Monday, December 1, 2014

Ontario’s 2014 election results with proportional representation

What would Ontario’s 2014 election results be with proportional representation?

I’m not talking about classic “list-PR” with candidates appointed by central parties. I’m talking about the model designed by the Law Commission of Canada, where every Member of Parliament represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today. The others are elected as regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. You can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.

True, most people are focussed on the 2015 federal campaign. So is Fair Vote Canada, which has over 44,000 signers on the Declaration of Voters’ Rights.

But Ontario’s 2014 election is a great example of what PR would do for voters.

Invisible Liberal voters
Ontario’s surprise majority government looks dominated by the GTA. Almost two-thirds of Liberal MPPs are from the GTA.

But electing a Liberal MPP in the GTA took only 25,326 votes, while it took 45,026 outside the GTA. In the GTA 962,385 Liberal voters elected 38 MPPs, while outside the GTA, 900,522 Liberal voters elected only 20 MPPs.

That’s because our winner-take-all system left many invisible Liberal voters outside the GTA unheard in the government caucus. Like all those Alberta Liberals whose voices are seldom heard in Ottawa.

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

Voters for parties with geographic strongholds elect governments with false majorities, thanks to the seat bonus from their strongholds. Voters for parties with no strongholds, like the Greens, have no voice at Queen’s Park

Proportional representation for Ontario
What would an Ontario PR system look like? Similar to the model recommended by the Law Commission of Canada, and endorsed by the Ontario NDP Convention Nov. 14.

It preserves the traditional link between voter and MPP by keeping local riding seats.

You will have two votes. One is for your local MPP. The second helps elect regional MPs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. You can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list.

The majority of MPPs will still be elected in local ridings. Just over 40% of MPPs will be elected regionally in “top-up” regions. 

Ontario will have more MPPs. The new federal map gives Ontario 121 MPs, including nine north of the French River. But all three parties have it very clear that they are in favour of maintaining the 10 ridings north of the French River, which makes 122 MPPs. However, constitutionally, most northern ridings must be within 25% of the provincial average. To do this, southern Ontario (including Muskoka District) will have to have seven more MPPs, bringing the total to 129.

A manufactured majority
In a truly democratic system, parties representing a true majority of voters would have to work together. As former Attorney-General John Gerretsen liked to say, “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.”

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

2014 results
Between 2011 and 2014, the NDP vote share rose from 22.7% to 23.7%, the Liberal vote share rose from 37.7% to 38.6%, and the Green vote share rose from 2.9% to 4.8%, while the PC vote share slid from 35.4% to 31.3%.

Those small swings gave the Liberals five more MPPs, and the NDP four, while the PCs slid nine.

Parade of strongholds
The parade of strongholds continued.

In Central and Mid-east Ontario Progressive Conservative voters cast 39% of those votes but elected seven of those 11 MPPs, 64%.

Although NDP voters elected seven more MPPs than in 2011 (while also losing three seats), all but two of the seven new seats were from their Southwestern Ontario stronghold (three), and their Hamilton—Niagara and Northern strongholds (one each). In Northern Ontario NDP voters cast 42% of those votes, but elected six of those ten MPPs, 60%.

Toronto Liberal voters cast 49% of the Toronto votes, but elected 91% of Toronto’s MPPs, 20 of the 22. In Peel and Halton regions Liberal voters cast 46% of those votes, but elected ten of those 11 MPPs, 91%. In York and Durham Regions, Liberal voters cast 43% of those votes, but elected eight of those 12 MPPs, 67%.

Fair results
Overall, a fair voting system would have let voters in 2014 elect 42 Liberals, 34 PCs, 26 New Democrats and five Greens. With 129 MPPs, that’s 51 Liberals, 41 PCs, 31 NDP, and six Greens.

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

Outside the GTA
Outside the GTA, PC voters cast 33% of the votes, yet elected 40% of the MPPs.

