Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ontario's 121 seats for 2015

Where will Ontario’s 15 new seats in Parliament be? This will be determined by the new Boundaries Commission. But since there is so much interest, I have spent some time on the answer. (Note: this post has been updated with the census figures.)

First, how many seats will be available for southern Ontario, after the North is dealt with?

Last time, in the 2004 Boundaries Commission Report after the 2001 census, the North (north of the French River) had enough people for 7.74 “quotients.” The Commission decided they could not give them more than nine ridings. This time, with fewer people and a higher quotient, that area has only 7.01 quotients.

But with Ontario getting more MPs, how can a Commission explain the North losing an MP? Conservative MP Michael Chong said in the House debate “the bill would ensure that rural Ontario continues to have the number of seats it has presently, while, at the same time, adding new seats to the rapidly growing urban regions of our province. One of the challenges with the bill that the Liberals have proposed is that, while it would add some new seats to the rapidly growing regions of urban Ontario, it would take seats away from rural Ontario and add them to urban Ontario. Our bill would not do that.” House debates are not binding on the Commission, but this comment does reflect the likely approach of most Commissioners.

There is a simple solution, since the Ontario government now defines the North as including Parry Sound. Adding Parry Sound, it is possible for the North to keep nine MPs without breaking any rules, as detailed below.

So I think the new 15 seats will be:
Peel-Halton gets 5 more seats (3.9 in Peel, 1.1 in Halton)
York Region gets 2 more (2.9 mathematically, considering they now share one MP with Simcoe, and will have to share one with Durham)
Toronto 2 more (1.6 mathematically, but they won't have an MP shared with Pickering)
Durham 1 more (0.9 mathematically; they won't have to share an MP with Scarborough East but will with York.)
Ottawa—Prescott & Russell 1 more (1.2 mathematically, since they won't have to share an MP with Lanark)
Hamilton 1 more shared with Brant; Niagara will no longer have to share one with Hamilton.
Kingston to Peterborough 1 more (due to growth in Kingston and Frontenac, Napanee won't have to share an MP with Lanark anymore, and the growing urban area of Belleville-Quinte West will now have their own MP)
Waterloo—Wellington—Dufferin 1 more (0.7 mathematically, but they won't have to share an MP with Perth anymore)
Windsor--Essex 1 more (0.7 mathematically), a new MP in suburban Windsor, by giving Essex-Kent-Lambton an extra half riding and London-Middlesex the other half, so they no longer have a riding straddling the regions' boundary.
Simcoe—Muskoka has growth worth 0.5 MP, accommodated by Muskoka not having to share an MP with Parry Sound anymore.

Total 15.5 mathematically, but there are only 15 new seats. The North loses 0.4 seats. Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry loses 0.1.

How do I calculate this?

We have
the 2011 census figures. 
These don’t include 13 Indian reserves and Indian settlements in Kenora where forest fires made the census impossible, and some other Reserves, so I have added them.


The results are shown below, with the exact quotients in brackets. Note that all my southern ridings are within 10% of quotient, although the Commission is allowed to deviate by up to 25%.
I have tried to follow districts and counties as much as possible, and District School Boards such as the Near North Board (Parry Sound—Nipissing). I have eliminated 12 boundary-straddling ridings, but created five new ones, sorry. Despite the major changes required by growth and the 15 new electoral districts, 17 of the 121 ridings are unchanged from the 2003 Order.
Toronto has 24.59 “quotients.” But no major region can get its quotients rounded up, after the North gets an extra 1.7 seats. So Toronto will get 24 seats.
Toronto 24 (24.59). (Note these 24 ridings will be only 2.4% over quotient.)
York—Durham 15 (15.43), including a Durham North—Georgina alignment.
Peel—Halton 17 (16.91), including a Halton Hills--Brampton Mount Pleasant.
Hamilton—Brant 6 (6.18), including an Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough—Brant North.
Niagara Region 4 (4.06)
Haldimand-Norfolk 1 (1.02)
Waterloo—Wellington—Dufferin 7 (7.26) (3.7% over quotient, details below)
Oxford 1 (0.99)
London-Middlesex—Elgin 5 (4.95)
Windsor-Essex—Chatham-Kent—Lambton 6 (5.84) (details below)
Simcoe—Muskoka—Grey-Bruce-Huron-Perth 7 (7.49) (details below)
Peterborough—Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton—Northumberland 3 (2.89) (details below)
Hastings-Prince-Edward—Lennox & Addington 2 (1.90)
Kingston-Frontenac—Lanark 2 (2.03)
Leeds & Grenville 1 (0.93)
Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry 1 (1.08)
Renfrew 1 (0.96)
Ottawa—Prescott & Russell 9 (9.11)

Here are details of the more difficult areas where ridings will have to straddle the boundaries of counties, regional municipalities or districts, showing what amount of a “quotient” each riding has.

North 9:
Sudbury 0.86
Nickel Belt—Timiskaming (includes West Nipissing and Temagami) 0.85
Nipissing—Parry Sound (North Bay and east) 1.03
Timmins—Cochrane 0.80
Sudbury—Algoma—Manitoulin (includes Bruce Mines) 0.82
Sault Ste. Marie (includes Michipicoten (Wawa) and Dubreuilville) 0.84
Thunder Bay – Superior (includes White River and Hornepayne) 0.77
Thunder Bay – Fort Frances 0.77
Kenora—West Rainy River 0.66 (recognized as exceptional already by the last Commission)

Simcoe—Muskoka—Grey-Bruce-Huron-Perth 7:
Simcoe South 1.10
Barrie 1.06
Barrie-Midland 1.06
Muskoka—Simcoe North 1.05
Grey North—Owen Sound—Simcoe West 1.09
Bruce—Grey—Huron 1.04
Perth—Huron 1.10


Waterloo—Wellington—Dufferin 7:
Kitchener—Waterloo 1.09
Kitchener Centre 1.09
Kitchener-Wilmot-Wellesley 1.09
Cambridge 1.05 (still includes North Dumfries)
Guelph 1.10
Waterloo-Wellington (Fergus, Elmira, Hespeler, Puslinch, Rockwood) 0.93
Dufferin—Wellington (includes Erin & Mount Forest) 0.92

Windsor-Essex—Chatham-Kent--Lambton 6:
Windsor East 0.99
Windsor West 0.99
Essex Northwest 1.02
Essex—Kent 0.97
Chatham-Kent--Lambton 0.96
Sarnia—Lambton 0.91

Peterborough—Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton—Northumberland 3:
Peterborough 1.04
Northumberland—Peterborough 0.93
Kawartha Lakes-Haliburton 0.92

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

If Saskatchewan had a democratic voting system . . .

After the 2011 election, communities in all of Saskatchewan outside Regina, Saskatoon and the two northern ridings have no voice in the opposition. They have no local voice to question any government action or inaction. Their regions face one-party rule.

The 16 MLAs from the southwest (Moose Jaw - Swift Current - Estevan – Rosetown) are all from the Saskatchewan Party. Although 22% of those voters voted NDP, they have no voice in the opposition.

With a regional open-list Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system such as the Law Commission of Canada recommended, if Saskatchewan voters voted as they did in 2011 they would have elected 38 Saskatchewan Party MLAs and 20 New Democrats.

With MMP, we still elect the majority of MLAs locally. Voters unrepresented by the local results top them up by electing regional MLAs. The total MLAs match the vote share. With the regional "Open list" version, voters can vote for whomever they like out of the regional candidates nominated by the party's regional nomination process. Like the right-hand part of this ballot.

See MMP Made Easy.

That's using a model with at least one-third of the MLAs elected regionally, in four regions. Three local ridings would generally become two larger ones. You might have 37 local MLAs and 21 elected regionally.

Problems with your Health Region in Prairie North, Prince Albert Parkland, Kelsey Trail, Sunrise, Sun Country, Five Hills, Cypress, or Heartland? Who're ya gonna call?

One interesting difference would be those 16 MLAs from Moose Jaw-Swift Current-Estevan-Rosetown: instead of a SP sweep, my spreadsheet projects four New Democrats, once NDP votes count equally with SP voters. That would be the four regional NDP candidates who got the most votes across the region. Maybe NDP voters would have elected Deb Higgins, Glenn Wright, Carol Morin, and Ken Kessler or Derek Hassen or Donald Jeworski.

The 16 MLAs in that region would be ten local, six regional. The SP would no doubt have won all ten local seats, so those SP voters would even elect two of the regional MLAs. Green Party voters just missed getting enough votes here to elect an MLA like William Caton or Norbert Kratchmer.

Another change would be the 18 MLAs from Prince Albert-Battlefords-Yorkton-Tisdale: instead of the SP winning all but two, we'd see six New Democrats. That would be the four regional NDP candidates who got the most votes across the region (maybe Darcy Furber, Len Taylor, Helen Ben and Bernadette Gopher or Ted Zurakowski or Jeanette Wicinski-Dunn). The 18 MLAs in that region would be 12 local, six regional.

Of course, this projection simplistically assumes voters would have cast the same ballots they did in 2011. The reality would be different. When every vote counts, we typically see around 8% higher turnout. And one recent study suggested 18% of voters might vote differently. No more strategic voting. We would likely have had different candidates -- more women, and more diversity of all kinds. Who knows who might have won real democratic elections?

