Wednesday, May 30, 2007

MMP : 3% is not Fringe

One of the arguments against implementing mixed member proportional is that traditionally "fringe parties" will receive representation in the legislature.

An individual elected under this system will either have to have:

  • Won a local riding under first past the post.
  • Been named to a a party's list. The party as a whole must garner 3% of the popular vote to have a candidate selected off the list. In this case, 3% of the vote would result in 3 seats (3% of 129 seats).

I'm assuming that opponents to MMP, and favouring FPTP (first-past-the-post), accept that a so-called fringe party candidate could conceivably win a local riding.

The notion then is that 3% of the population represents fringe voters. Using the 2006 census, the population of Ontario is 12,160,282. 3% of that number is 364,808 - or approximately 3 ridings (assuming about 100,000 people per electoral district). To equate the "legitimacy", a party would have to win likely 10 local ridings (or say about 35,000 votes in each) to attain this popular level of support. That's the current representation the NDP has in the Ontario legislature.

According to the Environics poll, the Green Party of Ontario is polling at 2% and is considered the least "fringey" of the non-traditional parties. If the Environics poll holds true, the Green Party would likely still not hold any seats as they wouldn't pass the 3% threshold.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bright Outlook in Ontario

Good news for Ontario; steady support for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and increased support for the Ontario NDP.

Environics:
Progressive Conservatives - 38%
Liberals - 33%
NDP - 26%
Greens - 2%

The Progressive Conservatives are holding steady but are now in the first-place position, with a five-point lead over the Liberals. They now receive the support of 38 percent of decided voters, essentially unchanged from December 2006, but 10 points higher than in the December 2003 post-election survey.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MMP : Leaders in Legislature

I just had another thought - likely somebody else has already realized this and I'm just stating the obvious.

Party leaders will run locally and be the first one on the list for strategic purposes. Provided the party receives at least 3% of the vote, the party leader will be guaranteed a seat in the legislature - either by being elected locally or being the first selected from the list.

Why run locally? Well, the party may not garner the 3%, but could still win a local riding.

This, to me, is a positive.

Updated: Actually, I just remembered this is similar to an idea Robert suggested way back last October.

MMP : More Power to Riding Associations

I just had a thought of what is perhaps one of the unintended consequences of mixed member proportional. It's theoretical, perhaps.

Right now, as much as many may disagree, central party headquarters run the local riding associations for the most part. If the party wants to run a star candidate, or a floor crossing candidate, or designate a certain number of candidates from a particular representative group, they have to scope out a riding and essentially parachute the candidate there or supplant the existing nomination process.

Generally, this practice is accepted if you're a party member outside the riding; not so good if you're working to be nominated or working for a nominee within the riding.

With mixed member proportional, that's not entirely necessary. A riding is free to select their candidate, while stars and special candidates can be reserved for the list.

It won't eliminate it of course, as the central headquarters should retain some veto capability, but it won't be necessary to remove a valued member in place for a parachuted candidate.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mixed Member Proportional

I've read and digested the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform proposal, and I support their recommendation for mixed member proportional.

Summary of the recommendation:
A Mixed Member Proportional system combines members elected in local districts and members elected for the whole province from party lists to serve as Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) in the legislature. This combination produces proportional election results that better reflect the wishes of voters.

In short, each voter will cast two votes at election time - one for their local candidate, and one for a political party.

A big win for me is highlighted in the report:

Many voters have been faced with the dilemma of wanting to support a local candidate but not his or her party, or wanting to support a party but not its local candidate.

A Mixed Member Proportional system allows voters to vote for a local candidate and for a party.

I find this more a problem with federal politics, but still, the option is great.

I was going to suggest that the only disadvantage would be that I don't vote for who gets named as a member of the list if I'm unaffiliated. But, I've run this through my head a couple of times, and if I don't feel comfortable with somebody on the list, I won't vote for the party.

The only opposition to this proposal are those who would suggest a minority held position should govern the majority, and that's not right.

I encourage all Ontarians to support this measure. I encourage the Progressive Conservative Party to endorse this measure.

Post Victoria Day Quick Hits

I hope everyone had a fantastic long weekend - I know I did.

Some quick hits.

(1) According to Stephane Dion, Victoria can be a sewage leader. Yay, for Victoria!

With all due respect to the Times Colonist, I'm not sure how you go from "Victoria can be a sewage leader" to Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion wanting 1/3 of candidates to be women all in the same article, with the Kelowna Accord in the middle.

Why was sewage the headline?

