26 months

An email arrived in my inbox last week titled

26 months until the biggest election in Canadian history

courtesy of our friends at Leadnow.ca. Now, I’m not sure if it’s hyperbole – the 2011 election felt huge to me, and was arguably the ‘biggest’ (definition??) in Canadian history because it led to the Conservatives forming a majority government for the first time ever, which gave them the unchecked power to execute the Great Leader’s plans to destroy Canada.

Or to be precise, his plans which will destroy Canada.

I haven’t thought about the 2015 election in months now – since the Liberal leader election in April, probably – but now’s a good time as any.

I came across this neat little infographic/tool from the folks at orphandvoter.ca. What these ‘simulations’ need to remind everyone, though, is that a switch to proportional representation or mixed member proportional does not only change the technical way of counting votes, thus the numerical proportion of seat allocation, but also the way voters vote – and even whether or not they vote.

Duverger called this the technical effect and the psychological effect. The psychological effect means that PR frees tens if not hundreds of thousands of voters from the poison of strategic voting as well as encourage no-shows to get their behinds to a polling station because their vote might finally count for something.

Electoral reform in Canada really is my passion… that’s been clear for over a year now. Geographically speaking I am poorly positioned to join the (grassroots) campaign.

But as I read the rhetoric by Fair Vote Canada and Leadnow, there are a couple of things I want to make clear:

  1. I support electoral reform because I want a fairer process of how we elect our politicians and government. A nice side effect of such reform is that a party that I dislike intensely (the CPC) will likely win fewer seats than otherwise. But while this could be the rallying cry of electoral reform advocates, it should not be. Why? Because it would alienate Conservative voters. It also dilutes the legitimacy of our demand. This is not and should not be a partisan demand; this is a democractic demand. It is a reform of process, not result.
  2. An NDP-Liberal merger is not in the realm of possibilities. The two parties are fundamentally different: one is a labour-based, welfare state proponent that up until a few months ago identified itself with the socialist movements of the world, and the other a socially progressive, fiscally conservative centrist. Their policy platforms are different.
  3. 39.6% is the percentage, to one d.p., of votes cast for the Conservative party last election. This number, even when the first decimal point is omitted, cannot be rounded down to 39%. I understand the increased impact of holding a placard with “39%” rather than “40%”. Trust me, I understand this and wish to god that it really were 39%. But it wasn’t. So if we still want to keep using a percentage in the 30s – which we do – give it one d.p. for god’s sake! Saying “39%” is a falsehood, pure and simple. A campaign’s legitimacy is gained through honesty.
  4. Let’s not lump electoral reform with other policy issues. They are obviously linked, of course, but this is about democracy and legislative representation. As with my desire not to alienate Conservative voters, I don’t want an electoral reform campaign to alienate those who are not necessarily opposed to electoral reform but are to the other policy stances the campaign may have taken. For example, I see on Fair Vote Canada’s weekend workshop website a graphical image of someone with a “Make Every Vote Count” sign alongside signs showing a wind turbine; the recycling sign; a call for climate action; and something about income inequality. While electoral reform will affect each and every one of these things, they are not very closely and certainly not intrinsically connected.



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