Monday, December 31, 2012

Why change Fair Vote Canada's Statement of Purpose?

Fair Vote Canada members are about to vote on whether to change its Statement of Purpose. The proponents of the change, Dave Meslin’s RaBIT campaign in Toronto, have published a flyer which deserves a response.

Why a referendum?

Many of Fair Vote Canada’s strongest supporters are outraged by this referendum.

This should be a very exciting time. We know 70% of Canadians support proportional representation. We know several Liberal Party leadership candidates are looking seriously at it, and Stephane Dion is for it. Many thousands want to make 2015 the last unfair election. They want to be able to say: never again will a false majority government hold all the power with only 39.6% support. They're sick of hearing: “vote for the lesser of evils.”

So why on earth would Fair Vote Canada give advocates of a winner-take-all voting system a platform to promote their system, and a vote on whether to accept it?  Why this distraction about the Alternative Vote (“Instant Runoff Vote,” or “preferential ballot in single-member districts”)?

FVC’s strategic goal is to make the 2015 federal election about getting a mandate for electoral reform. But just at this critical moment, a handful of our members want to focus on municipal politics. They would water down and divert our campaign for proportional representation.

My own priority is not municipal elections. However, Dave Meslin’s RaBIT campaign in Toronto has been trying (and failing) to take over Fair Vote Canada’s Toronto Chapter and get it to support the Alternative Vote for Toronto city council elections, even though AV/IRV is just another winner-take-all voting system, not proportional at all.  They keep claiming their campaign is not contrary to Fair Vote Canada’s Statement of Purpose, and confusing our supporters.

This might not matter so much, but some members of the Liberal Party of Canada are promoting AV/IRV for federal elections, and the media are taking notice.

So this distraction has to be dealt with first. Then, FVC can get on with its national priority.

Contradictory goals

RaBIT (Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto) says we can advocate against AV for federal elections, while promoting it for Toronto city council. They say we can educate the public why AV is good for elections to a council governing a city larger than six Canadian provinces, but bad for elections in those six provinces or for federal elections.  

Yet they complain that PR is not yet a top-of-mind issue for a majority of Canadians. Obviously, promoting AV will not help this; it will hurt. It’s no surprise that some of RaBIT’s supporters also support AV federally.

Why is Fair Vote Canada against AV federally?

Here’s why AV is not the answer to Canada’s democratic deficit.

FVC says “It is important to understand that preferential balloting in single-member ridings does not yield results that accurately reflect voter intentions. This system, called the Alternative Vote (AV), still violates the democratic principle of equal representation for every voter, just like our current, first past the post system. Political parties are waking up to the potential benefits that may accrue to their party in switching to a system like AV, but we need a voting system that’s good for voters, not one that’s good for political parties.”

With just one winner in each riding, at least half of votersdon’t actually elect anyone, and our Parliaments, legislatures and councils don’t actually look anything like us.

AV will lead to proportional representation?

RaBIT says adopting AV in Toronto would put voting reform on the map, and help raise the profile of the need for electoral reform at all levels. Sure, if you think AV at the federal level is “electoral reform.” Fair Vote Canada says no. So does RaBIT, but they sound pretty confused. The fact is, AV has never led to proportional representation anywhere in the world.

Spreading anti-PR myths

RaBIT says municipal PR would require much larger wards in Toronto (where they have single-member wards) “creating a financial obstacle to running, thus reducing choice and diversity.” Of course, with nothing but single-member districts, we can’t have PR anywhere. The key to PR is letting voters have more than one representative. As long as there’s only one winner in a riding, many (even most) voters in that riding simply do not elect the candidate that best represents them, and results are not proportional.

Our opponents keep pointing to Israel’s national party lists, and complain that PR means no local MPs, and means party domination. In fact, PR for Canada means some multi-member districts or regions, giving voters more diverse representation and more choice of representatives. Yet RaBIT says PR means the opposite. With allies like this, who needs enemies?