Southwest Ontario (London—Windsor)
Southwest Ontario Liberal voters in the 11 ridings of the London to Windsor region cast 23% of those votes, but elected only one MPP. With the model described here, they would have elected two more MPPs, such as Windsor’s Teresa Piruzza and Chatham’s Terry Johnson, or London’s Nick Steinburg or Woodstock’s Dan Moulton.

Northern Ontario
Northern Ontario Liberal voters would have elected one more MPP such as Sudbury’s Andrew Olivier or North Bay’s Catherine Whiting. PC voters would have elected one more MPP such as Kenora’s Randy Nickle or Timmins’ Steve Black.

Central and Mid-East Ontario (Barrie—Kingston)
NDP voters in this region cast 18% of those votes but those silenced voters elected no MPP. They would have elected two MPPs such as Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland and Kawartha Lakes’ Don Abel, or Peterborough’s Sheila Wood or Belleville’s Merrill Stewart or Orillia’s Doris Middleton. Liberal voters would have elected another MPP such as Kawartha Lakes’ Rick Johnson or Belleville’s Georgina Thompson. Green voters would have elected an MPP such as Huntsville’s Matt Richter or Barrie’s Bonnie North.

Central West Ontario (Waterloo—Bruce)
NDP voters in this region cast 21% of those votes yet elected only one MPP. They would have elected two more, such as Kincardine’s Jan Johnstone and Kitchener’s Margaret Johnston or James Villeneuve, or Cambridge’s Bobbi Stewart. Liberal voters would have elected one more MPP, such as Listowel’s Stewart Skinner or Waterloo Region’s Wayne Wright. Green voters would have elected an MPP, no doubt Leader Mike Schreiner.

NDP voters in the Ottawa-Cornwall-Pembroke region cast 14% of those votes, yet elected no MPP. They would have elected two MPPs such as Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie and Cornwall’s Elaine MacDonald, or Ottawa’s Hervé Ngamby or Prescott’s Isabelle Sabourin. Green voters would have elected an MPP such as Dave Bagler or Kevin O'Donnell.

PC voters in this region would have elected two more MPPs such as Niagara Falls’ Bart Maves and Burlington’s Jane McKenna or Ancaster’s Donna Skelly. Green voters would have elected an MPP such as Hamilton’s Peter Ormond or Beamsville’s Basia Krzyzanowski.

Across the GTA, NDP voters cast 20% of the votes, but elected only 9% of the MPPs. Progressive Conservative voters cast 28% of the votes but elected only 7% of the MPPs. The PC caucus has no representative of the 205,996 Toronto PC voters, and only three from the rest of the GTA.

Central Toronto—Scarborough
In those 11 ridings, NDP voters cast 26% of the votes but elected 9% of the MPPs. PC voters cast 20% of those votes, but elected no MPPs. With the model described here, NDP voters would have elected two more MPPs such as Michael Prue and Jonah Schein or Rosario Marchese or Jessie Macaulay or Neethan Shan. PC voters would have elected three such as Liang Chen (she is an Associate Dean at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, an Accounting professor with a Ph.D. from OISE), Justine Deluce and Raymond Cho or Ken Kirupa. Green Party voters would have elected an MPP such as Tim Grant or Rachel Power.

North York—Etobicoke-York
In those 11 ridings, NDP voters cast 19% of the votes but elected only one MPP. PC voters cast 27% of the votes but elected no MPPs.  NDP voters would have elected another MPP such as Tom Rakocevic, Paul Ferreira or Nigel Barriffe. PC voters would have elected four MPPs such as Doug Holyday, Robin Martin (she is a lawyer and Government Relations Consultant), Michael Ceci and Pina Martino or Avi Yufest or Angela Kennedy.