Different candidates: when the SP members from Moose Jaw-Swift Current-Estevan-Rosetown met in a regional nominating convention, they would have not only voted to put the ten local nominees on the regional ballot, but would have added several regional candidates. With only one woman from the ten local ridings, when they nominated several additional regional candidates, they would have naturally wanted to nominate a diverse group: more women. This year Saskatchewan elected ten women and 48 men. But 90% of Canadian voters say that, if parties would nominate more women, they'd vote for them.

Voters in the 11 Regina ridings would have elected five NDP MLAs, not just three. Perhaps Jaime Garcia and Yens Pedersen or Sandra Morin?

The 13 ridings of Saskatoon plus Martensville were less skewed. Instead of four NDP and nine SP we'd see five NDP: perhaps Andy Iwanchuk or Judy Junor?

The exact numbers might be different if Saskatchewan had five regions rather than four. But this is only an exercise in projection: the real results would have been different when more voters turned out to vote in what are now "safe seats."

Open list

Voters would have a real choice among a manageable number of competing candidates from the party they support. And they could also choose to vote just for their party, leaving the candidates ranked as their party’s nomination process had done. That's the variation of "open-list" recommended by the Law Commission of Canada, known as "flexible list."

The flexible open list method was also recommended by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Their 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.”

You would have two votes, and more choice. "Open list" means that voters can vote for whoever they like out of the regional candidates nominated by the party's regional nomination process. The party would win enough regional "top-up" seats to compensate for the disproportional local results we know all too well. Those regional seats would be filled by the party's regional candidates who got the highest vote on the regional ballot. Canadian voters have twice rejected models with closed province-wide lists. The open-regional-list mixed-member model is used in the German province of Bavaria, and was recommended by Canada's Law Commission and by Scotland's Arbuthnott Commission.

Friday, October 7, 2011

What would Ontario's legislature look like with a proportional voting system?

Let’s see what the Ontario legislature would have looked like with a proportional voting system if voters voted as they did on October 6, 2011.

Here is the result with a legislature of 129 MPPs, the number recommended by the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly in 2007, 22 more than today. On the votes as cast, we would have seen 49 Liberals, 46 PCs, 31 New Democrats, and 3 Greens, using a nine-region version of the Citizens' model.

See MMP Made Easy.

Still a minority legislature. The big difference would have been better representation for each region. No longer would parties be hived into regional strongholds.

Regional strongholds

Canadians are, sadly, used to seeing exaggerated regional differences in our federal elections. Now Ontario has joined this parade of stronghold politics, after the recent provincial election. The 2011 Ontario election gave voters very unequal voices.

In the 35 ridings in southern Ontario outside the GTA, Ottawa, and Hamilton-Niagara, 631,465 PC voters elected 24 MPPs (26,311 votes per MPP), 469,291 Liberal voters elected 9 MPPs (52,143 votes per MPP), and 310,590 NDP voters elected 2 MPPs (155,295 votes per MPP).

In the other 72 ridings, 1,153,164 Liberal voters elected 44 MPPs (26,208 votes per MPP), while 896,487 PC voters elected 13 MPPs (68,961 votes per MPP) and 669,811 NDP votes elected 15 MPPs (44,654 votes per MPP).

In regions where Liberal voters are unrepresented, with this model they would elect four more MPPs, while electing fewer in Liberal strongholds. Similarly, unrepresented PC voters, such as those in Toronto, would elect 13 more MPPs, and fewer in PC strongholds. Unrepresented NDP voters, such as those in Eastern Ontario, would elect 14 more MPPs. Green Party voters would elect three MPPs.

This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2011. In fact, if voters knew every vote would count, more would have voted -- typically at least 6% more. And some would have voted differently, perhaps 18% of them by one study. No more strategic voting. We would likely have had different candidates -- more women, and more diversity of all kinds. Who knows who might have won real democratic elections?

Regional lists.

When Fair Vote Canada members first met Kingston’s cabinet minister John Gerretsen back in 2004, we didn’t have to explain the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system to him. He explained “the German system,” as he called it, to us. We later found he had been pushing for it since he was first elected in 1995, and even since he was President of the Ontario Municipal Association in 1986. When the Liberals finally won in 2003, they had spent 60 years in the political wilderness minus only the five years from 1985-90 -- and in 47 of those years they were facing a government with a fake majority supported by a minority of voters. They remembered for a few years why they needed PR.

In “the German system” you have two votes, and more choice. We still elect majority of MPPs locally. Voters unrepresented by the local results top them up by electing regional MPPs. The total MPPs match the vote share. With the regional "Open list" version, voters can vote for whomever they like out of the regional candidates nominated by the party's regional nomination process. Like the right-hand part of this ballot.

To compensate for the disproportional local results we know all too well, the party’s voters elect personally some regional MPPs. They are the party's regional candidates who get the highest vote on the regional ballot. So the voter casts one vote for local MPP, and one for their party and (if they wish) for their favourite of their party's regional candidates. An exciting prospect: new voices from new forces in the legislature, and the voters have new power to elect who they like.

John Gerretsen was quite specific. The top-up MPPs should be elected regionally, and the regions should not be too large. Kingston should not be lumped in with Ottawa, he said. Those who know Eastern Ontario know that the mid-eastern and Lake Ontario regions and the Ottawa region have many divergent interests, so we were not surprised when Gerretsen mentioned one or two of them.

Gerretsen has not given up on regional MMP. On Sept. 21, 2011, at an all-candidates meeting in Kingston he expressed renewed support for proportional representation. He was eloquent about the benefits of coalitions and agreements. As he said in 2007 “Nobody is ever 100-per-cent right and nobody is ever 100-per-cent wrong. Governing is the art of compromise. There’s nothing wrong with having the governing party take into account smaller parties.”

How would regional MPPs serve constituents? Here's how it works in Scotland.

Open list

Voters would have a real choice among a manageable number of competing candidates from the party they support. And they could also choose to vote just for their party, leaving the candidates ranked as their party’s nomination process had done. That's the variation of "open-list" recommended by the Law Commission of Canada, known as "flexible list."

The flexible open list method was also recommended by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Their 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.”

The most recent official Quebec study on the topic also looked favourably at regional open list MMP.

Since local candidates can also be on the regional half of the ballot, voters might have had ten or so of their party’s regional candidates to choose from, but not the “bed-sheet ballot“ found in some countries.

In the 2007 Ontario referendum, 63.1% voted against MMP. About 31% were simply against proportional representation. Many more were voters who wanted all MPPs to be personally elected, not on closed lists. Many more were voters who wanted all MPPs to be anchored in their own region, not on province-wide lists. Another 7.5% were voters outside Toronto who disliked province-wide lists even more than Toronto voters did.

Nine mid-sized regions

What would their model have looked like, with those mid-sized regions?

The North would have been a separate region. It could have had a special feature: it could have kept unchanged the ten present ridings north of the French River, and added only two regional MPPs.

The City of Toronto could have gone from 22 local MPPs to 26, 17 local and 9 regional.

The other seven regions would have had 11 to 15 MPPs each, typically 9 local, 4 regional.

Unrepresented Liberal voters would have elected four more MPPs.

Central East Region Liberal voters would have elected four MPPs, not just two. Maybe Tweed's Leona Dombrowsky and Brighton's Lou Rinaldi or Kawartha Lakes' Rick Johnson, Barrie's Karl Walsh or Elmvale's Donna Kenwell.

Central West Region Liberal voters would have elected five MPPs, not just three. Maybe Stratford's John Wilkinson and Huron's Carol Mitchell or Waterloo's Leeanna Pendergast.

(However, Liberal voters would have elected eight fewer MPPs from regions where they are over-represented.)

Unrepresented Progressive Conservative voters would have elected 13 more MPPs.

Toronto PC voters would have elected six MPPs, not none. Maybe Michael Mostyn, Rocco Rossi, Vince Agovino, Mary Anne Demonte-Whelan, Liang Chen and Andrea Mandel-Campbell?

Peel-Halton PC voters would have elected four MPPs, not just two. Maybe Larry Scott and Pam Hundal or Geoff Janoscik?

Hamilton area PC voters would have elected four MPPs from Hamilton, Niagara and Burlington, not just two. Maybe St. Catharine's Sandie Bellows and Niagara-on-the-Lake's George Lepp or Hamilton's Donna Skelly. (However, Central West Region PC voters would have elected two fewer MPPs.)

Northern PC voters would have elected three MPPs, not one. Maybe Kenora's Rod McKay and Sudbury's Paula Peroni or Kapuskasing’s Al Spacek.

Ottawa - Cornwall PC voters would have elected four MPPs, not just three. Maybe Andrew Lister or Marilissa Gosselin? (However, Central East Region PC voters would have elected two fewer MPPs.)

NDP voters would have elected fourteen more MPPs.

Central West NDP voters would have elected three MPPs from the area from Norfolk to Owen Sound, not none. Maybe Cambridge's Atinuke Bankole, Brantford's Brian Van Tilborg and Guelph's James Gordon or Bruce County's Grant Robertson?

Central East region NDP voters would have elected two MPPs, not none. Maybe Peterborough’s Dave Nickle and Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland or Wasauksing First Nation's Alex Zyganiuk.

Ottawa - Cornwall NDP voters would have elected two MPPs, not none. Maybe Anil Naidoo and Cornwall's Elaine MacDonald?

York-Durham region NDP voters would have elected two MPPs, not none. Maybe Oshawa’s Mike Shields and York Region's Megan Tay?

Toronto NDP voters would have elected seven MPPs, not just five. Maybe Paul Ferreira and Cathy Crowe or Neethan Shan?