Municipally, FVC says the diversity of views and opinions among voters must be fairly represented in councils in proportion to votes cast. We must change the voting systems to enable the election of candidates with a diversity of views and opinions reflecting the diversity of views and opinions among voters.

As Fair Vote Canada has said "Actually, experience in Australia shows that AV can be even less proportional than FPTP. Turns out vote splitting is how third parties win seats." Or minority groups in municipal elections. AV guarantees that no one can win without getting 50% of the vote. No help for minorities there.

"Vote with our hearts”

One of the main reasons many Canadians want proportional representation is so that they can elect a representative of their choice. Proportional representation ends the need for so-called “strategic voting.” You can vote with your heart, and your vote will count: you will elect a representative.

Yet RaBIT says “With a ranked ballot we can eliminate strategic voting and vote with our hearts” and “this allows people to vote for their true preferences rather than strategically.” Nonsense: the preferential ballot is simply institutionalized strategic voting. As Fair Vote Canada has said for seven years, being represented by your second choice is the problem, not the solution. With AV/IRV, candidates of currently underrepresented voters simply get eliminated in the second or third round of counting, in favour of the two top candidates. You might feel better about being cheated of representation, by being allowed to cast a token vote for a losing candidate, but that’s no real help.

Furthermore, if you want to prevent an enemy from being elected, you cast your first choice for the centrist candidate with the best chance of picking up enough votes to beat the enemy. Hold your nose, for fear she or he gets eliminated: so strategic voting is alive and well.

Single-minded support of AV

RaBIT’s flyer says “there is no One-Size-Fits-All solution.” Yet they insist AV is the only solution for Toronto. Fair Vote Toronto Chapter has advocated a citizen-driven, expert-supported, review of all options for electing the Council and mayor.” That’s the process Fair Vote Canada always supports. But RaBIT doesn’t. Yet there are other options for Toronto.

Analogies with American elections

While the USA has a two-party system, Canada has not had two parties since 1921. Electoral reformers in the USA have to embrace AV because of the two-party context. In the USA, almost every major position is a single position, such as President or Senator. Since the USA has a two-party system with no real party cohesion, AV/IRV makes sense there. The fact that AV has led to bi-polar politics in Australia doesn’t bother American reformers. It bothers the hell out of me. But RaBIT’s leaflet says we should copy Fair Vote USA. Even though AV hurts thirdparties.

AV for Mayors

Many people like the idea of a preferential ballot for a single position like a party leader or a mayor. This referendum is explicitly about AV/IRV for municipal COUNCILS, not for mayors. Yet RaBIT tries to confuse FVC members by saying it’s about mayors. Fair Vote Canada already says “Where the objective is to choose the most popular candidate for a one-person job – for example a party leader, speaker of the legislature or president – then AV is better than first-past-the-post.”

Municipalities without parties?

RaBIT promotes the myth that Toronto City Council has non-partisan local elections. However, the majority of city councillors have known party affiliations and were elected with support from party machines. Very few true independents have ever been elected since the Megacity was imposed on Toronto in 1998. As John Sewell says, it’s time to rethink the Toronto Megacity.

FVC’s objectives for local government in communities without municipal parties

The following motion has been adopted by FVC Council: “Based on the FVC Statement of Purpose, FVC’s objectives for local government in communities without municipal parties are as follows:

1) To create an equal voice for every citizen, the diversity of views and opinions among voters must be fairly represented in our municipal councils in proportion to votes cast. We must change the voting systems to enable the election of candidates with a diversity of views and opinions reflecting the diversity of views and opinions among voters. Block voting (voters elect many councillors at-large by voting for all of them) often results in one group winning all the seats, leaving others voiceless.

2) Never should citizens be denied representation simply because their preferred candidate cannot win a single-member ward. A democratic voting system must encourage citizens to exercise positive choice by voting for the candidate they prefer. They should not find it necessary to embrace negative or strategic voting – to vote for a less-preferred candidate to block the election of one even less preferred.

