Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Why I'm not supporting MMP this October

Just finished watching the video on MMP posted by Liberals 4 MMP, and I figured it was time to chime in with my two cents.

I've been giving it lots of thought, I think I've come up with my official postion on the MMP question this October... and I've decided that I can't support it. Why? I'll be honest... it's because I don't want to make the Liberals the defacto governing party here in Ontario.

Here are some of the major reasons why I can't support MMP:

1) It is my belief that the Liberals, the shrewd political operators that they are, would be able to maintain the middle, and form coalitions with whomever it is most expedient for them to be able to continue governing.

2) Based on the above, it would be very difficult for the Tories to win the majority needed to displace the defacto governing Liberals, which would thus plunge Ontario into a single-party-rule system, rather than the ebbs and flows we currently experience.

3) Under MMP, there would likely be the formation of a couple of other right leaning parties, which would only allow the Liberals to win more riding based seats... the Tories and the right leaning parties would end up getting mostly proportional seats, thus allowing the Liberals to still win a majority based on the seat distribution between local MPP's vs. proportional MPP's.

For the record, I actually support the ideals of MMP. I like the idea of getting more equal representation, and allowing for coalitions governments that better reflect the interests of the people. However, I know that the Liberal Party of Ontario, due its present form, would prevent Ontario from seeing any of the stated benefits of MMP.

Under MMP, the left and the centre-right would end up getting split up, as smaller parties would be able to actually get representation, needing only 3% of the vote to gain a proportional seat. It's my view that under this system, the Liberals would be better able to hold their coalitions together, and maintain a bigger Party than the other two current major parties, and thus be able to maintain power, becoming a defacto governing party.

Thus, it is my view that MMP is actually BAD for those on the left, right, or centre-right, as it would allow the centre-left Liberals to continually govern. True, it may give parties like the NDP more seats to start out, however, I firmly believe that it will hurt them in the long run, as their party will be unable to keep their various factions together, and we'll see a rise in support for other leftist groups like the Greens, the Communists, and the Marxist-Lenninists. (yes, there are two seperate groups) The centre-right would also get partially split up, with the Tories maintaining the centre, with the formation of at least one further right party, thus splitting their support. (I'm sure there would be a couple of other tiny right leaning regional or single issue parties formed, but they would just be blips on the radar that would come and go between various elections)

Therefore, it is my position that MMP would ultimately be a bad thing for Ontario, as it would in actuallity lead to LESS representation, thus defeating it's original stated (and noble) goals.

So, until the Liberal Party gets split up, I can't support MMP. It would give them to much of an advantage, and would result in making them nearly impossible to displace. (I mean, come on, seriously, think about it... why else do you think they support it?) ;-)

Feel free to chime in, pro or con... I'm not 100% firm in my choice, because as I said, I like the stated ideals of it, but I just can't see it working effectively here in Ontario.

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  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 12:37:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So partisan and no thought to democracy.


    My problem with it - (minority situation) if parties were divided so that each has an impact on the outcome of an issue - nothing would get accomplished - constant bickering.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 01:25:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Cool Blue said…

    I came to the same conclusion as you a few months ago.

    I also believe that we'll see a number of one-issue parties appear and possibly elect MMP MPPS, such as:

    - anti-immigration / neo-nazi party
    - a Chinese-Canadian party (possibly secretly backed by the Chinese government)
    - a Franco-Ontario party that will push for official bilingualism
    - a Muslim and/or pro-Sharia law party
    - a Sikh party
    - an African-Canadian party

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 01:35:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Dirk said…

    In an electoral region like Ontario, you'll rarely see a true blue conservative speak in favour of proportional representation. Why? Because hard right-leaning people are a minority in Ontario.

    Most people are in the middle, so the Liberal party, in its current form, probably would be most successful initially.

    The Ontario PCs could succeed in a PR system, but not with Mike Harris types in charge. Bill Davis, and even John Tory are hardly hard-right conservatives, and would be best described as borderline centrists.

    If you want your party to survive, it's got to appeal to enough people to get votes. If the way votes are counted change, the party needs to change. Simple.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 02:09:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    "So partisan and no thought to democracy."

    ??? Amm, Anon@12:37, did you even read my post? Yes, I'm partisan about it, however, my major concern with MMP is that it will DESTROY democracy in this province!

    A single party state is the antithisis to democracy, don't you think?

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 02:12:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Louise said…

    One more turn off for me is that with MMP the number of ridings would be reduced. I don't agree with making it more difficult for constituents to access their MPP. The more constituents an MPP has, the more difficult it makes their job of adequately representing our needs and concerns.

    Heavily organized and funded special interest groups already have a significant advantage over individual constituents. IMO,MMP would increase this divide.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 02:26:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Dirk said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 02:44:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Dirk said…

    All the above things said, I do think your predictions wouldn't pan out.

    "1) It is my belief that the Liberals [...] would be able to maintain the middle, and form coalitions with whomever it is most expedient for them to be able to continue governing."