Peel-Halton NDP voters would have elected two MPPs, not just one. Maybe Michelle Bilek or Dalbir Singh Kathuria?

Southwestern NDP voters would have elected four MPPs, not just two. Maybe Windsor's Andrew McAvoy and Leamington's Aleksandra Navarro or Windsor's Helmi Charif or Sarnia's Brian White or Ingersoll's Dorothy Eisen (a member of the Wabigoon Lake First Nation)?

Green Party voters would have elected three MPPs.

Central East Region Green voters would have elected one: leader Mike Schreiner?

Toronto Green voters would have elected one: maybe Women's Issues critic Judyth Van Veldhuysen or Transport critic Tim Grant?

Peel-Halton Green voters would have elected one: maybe Deputy Leader Rob Strang?

90 local ridings

Local ridings would be slightly bigger than today, but not so you’d notice. Often, six present ridings would become five. (But the North could have kept unchanged the ten present ridings.)

Because the Citizens’ model had only 30% “top-up” MPPs, results are not guaranteed to be perfectly proportional, but this year 30% was enough. The perfect result would be 49 Liberals, 46 PCs, 30 NDP and 4 Green, but rounding anomalies from using nine regions produced 49, 46, 31 and 3. That's very close indeed.

More women and minorities

With a choice of your party’s candidates on the regional ballot, we would elect more women. Polls show 94% of women voters want to see more women elected, but so do 86% of male voters.

And when parties nominate a group of candidates, not just one, they nominate more women. What regional convention, nominating five candidates, would nominate only one woman, or no minorities?

Not enough time

The model put to voters in the October 2007 referendum, designed by the 103 members of the Ontario Citizens Assembly (CA), had province-wide closed lists, not the mid-sized regions John Gerretsen had told us he wanted.

Those candidates on province-wide lists were to be nominated democratically by parties, but in the few months between May and the referendum, no major party had had enough time to design a nomination system. The model’s opponents -- even, ironically, an appointed Senator -- said it sounded like parties would appoint those 39 MPPs. The public had not enough time to understand the CA’s recommendation.

In May 2008 the CA’s Chair, George Thomson, spoke to the Annual General Meeting of Fair Vote Canada. He said that, if those 103 Citizens had had another six or eight weeks to deliberate, he felt some elements might have been different, like regional lists and open lists. But he thought the basic model would have stayed the same: 129 MPPs, 90 local, 39 top-up.

Closed province-wide lists?

So why did those 103 Citizens choose province-wide closed lists?

George Thomson’s comments in May 2008 show the process the 103 Citizens went through. Their big design problem was Ontario’s geography, and the fact that our local ridings are already too large. Until Mike Harris shrank the House in 1999 we had 130 MPPs, compared with 101 MPs at that time. Many members of the CA wanted to keep the present 107 ridings and add at least 36 “top-up.” Others wanted to keep 107 MPPs but have only 80 larger local ridings and 27 top-up. Others wanted a higher ratio of top-up. Their big achievement was consensus on 90 plus 39.

They had decided on province-wide lists early in the process, before they agreed on the numbers. Back at that point, many members wanted to use all the most proportional options in order to leave them free to have less proportional numbers of MPPs. For example, on those 2007 votes, because the Citizens’ model had only 30% “top-up” MPPs, it would have resulted in more than 55 Liberal MPPs. And then, making the lists regional rather than provincial added a further four more Liberal MPPs.

Still, once they had 39 top-up MPPs, regional lists became possible, and open list became possible. Four Liberal MPPs too many, in our 2007 example, would have been a modest price to pay for a more accountable and democratic model. But by the time they made that decision for 39 top-up MPPs, it was too late to go back and redesign.

This is no one’s fault. The Democratic Renewal Secretariat had planned for the whole process to start a year earlier. The legislature’s Select Committee got inserted into the process, and did a wonderful job, but that left both the CA and the public debate short of vital time.

Regional candidates

Why do I say voters would have at least five of their party’s regional candidates to choose from, maybe ten or so, when most regions elect only four regional MPPs?

Take a region with 13 MPPs, nine local, four regional. Suppose Party C’s voters cast 30% of the votes in the region, but elect no local MPPs, and suppose no other party’s voters earn a regional MPP. Party C’s voters elect all four regional MPPs. But if one of them dies or resigns during the legislature term, the regional candidate with the next highest votes moves into that seat. A party must run at least five, to have a spare.

This matters to women and minorities. A regional convention, nominating five candidates, would almost certainly nominate at least two women, and at least one cultural minority member.

On the other hand, suppose Party A’s voters cast 61% of the votes in the region, but elect only seven of the nine local MPPs. They also elect one regional MPP. But if the seven local winners were also on the regional ballot, the party needed at least nine regional candidates, one elected, and again one spare. To get good balance I can see them nominating ten regional candidates.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ontarians rejected province-wide lists in the 2007 referendum.

Did Ontarians reject province-wide lists in 2007, in the referendum on the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system recommended by the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly?

The main criticisms of MMP were:

1. That "party bosses" would control who gets on their parties' list. In the majority of Ontario (outside Toronto), this criticism was that "party bosses in Toronto" would have control.

2. That List MPPs would not be elected by voters and accountable to voters, because the MMP model had closed lists.

On the second point, this was a problem everywhere in Ontario. The Law Commission of Canada in its 2004 report said “Based on the feedback received during our consultation process, many Canadian voters would also most likely desire the flexibility of open lists in a mixed member proportional system. Allowing 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.”

On both points, the open regional list method was recommended by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Their 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.”

Voters outside Toronto rejected the model

On the first point, voters outside Toronto rejected the model. The further they were from Toronto, the more they rejected it. It is easy to see the correlation between distance from Toronto and rejection of the model.

Region,. . . . . . . . percent against MMP
Toronto:. . . . . . . . . . . . 55.6%
Peel Region: . . . . . . . . . 61.5%
York Region: . . . . . . . . . 61.7%
Central West:. . . . . . . . . 62.6%
Hamilton-Halton-Niagara: . 64.0%
Central East (Barrie to Brockville): 65.1%
Southwest: . . . . . . . . . . 65.4%
East:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67.3%
North: . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71.3%

Is this just because Toronto voters are more progressive? But compare York Region’s six ridings with Ottawa’s seven ridings. York Region voted 8.1% NDP and 6.7% Green. Ottawa voted 12.3% NDP and 8.7% Green. Yet York Region voted 38.3% for MMP, while Ottawa voted only 34.9% for MMP. And look at Northern Ontario, which voted 36.7% NDP and 4.1% Green – the two parties that supported MMP – yet only 28.7% for MMP.

Across Ontario, 63.1% voted against MMP. About 31% were simply against proportional representation. Many more were voters who wanted all MPPs to be personally elected, not on closed lists. Many more were voters who wanted all MPPs to be anchored in their own region, not on province-wide lists. Another 7.5% were voters outside Toronto who disliked province-wide lists even more than Toronto voters did.

As Prof. Henry Milner wrote just after the referendum "opponents hammered away on the claim that there would be 39 MPPs beholden to party headquarters instead of voters. . . in a short campaign, this image of unrepresentative party hacks from Toronto getting in through the back door was fatal. Had the assembly proposed the alternative MMP method – of having the 39 places filled through regional lists – the proposal would have been less vulnerable to this sort of attack."

This should not have been a surprise. P.E.I. had a referendum on an MMP system with province-wide lists. Again, support dropped in direct proportion to the distance from the capital, Charlottetown.

If those 103 Citizens' Assembly members had had another six or eight weeks to deliberate, some elements might have been different, like regional lists and open lists. What would their model have looked like, with mid-sized regions? How would regional MPPs serve constituents? What would the 2011 election results have been on such a model? And the 2014 results?

Monday, August 1, 2011

The coalition Canada almost had

A democratic voting system would have let NDP, Liberal and Green voters elect a majority in Parliament. They would have elected 97 New Democrat MPs, 56 Liberals and 11 Greens in the House of Commons. Just as a fair voting system would have given them in the elections of 2008, 2006 and 2004. That's assuming the MMP model recommended by the Law Commission of Canada.

But we almost got that on May 2, 2011. If 2.3% of the Liberal voters (blue Liberals) had not switched to the Conservatives in the final days before May 2, the Liberals would have held another 15 seats. Also, vote splits would have let the NDP take another five from the Conservatives while letting the Liberals hold on to one. Result: Conservatives 147, NDP 107, Liberal 49, Bloc 4, Green 1.

Would the Liberals have joined a coalition, or would they have supported Harper on the first confidence vote? We will never know for sure, but we do know what their voters wanted. On April 28 and 29, 2011, after the Liberals had slipped to third place in the polls, Angus Reid asked how voters would feel about various scenarios. On “The Conservatives win more seats than any other single party, but the Liberals and the NDP have more combined seats than the Conservatives. The Liberals and the NDP form a coalition government” they found 78% of Liberal voters liked it, 17% did not, and 5% were not sure. On “The Conservatives win more seats than any other single party, and form a minority government’ they found only 20% of Liberals liked it, while 76% did not. Of all voters planning to vote Liberal, only 13% said they would never consider voting NDP.

Would Ignatieff have accepted his voters’ wishes? He had spent the campaign saying “you’re looking at the guy who turned down the last coalition. I could be standing here as prime minister of Canada. I turned it down.” (Did this help scare the 17% of his voters away from a coalition with the NDP?) However, on this scenario he would have lost his own seat, and the Liberals would have dropped from 77 seats (so low that Dion resigned) to only 49 seats. So Ignatieff would have resigned.