3) To reflect in councils the diversity of society we must change the voting system to remove barriers to the election of candidates from groups now underrepresented including women, ethnic and cultural minorities and Aboriginals."

Conclusion

Asking all voters to be represented by only one person is wrong.

As my friend Aamir Hussain says “AV for a representative body strikes directly against the core principles of Fair Vote Canada and comprises a serious challenge to the cause of Proportional Representation in Canada as a whole. After all both FPTP and AV as systems are perfectly fine with some candidate getting elected to council or parliament with 50%+1 of the vote while the rest of the electorate is treated as completely irrelevant, unimportant, and not worthy of representation. It's those unrepresented voters that Fair Vote Canada was built to champion and advocate for, and supporting AV for election to any sort of legislative body would be our complete abdication of that responsibility and cause. After all, going by Rabit's own words why would we ever choose a PR system that creates electoral districts that are too large, reduces choice and diversity of candidates, and makes it impossible for a candidate to run an independent campaign? These are all incredibly damaging and baseless claims on Proportional Representation that are made on Rabit's own website and they can be applied for any level of government. How can Fair Vote advocate for PR if, let alone respond to such attacks, it explicitly or implicitly gives them its blessing?

Stuart Parker

For a very clear response to RaBIT, read what Stuart Parker says and more from Stuart Parker here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What would Parliament look like, with a “moderately proportional” voting system?

Stéphane Dion wants a “moderate proportional” voting system. But his first proposal had no local MPs. What would Parliament look like, with a “moderately proportional” mixed proportional voting system as explained in my previous post?

Every MP would be locally anchored, in regions of averaging seven MPs, such as eight MPs (five local, three regional) or six (four local, two regional).

Silenced voters would have elected MPs

Liberal voters silenced in 2011 would likely have elected MPs like David Bertschi in Ottawa, Martha Hall Findlay in Toronto, Martin Cauchon in Montreal, Marie Bountrogianni in Hamilton, Mary MacDonald in Edmonton, and other MPs in Alberta, Mississauga, Brampton, York Region, Simcoe County, Waterloo Region, Niagara, London, Southwestern, Central East, Eastern, Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario, Longueuil and Montérégie, and Eastern and Central Quebec, 26 more than in 2011. 

NDP voters silenced in 2011 would have elected MPs in Calgary and every region of Alberta, in Saskatchewan, in seven regions of Ontario where they are unrepresented, in both halves of New Brunswick, and in northern Nova Scotia, about 30 in all. However, they would have elected 18 fewer in Quebec. 

And the Conservative caucus, whether still in government or in opposition, would have had MPs like Lawrence Cannon from Gatineau, Josée Verner in Quebec City, and MPs from Montreal and its suburbs and Central Quebec, as well as from downtown Toronto. While Conservative voters in strongholds would no longer see sweeps, silenced Conservative voters would have elected 11 more MPs. 

This model sounds like it could exclude the Greens. It would have excluded most Green voters on the votes cast in 2011, when they got less than 4% everywhere east of Alberta. But most proportional systems exclude a party that gets less than 5% of the vote. When every vote counts, Green voters would have cast at least as many votes as they did in 2008, when this model would have let them elect 15 MPs, assuming the “highest remainder” calculation. Even on the votes cast in 2011, silenced Green voters would have elected Deputy Leader Adriane Carr and three more MPs as well as Elizabeth May. The preferential ballot proposed by Stéphane Dion would let Green votes count for their second choice, but this complexity would not be necessary. 

Moderate proportionality

By proposing "moderate proportionality" Stéphane Dion has put on the table the first, since the 2004 Law Commission Report, new idea worth exploring.