NDP voters in this region would have elected two more MPPs such as Brampton’s Gurpreet Dhillon and Gugni Gill Panaich or Mississauga’s Michelle Bilek or Fayaz Karim, or Oakville's Che Marville. PC voters cast 29% of the votes in this region, but elected no one. They would have elected four MPPs such as Oakville’s Larry Scott, Milton’s Ted Chudleigh, and Mississauga’s Effie Triantafilopoulos and Jeff White, or Mississauga’s Nina Tangri or Brampton’s Amarjeet Gill. Green voters would have elected an MPP such as Brampton’s Pauline Thornham or Oakville’s Andrew Chlobowski.

NDP voters in this region would have elected two more MPPs such as Holland Landing’s Laura Bowman and Whitby’s Ryan Kelly or Markham’s Nadine Kormos Hawkins or Thornhill’s Cindy Hackelberg or Clarington’s Derek Spence. PC voters would have elected three more MPPs such as Stouffville’s Farid Wassef, Newmarket’s Jane Twinney, and Bowmanville’s Mike Patrick, or Vic Gupta from Richmond Hill, or Markham’s Shan Thayaparan.

No central party direction
Back in 2007, Ontario voters did not support a proposal for the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system modelled on the one used in Germany and New Zealand, with closed province-wide lists for the additional “top-up” MPPs. This failure was no surprise to the Jenkins Commission. Jenkins said top-up MPs locally anchored to small areas are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

Fair Vote Canada says “The supporters of all candidates and political parties must be fairly represented in our legislatures in proportion to votes cast.”
Competing MPPs
The Law Commission model would give citizens competing MPs: a local MPP, and a few regional MPPs from a “top-up region” based in their area. Scotland uses regions of 16 MPs, Wales 12. I’m assuming a typical Ontario region would have 13 MPPs: eight local, five regional “top-up.” These regions are large enough that voters for every major party would be represented in every region. Generally, with more MPPs, ten of today’s ridings become seven larger local ridings.

Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”
More voter choice
There's more. With two votes, you can vote for the party you want in government. And you can also vote for the local candidate you like best regardless of party, without hurting your party, since it's the second ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 32% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand’s last election with a similar system.

Fair Vote Canada says “A democratic voting system must encourage citizens to exercise positive choice by voting for the candidate or party they prefer.”
Power to the voters
An exciting prospect: voters have new power to elect who they like. New voices from new forces in the legislature, more voter choice. No one party rolls the dice and wins an artificial majority. Cooperation will have a higher value than vitriolic rhetoric. One-party dominance by the Premier’s office will, at last, be out of fashion. Governments will have to listen to MPPs, and MPPs will have to really listen to the people. MPPs can act as the public servants they are supposed to be.

Regional MPPs
Who would those regional MPPs be? First, each party would hold regional nomination meetings and/or vote online to nominate their regional candidates. These would often be the same people nominated locally, plus a few additional regional candidates. The meeting would decide what rank order each would have on the regional ballot. But then voters in the region would have the final choice.

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

Poll results support PR
Poll results have shown for 13 years that at least 70% of Canadians support PR.

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

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

Polls show that 90% of Canadian voters would like to see more women elected. If they can choose from several of their party's regional candidates, they'll almost certainly elect more women. And as long as a party is nominating at least five regional candidates, you can expect them to nominate a diverse group. With four regional MPs from a region, and seven local MPs, a major party would want more than five regional candidates, since any candidates who win local seats are removed from contention for regional seats.

This model would help reflect in the Legislature the diversity of society, removing barriers to the nomination and election of candidates from groups now underrepresented including women, cultural minorities and Aboriginals. For example, the PC caucus would be far more diverse.

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

The rounding method used in the simulation is highest remainder, for the same reason the Ontario Citizens Assembly chose it: it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of the 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets any small region sizes. With top-up regions of about 13 MPPs each, the results are very close to perfect proportionality. Green Party voters elect the six MPPs they deserve. Due to rounding effects over 10 regions, the Liberals get a bonus of one MPP at the cost of the PCs.

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

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