By the time the House convened, the Liberals would have had an interim leader who would, let’s assume, have agreed to a coalition with the NDP.

It's not surprising that Liberal voters supported a coalition with the NDP. Even in January 2009 the initial hysteria against the Coalition had largely vanished, even though that earlier Coalition would have needed Bloc support.

Who might the cabinet have been? (Assuming 28 ministers (9 Liberals) and 11 ministers of state (3 Liberals).)

Jack Layton, Prime Minister
Tom Mulcair, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Bob Rae, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Libby Davies, Health
Nycole Turmel, Public Works and Government Services
Ralph Goodale, Minister of Finance
Joe Comartin, Minister of Justice
Yvon Godin, Minister of Labour
Marc Garneau, Minister of Public Safety
Peter Stoffer, Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Peter Julian, Minister of Industry
Dominic Leblanc, Minister of National Defence
Jack Harris, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway
Dave Christopherson, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Joyce Murray, Minister of National Revenue
Peggy Nash, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
Charlie Angus, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
John McCallum, Minister of Natural Resources
Linda Duncan, Minister of the Environment
Paul Dewar, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Stephane Dion, President of the Treasury Board
Françoise Boivin, Minister for Status of Women
Pat Martin, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
Claudette Tardif, Leader of the Government in the Senate
Romeo Saganash, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Nettie Wiebe, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
Carolyn Bennett, Minister of International Cooperation
Alexandre Boulerice, Associate Minister of National Defence
Chris Charlton, Minister of State and Chief Government Whip
Jean Crowder, Minister of State (Finance)
Justin Trudeau, Minister of State (Sport)
Raymond Cote, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism, and La Francophonie)
Don Davies, Minister of State (Asia-Pacific Gateway, Western Economic Diversification)
Anita Neville, Minister of State (Status of Women)
Dennis Bevington, Minister of State (Transport) and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
Brian Masse, Minister of State (International Trade)
Martha Hall Findlay, Minister of State (Science and Technology)
Guy Caron, Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)
Irene Mathyssen, Minister of State (Seniors)

Would Elizabeth May also have been in cabinet? Why not?

In this what-if universe, let’s see what Jack Layton going on leave to fight cancer would have done. Who would have been interim Prime Minister?

Nycole Turmel still looks like the logical choice (although in hindsight, since Joe Comartin did not run for the leadership, he might also have been a good choice). Of all the potential NDP ministers, Turmel’s the veteran: the oldest (67), and with the longest history in federal politics of any New Democrat. She was Associate President (Labour) of the federal party almost 20 years ago. Turmel says “I’ve been at this for decades. In the 1990s, I chaired cross-country NDP panels that consulted Canadians on their ideas about progressive government. I moderated the leadership process that saw Jack Layton elected (in 2003).” She co-chaired, with Dick Proctor, the Social Democratic Forum on Canada’s Future, a panel of "nine distinguished Canadians" which held broad cross-country consultations between March 1998 and January 1999 "to create a vision for the future of the federation" and canvass Canadians' ideas about progressive government.

Active in PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada) since 1979, she served as vice president of a PSAC component in the late 1980s. She became PSAC Fourth Executive Vice-President from 1991 to 1994, First Executive Vice-President from 1994 to 1997, and National Executive Vice-President from 1997 to 2000. She became the first female PSAC President in 2000, retiring in 2006 when she was about to turn 63. She was also a member of the CLC Executive Committee. On leaving PSAC office she represented workers on the Management Committee of Financial Assets of the QFL Solidarity Fund, and served on many other boards.

Her term as PSAC President was marked by a major shift toward social activism for the union. She was a key player in the union's $3.6-billion pay equity settlement. Under her leadership, in 2003, PSAC created the Social Justice Fund to advance work in five priority areas including anti-poverty initiatives in Canada and humanitarian relief in Canada and around the world. During her presidency PSAC created its National Aboriginal, Inuit and Metis Network.

She had been so active at all levels of the party and the labour movement that Jack Layton drafted her from semi-retirement on Feb. 3, 2011, to be the NDP’s star candidate in Hull-Aylmer, one of the small handful of Quebec ridings that looked winnable at that time.

As the President of PSAC, Turmel had encouraged members of the union to vote for candidates - Liberal, NDP, and Bloc Québécois - that had been endorsed by the union for their progressive values and for being considered electable in their riding. In December 2006 Turmel made a political donation to the riding association of her friend, Carole Lavallée, who was the Bloc's labour critic; and also accepted a Bloc membership card in that riding. Turmel says that she refused to transfer her membership to her own riding when asked. Turmel, however, was never a separatist: she voted “no” in both the 1980 sovereignty referendum and in the 1995 sovereignty referendum, and has never voted for the Bloc. By voting NDP even in 2000, when the NDP got only 1.8% of the vote in Quebec, she showed herself as a hardcore federalist. This dual membership put Turmel in violation of the NDP constitution which prohibits being a member of more than one federal political party at the same time. In January 2011, Turmel cancelled her membership in the Bloc Québécois and agreed to run as a New Democrat candidate.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Who might Canada’s MPs be, under proportional results for the May 2 election?

Who might Canada’s MPs be, under the proportional results for the May 2 election in my previous post? What would the House of Commons look like, with 127 Conservative MPs, 97 New Democrats, 56 Liberals, 17 Bloc Québécois, and 11 Greens?

Keep in mind that, under the open-regional-list mixed member model recommended by the Law Commission of Canada, all MPs are personally elected. We still elect local MPs. Voters unrepresented by the local results top them up by electing regional MPs. The total MPs match the vote share. So voters in each region choose the regional MPs. The party nominates a group of regional candidates, and voters choose who they like best. Still, I can look at likely winners, starting with those candidates who got the most votes May 2.

Polls have shown repeatedly that about 90% of Canadians want to see more women elected, so if parties give us that chance, we’ll vote for them. I’ve assumed that below.

(As I noted in my previous post, this simulation is only if people voted as they did on May 2, 2011. In fact, if voters knew every vote would count, more would have voted -- often 6% or so more -- and some would have voted differently.)

Province by province

In Alberta, instead of NDP voters electing only one MP, they would have elected two more MPs from Edmonton and the north half of Alberta. Maybe Ray Martin from Edmonton and Metis lawyer Jennifer Villebrun from Peace River. And two from Calgary and the south half. Maybe City of Calgary employee and environmental activist  Paul Vargis, or Calgary Labour Council V-P Collin Anderson or nurses' leader Holly Heffernan, and Lethbridge professor Mark Sandilands.

Instead of Alberta Liberal voters electing no MPs, they would have elected an MP from Edmonton and the north half of Alberta: maybe Mary MacDonald. And another from Calgary and the south half of Alberta: maybe retired police officer Cam Stewart, or lawyer (and past school board chair) Jennifer Pollock, or nursing professor (and founding Co-chair for Equal Voice Alberta South) Janice Kinch.

Alberta Green voters would have elected an MP from Edmonton and the north half of Alberta: maybe Jasper musician Monika Schaefer or their Transport Critic William Munsey east of Edmonton. And another from Calgary and the south half of Alberta: maybe democracy and human rights expert Heather MacIntosh.

Ontario voters would have been fully represented, with 67 local MPs and 39 regional MPs.

Liberal voters in the GTA would have elected three MPs from Peel-Halton: maybe incumbent MPs Bonnie Crombie, Navdeep Bains, and Paul Szabo or Andrew Kania, or former Ontario Minister of Labour Peter Fonseca. And two regional MPs from York-Durham along with John McCallum: maybe incumbent Mark Holland and Karen Mock or Bryon Wilfert or Dan McTeague or Lui Temelkovski. And a seventh MP from the City of Toronto: maybe both Michael Ignatieff and Martha Hall Findlay would have won regional seats?

NDP voters in the GTA would have elected two MPs from Peel-Halton: maybe lawyer Jagmeet Singh and Michelle Bilek or Pat Heroux. And two MPs from York-Durham: maybe Oshawa union president Chris Buckley and Markham auditor Nadine Hawkins.

Green Party GTA voters would have elected an MP from the City of Toronto –- maybe their climate critic Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu or Peace and Security critic Ellen Michelson -- and one from York-Durham -- maybe their poverty elimination critic Rebecca Harrison from Whitby, or their social services critic Vanessa Long from Newmarket, or John Dewar from Georgina.

From Eastern Ontario (Ottawa to Peterborough region), NDP voters would have elected three more MPs: maybe Trevor Haché and Marlene Rivier from Ottawa and Dave Nickle from Peterborough or Lyn Edwards from Lindsay. Liberal voters there would have elected one more MP: maybe Anita Vandenbeld from Ottawa, Betsy McGregor from Peterborough, Kim Rudd from Cobourg, Julie Bourgeois from Casselman, or Christine Tabbert from Pembroke. Green voters there would have elected an MP: maybe their Industry Critic Jen Hunter or Caroline Rioux, both from Ottawa.

From West Central Ontario (Hamilton-Niagara-Waterloo-Simcoe), Liberal voters would have elected three more MPs: maybe previous Kitchener MP Karen Redman, former minister Bob Speller from Norfolk County, and Niagara Falls lawyer Bev Hodgson or former Hamilton councillor Dave Braden or former MP Andrew Telegdi. NDP voters would have elected a fifth MP from the region: maybe Susan Galvao from Cambridge. Green voters would have elected an MP: maybe their finance critic Ard Van Leeuwen from the Orangeville area, or their seniors critic Valerie Powell from Simcoe County.

