

When every vote counts, turnout will 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.
 
Two models

Toronto’s MPs might be in two “top-up regions” under the Law Commission of Canada`s model, or in three regions under the “moderate” model based on the UK`s Jenkins Commission.

Regional candidates
 
How would party members nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with live conventions in each part of Toronto. 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.
 
Two-region model
 
On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in the 12 ridings of North and West Toronto and Etobicoke would be seven Conservative MPs, three Liberals and only two New Democrats. Yet those voters cast 38% of their ballots for Liberals, only 36.5% for Conservatives, 22.5% for New Democrats, and 2.5% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect four MPs, Liberal voters five, and New Democrat voters three. The regional MPs for each party would be the party’s regional candidates who got the most regional votes across the region.
 
Since I’m projecting from the 2011 votes, I’ll start with the 2011 candidates. Depending on local nominations, let’s suppose the seven local MPs were Conservatives Joe Oliver, Mark Adler, Bernard Trottier and John Carmichael; Liberals Judy Sgro and Kirsty Duncan; and New Democrat Peggy Nash.
 
In that case, Liberal voters would also elect three regional MPs, and New Democrats two. That might be Liberal Michael Ignatieff, Martha Hall Findlay and Gerard Kennedy or Rob Oliphant or Ken Dryden; and New Democrats Mike Sullivan and Mary Hynes or Giulio Manfrini.
 
In the 13 ridings of Central Toronto and Scarborough, we see that the partisan tables are turned. On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results would be seven New Democrats, five Liberals and only one Conservative. Yet those voters cast 38% of their ballots for New Democrats, 32% for Liberals, 26% for Conservatives, and 4% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect three MPs, Liberal voters four, New Democrat voters only five, and Green voters one. (See Technical note below.) Again, the regional MPs for each party would be the party’s regional candidates who got the most regional votes across the region.
 
Suppose the eight local MPs were New Democrats Jack Layton, Olivia Chow, and Matthew Kellway; Liberals Bob Rae, Carolyn Bennett, Jim Karygiannis and John McKay; and Conservative Roxanne James. In that case, Conservative voters would also elect two regional MPs, New Democrats two, and Greens one. That might be New Democrats Rathika Sitsabaiesan and Andrew Cash or Susan Wallace or Natalie Hundt; Conservatives  Maureen Harquail and Marlene Gallyot or Harry Tsai; and Green Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu or Ellen Michelson.
 
Three-region model
 
On the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results in Toronto Northwest--Etobicoke’s new eight ridings would be four Conservative MPs, two Liberals and two New Democrats. Yet those voters cast 37% of their votes for Liberals, while only 33% voted Conservative, 26% NDP, and 2% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect three MPs, Liberal voters three MPs, and New Democrat voters two.
 
Suppose the five local MPs were Conservatives Mark Adler and Bernard Trottier, Liberals Judy Sgro and Kirsty Duncan, and New Democrat Peggy Nash. In that case, voters for each party would also elect one regional MP: maybe Liberal Michael Ignatieff, Martha Hall Findlay, Ken Dryden or Gerard Kennedy; Conservative Ted Opitz or Priti Lamba; and New Democrat Mike Sullivan.
 
In Scarborough—Don Valley East’s new eight ridings, on the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results would be four Liberal MPs, two New Democrats and two Conservatives. Yet those voters cast 35% of their votes for Liberals and 35% for Conservatives, along with 27% NDP and 2% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect three MPs, Liberal voters three MPs, and New Democrat voters still two.
 
Suppose the five local MPs were Liberals Jim Karygiannis and John McKay, New Democrats Dan Harris and Rathika Sitsabaiesan, and Conservative Roxanne James. In that case, Conservative voters would also elect two regional MPs: maybe Joe Daniel and Marlene Gallyot or Harry Tsai. Liberals would elect one regional MP: maybe Yasmin Ratansi or Michelle Simson.
 
