Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MMP: Democracy or Bust

10/10 has arrived! And today's the day Ontario makes it's Big Decision. Mr. Kitty and I will be casting our vote for electoral reform. On accounta the fact that the polls will close in a few hours, I'm gonna keep this post brief. And yes, by 'brief,' I mean lazy ;)

I am reprising my original endorsement of MMP. Please take the time to read it and consider casting your vote for REAL democracy!

Mark it down: Democracy is Coming to Ontario on Oct. 10, 2007:

Yes, 10/10 is the date: Ontario is the place.

Question: Aren't you sick of elections where a party can win 60% of the seats, and 100% of the power, with a paltry 40% share of the vote? And what if I like Candidate X, but I know his/her Party leadership doesn't have a snowball's chance in...Cancun? I's all very silly.

Come October 10, 2007, Ontarians will have a chance to change all of this.

You know, a few weeks ago I put up a "Vote for MMP" button on my sidebar (it's ok if you didna notice...*sniff*). I uploaded the button shortly after learning about this campaign on Facebook, but I neglected to 'splain what it was all aboot. So. What is this MMP you speak of? Is it another vaccine? Do I have cooties?

It's Mixed Member Proportional Representation. Panic not, mes amis, this campaign's low on wonk and high on...uh...tonk? In any case, MMP is so easy a kitteh could figgur it out ;)

Step 1. Cut a hole in the box... Sorry.

Step 1: Vote for your "preferred local candidate"
Step 2: Cast a second vote for your "preferred political party."
Step 3: Elections Canada pixies will descend on the scene and take it from there:
The share of these votes that each party wins will determine its overall share of seats in the legislature.
If after the 90 riding seats are filled, a party has fewer seats than its portion of the party vote, that party wins some of the additional 39 provincial (or at-large) seats to ensure it has its fair share of the total seats. These at-large representatives are elected from provincial lists of candidates nominated by each party in advance of the election. Voters can judge these at-large candidates, as well as local candidates, and vote accordingly.
Huh? Lists? "At-large representatives?!" Whatchu talkin'bout Willis?:
Here's an election example: Party X gets 30 per cent of the party votes, but when riding results are tallied, they have a share of seats that is 10 short of the 30 per cent of the seats they deserve. In that case, Party X will also gain 10 at-large seats, with their top ten at-large candidates winning those seats.
But wait! I'm still worried: I'm not sure I trust Party X to fill their list with the people I like. What do I do?
I have confidence that Dr. Dawg and CuriosityCat will assuage your fears. Here's Dr. Dawg:
The Ontario Citizens' Assembly specifically recommended that parties be required to make public their method of list creation by submitting their selection process to the non-partisan Elections Ontario, which would then publish that information widely. Electors could see, for example, if backroom party hacks or cronies of the Premier have been awarded the list positions, or if, on the other hand, the parties have a more democratic and open process, that does something, for example, about the representation of women and minorities, geographic balance, and so on.
...and the Cat:
The fact that the MMP system proposed does not lay out rules for the names on the individual list being chosen is not a negative at all. In fact, it allows individual parties to decide on their own criteria, and voters will be better served by this happening. If you feel that the Liberals are not doing enough to ensure that women are represented in Parliament, and their list continues this trend, but the Tories, for example, are, you can cast your vote accordingly. Only those who fear the power of the ordinary voter should be running scared of this wonderful grassroots democratic option.
Ah yes. Dawg and Cat bring up an important point. A more diverse legislature is one of the best byproducts of MMP. Equal Voice and Fair Vote Canada have studied this issue and found that, compared to our clunky first-past-the-post system, women are bound to gain much better representation under PR. And bonus: wouldn't it be cool to kick Sweden's ass?


(Sample MMP ballot image courtesy of Equal Voice)



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