In Southwestern Ontario, Liberal voters would have elected two MPs: maybe London incumbent Glen Pearson and Grey County’s Kimberley Love, or Western Law School Director of Community Legal Services Doug Ferguson, or Chatham's Matt Daudlin. New Democrat voters would have elected a fourth MP: maybe Ellen Papenburg from North Wellington or Grant Robertson from Bruce County. Green Party voters would have elected an MP: maybe their Science and Technology Critic Emma Hogbin from Owen Sound.

Northern Ontario Liberal voters would have elected two MPs: maybe incumbent Anthony Rota from North Bay and Sudbury lawyer Carol Hartman, or former MPs Ken Boshcoff or Roger Valley.

BC voters would have been fully represented, with 22 MPs from local ridings and 14 more regional MPs.

In the Lower Mainland Liberal voters would have elected two more MPs as well as the two women elected May 2. Maybe incumbents Ujjal Dosanjh and Sukh Dhaliwal or Wendy Yuan or Taleeb Noormohamed. Green voters would have elected two MPs: maybe Deputy Leader Adriane Carr and Douglas Roy or Brennan Wauters or Larry Colero.

In the rest of BC Liberal voters would have elected an MP: maybe Kris Stewart from Kelowna, or Christopher Causton or Lillian Szpak from Victoria. Green voters would have elected another MP as well as Elizabeth May: maybe Greig Crockett from Vernon, Alice Hooper from Kelowna or Dan Bouchard from Penticton.

In Saskatchewan, NDP voters would have elected five MPs rather than none: maybe Nettie Wiebe, past chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Lawrence Joseph, Regina lawyer Noah Evanchuk, Saskatoon health expert Denise Kouri, and Darien Moore from near Saskatoon or long-time Regina councillor Fred Clipsham?

In Manitoba, New Democrat voters would have elected four MPs rather than two: maybe Rebecca Blaikie and Jim Maloway or Cheryl Osborne. Liberal voters would have elected a second MP: maybe incumbent Anita Neville, or Sydney Garrioch (Grand Chief of MKO), or former MP Raymond Simard?

In Nova Scotia, Green voters would have elected an MP: maybe John Percy of Halifax, Sheila Richardson from Wolfville or Jason Blanch from Amherst.

In New Brunswick, NDP voters would have elected three MPs not just one: maybe Shawna Gagné from Moncton and Rob Moir from St. John. Liberal voters would have elected a second MP: maybe incumbent Jean-Claude D'Amours from northern New Brunswick or Kelly Wilson from west of Saint John or incumbent Brian Murphy from Moncton.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Conservative voters would have elected a second MP: maybe Fabian Manning.

In P.E.I. Conservative voters would have elected a second MP as well as Gail Shea: maybe Tim Ogilvie, former Veterinary College Dean.

Québec’s diverse regions and voters would have been fully represented by 46 local MPs and 29 regional MPs.

Montréal and Laval Conservative voters would have elected three MPs: maybe Larry Smith, Gérard Labelle, and Svetlana Litvin or Audrey Castonguay. Bloc voters would have elected four MPs not just Maria Mourani: maybe incumbents Gilles Duceppe and Bernard Bigras, and women’s centre coordinator Ginette Beaudry.

From Montérégie, Bloc voters would have elected three MPs: maybe incumbents Luc Malo, Claude DeBellefeuille and Carole Lavallée. Liberal voters would have elected an MP: maybe incumbent Alexandra Mendès. Conservative voters would have elected an MP: maybe Mélisa Leclerc from Granby or lawyer Marc Boudreau.

From Laurentides, Lanaudière, Outaouais and Abitibi, Bloc voters would have elected three MPs: maybe Pierre Paquette from Joliette, Johanne Deschamps from Labelle, and Marc Lemay from Abitibi. Liberal voters would have elected an MP: maybe incumbent Marcel Proulx from Hull, or lawyer Chantal Perreault in Repentigny. Conservative voters would have elected an MP: maybe Lawrence Cannon.

From Estrie-Centre-du-Québec-Mauricie, Bloc voters would have elected three MPs not just two: maybe incumbents Serge Cardin or France Bonsant from Sherbrooke. Conservative voters there would have elected a second MP: maybe Jean-Philippe Bachand, former Mayor of Asbestos, or Marie-Claude Godue of Maskinongé. Liberal voters would have elected an MP: maybe former MP Denis Paradis from Estrie, or former MNA Francine Gaudet from Maskinongé in the Mauricie.

From the region of Québec City and eastern Québec, Bloc voters would have elected three more MPs beyond Jean-François Fortin: maybe incumbents Michel Guimond and Christiane Gagnon from the Quebec City region, and municipal councillor Nathalie Arsenault from L'Islet in Chaudière-Appalaches. Conservative voters would have elected a fifth MP: maybe incumbent Josée Verner from Quebec City. Liberal voters would have elected two MPs: maybe former MNA Nancy Charest from Matane and lawyer Jean Beaupré from Quebec City.

Technical footnote: I've used the names of real local candidates on May 2 because those are the only names at hand.

The Law Commission Report says it is inspired by the systems currently used in Scotland and Wales, which have 16-MP regions (9 local MPs, 7 regional MPs) or 12-MP regions (8 local MPs, 4 regional MPs). With 2/3 local MPs, a 14-MP region would have 9 local MPs and 5 regional MPs.

With the regional MMP model, if a party wants to nominate 50% women regional candidates at its regional nomination convention (as the NDP would do, and others might copy), how does it do this? The "target" local ridings (those the party hopes to pick up) will nominate long before the election. It has two options. First option: hold the regional nominations before half of the local nominations. Those who win regional nominations will have an excellent chance of winning local nominations afterwards. Second option: let most local ridings go first, then let the regional convention rank those candidates into a "zippered" regional list (alternating men and women), and if there are not enough women or cultural minorities, add some "list-only" candidates. That's how the Germans do it, and at every election, a small handful of "list-only" candidates are elected. Since those MPs have no local riding to serve, they will "adopt" a riding where their party elected no local or regional MP, and open their local office there. In New Zealand, when this happens, they call that MP a "buddy MP" for that riding.

Also note: I looked at those candidates who got the most votes May 2, but I also looked at geography. If, for example, voters in Ottawa cast regional votes preferring some Ottawa candidates who got elected to local seats, then after those winning candidates are struck off the regional list, it may well be that the remaining leading candidate will be from Eastern Ontario outside Ottawa.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What would those 2011 election results have been if every vote counted equally?

How would the results of the 2011 election play out, by province and nationally, if every vote counted equally? That is, if a model of proportional representation were in place?

All MPs are personally elected

We still elect local MPs. Voters unrepresented by the local results top them up by electing regional MPs. The total MPs match the vote share. Will we voters have no voice in choosing the individual that will represent us regionally? To prevent any concern about that, let’s use the open-regional-list mixed member proportional (MMP) model recommended by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004.

You have two votes. The first is for your local MP, as today. The second is for your party’s regional candidate you like best. This model still leaves almost two-thirds of MPs elected from local ridings. The other one-third are elected from regions averaging 14 MPs (nine local, five regional). If a party’s voters have managed to elect only a few local MPs in that region or none at all, that party gets additional “top-up” seats. The regional candidate with the most votes gets any regional seat needed to top-up the local results to make every vote count equally. (More details below.)

This simulation is only if people voted as they did on May 2, 2011. In fact, if voters knew every vote would count, more would have voted -- often 6% or so more -- and some would have voted differently. We would have had different candidates - more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have different parties.

Winner-take-all gave Canada a House of Commons in 2011 of 166 Conservatives, 103 New Democrats, 34 Liberals, 4 Bloc Québécois, and one Green.

The fair result

Instead, the proportional results would have been 127 Conservatives, 97 New Democrats, 56 Liberals, 17 Bloc Québécois, and 11 Greens.

The majority of Canadians voted NDP, Liberal or Green. An NDP-Liberal-Green coalition government would have a clear majority; or so would a Conservative-Liberal coalition government. Either way, that's a strong, stable majority in Parliament elected by a majority of voters, rather than "the tyranny of the minority" when 40% of the voters elect 54% of the MPs with 100% of the power.

The provincial results are even more telling. Our political diversity in each province is fully represented. Voters would be free to vote for their first choice, not having to vote for the "lesser of evils." But even on the votes as cast May 2, this would be the end of the “regional silos” that Canada’s politics have fallen into.

A new politics

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.

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 those who wrote the Jenkins Commission report in the United Kingdom. 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.”

It's not just Liberal voters and Green voters who would benefit.

The Conservative caucus would be more representative with nine more MPs from underrepresented areas. Instead of Conservative voters electing no one from the west two-thirds of Québec, they'd have three MPs from Montréal/Laval, one more from the South Shore (Montérégie), and one more from the North Shore and western Québec where Lawrence Cannon lost his seat. And they'd have two more from central and eastern Quebec, and second MPs from both Newfoundland and PEI.

NDP voters in areas where they elected too few or no MPs would have elected 21 more MPs: five in Saskatchewan, four more in Alberta, two more in Manitoba, three more in Eastern Ontario, three more in the GTA, one more in each of West Central Ontario and Southwest Ontario, and two more in New Brunswick.

Liberal voters unrepresented in Western Canada, Ontario outside Toronto, and Quebec outside Montreal would have elected 24 more MPs. And Green voters everywhere would have elected 10 more MPs.