In the new 338-MP House, my simulation of this model from the votes cast in 2011 projects 145 Conservatives, 114 New Democrats, 60 Liberals, 14 Bloc, and 5 Greens. This is not quite the same as the results with perfect province-wide proportionality: 140 Conservative, 103 New Democrats, 64 Liberals, 18 Bloc, 13 Greens. But it is a vast improvement on the projected results with Canada’s skewed winner-take-all system: 189 Conservative MPs, 108 NDP, 36 Liberals, 4 Bloc, and 1 Green. With 170 MPs needed for a majority government, an NDP-Liberal coalition would have 174 MPs, or a Conservative-Liberal coalition would have 209 MPs.

As Stéphane Dion argues, this would be a degree of proportionality “moderate enough to avoid a proliferation of parties and retain the possibility of a majority government formed by a single party.”
 
A moderate MMP model following the recommendations of Professors John Carey and Simon Hix (2009) might have regions for the new 338-MP House ranging from six MPs (four local, two regional top-up) to eight MPs (five local, three regional top-up), with a couple of exceptional three-seaters in northern BC, northwestern Ontario and Saguenay, a four-seater for northern Nova Scotia, and five-seaters in New Brunswick and rural Alberta. It could have an average District Magnitude of about 7.56 in Ontario, 7.1 in Quebec, 6.8 in Alberta, 7 in BC, and 7 Canada-wide.

With such small regions, we could have an open-list model (you vote for the regional candidate you prefer) with no "bedsheet ballots."

Here are the MPs who might have been elected, but note that this calculation is for the new 338-MP House.

Ontario MPs

In the region from Willowdale to Etobicoke, Liberal voters would have elected an extra MP such as Martha Hall Findlay. NDP voters would have elected two extra MPs such as Giulio Manfrini and Diana Andrews. 
 
In Toronto Centre (Beaches and Don Valley East to High Park), Conservative voters would have elected an extra MP. That would be the regional candidate who got the most votes across the downtown, perhaps lawyer Maureen Harquail or pastor Kevin Moore, Executive Director of City of Hope. Liberal voters would have elected a couple more MPs like Yasmin Ratansi and Rob Oliphant.

In Scarborough, Conservative voters would have elected an extra MP such as Chuck Konkel or Marlene Gallyot
 
In Brampton-Mississauga, rather than all MPs being Conservatives, Liberal voters would have elected two MPs such as Peter Fonseca and Ruby Dhalla, and NDP voters two such as Jagmeet Singh and Waseem Ahmed. 
 
In Halton-Mississauga Southwest, rather than all MPs being Conservatives, Liberal voters would have re-elected Paul Szabo or Bonnie Crombie, while NDP voters would have elected an MP such as Michelle Bilek. 
 
In Durham—Peterborough, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as Dan Holland or Kim Rudd, and NDP voters would have elected two MPs such as Oshawa autoworkers president Chris Buckley and Peterborough teacher Dave Nickle or Lyn Edwards.
 
In York Region, Liberal voters would have elected two more MPs such as incumbent Bryon Wilfert and anti-racist educator Karen Mock or long-time Vaughan councillor Mario Ferri. NDP voters would have elected two, such as Markham auditor Nadine Hawkins (sister of MPP Peter Kormos) and Keswick youth counsellor Sylvia Gerl. 
 
In Hamilton-Niagara, Liberal voters would have elected two MPs such as Niagara Falls lawyer Bev Hodgson and former Ontario minister Marie Bountrogianni
 
In Waterloo-Wellington-Brant-Haldimand, NDP voters would have elected two MPs such as Cambridge community volunteer Susan Galvao and Brantford social worker Marc Laferriere. Liberal voters would have elected a second MP such as incumbents Andrew Telegdi or Karen Redman. 

In Barrie-Muskoka-Dufferin-Bruce, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as Steve Clarke or Grey County communications consultant Kimberley Love. NDP voters would have elected an MP such as Parry Sound doctor Wendy Wilson or Bruce County farm leader Grant Robertson. Green Party voters would have elected an MP such as Shadow Cabinet Finance Critic Ard Van Leeuwen. 
 