    I disagree. With PR, the middle gets broken down by more parties. We'll see parties that cater only to rural voters, ethnic communities, or supporters of major issues (say, the environment). Coalitions will form, but that's good -- people that were previously under-represented in government now have a voice. You'll no longer need to be friends with the right people or cash to pay for lobbyists.

    "2) Based on the above, it would be very difficult for the Tories to win the majority needed to displace the defacto governing Liberals, which would thus plunge Ontario into a single-party-rule system, rather than the ebbs and flows we currently experience."

    As I've stated before, the parties that are serious about electoral success will adapt. In the countries where you see proportional representation, you never see single-party rule.

    "3) Under MMP, there would likely be the formation of a couple of other right leaning parties, which would only allow the Liberals to win more riding based seats... the Tories and the right leaning parties would end up getting mostly proportional seats, thus allowing the Liberals to still win a majority based on the seat distribution between local MPP's vs. proportional MPP's."

    You're assuming people will vote the same way they always have, which they more than likely will not. The Ontario Liberals typically count on around 30% of Ontario's votes. That number is often inflated by left-leaning people who are afraid of conservative governments so they vote Liberal instead of NDP/Green.

    Let's say we get PR, and new right-wing parties are created. Are you afraid that will threaten the PC party? It may pull some votes away, but it won't mean lost power -- elected representatives for these right-wing groups could ally with the Conservatives.

    Long story short, your worries and predictions do not account for many of the ripple effects that will change our political system if PR is to happen.

    One thing is certain: all the parties -- even the Liberals -- will need to change their approach in order to find success. And for that matter, what defines success will change.

    I really like the notion of PR. One's vote becomes far more meaningful.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 03:23:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Guelph First said…

    The fallacy is of course that an MMP system is more democratic and that all votes should count. All votes do count, it’s done at a local level and there are always winners and losers. Competition is good for business, for sports, for schooling and for politics.

    You are giving the parties way too much power here, I want the influence of party politics to decrease, and under an MMP system the exact opposite will happen. Right wing and left wing fringe parties will emerge out of the wood work and cripple the whole system. Are we ready for elections every six months?

    If the first person on a slate, for any party, is a complete ass, is hated by the electorate but has the backing of the party, that person will always become an MPP. I like the local candidate but “Bill” who is on party “B’s list” is an ass, well you voted for “Bill” whether you wanted too or not.

    The biggest problem is that the whole system needs to be fixed, not just one part of it. Perhaps a form of MMP will work down the road, but certainly not how it is planned out now. Computers? Direct voting on legislation?

    We’re fixing the transmission on a 1974 Pinto, when we should be trading in the whole damn car.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 03:27:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Dirk, again, I like the idea of PR on the whole too, however, I disagree with your thoughts, and think that my predictions on how things will play out is a more accurate reflection of the reality of our current political climate.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 03:28:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's your reason? You don't want a more meaningful democracy if it means you'll lose influence?

    You're a quack...thanks for clarifying it.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 03:38:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Greg said…

    CC I think you are being too pessimistic. I also think you are falling into the trap of believing people will continue to vote in the future as they have in the past.

    Guelph First, can you please give us an example, anywhere in the world (with evidence), that MMP causes elections every six months? If you are going to contribute to the discussion, you should at least know what you are talking about.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 03:43:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    "That's your reason? You don't want a more meaningful democracy if it means you'll lose influence?"

    Arrrrgh... (quietly smashing head against desk) Let's try this again... I'm saying the EXACT OPPOSITE, I don't like the current MMP proposal because it will give one party (the Liberals) TOO MUCH influence.

    I don't know about you, but that doesn't seem to make for a more "meaningful democracy" to me.

    As for my "influence", that's not the issue... the issue is ensuring that all the people who vote for Conservative parties have a chance to have their voices heard.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 03:59:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Greg, try Italy.

    Also try here. Some interesting concerns raised there:

    When Italy adopted its new electoral system in 1993, there were high hopes - both within the country and beyond its frontiers - that the new parliamentary election procedures would lead to a simplified political system, which would in turn produce stable, effective, long-lasting governments. So far, these have proved to be highly elusive goals: Italy has had eight governments over the course of the past eleven years, which on average have lasted a little more than a year in office. Although the electoral system has led to the rise of two broad electoral cartels on the right and the left, which have alternated in power, the party system remains highly fragmented; at the same time, the electoral alliances have proved to be rather fragile, compromising governmental stability in the process.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 05:11:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I will be supporting MMP in the election because I will get a positive choice in choosing the party that I want elected. I may choose the PCs, Liberals, NDP, Greens, or another party. MMP is meant to give voters greater choice in elections. Right now, I am lucky if I only get two effective parties in my riding. I would like 3, 4, 5, or 6 effective parties.

    We have seen CANada's New GOveRment (The Kan-ga-roos) under PM Harper work with the other parties for the past year and a half. Who says that right wing Conservatives can't perform in minority or coalition situations?