Accountable MPs

In this model, all MPs are locally accountable. Generally each group of three local ridings becomes two larger ones. Voters can go to their local MP or one of their competing diverse regional MPs (about five regional MPs). Voters for all parties have representation in their region.

For a similar analysis, but with smaller regions, see this post.

Province by province

Alberta’s diverse voters would be fully represented.

Instead of Alberta Liberal voters electing no MPs, they would have elected an MP from Edmonton and the north half of Alberta, and another from Calgary and the south half of Alberta. So would Alberta Green voters. Instead of Alberta NDP voters electing only one MP, they would have elected two more MPs from Edmonton and the north half of Alberta, and two from Calgary and the south half. Alberta Conservative voters would have elected 19 MPs rather than 27.

Ontario’s diverse regions and voters would be fully represented. They would have elected 67 local MPs and 39 regional MPs.

GTA voters would, rather than electing only seven Liberal MPs, have elected 13 Liberal MPs – three from Peel-Halton, three from York-Durham, and seven from the City of Toronto. They would have elected 11 New Democrat MPs rather than only eight – two from Peel-Halton, two from York-Durham, and seven from the City of Toronto. They would have elected two Green Party MPs -- one from the City of Toronto, one from York-Durham. They would have elected 20 Conservative MPs rather than 31.

For the 17 MPs of Eastern Ontario (Ottawa to Peterborough), instead of 13 Conservatives, one New Democrat, and three Liberals, voters would have elected eight Conservatives, four New Democrats, four Liberals, and one Green.

For the 20 MPs of West Central Ontario (Hamilton-Niagara-Waterloo-Simcoe), instead of 15 Conservatives, four New Democrats, and one Liberal, voters would have elected 10 Conservatives, five New Democrats, four Liberals, and one Green.

In Southwestern Ontario (London-Windsor-Owen Sound), instead of 11 Conservative MPs and three New Democrats, voters would have elected seven Conservatives, four New Democrats, two Liberals, and one Green.

In Northern Ontario, instead of three Conservative MPs and six New Democrats, voters would have elected two Liberals along with three Conservatives and four New Democrats.

BC voters would have been fully represented, with 23 MPs from local ridings and 13 more regional MPs.

In the Lower Mainland Liberal voters would have elected four MPs rather than two, Green voters would have elected an MP, Conservative voters would have elected ten MPs rather than 12, and NDP voters would have elected six MPs rather than seven. Similarly, in the rest of BC Liberal voters would have elected one MP rather than none, Green voters would have elected another MP, while Conservative voters would have elected seven MPs rather than nine.

In Saskatchewan, NDP voters would have elected five MPs rather than none, while Conservative voters would have elected eight MPs not 13.

In Manitoba, New Democrat voters would have elected four MPs rather than two, and Liberal voters would have elected two MPs not just one, while Conservative voters would have elected three fewer.

In summary, across the West that would mean 25 NDP MPs rather than 15, ten Liberal MPs not just four, and five Green MPs not just one.

In Nova Scotia, Green voters would have elected an MP, while Liberal voters would have elected three not four.

In New Brunswick, NDP voters would have elected three MPs not just one, and Liberal voters would have elected two MPs not just one, while Conservative voters would have elected five MPs not eight.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Conservative voters would have elected a second MP, while Liberal voters would have elected three MPs not four.

In P.E.I. Conservative voters would have elected a second MP, while Liberal voters would have elected two MPs not three.

Québec’s diverse regions and voters would have been fully represented.

For the 21 MPs from Montréal and Laval, voters would have elected four Bloc MPs not just one, three Conservative MPs, eight NDP MPs not 13, and six Liberal MPs not seven.

For the 12 MPs from Montérégie, voters would have elected three Bloc MPs, one Liberal and one Conservative. NDP voters would have elected the seven local MPs, not all 12.

For the 14 MPs from Laurentides, Lanaudière, Outaouais and Abitibi, voters would have elected three Bloc MPs, one Liberal and one Conservative. NDP voters would have elected nine MPs, but not all 14.

For the 10 MPs from Estrie-Centre-du-Québec-Mauricie, voters would have elected three Bloc MPs not just two, two Conservatives not just one, and one Liberal. NDP voters would have elected four MPs not seven.

For the 18 MPs from the region of Québec City and eastern Québec, voters would have elected four Bloc MPs not just one, five Conservatives rather than four, and two Liberals. NDP voters would have elected seven MPs not 13.

I’ve posted an example of who might have been elected.

Statistical notes:

The Law Commission of Canada recommended a Mixed Member Proportional model (MMP) with open regional lists, as did the Jenkins Commission in the UK. In Quebec it is called the mixed compensatory system.

MMP is used in Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Germany. This model was described in more detail by Prof. Henry Milner at an electoral reform conference Feb. 21, 2009. A similar "open-list" model is used in the German province of Bavaria and was proposed by Scotland's Arbuthnott Commission in 2006.

By having only 36% of MPs elected regionally, the results are not perfectly proportional, but very close. If we had used province-wide totals with perfect proportionality the results would have been: 126 Conservative, 94 New Democrats, 59 Liberals, 18 Bloc, and 11 Greens. In this simulation, after adjustments due to having 64% local seats, the results are: 127 Conservatives, 97 New Democrats, 56 Liberals, 17 Bloc, and 11 Greens. The effect on the balance of parties in the House is the same. In return for slight deviations from perfect proportionality, all MPs are “locally anchored” and accountable. A very good trade-off.

If there was a legal threshold of 5% in each province, the Greens would have no MPs from Ontario and Nova Scotia, getting only 5 MPs not 10. (However, if every vote counted, there would be no need for negative "strategic voting," so I expect the Greens would have gotten more than 5% there.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

What would the 2011 election results be if every vote counted?

How would the results of the 2011 election play out, by province and nationally, if a model of proportional representation were in place?

For a start, let’s use the 2008 votes.

This simulation is only if people voted as they did on October 14, 2008. In fact, if voters knew every vote would count, more would have voted -- often 6% or so more -- and some would have voted differently. We would have had different candidates - more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have different parties.

To prevent any concern that we voters might have no voice in choosing the individual that will represent us, let’s use the open-regional-list mixed member proportional (MMP) model recommended by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004. (More details below.)

You have two votes. The first is for your local MP, as today. The second is for your party’s regional candidate you like best. This model still leaves almost two-thirds of MPs elected from local ridings. The other one-third are elected from regions averaging 14 MPs (nine local, five regional). If a party’s voters have managed to elect only a few local MPs in that region or none at all, that party gets additional “top-up” seats. The regional candidate with the most votes gets any regional seat needed to top-up the local results to make every vote count equally.

Winner-take-all gave Canada a House of Commons in 2008 of 143 Conservatives, 77 Liberals, 49 Bloc Quebecois, 37 New Democrats, no Greens and two independents.

Instead, the proportional results would have been 116 Conservatives, 86 Liberals, 55 New Democrats, 31 Bloc, 18 Greens, and two Independents. The majority of Canadians voted Liberal, NDP or Green. A Liberal-NDP-Green coalition government would have a clear majority. Or a Liberal-NDP government could rely on either the Greens or the Bloc for a majority. Either way, that's a strong, stable majority in Parliament elected by a majority of voters.

The provincial results are even more telling. They would be the end of the “regional silos” that Canada’s politics have fallen into. Our political diversity in each province is fully represented.

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.

Instead of Alberta Liberal voters electing no MPs, they would elect four Liberal MPs – two from Calgary, southern and central Alberta, two from Edmonton and northern Alberta. Alberta NDP voters would elect three NDP MPs (two north, one south), Greens two (one south, one north), and Conservatives 19.

Instead of Quebec having 49 Bloc MPs from only 38 percent of Quebec voters, it would have only 31. It would have 18 Liberal MPs, 15 Conservatives, nine New Democrats, a Green, and an independent.

In Ontario, instead of no Conservative MPs from the City of Toronto and 51 from outside Toronto, Toronto Conservative voters would have elected five MPs; outside Toronto, 35. Liberal voters, instead of electing 32 MPs from the Greater Toronto Area and only six from outside the GTA, would have elected 17 from outside the GTA and 22 from the GTA. NDP voters would have elected three more for a total of 20. Green voters would have elected seven MPs, one from each of six regions in southern Ontario and a second from their strongest region.

In BC, in the Lower Mainland Liberal voters would have elected five MPs rather than four, Green voters would have elected two MPs, and Conservative voters would have elected nine rather than 12. Similarly, in the rest of BC Liberal voters would have elected two MPs rather than only one, Green voters would have elected two MPs, while Conservative voters would have elected seven rather than ten.

In Saskatchewan, NDP voters would have elected three MPs rather than none, Liberal voters would have elected a second MP, and Green voters would have elected one, while Conservative voters would have elected eight MPs not 13.

In Manitoba, Liberal voters would have elected three MPs, not just one. Green voters would have elected an MP, while Conservative voters would have elected two fewer and over-represented NDP voters would have elected one fewer.

In summary, across the West that would mean 16 Liberal MPs, not just seven. For another example, the 28% of the voters in South Central Ontario (Hamilton-Waterloo-Niagara) who voted Liberal but elected no one would have elected four regional MPs.

In Nova Scotia, NDP voters would have elected a third MP, and Greens one, while over-represented Liberal voters would have elected three not five.

In New Brunswick, NDP voters would have elected a second MP and Greens one, while Conservative voters would have elected four not six.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, Conservative voters would have elected an MP, and NDP voters a second, while Liberal voters would have elected four not six.