In Central Toronto’s new nine ridings, on the votes cast in 2011, the winner-take-all results would be five NDP MPs, two Liberals and two Conservatives. Yet those voters cast only 36% of their votes for New Democrats, while 32% voted Liberal, 26% Conservative, and 4.4% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Liberal voters would elect three MPs, New Democrat voters three, Conservative voters still two, and Green voters one. (See Technical note below.)
 
Suppose the five local MPs were New Democrats Jack Layton and Olivia Chow, Liberals Bob Rae and Carolyn Bennett, and Conservative Joe Oliver. In that case, voters for each party would also elect one regional MP: maybe New Democrats Andrew Cash or Susan Wallace; Conservative  Maureen Harquail; and Green Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu or Ellen Michelson.
 
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.
 
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 who got 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 in Central Toronto out of only 13 or nine MPs. The numbers work out as follows: with the two-region model, Conservatives 3.40 MPs; Liberals 4.17; New Democrats 4.93; Greens 0.50. After the first eleven seats are awarded, the 12th seat goes to the “highest remainder” (the NDP), and the 13th seat goes to the next (the Green.) With the three-region model, it’s Conservatives 2.39 MPs; Liberals 2.93; New Democrats 3.27; Greens 0.40. After the first seven seats are awarded, the 8th seat goes to the “highest remainder” (the Liberals), and the 9th seat narrowly goes to the next (the Green.)

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 after the top-up region corrects for the local results, the second preferences make no difference in Toronto.
 

Friday, August 15, 2014

How would proportional representation work in Calgary?


How would proportional representation work in Calgary?

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

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

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, you can vote for the party you want to see in government, and for your favourite of your party’s regional candidates.

In this way, you also 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.”

Calgary`s ten MPs

Calgary elects ten MPs in 2015. With the mixed proportional system, 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.

So what would that look like?

When every vote counts, turnout will 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 based on the votes cast in 2011.

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? Even Conservatives?

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.

Regional candidates

How would party members in Calgary nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with a live convention. Likely party members city-wide would decide to nominate the same candidates nominated in the local ridings, and some additional city-wide candidates.

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.

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.

Two models

In 2015 Albertans elect 34 MPs. They might be in three “top-up regions” under the Law Commission of Canada`s model, or in four regions under the ``moderate`` model based on the UK`s Jenkins Commission. Either way, Calgary`s ten MPs will make it a good “top-up region.”

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.”

Canada-wide consequences.

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, 104 NDP, 64 Liberals, 19 Bloc, and 11 Green.

With these mixed models, the projected results for 338 MPs are 142 or 143 Conservatives, 106 or 107 NDP, 66 or 62 Liberals, 15 or 17 Bloc, and 11 or 7 Greens. Close to perfect proportionality, while keeping all MPs accountable to real local and regional communities.

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, and one more on Vancouver Island.

Canadian diversity

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 who got more than 50% of the votes was Brian Mulroney in 1984.) 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, 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.)

Would second preferences have changed any results in 2011? Sometimes, but not in Calgary, using the EKOS poll taken April 28-30, 2011:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ontario’s winner-take-all election: the parade of strongholds continues

The parade of strongholds continues, in Ontario’s winner-take-all 2014 election.

Winner-take-all voting
Winner-take-all voting systems notoriously favour party strongholds. Voters living in them have an MPP in their party’s caucus. Others have no one at Queen’s Park to call.

Voters for parties with geographic strongholds elect governments with false majorities, thanks to the seat bonus from their strongholds. Voters for parties with no strongholds, like the Greens, elect no one.

In Ontario’s 2014 election, Toronto Liberal voters cast 49% of the Toronto votes, but elected 91% of Toronto’s MPPs, 20 of the 22.

In Peel and Halton regions Liberal voters cast 45% of those votes, but elected ten of those 12 MPPs, 83%.  In York and Durham Regions, Liberal voters cast 43% of those votes, but elected eight of those 12 MPPs, 67%.

