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, September 22, 2007

Andrew Coyne on MMP

The National Post's Andrew Coyne had a really good article on Ontario's Mixed-Member-Proportional referendum today... and it's actually making me think twice about my opposition to MMP. It's called, "Why conservatives should support proportional representation", and I STRONGLY recommend that you give it a read... it's a good series of thoughts on why conservatives should consider supporting MMP.

All along, my main stated opposition has been this... I don't trust Liberals. My view is that MMP will allow them to become a defacto-governing party in Ontario, because they'll typically have enough support to always be the party to broker a deal with, and that it would cause this province to turn further to the left... which would be horrific economically.

However, there's another underlying reason I've not been supporting MMP that I never fully realized until now... I've not wanted to support MMP because, in reality, I mistrust conservatives even more than I mistrust liberals.

"Huh?" you might be saying... let me explain.

With all the reading I've been doing over the last couple of years, from the host of books on Trudeau and the Liberals, to the biographies on Stephen Harper, and various other works on conservatism in general, one underlying truth has come to the forefront over and over again... conservatives for the last, oh, hundred years, have had a tendency to shoot our wounded, or to scream and shout and take our ball and go home when we don't get our way. We've been divisive, fractured, and too easily annoyed when things seem to be going south. Instead of shutting up and putting in the necessary hard work to make things right when we see them going wrong, we all to often go and do something that only hurts the cause of conservatism at large.

I've been opposed to MMP because I know for a fact that the current incarnation of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party will fall apart, and be fractured into one main and two or three (or four or five) smaller parties. Meanwhile, I know the Liberals will do everything they can to hold together, and while they may lose some of their left flank to the NDP, they'll likely be able to hold enough together to make them the natural governing party who will most likely be able to form a coalition, keeping them in the Premier's office perpetually, at least for the first few elections. Therefore, because of the typically divise nature of the conservative movement in general, and my concern that we would be plunged into a defacto Liberal rule that would ruin this province, I've been reluctant to support MMP.

However, reading Andrew Coyne's article today has made me rethink things a little bit. With all my issues over John Tory's faith-based school funding, to the reasons why I won't likely take out a PC membership (because I'm not "Progressive"), I think I've come to a new conclusion about the current state of affairs, and as a result, about MMP... if MMP will cause a split-up of the current PC party, and a realignment of conservative options in Ontario... THEN BRING IT ON.

Any such split up would likely result in a truly "conservative" option here in Ontario. A party that will reduce taxes; who will keep its nose out of moral issues; who will actually deal with crime by punishing offenders and restoring respect for the rule of law and the legal system; who will take the steps required to stabilize our healthcare system and deal with the issues surrounding wait times and the overbloated bureaucracy within it; and who will finally push forward the conservative ideals that the best form of support for the poor is a steady, good paying job, and not another government program or cheque.

If MMP can get us on the way to that, then you know what? Even though there will be a few years of pain while the conservative movement gets their act together, then maybe, just maybe, it will be all worthwhile. (besides... if you really think about it, since we're already two or three different groups within the PC Party, maybe we'll be able to respond faster than the left and put together a working coalition in shorter order than my initial predictions)

Thanks for your thoughts Andrew Coyne... I'm still not set yet, but I'll be making my decision over the next few days... stay tuned.

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  • At Sat. Sep. 22, 04:54:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Joanne (True Blue) said…

    Interesting perspective, CC. I was almost ready to jump on your bandwagon, but then reality hit me over the head.

    How much support do you think that such a party as you have envisioned would garner? Enough to form a government? What parties would align with such a 'politically-right' option in the real world?

    I'm not saying you're wrong but the likelihood of a right-wing party to have enough clout to bring forward the issues that you (and I) would champion is probably quite remote.

    This is Lemmingland, remember? The province of "how much will you give me?"

    It might work in Alberta, but I doubt it would work here.

    Just my two cents. I plan to do a post of my own on this after I've though it over a bit more though.

  • At Sat. Sep. 22, 04:58:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Joanne (True Blue) said…

    s/b "thought" it over. ;)

  • At Sat. Sep. 22, 05:47:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Steve said…

    I'm with Joanne on this.

    Let's suppose a true "conservative" option did emerge under an MMP system. They might get 15% of the vote, and under MMP get some MLAs to represent your views at Queen's Park.

    Now what?

    What coalition government might they join that they would actually influence government policy? I suspect those views would be immediately marginalized like they are now. MMP won't change that.

  • At Sat. Sep. 22, 06:38:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger TJ said…

    Any proportional-based system in practical terms guarantees the bulk of elected officials will be political climbers. Bureaucrats will have a better chance at entering and staying in politics than private sector people.
    Rep by pop destroys the connection between the elected and the local elector. It is little better than governing through national town halls/mob rule.

  • At Sat. Sep. 22, 09:27:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Joanne (True Blue) said…

    Steve, I think the answer might be to try to help the population see how choosing parties that pander to their immediate gratification has long-term negative consequences - Not an easy thing to do.

    But yeah, MMP does nothing to remedy that problem, and may only serve to exasperate it.

  • At Sat. Sep. 22, 09:40:00 p.m. EDT, Anonymous Cool Blue said…

    The PCs would split up as you say and the Libs might lose some on the left.

    IMO, MMP might result in a new "natural governing party" of center-right Liberals and Red Tories.

    These guys would then depend on the support of either the Blue-Tory and/or So-Con party on the right or the NDP and/or Greens on the left in order to pass legislation.

  • At Sat. Sep. 22, 11:11:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own said…

    I always think this is funny coming from Conservatives: "My view is that MMP will allow [the Liberals] to become a defacto-governing party in Ontario, because they'll typically have enough support to always be the party to broker a deal with, and that it would cause this province to turn further to the left... which would be horrific economically".

    Well, today, the Liberals have 70% of the seats with only 47% of the vote, and can pretty much ignore everybody else.

    Is that really any better?

    Plus, in the long view, the TORIES have traditionally won the most votes in Ontario, so it is THEM who would first be asked to form a government, not the Liberals. Plus, in 2007 the difference between the Tories and the Liberals (as Coyne points out) are really at the margins. I think cool blue's notion of a Blue Liberal / Red Tory coalition developing is entirely possible.

    I also happen to think Ontarians would like that.

  • At Sun. Sep. 23, 06:55:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger trustonlymulder said…

    my opposition comes from the fact that i do not want 40+ parties the way Italy has. Or a minority every election the way New Zealand has since they moved to MMP.

    There are numerous small interest groups that would garner 3% to get their seat. Ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and numerous other groups would have seats in no time at all.

    This MMP system opens a can of worms that I simply do not want to see opened. The time taken to form coalitions could be better spent working on good sound policy for the people and not bickering or *gasp* backroom politics full of pork barrelling to garner favours.

    My tax dollars are too precious to try to hold 10 or 15 parties responsible. would give us a great amount to blog about.


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