Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Video and audio sites on MMP

TV Ontario's The Agenda with Steve Paikin, in my opinion one of the best current affairs shows around, has covered the referendum, the Ontario Citizens' Assembly (OCA), and MMP in considerable depth.

Click here to see some video and audio on the subject.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Can you handle the enormous and crushing pressure?

Above is a sample ballot for MMP (Mixed-Member Proportional vote). This particular one is used in New Zealand.

The column on the left is where you select your choice of party (only parties are listed there). These votes will be used to determine proportionality and to select the list candidates. The list candidates will be published before the election. The column on the right is identical to the ballot we have in our current system (that's why you see candidate names there).

One criticism levelled at MMP is that it is difficult to understand. Well, I guess anything is going to be more challenging than putting one X beside someone's name which is what we currently do. This is of course much more complicated . . . we have to mark two Xs . . . Can you handle the enormous and crushing pressure?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MMP and it's effects on Ottawa

Much of the merits of MMP are made in regards to the benefits it brings to the province as a whole. General points are made such as:
  • only votes for winning candidates count towards electing an MPP
  • our current system routinely gives majority control of the legislature to parties with a minority of supproters
  • dissolves exaggerated differences between rural and urban Ontario (parties wouldn't always have "safe" regions where they can take every riding)
But what about its advantages on the City of Ottawa? How would it change things here? Of our city's seven ridings five were won by Liberals and two by Tories in 2003.

Some quick facts:
  • the Greens, New Democrats, and PCs were the most disadvantaged here in the city (in that order)
  • Under MMP our city would have been represented by (approximately): 3 Liberals, 3 PCs, and 1 New Democrat
  • Percentage of the votes per party in the city: Liberal: 45%, PC: 40%, NDP: 10%

Let's vote in favour of a system that shows our true colours!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Support from Down Under

Steve Withers, an expat Ontarian living in New Zealand has returned to Ontario to encourage us to adopt the Mixed Member Proportional vote.

Our cousins down under adopted MMP 11 years ago, ditching first-past-the-post. He shares how MMP works in reality. Here is an exerpt from his article:

"I live in the Otaki riding, north of Wellington, on the west coast of the North Island. Otaki is a mainly rural riding. The largest towns are Levin and the north end of Paraparaumu. The local MP is Darren Hughes of the Labour Party. Local Labourites selected him as their candidate. He has offices in the main streets of Levin and Paraparaumu.

Not far away in both towns are the riding offices of Nathan Guy. He is a list MP for the National Party. He came second to Hughes in the local race, but was high enough on the list that he was also elected by his party's vote nationally.

So the voters of Otaki have two MPs, one from each major party, competing head to head to serve them.

But wait, there's more. Sue Kedgley, a list MP from the Green Party, also serves the Otaki electorate as well as the other nine ridings of the Wellington region. Her ads are in the weekly give-aways inviting Otaki voters to talk to her on issues of concern.

Why do they do this? Because under MMP, every vote counts everywhere. The politicians can't ignore anyone. The whole idea of winning an election by pandering to swing voters in a few marginals becomes obsolete."

Withers goes on to point out:
  • most democracies in the world use a form of proportional representation,
  • MMP provides governments that are just as stable as under our present system,
  • minority governments don't sign their own death warrants in hopes of getting a majority because it's not guaranteed they'll get it.

This is a golden opportunity to get rid of our phony "majority governments" and provide true democracy to Ontario.

To volunteer with Vote for MMP-Ottawa please contact me.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No more double distortion with MMP

Many people may rightly cite the distortions that happen under our current voting system. Chief amongst them is that a party can receive say 37% of the vote, take 60% of the seats and hold 100% of the power. Yet what is less pondered is the distortion that occurs through the so-called "strategic vote" which first-past-the-post (FPTP) encourages. Ergo, FPTP offers a distortion of a distortion. The mixed-member proportion vote (MMP) would address this double distortion.

For example, say I'm a supporter of the Apple Party but they have no chance of winning in my riding because it is a stronghold of the Banana Party. Yet the only party which has a chance of beating the Banana Party candidate is the Coconut Party. Under FPTP I would be encouraged to vote for the Coconut Party candidate and abandon my prefered choice. All of this would change under MMP.

On my first vote I could feel comfortable voting for my favoured Apple Party if I so desired. But where I could have real satisfaction is on the second vote where my party vote, or list vote, would give a voice to the party I want to see in government. So MMP would address these two distortions and bring a true reflection not only of a party's support but go a long way in capturing the public's true political will by eliminating the need to vote strategically.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

PC MPP skeptical of MMP list MPPs

No, I couldn't fit any more acronyms in.

Long-time Eastern Ontario PC MPP Bob Runciman (Leeds-Grenville) is skeptical of MMP. An article in the Brockville Record & Times cited Runciman as questionning some of the proposed system's merits.

"There are some real shortcomings with what they are talking about now - more politicians and a significant number of them being appointed by the backroom people in the various political parties," he said.

In actuality, 39 MPPs would be elected from the lists. The remaining 90 in the current riding-based system. The individual parties must state, before the election, how they have formulated their lists. In other words, who would vote for a party if the leader's best golfing buddies were on it? The lists are a way for the parties to sell themselves to the voters by way of putting dynamic individuals on the lists, be it in regards to their sex, regional location, or other politically marketable quality.

Furthermore, it is in and of itself a very large break with our current tradition of nominating MPPs. Party members are convened to nominate a candidate or sometimes the candidate is even selected directly by the leader. If a party leader still wishes to do that then that's fine, they simply have to tell the electorate that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Third cabinet minister surfaces to support MMP because of "compromise" factor

John Gerretsen, McGuinty's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, has surfaced as the third minister to endorse the MMP, a more represtenative and fair way to vote. Gerretsen is from right here in Eastern Ontario and is the former Mayor of Kingston. The other two ministers to support the change are
  • George Smitherman, Deputy Premier and Minsiter for Health and Long-Term Care and,
  • Michael Bryant, Attorney General

Gerretsen joins Kingston Senator Hugh Segal in supporting the change as well showing not just Liberals and New Democrats are supporting the change.

Gerretsen also represents a "later" generation supporting the Mixed-Member Proportional vote. He said in the above article that,

"Nobody is ever 100-per-cent right and nobody is every 100-per-cent wrong," he said. "Governing is the art of compromise. There's nothing wrong with having the governing party take into account smaller parties."

The new system will have a threshold limit of 3% of votes province-wide necessary before a party can be represented at Queen's Park.

Monday, July 2, 2007

First post, quick facts

Welcome to the first post of the Vote YES for MMP Campaign - Ottawa. More posts are on the way but here are the quick facts:
-Ontarians will vote in a referendum on the same day as the next provincial election (October 10, 2007) on whether or not to adopt or reject a new voting system
-to learn more on MMP please go to the Citizens' Assembly home page, here
-if you would like to learn more or to volunteer please email me