A manufactured majority
While the PC vote share crashed from 35.4% to 31.3% between 2011 and 2014, the NDP vote share rose from 22.7% to 23.7%, the Liberal vote share rose from 37.7% to 38.6%, and the Green vote share rose from 2.9% to 4.8%.

From the voters’ point of view, this election was all about their rejection of Tim Hudak’s platform.  In the process, they elected a government supported by less than 39% of voters, with a manufactured majority of MPPs. For the next four years, it has no legislative accountability to representatives of the majority of voters.   

Overall, a fair voting system would have let voters elect 42 Liberals, 34 PCs, 26 NDP and five Greens.

Invisible Liberal voters
Ontario’s surprise majority government looks dominated by the GTA. Two-thirds of Liberal MPPs are from the GTA, 38 of 58.

But to elect a Liberal MPP in the GTA took only 25,689 votes, while it took 44,332 outside the GTA. That’s because our winner-take-all system left many invisible Liberal voters outside the GTA unrepresented in the government caucus. Like all those Alberta Liberals whose votes don’t count in Ottawa.

Southwestern Ontario Liberal voters in the 11 ridings of the London to Windsor region cast 23% of those votes, but those silenced voters elected only one MPP. If our voting system made all votes equal and effective, they would have elected the three Liberal MPPs their region deserved.

Northern Ontario Liberal voters cast 35% of Northern votes but elected only three of the ten MPPs, not the four Liberal MPPs their region deserved.

Unrepresented conservative voters
Meanwhile, the official opposition has a mirror image of the same problem. Their caucus has no representative of the 205,996 Toronto Progressive Conservative voters, and only four from the rest of the GTA. Yet, in Central and Mid-east Ontario, where only 39% of voters voted PC, they elected seven of those 11 MPPs.  In Waterloo—Bruce region, where only 35% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those nine MPPs. In Southwestern Ontario, where only 32% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those 11 MPPs.

To reject Tim Hudak’s platform, voters elected five more Liberal MPPs than in 2011.

NDP strongholds
Yet when NDP voters elected seven more MPPs than in 2011 (while also losing three), all but two of the seven gains were from their Southwestern Ontario stronghold (three), and their Hamilton—Niagara and Northern strongholds (one each). In Central and Mid-East Ontario NDP voters cast 18% of the votes but elected no one.  In the Ottawa-Cornwall region NDP voters cast 14% of the votes but elected no one.

In Toronto NDP voters cast 22% of the votes but elected only two MPPs. In Waterloo--Bruce region NDP voters cast 22% of the votes but elected only one MPP. In Peel and Halton NDP voters cast 18% of the votes but elected only one MPP. In York and Durham Regions NDP voters cast 17% of the votes but elected only one MPP, when Jennifer French took Oshawa from the PCs with 47% of the vote.

The MPPs missing from Queen’s Park
If all Liberal voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected MPPs like Teresa Piruzza in Windsor, Terry Johnson in Chatham, and Andrew Olivier in Sudbury or Dr. Catherine Whiting in North Bay.

If all NDP voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected MPPs like Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland, Peterborough’s Sheila Wood, Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie or Cornwall’s Elaine MacDonald, Toronto’s Michael Prue and Jonah Schein or Rosario Marchese and Tom Rakocevic or Paul Ferreira, York Region lawyer Laura Bowman, Brampton’s Gurpreet Dhillon or Gugni Gill Panaich, and Jan Johnstone from Bruce County.

Green voters cast 7.6% of the votes in Waterloo—Bruce region, and deserved to elect their leader Mike Schreiner who got 19% of the votes in Guelph. They cast 6.8% of the votes in Central and Mid-East Ontario, and deserved to elect Matt Richter who got 19% of the votes in Parry Sound-Muskoka. They cast 4.5% of the votes in Peel and Halton, and deserved to elect Karren Wallace who got 17% of the votes in Dufferin-Caledon. They cast 3.9% of the votes in Toronto, and deserved to elect someone like Tim Grant or Rachel Power. They cast 5.3% of the votes in Ottawa—Cornwall region, and deserved to elect someone like Dave Bagler or Kevin O’Donnell.