In London—Oxford-Perth, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as incumbent Glen Pearson or London lawyer Doug Ferguson. NDP voters would have elected a second MP such as London biochemist Peter Ferguson or North Wellington computer consultant Ellen Papenburg. 
 
In Windsor—Sarnia, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as Chatham teacher Matt Daudlin, Wallaceburg retired educator Gayle Stucke, or Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos. 
 
In Ottawa, Liberal voters would have elected a third MP such as lawyer David Bertschi or women’s rights advocate Anita Vandenbeld. NDP voters would have elected a second MP such as ecology policy coordinator Trevor Haché or hospital psychologist Marlene Rivier.
 
In Eastern Ontario outside Ottawa, NDP voters would have elected two MPs such as Prince Edward County retired teacher Michael McMahon and Kingston community volunteer Daniel Beals. Liberal voters would have elected a second MP, such as Prescott and Russell lawyer Julie Bourgeois or Belleville lawyer Peter Tinsley. 
 
In Northeastern Ontario, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as North Bay incumbent Anthony Rota or Sudbury lawyer Carol Hartman. 
 
In Northwestern Ontario, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as former MPs Ken Boshcoff or Roger Valley. 
 
British Columbia MPs
 
In Vancouver—-Richmond-Delta, Green voters would have elected an MP, no doubt Deputy Leader Adriane Carr. NDP voters would have elected another MP such as Karen Shillington.
 
In Burnaby-Maple Ridge-North Shore, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as Taleeb Noormohamed or retired engineer and Kung Fu Master Ken Low.

In Surrey--Fraser Valley, Liberal voters would have elected an MP, such as incumbent Sukh Dhaliwal or Chilliwack City Councillor Diane Janzen. NDP voters would have elected another MP, such as Nao Fernando or disability advocate Gwen O’Mahony.
 
In the BC Interior, NDP voters would have elected a second MP such as Kamloops social work professor Michael Crawford or Kelowna’s Tisha Kalmanovitch. Green voters would have elected an MP such as retired North Okanagan lawyer Greig Crockett or Kelowna real estate agent Alice Hooper. 
 
On Vancouver Island, Conservative voters would have elected a third MP such as incumbent Gary Lunn or Victoria lawyer Troy DeSouza. 
 
Alberta MPs
 
In Calgary, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as retired police officer Cam Stewart or lawyer and former school board chair Jennifer Pollock. NDP voters would have elected an MP such as Calgary Labour Council V-P Collin Anderson, nurses leader Holly Heffernan or CUPE activist Paul Vargis. Green voters would have elected an MP such as human rights expert Heather MacIntosh.
 
In Southern Alberta, NDP voters would have elected an MP such as Lethbridge retired professor Mark Sandilands.
 
In Central Alberta NDP voters would have elected an MP such as Starland County teacher Stuart Somerville, or Camrose teacher Ellen Parker.
 
In Edmonton, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as lawyer and university professor Mary MacDonald. NDP voters would have elected two more MPs such as past NDP leader Ray Martin and Lewis Cardinal (Co-chair of the NDP’s Aboriginal Commission) or actress/entrepreneur Nadine Bailey.
 
In northern Alberta, NDP voters would have elected an MP like Grande Prairie Metis lawyer Jennifer Villebrun.
 
Saskatchewan
 
In South Saskatchewan, NDP voters would have elected two MPs like Regina lawyer Noah Evanchuk and Regina city councillor Fred Clipsham.
 
In North Saskatchewan, NDP voters would have elected three MPs like Saskatoon professor and farm leader Nettie Wiebe, past Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Lawrence Joseph, and Saskatoon lawyer Darien Moore or health expert Denise Kouri.
 
Manitoba
 
In Winnipeg, NDP voters would have elected a second MP such as incumbent Jim Maloway or federal party Treasurer Rebecca Blaikie. Liberal voters would have elected a second MP such as incumbent Anita Neville or former MP Raymond Simard or former city councillor Terry Duguid.
 
