Submission to Ontario Citizens Assembly

I have had on my TODO for a long time to make a submission to the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform. The time never came, so today I just quickly wrote something and sent it in. It doesn't have the polish I wanted, but at least my views will be included.

Please consider sending in your own views as well! No matter what your political issue, having a more legitimate and accountable government is important.

The issue that is of greatest concern to me is "Vote splitting". Almost every Canadian election is focused not on who we want to see elected, but who we fear being elected. Eradicating this problem should be, in my opinion, the most important issue in electoral reform.

Once we modernize away from the First Past the Post (FPTP) system, I have different preferences for the alternative.

My first choice would be some sort of Mixed Member system that had a ranked ballot for the local representative, and then a separate question on the ballot for a single choice of party.

The ranked ballot (Instant Runoff, STV, etc) would ensure that local representation (either by riding or by city when the city has large enough population) would still be strong, and that independents would have a chance to represent us in the house. I worry that there is too much control over politics by parties, and want to see some independents. That said, I realize that many Ontarians (North Americans) seem to focus on the party and party leaders, and aren't always aware of the local candidates at all.

I should be able to vote for a candidate in a riding I think is best, and then separately the party, given there have been many times I have voted for a local candidate despite (not because of) the party banner they were running under.

Proportional Representation would then be used to "top up" parties who don't elect enough candidates directly via the ridings. Parties should be expected to publish party lists in the order that they would be appointed, so that there would be no surprises after the election.

A second choice to a MMP would be to just adopt a ranked ballot, and a second to last choice (Last choice being the status-quo) would be a pure Proportional Representation system. There are many options in between, such as ranked ballots with multi-member districts that internally merge some of the advantages of ranked ballots and proportional representation.

I am aware that any reform that included ranked ballots and/or proportional representation would lead to more parties or other interests represented in the government. I don't consider having "majority governments" to be a feature when a majority of the population did not vote for candidates for that party. These governments have little legitimacy to govern in my opinion.

Coalition governments made up of representatives that more closely match the voters wishes is far more desirable than majority governments. Majority governments may be "stable", but so were Monarchies and Dictatorships historically and we generally don't consider these governance structures to be desirable.

Under a FPTP system, people don't feel that their vote counts. I believe this is legitimate as, in many cases, their vote didn't actually count for anything, nor in many cases did their vote reflect their actual wishes (IE: they voted against someone, rather than for someone). I believe that modernizing the electoral system will lead to greater voter turnout.

In Minority or coalition governments, the entire parliament is responsible for decisions made. In Majority Governments, sometimes called "temporarily elected dictatorships" it is only the governing party that really has any say in decisions, and thus all responsibility lies with them. I consider minority and coalitions to be far more accountable, and able to work towards common goals shared by a majority of constituents, than majority governments.

Russell McOrmond

This became an article on p2pnet