This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2014. In fact, more would have voted. And some would have voted differently -- no more strategic voting. We would likely have seen different candidates -- more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have seen different parties. Who knows who might have won real democratic elections?

Mixed Member System
This simulation assumes Ontario should use the mixed member system recommended by The Law Commission of Canada. We still elect local MPs. Voters unrepresented by the local results elect regional MPs, in ten regions. This tops up the local results so the total MPs match the vote share. Fair Vote Canada says “The supporters of all candidates and political parties must be fairly represented in our legislatures in proportion to votes cast.”

Personal MMP
Back in 2007, Ontario voters did not support a proposal for the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system modelled on the one used in Germany and New Zealand, with closed lists. But this recommendation is for a Personal MMP model.

The Law Commission recommended that your second vote should let you choose either a party or one of the regional candidates nominated by parties. This is commonly called “open list” rather than “closed list.” The result is that all MPs have faced the voters, and no one is guaranteed a seat.

You have two votes
You have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today. With the other, you also 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.

Competing MPs
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.” The Law Commission model would give citizens competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in their area. Scotland uses regions of 16 MPs, Wales 12. I’m assuming a typical region would have 11 MPPs: seven local, four regional “top-up.” Generally, three of today’s ridings become two larger local ridings.

There's more. 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 ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 35% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand with a similar system.

Fair Vote Canada says“A democratic voting system must encourage citizens to exercise positive choice by voting for the candidate or party they prefer.”
 
Accountable MPPs
With the same 107 MPPs we have today, I’m assuming 65 MPPs would still be elected from larger local ridings, and 42 MPPs would be elected regionally. These regions are large enough that voters for every major party would be represented in every region.

Regional MPPs
Who would those regional MPPs 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.

Proportional
With top-up regions of about 11 MPPs each, the results are very close to perfect proportionality. Green Party voters elect the five MPPs they deserve.

Power to the voters
An exciting prospect: voters have new power to elect who they like. New voices from new forces in the legislature, more voter choice. No one party rolls the dice and wins an artificial majority. Cooperation will have a higher value than vitriolic rhetoric. One-party dominance by the Premier’s office will, at last, be out of fashion. Governments will have to listen to MPPs, and MPPs will have to really listen to the people. MPPs can act as the public servants they are supposed to be.

Ten different Commissions, Assemblies and Reports in the past eleven years in Canada have unanimously recommended proportional representation.

No central party direction
The models in Ontario and PEI which failed referendums had closed province-wide lists for the additional “top-up” MPPs. This failure was no surprise to the Jenkins Commission. Jenkins said top-up MPs locally anchored to small areas 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.”

How would regional MPs serve residents?
See how it works in Scotland.

Diversity
Clearly this would allow fair representation of Ontario’s political diversity in each region.

Would this model also help reflect in the Legislature the diversity of society, removing barriers to the nomination and election of candidates from groups now underrepresented including women, cultural minorities and Aboriginals? Polls show that 90% of Canadian voters would like to see more women elected. If they can choose from several of their party's regional candidates, they'll almost certainly elect more women. And as long as a party is nominating at least five regional candidates, you can expect them to nominate a diverse group. With four regional MPs from a region, and seven local MPs, a major party would want more than five regional candidates, since any candidates who win local seats are removed from contention for regional seats.

Technical notes

This model was described in more detail by Prof. Henry Milner at an electoral reform conference Feb. 21, 2009, where he recommended 14-MP regions. A similar "open-list" model is used in the German province of Bavaria and was proposed by Scotland's Arbuthnott Commission in 2006.

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 the 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets any small region sizes.


The Law Commission recommended that the right to nominate candidates for regional top-up seats should be limited to those parties which have candidates standing for election in at least one-third of the ridings within the top-up region. This prevents a possible distortion of the system by parties pretending to split into twin decoy parties for the regional seats, the trick which Berlusconi invented to sabotage Italy’s voting system.