In Manitoba outside Winnipeg, NDP voters would have elected a second MP, such as former Roblin town councillor and public health coordinator Cheryl Osborne.
 
Quebec
 
In West Montreal, Conservative voters would have elected an MP, such as former Senator Larry Smith or former Montreal City executive committee member Saulie Zajdel.
 
In Montreal East, Conservative voters would have elected an MP such as Jimmy Yu or Audrey Castonguay. Bloc voters would have elected two MPs such as leader Gilles Duceppe and incumbent Daniel Paillé or women’s centre coordinator Ginette Beaudry.
 
In Montreal North—Laval, Conservative voters would have elected an MP such as past-President of the Order of Quebec Engineers Zaki Ghavitian. Bloc voters would have elected a second MP such as staffer Marie-France Charbonneau or incumbent Robert Carrier.
 
In Longueuil—Roussillon--Lajemmerais, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as incumbent Alexandra Mendès or lawyer Roxane Stanners. Bloc voters would have elected an MP such as incumbent Luc Malo or Carole Lavallée.
In Monteregie-sud-est, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as former cabinet minister Denis Paradis or Lyne Pelchat. Conservative voters would have elected an MP such as past-president of the Quebec Provincial Police Association Jean-Guy Dagenais (subsequently appointed to the Senate) or PMO Deputy Director of Communications and Granby native Mélisa Leclerc. Bloc voters would have elected an MP such as incumbent Claude DeBellefeuille or Meili Faille.
In Laurentides—Lanaudière, Conservative voters would have elected an MP such as former MNA Lucie Leblanc. Bloc voters would have elected two MPs, such as incumbents Pierre Paquette and Johanne Deschamps.
 
In Outaouais—Abitibi—Nord, Conservative voters would have elected an MP such as cabinet minister Lawrence Cannon, and Bloc voters would have elected an MP such as incumbents Marc Lemay or Richard Nadeau.
 
In Estrie—Centre-du-Québec—Mauricie, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as former MNA Francine Gaudet or the former CEO of the City of La Tuque Yves Tousignant. Conservative voters would have elected an MP, such as former mayor of Asbestos Jean-Philippe Bachand or Maskinongé businesswoman Marie-Claude Godue.
 
In the Quebec City--Côte-Nord region, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as lawyer Jean Beaupré or public relations specialist Martine Gaudreault. Conservative voters would have elected an MP such as incumbent minister Josée Verner (who was made a Senator.) Bloc voters would have elected an MP such as incumbents Michel Guimond or Christiane Gagnon.
 
In Saguenay, Bloc voters would have elected an MP such as incumbents Robert Bouchard or Gérard Asselin.
 
In Chaudière-Appalaches—Gaspésie, Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as lawyer and former MNA Nancy Charest or former MNA Claude Morin.
 
New Brunswick
 
In Southwest New Brunswick, NDP voters would have elected an MP such as Saint John economics professor Rob Muir. Liberal voters would have elected an MP such as Fredericton journalist Randy McKeen or Charlotte County John Howard Society Executive Director Kelly Wilson.
 
In Northeast New Brunswick, NDP voters would have elected a second MP such as Moncton art gallery owner Shawna Gagné or past Chief of Elsipogtog First Nation Susan Levi-Peters.
 
Nova Scotia
 
In Nova Scotia North, NDP voters would have elected an MP such as Pictou County councillor and teacher David K. Parker or Cape Breton health care worker and CUPE rep Kathy MacLeod.
 
Prince Edward Island
 
Conservative voters would have elected a second MP, such as former MLA and cabinet minister Mike Currie or Charlottetown teacher-librarian Donna Profit.
 
Newfoundland and Labrador
 
Conservative voters would have elected a second MP, such as former MP Fabian Manning or lawyer and former provincial cabinet minister John Ottenheimer.