In P.E.I. Conservative voters would have elected a second MP, while Liberals would have two MPs not three.

The models which failed referendums in Ontario and PEI had closed province-wide lists. This failure was no surprise to those who wrote the Jenkins Commission report in the United Kingdom. Jenkins said 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.”

MMP is used in Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Germany. This model was described in more detail by Prof. Henry Milner at an electoral reform conference Feb. 21, 2009. A similar model is used in the German province of Bavaria and was proposed by Scotland's Arbuthnott Commission in 2006.

In this model, all MPs are locally accountable. Generally each group of three local ridings becomes two larger ones. Voters can go to their local MP or one of their competing regional MPs (about five regional MPs). Voters for all parties have representation in their region. A more detailed breakdown is available.

Note on Quebec Greens. In 2008 the Greens got only 3.5% of the votes in Quebec. Many MMP models would prevent them winning seats in a province where they got less than 5%, but the Law Commission did not say that. However, the region size in this model gives them no seats except one in the 21-MP region of Montreal/Laval where they got 4.3%.

Note: By having only 35% of MPs elected regionally, the results are not perfectly proportional, but very close. If we had used province-wide totals with perfect proportionality the results would have been: 118 Con (119 without the Quebec Greens), 81 Lib, 58 NDP, 28 BQ (30 without the Quebec Greens), 21 Green (18 without the Quebec Greens), and 2 Ind. If we had used regional totals with perfect proportionality the results would have been 117 Con, 82 Lib, 58 NDP, 28 BQ, 21 Green, and 2 Ind. In this simulation, after adjustments due to having 65% local seats, the results are: 116 Con, 86 Lib, 55 NDP, 31 BQ, 18 Green, and 2 Ind. The effect on balance in the House is the same. In return for slight deviations from perfect proportionality, all MPs are “locally anchored” and accountable. A very good trade-off.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"The Twelve Percent Solution"

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger likes the “12-per-cent solution,” an additional 42 MPs on a proportional basis. He spoke favourably of it in a House of Commons debate March 3, 2011.

Great timing, when Canada is about to add seats to the House after the 2011 census.

Belanger was Paul Martin’s Minister responsible for Democratic Reform after the 2004 election. This March 3 he said in the House “I remember the discussions I had with Ed Broadbent, who was the member for Ottawa Centre at the time. I said that I personally agreed that there may be a use in our system for an element of proportionality.”

Referring to a 2004 Globe and Mail article by John Bossons proposing 42 proportional seats, Belanger said “The reasoning then was that if we had greater regional representation within caucuses, for instance if the Liberals had more voices from Alberta and the Conservatives more voices from Quebec and the NDP more voices from other provinces, in other words, if we had more provincial voices speaking in the respective parties' national caucuses, the national perspective might win the day more often. I think that would be healthy for our country. Therefore, I do support, notionally, an element of proportional representation.”

Belanger went on “despite all of the concerns with the concept of proportional representation, an element of that, . . . perhaps not even as high as 50% or even 25%, but an element of that, might help our democracy. . . perhaps the way to go would be to create a committee of the House of Commons and to give it a mandate . . . to go out and sound this out in a rational, responsible, realistic manner and come back to Parliament with its conclusions. Then Parliament should take them up in debate and see where they would lead us. If we were to do that . . . I would certainly be willing to support it and would encourage my colleagues to support it and to see where it takes us.”

Adding 42 more MPs

The last House also debated the government’s Bill C-12, which would have added 33 more MPs to the House of Commons (18 for Ontario, eight for Alberta, seven for BC). The majority of MPs seemed to also support giving Quebec a few more MPs to maintain its weight or at least ensure that it had as many MPs per person as the Canadian average. That number might be five or eleven, but let’s take nine, so as to use the total 42 of John Bosson’s proposal.

What would this “12 percent solution” do for Canada?

It wouldn’t give us full proportional representation as recommended by the Law Commission of Canada, where every vote would count equally.

Limited MMP

It would give us a taste of proportionality, limited proportionality, with only 42 proportional MPs to "top-up" the disproportional results from the local ridings.

But at least there would have been a couple of Liberal MPs from Alberta. And we would have three Conservative MPs from metropolitan Montreal, a couple more Liberals from BC, a couple of Conservatives from Toronto, a couple more NDP MPs from the West and four more from Quebec, maybe 13 Greens here and there, and so on.

However, how would these MPs be elected?

Locally anchored proportional MPs, elected not appointed

As Lord Jenkins’ Commission in the United Kingdom wrote, additional 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.”

So let’s assume medium-sized regions, each electing one, two or three “top-up” MPs to give representation to voters now unrepresented or under-represented.

Using the Law Commission’s method, the party’s regional candidates with the most votes win those seats. That’s why it’s called “open list.”

Or using the “best runners-up” method, they would be the party’s local candidates in the region who got the highest percent of the votes.

Either way, they would be personally elected, not appointed.

What would the House of Commons look like?

Based on the votes cast in 2008, let’s see what the House of Commons would look like.

Note: this is only if people voted as they did on October 14, 2008. In fact, if voters knew every vote would count, more would have voted -- typically 6% or so more -- and some would have voted differently. We would have had different candidates - more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have different parties.

Overall, a simulation of the 350 MPs shows 153 Conservatives, 87 Liberals, 48 Bloc, 47 NDP, 13 Greens, and 2 independents. (Note that, unlike full proportional representation where the majority of voters -- who voted Liberal, NDP or Green – would elect a majority of MPs, this would still leave the Bloc holding the balance of power on the 2008 votes.)

The “top-up” regions would average 16 or 17 MPs each (14 or 15 local, 2 regional). With larger provinces getting more MPs, most local ridings would be no larger. Elsewhere, every group of seven or eight ridings becomes six or seven larger ridings, but a candidate can also run for one of the regional MP positions, with two regional MPs in each 15-riding region.

Ontario could have 15 regional MPs: two Conservatives and a Green from Toronto, a Liberal and a Green from Hamilton-Niagara-Waterloo, a Liberal and a Green from Southwest (London - Windsor), a Liberal from Northern Ontario, an NDP and a Green from Eastern Ontario, an NDP and a Green from Peel-Halton, and two NDP and a Green from York-Durham-Barrie-Peterborough. (Note that Ontario would also have 109 local MPs, up from the present 106.)

BC could have five regional MPs: a Liberal and two Greens from the Lower Mainland, and a Liberal and a Green from the rest of BC.

Alberta could have four regional MPs: a Liberal and a Green from Edmonton and northern Alberta, and another Liberal and Green from Calgary, south and central Alberta.

Quebec could have 10 regional MPs: two Conservatives and an NDP from Montreal/Laval, a Conservative and an NDP from Montérégie, a Liberal and an NDP from Laurentides—Lanaudière -Western Quebec, a Liberal from Estrie-Centre-du-Québec-Mauricie, and a Liberal and an NDP from Quebec City and Eastern Quebec. (Note: this assumes a party has to reach a 5% threshold in a province to qualify for a regional MP, but the Greens were below that level in Quebec.)

Saskatchewan could have two provincial NDP MPs. Manitoba could have a Liberal and a Green provincial MP. Nova Scotia could have a provincial Green MP. New Brunswick could have a provincial NDP MP. Newfoundland and Labrador could have a provincial Conservative MP. P.E.I. could have a provincial Conservative MP.

Regions and sizes

The 42 regional MPs would include some in each province, so the six smaller provinces would lose some local MPs. Manitoba and Saskatchewan would have 12 local MPs not 14, and in return would have two provincial MPs. Each Atlantic province would have one less local MP, and one provincial MP. BC would have 38 local MPs and five regional MPs. Alberta would have 32 local MPs and four regional MPs. Ontario would have 109 local MPs and 15 regional MPs. Quebec would have 74 local MPs and 10 regional MPs.

With six small regions having only one regional MP (four Atlantic provinces, northern Ontario, and Estrie-Centre-du-Québec-Mauricie), four regions could have three regional MPs each: the BC Lower Mainland with 25 MPs, the City of Toronto’s 25, Montreal/Laval’s 25, and Central East Ontario (York-Durham-Barrie-Peterborough) with 24. The other 12 regions would have two regional MPs each.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Canadians supported the coalition in January 2009.

Polls two years ago showed Canadians actually supported the coalition, once the hysteria died down.

Yet some reporters say things like "The last time a coalition was attempted Canadians spoke out against it in such strong numbers that had an election been called Stephen Harper would have gained a huge majority."

The hysteria against the coalition largely vanished after Christmas, 2008.

On Jan. 3-7 Nanos found 33% would vote Conservative, 34% Liberal, 19% NDP.

By January 12th to 14th, 2009, the Strategic Counsel found the parties were back to more or less 2006 levels: CPC - 36%, Libs 29%, NDP 18% and it also shows the public now almost evenly split in terms of their attitude towards coalition. It appeared that the short term bump the Tories got after they prorogued had vanished. The coalition had 44% support, another election 49%, yet only 36% would vote Conservative.

On Jan. 15 - 17 EKOS found 50% support for the Coalition, while 43% would prefer the Conservative government to the Coalition, and 6% were undecided, although only 36% would vote Conservative. Yet 49% wanted a new election, showing some confusion remained.

