Friday, November 3, 2017

What would Ontario’s 2014 election results have been with Proportional Representation?

BC’s NDP government is moving to implement Proportional Representation. What would Ontario’s 2014 election results have been with proportional representation?

Andrea Horwath wants to make every vote count
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath told a public Town Hall event Oct. 18 “proportional representation makes a lot of sense, it has always been one of the things New Democrats have supported and believed in. It brings you a government that’s more reflective of the community at large, we see governments with that voting system have many more women elected to office, and greater diversity.”

Every MPP represents actual voters and real communities
We’re not talking about a model with candidates appointed by central parties. We’re talking about the mixed member system designed by the Law Commission of Canada and endorsed by the Ontario NDP Convention in 2014, where every MPP represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today, preserving the traditional link between voter and MPP. The other 40% are elected as regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party.

You have two votes. One is for your local MPP. The second helps elect regional MPs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. The ballot would look like this ballot that PEI voters chose in 2016.

Unlike the closed-list MMP model Ontario voters did not support in 2007, you can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. This is commonly called “open list.” All MPPs have faced the voters. No one is guaranteed a seat. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.

The ten missing NDP MPPs.
If all NDP voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected ten more MPPs in 2014.

In Toronto NDP voters cast 22% of the votes but elected only two MPPs, missing three more like Michael Prue and Jonah Schein and Tom Rakocevic or Rosario Marchese or Paul Ferreira.

In East Central Ontario NDP voters cast 20% of the votes but elected no one, missing two like Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland and Peterborough’s Sheila Wood.

In West Central Ontario (Waterloo—Bruce—Simcoe) NDP voters cast 19% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing two more like Jan Johnstone from Bruce County and Guelph’s James Gordon.

In Peel and Halton NDP voters cast 18% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing one more like Brampton’s Gurpreet Dhillon or Gugni Gill Panaich.

In York and Durham Regions NDP voters cast 17% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing one more like York Region lawyer Laura Bowman.

In the Ottawa-Cornwall region NDP voters cast 14% of the votes but elected no one, missing one like Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie or Cornwall’s Elaine MacDonald.

The five missing Green MPPs
Green voters cast 8.3% of the votes in West Central Ontario, and deserved to elect their leader Mike Schreiner who got 19% of the votes in Guelph. They cast 5.5% of the votes in Ottawa—Cornwall region, and deserved to elect someone like Dave Bagler or Kevin O’Donnell. They cast 4.5% of the votes in Peel and Halton, and deserved to elect Karren Wallace who got 17% of the votes in Dufferin-Caledon. They cast 3.9% of the votes in Toronto, and deserved to elect someone like Tim Grant or Rachel Power. They cast 3.7% of the votes in York—Durham, and deserved to elect someone like David Elgie, son of Ontario cabinet minister Bob Elgie.

How would regional MPs serve residents?

The parade of strongholds continued in 2014
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.

Ontario’s accidental majority government, elected to stop Tim Hudak, looks dominated by the GTA. Almost two-thirds of Liberal MPPs are from the GTA.
Invisible Liberal voters
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.

Proportional representation is not a partisan issue.
Our winner-take-all system left many invisible Liberal voters outside the GTA unheard in the government caucus. Like all those Alberta and Saskatchewan Liberals whose voices are seldom heard in Ottawa.

If all Liberal voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected MPPs like Terry Johnson in Chatham, Mike Radan in Middlesex, and Dr. Catherine Whiting in North Bay.

Unrepresented conservative voters
Meanwhile, the official opposition has a mirror image of the same problem. Their caucus has no representative of the 205,996 Toronto Progressive Conservative voters, and only four from the rest of the GTA. Yet, in West Central Ontario, where only 37% of voters voted PC, they elected eight of those 13 MPPs. In East Central Ontario, where only 40% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those eight MPPs. In Southwestern Ontario, where only 32% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those 11 MPPs.

False Majorities
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

Overall, a fair voting system would have let voters elect 42 Liberals, 33 PCs, 27 NDP and five 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?

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.”

The 2014 election was all about rejection of Tim Hudak’s platform. In the process, voters accidentally elected a government with a manufactured majority of MPPs supported by less than 39% of voters. It has no legislative accountability to representatives of the majority of voters.

Competing MPs
Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.” The Law Commission model would give citizens competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in their area. Scotland uses regions of 16 MPs, Wales 12. I’m assuming a typical region would have 11 MPPs: seven local, four regional “top-up.” Generally, three of today’s ridings become two larger local ridings.

There's more. With two votes, you can vote for the party you want in government. And you can also vote for the local candidate you like best regardless of party, without hurting your party, since it's the second ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 30% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand with a similar system.

Fair Vote Canada says “A democratic voting system must encourage citizens to exercise positive choice by voting for the candidate or party they prefer.”

Accountable MPPs
With the same 107 MPPs we have today, I’m assuming 65 MPPs would still be elected from larger local ridings, and 42 MPPs would be elected regionally. These regions are large enough that voters for every major party would be represented in every region.

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

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

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

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

No central party direction
The models in Ontario and PEI which failed referendums had closed province-wide lists for the additional “top-up” MPPs. This failure was no surprise to the Jenkins Commission. Jenkins said top-up MPs locally anchored to small areas are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

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

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

The calculation for any PR system has to choose a rounding method, to round fractions up and down. I have used the “largest remainder” calculation, which Germany used until recently, because it is the simplest and most transparent. In a 10-MLA region, if Party A deserves 3.2 MLAs, Party B deserves 3.1, Party C deserves 2.3, and Party D deserves 1.4, which party gets the tenth seat? Party D has a remainder of 0.4, the largest remainder. In a region where one party wins a bonus (“overhang”), I allocate the remaining seats among the remaining parties by the same calculation.

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.