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 09:13:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Joanne (True Blue) said…

    Great analysis. I'm still on the fence on this one, but leaning your way. Please reintroduce this topic in the fall.

  • At Sat. Jul. 28, 10:22:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    MMP, PR, or FPP all have inherent flaws. Its always recieved by a vocal minority as the cure all to democracy when ever the next flavour of the moment pops up. But frankly without a way to check abuses of any system, it only takes some small concerted effort by a group of individuals to gain the upper hand and pervert what was supposed to "fix the democratic deficit".
    What really works to keep the any system of electing the representatives of the people is to get as many of the electorate to cast their vote as possible, the goal being 100% turn out.
    As long as folks are convinced they ar wasting their vote or it won't make any difference who they vote for, no system will reflect the will of the majority.

  • At Sun. Jul. 29, 01:07:00 a.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To be fair, when New Zeland switched it's electoral system a fair number of new political parties showed up on to the political stage. The same thing would happen in Ontario.

    Before the change of electoral systems, their political map looked much like ours. One Maori Nationalist party, one Liberal Party, One Social Demcoratic Party and One Conservative Party. But since then there have been many new parties on the stage. A Social Gospel Party (Tommy Douglas New Demcorats), a Christian conservative party, a Socialist Party and a Green Party.

    In Ontario I could see two new parties coming on the to the stage. The Christian Heritage Party and the Green Party. We might also see a libertarian party and a Social Gospel Party. So I wouldn’t worry too much about perpetual liberal governments, in my opinion a new electoral system might enhance national unity (no more regional voting blocks).

  • At Sun. Jul. 29, 04:57:00 a.m. EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with dirk.

    CC, just because you 'think' that the conservatives will loose influence does not mean that MMP is a bad system.
    Fair representation according to popular vote will be more democratic. This should not be a partisan decision!

    guelph first, re: elections six months comment, try switzerland: elections every four years with set election dates. Parties work together on a issue by issue basis. works pretty good actually.
    change is best achieved in small increments, people don't like a lot of change...

  • At Sun. Jul. 29, 08:49:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Greg said…

    The Italian model is not really compatible with what is being proposed in Ontario. And, although flawed, MMP is seen as an improvement over their previous electoral system. A better analogy would be New Zealand, since it is a Westminster style democracy and had parties analogous to Ontario's at the time of the switch from FPTP to MMP.

  • At Sun. Jul. 29, 08:53:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Greg said…

    I agree with Wild Rose Grit. I can see the growth of a Libertarian Party in Ontario, for example. One of the big complaints I hear from my Libertarian friends (and I do have some) is that the "Big Tent" Tories don't listen to them. If they formed their own party and had a reasonable chance for electing members (which they would in my opinion under MMP), the Tories would have a natural coalition partner, but would also have to work for it's support.

  • At Sun. Jul. 29, 10:54:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Ron said…

    Preserving the ability to win majority governments with minority shares of the vote is not democratic.

    Besides, as others have said, it would allow the growth of both right and left parties at the ballot box and then true coalitions while governing.

    As to this proposal, it is better than status quo but I would prefer the European "run-off" votes with the top two candidates if no one got 50% +1 in the first vote...

  • At Sun. Jul. 29, 02:05:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Dirk said…

    It should be mentioned that the video CC was referring to has no connection to the Liberal Party (of Ontario, or of Canada). This video was made by Ontario's Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, which was tasked with coming up with a recommendation for electoral reform. There's some useful information here:

  • At Sun. Jul. 29, 02:49:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Dirk said…

    "I ... think that my predictions on how things will play out is a more accurate reflection of the reality of our current political climate."

    And there's the problem with your analysis. The current political climate would be turned on its head with MMP. And for that matter, there are issues with your take on the current political climate.

    In the last election -- which was a very good one for the Liberals, they only managed to get 45% of the popular vote. Once voters have the opportunity to cast ballots for other parties, knowing that their votes won't be wasted, you'll see the Liberal party's numbers fall big time. I bet they'll still be able to win seats by winning ridings (local members), but I really don't see them winning seats from the party vote (list members).

    I don't see the left, as a whole, cozying up to the Liberal party -- the NDP certainly won't. A more likely scenario would be the NDP and PC party forming coalition governments, much like they did in the 1970s, with considerable success.

    The Green party is another variable here. They stand to gain a fair bit with MMP. I can see scenarios unfold where they'd join coalitions with either Conservatives or Liberals, but never with the NDP -- there's a too much animosity there.

    You referred to a fractured right, but things are equally, if not more, fractured on the left. Coalitions are the key, though. And precedent in Ontario and internationally show that left/right coalitions are what we can safely expect.

    But all that said, things always change, sometimes rapidly. Who would have thought that David Peterson's libs would get so soundly defeated in 1990? All it takes is a spicy scandal for voters to turn on a party. Just ask Paul Martin or the Kim Campbell era PC'ers.

    Bottom line: there's no way the Liberals are guaranteed to be the permanent ruling party under MMP.


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