Even after the federal budget Jan. 27, which 62% liked (on Jan. 28-29) and 67% said the opposition should support, Strategic Counsel found Conservative support had dropped to 34%. While this poll did not mention the word coalition, the attitudes against Harper had dropped even further than on Jan. 12-14. It found 51% agreed "The Harper government has failed Canada on the economy, and another government should be given a chance” while 49% disagreed; 63% agreed "Stephen Harper hasn't changed at all and this Budget is all about politics and buying time for his government" while 69% agreed "Regardless of this budget, I still blame Stephen Harper for causing an unnecessary political crisis two months ago when he should have been focusing on the economy," and 72% agreed "The Harper government would not have introduced a budget like this if it had not been for the pressure from the opposition parties."

And in late April 2011 only 17% of Liberal voters did not like the idea of a coalition with the NDP.

The Bloc supports proportional representation; the Liberals are interested

In the run-up to the current election, was anyone watching March 3 when the House of Commons debated the NDP motion on proportional representation (and Senate abolition), and the Bloc supported it?

There's a common belief that the Bloc would never vote for proportional representation, since it would cost them close to half their seats in Parliament. But this is not true. There is a consensus among most Quebecois, especially progressives, in favour of the principle of proportional representation. The Bloc does not have a definitive position on PR, but is not opposed.

The motion called for the House to appoint a Special Committee for Democratic Improvement, whose mandate is to engage with Canadians, and make recommendations to the House, on how best to achieve a House of Commons that more accurately reflects the votes of Canadians by combining direct election by electoral district and proportional representation. (It also, unfortunately, called for a referendum on abolishing the Senate, an issue worth debating, but giving the Liberals an easy reason to vote against the motion.) The NDP's call for a mixed member system has been party policy since 2003. See MMP made easy.

The Bloc moved an amendment that the recommendations "in no way reduce the current weight of the Quebec nation in the House of Commons.” The NDP had already taken the same position, so it accepted the Bloc amendment. The Bloc then supported the amended motion. However, after their amendment was defeated by a vote of 77 to 214, they could not vote for the original motion.

The NDP caucus was vocal in support of proportional representation, with statements from David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre), Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt), Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan), Jack Harris (St. John's East), Fin Donnelly (New Westminster - Coquitlam), Jim Maloway (Elmwood - Transcona), Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior), Peter Julian (Burnaby - New Westminster), Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway), Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre), Yvon Godin (Acadie - Bathurst), and Linda Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona).

The Bloc MPs stated, in regard to "the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in Parliament, specifically the House of Commons, we quite agree with the NDP." Pierre Paquette (Joliette) said "We are comfortable with this motion, but on two conditions. . . I want to point out right now that we will support the NDP motion . . . We also agree with abolishing the Senate and with looking at a new voting system that would include elements of the proportional voting system. . . Most countries with such a voting system have elements of both representation based on ridings and representation based either on regions or on lists presented by political parties. There are a number of possible models. In Quebec during the time of René Lévesque, Robert Burns did some very important work that led to proposed reforms that, unfortunately, were never implemented. . . In the debates that were held in Quebec, we discussed at length the difference between members who would be elected on the basis of their ridings and those who would be elected on the basis of the lists suggested by the political parties. There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems. What would be best is a combination of the systems in which proportional representation would be used but the regions and ridings would also have a say in the choice of members. . . The Bloc Québécois has proven time and time again that it is not here to reform Canadian institutions or to prevent reform. However, we want it to be understood that our priority is certainly not to work toward the abolition of the Senate or toward a system of proportional representation across Canada but rather to work toward Quebec sovereignty."

The Liberals said interesting things.

Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's), their democratic renewal critic, said "As for electoral reform, the issue is in need of serious and comprehensive dialogue with Canadians about whether the current system is, for all its faults, working, and if not, what needs to be fixed or what is to replace it. We believe there is lots of support for various approaches to electoral reform.

"Last week in Alberta it was very clear. Many Liberals in Alberta are very keen that their votes count in the House of Commons. Green Party members across the country care about this. I think the federalists in Quebec have been often worried that more people there can vote for a federalist party and they can end up with a separatist majority. This kind of distortion in result is worrying to people and although we welcome that dialogue, I believe it would be premature to start prescribing alternate systems at this time.

"On October 23, 2003, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the creation of the Democratic Renewal Secretariat, which mandated a citizens’ assembly to examine the electoral system. In May 2007, the citizens' assembly recommended a mixed member proportional system. Under this system, a person votes for a local member and for a party, which is elected by means of the first past the post system. The local member represents an electoral riding, while the votes for the parties, in conjunction with the number of local members elected from each party, determine how many list members each party will receive in addition to its local members. In October 2007, this reform received only 36.9% of the vote, far less than the 60% required to make the referendum result binding.

"Commentators said that the result reflected the electorate's skepticism about political parties. The lack of transparency and democracy in every political party deterred people from voting in favour of the referendum question.

" . . . in the world there are only three countries with pure first past the post systems left, the U.K. which is moving to change it a bit, the United States and ourselves, and that there are systems around the world that work and ones that do not. I agree with the member that the ones where it is purely proportional and no one really knows who their member of Parliament is would not work in this huge country. People do need to know their members' address, where they come from and know the regional issues. We would, I assume, in any electoral reform keep individual riding members.

"The debate that we would have with Canadians is about the lack of proportionality and the lack of Liberal members from Alberta when they can get up to 20% of the vote, and the fact that in 1993 the Conservative Party had 20-plus per cent of the vote and only two seats. People understand that there is a distortion and that we need to have a proper conversation with Canadians as to what might work to fix that.

"The Green Party put forward an interesting idea which would be that there would be a best losers list, where they would have had to have been a candidate in the last election, knocking on doors and listening to people, that if we were going to get three members from Alberta, they would be three of our candidates as opposed to a predetermined party list, as was the proposal in Ontario. I have to admit that until we move on party reform, we are not going to get the kind of support for electoral reform."

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger (the former Minister) said "I really rather agree with where the rest of the motion (on PR) is going.

"I was at one point the minister for democratic renewal, and I remember the discussions I had with Ed Broadbent, who was the member for Ottawa Centre at the time. I said that I personally agreed that there may be a use in our system for an element of proportionality. I tried to define that element.

"I recall an op-ed in the Globe and Mail a few years ago calling for a “12-per-cent solution”, which apportioned a reduced number of seats on a proportional basis, but regionally. The reasoning then was that if we had greater regional representation within caucuses, for instance if the Liberals had more voices from Alberta and the Conservatives more voices from Quebec and the NDP more voices from other provinces, in other words, if we had more provincial voices speaking in the respective parties' national caucuses, the national perspective might win the day more often.

"I think that would be healthy for our country. Therefore, I do support, notionally, an element of proportional representation."

Liberal MP Scott Simms said "the mixed member proportional representation that the member talks about has some merit."

That's as close as we have gotten to a Liberal position, at this point. The Liberals need the Law Commission's recommendation, but they haven't said so, yet.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A modest element of proportionality for Canada’s parliament: the parallel system? Or MMP-lite?

It may be useful to consider electoral reforms with less than full proportionality, as a compromise or step in the right direction.

For example, the “MMP-lite” (or “Limited MMP”) model designed by the Jenkins Commission in the UK was specifically intended to increase the odds on stable governments, while getting many of the benefits of a mixed member proportional model.

Another option is the parallel system, once used in Russia, still used in Japan.

The Pépin-Robarts Task Force on Canadian Unity in 1979 recommended:
i. The number of members in the House of Commons should be increased by about 60.
ii. These members should be selected from provincial lists of candidates prepared by the federal parties in advance of a general election, with the seats being distributed between parties on the basis of percentages of popular votes.

That's the parallel model, because those extra 60 MPs do not compensate for disproportionate local results. Rather than the "top-up" Mixed Member Proportional model, they are a separate, parallel, election.

On the votes cast in 2008, the additional 60 MPs would have been 21 Conservatives, 18 Liberals, 12 NDP, 6 Bloc, and 3 Greens.

This model would have addressed regional divisiveness slightly by electing 22 more MPs from provinces where their party’s voters were underrepresented: 1 Liberal MP from Alberta, 1 more from BC, 1 more from Manitoba, and 4 more from Quebec; 3 more Conservative MPs from Quebec; 4 more NDP MPs from Ontario, 2 more from Quebec, 1 from Saskatchewan, 1 more from Alberta, and 1 more from Nova Scotia; and 2 Green Party MPs from Ontario and 1 from BC.

But it would also have elected 35 more MPs from provinces where their party’s voters were already over-represented: 8 more Conservative MPs from Ontario, 3 more from Alberta, 3 more from BC, 2 more from Saskatchewan, 1 more from Manitoba, and 1 more from New Brunswick; 7 more Liberal MPs from Ontario, 1 more from Newfoundland, 1 more from Nova Scotia, and 1 more from PEI; 6 more Bloc MPs from Quebec; and 1 more NDP MP from Manitoba. Along with one more Liberal MP from New Brunswick where Liberal voters were already fairly represented, and two more NDP MPs from BC where NDP voters were already fairly represented.

I doubt the public would want 60 more MPs when more than half of them would just add to a party’s over-represented strongholds. But if we cut the local MPs to 248, so each riding is 25% bigger than today, doesn’t the loss outweigh the gain?

And the Pepin-Robarts model used closed province-wide lists, not the open regional lists that Canadian voters are likely to require. As Jenkins said, additional members 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.”

No, if you want a compromise with 247 local MPs and only 61 regional MPs, go to a Limited Mixed Member Proportional model.

That model is a compromise toward the model recommended by the Law Commission of Canada.