(2) I'm not entirely sure where I stand on the Ontario electoral reform proposal as I haven't read the recommendations put out by the Ontario Citizens' Assembly yet. On the surface, I never could understand how striving for 40% of the vote should result in a 70% majority - it just never sit right.

(3) Speaking of requiring electoral reform.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What We're All Thinking

What Olaf said:
Nothing stings a diehard Liberal more acutely than the suggestion that perhaps, on some level and in some corners, not every single member of the Liberal party is spiritually joined by bonds of reinforced steel woven by angels.

Zing.

But when you're a party that is not drawn together by much other than a middling sense of centrism, a romantic memory of historical success, supplemented with an unhealthy dosage of ambition and an insatiable thirst for power, inner struggles and insubordination are to be expected - especially when the leader is as compelling as a wet noodle, with half the charisma. What is shocking about this whole thing is how surprised some Liberals are with the dearth of collective harmony.

Zing~!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The NDP

I read Stephen Taylor's political prediction regarding the federal NDP and thought I would comment.
I'll make the lofty prediction that we may see David Miller take a shot at the job within the next year following a grassroots leadership challenge rooted within the rank-and-file of the party. Given the failing fortunes of Canada's social democratic party, we may not see many other "top-tier" candidates go for the job. We may even see Layton run in the same leadership race in such a scenario.

While I think it's in the realm of possibility that David Miller would take a shot at the job, I don't think the federal NDP will grow with another extroverted municipal politician from the city of Toronto. My guess would be it would be better to have a rural, Western politician take a stab at the top job - say, from Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Exactly who that is, I don't know.

Now, I'd like to contrast this with my earlier prediction with regards to the coming Ontario provincial election:

I predict that if Howard Hampton resigns as leader of the Ontario NDP, Olivia Chow will go after it and she'll win. She's got face and name recognition. It would mean for the first time spouses would lead the NDP at the same time (at different governing levels, of course). She would likely gain the support of Toronto mayor David Miller and all those who supported Jack Layton in his bid for the federal NDP.

What I think the Ontario NDP needs is, funnily enough, an extroverted municipal politician from the city of Toronto. If that were the case, with the exception of the bluer neighbourhoods going to the Progressive Conservatives, Toronto would be painted orange.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pharmacare

I agree with the NDP and a pharmacare strategy is required [NDP, Layton launches campaign for universal drug coverage]:
“Working Canadians are pulling me aside and telling me that costs for prescription medication are taking over their lives or the life of a loved one,” said [NDP leader Jack] Layton. “Access to prescription drugs depends more on where you live and how much money you have, than it does on need. This is wrong and needs to change.”

That said, I don't think it necessarily falls to the federal government to institute the program simply because this will become another federal program completely and utterly abandoned by the federal party in power, however much they will continue to campaign on its strengths. I cringe with the thought that a Liberal politician would use a national pharmacare plan as an election plank only to drop it upon a successful election victory (tell me how that national daycare strategy is working out ... I know, I know - the last time was for real - honest!).

An important balance also has to be maintained with respect to pharmaceutical innovation. It's simply not an option to nationalize the pharmaceutical industry and dictate that pharmaceutical companies must supply pharmaceuticals to the nation. While cost-effective drug treatments should be made available to those who need it, pharmaceutical companies must still be free to research and develop.

Once again, the federal NDP and the Ontario PC Party find themselves coincidentally cooperating. The Ontario PC Party, in their Health Care white paper [PDF], clearly indicate that a national strategy for dealing with catastrophic drugs and rare diseases is required as the costs are sometimes astronomical - while the province should develop the cost effective means of supplying needed medicine to the public. This is an important and a necessary step in developing a sustainable program.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

There, Was That So Hard?

Thank you [Toronto Star, Grant probe report due in July]:
In an abrupt shift, Premier Dalton McGuinty has asked Ontario's auditor-general to investigate what the opposition dubs a "slush fund" scandal and report in early July.

Legitimate grants to worthwhile agencies need to come out from under this cloud. Good for Mr. McGuinty.

I'll stop whinging on this until July.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Questions Legitimate : Mike Colle

So, the Opposition is united in calling for an audit into "Colle-gate" [Globe & Mail, Opposition demands probe into alleged slush fund]:
Opposition members at the provincial legislation stepped up their efforts yesterday to get to the bottom of an alleged multimillion-dollar slush fund, with a petition signed by all 34 Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats calling on the Auditor-General to launch a probe.

The petition asks the provincial auditor to investigate grants given by Premier Dalton McGuinty's government to multicultural groups with ties to the Liberal Party. The grants rushed out at the end of the past two fiscal years totalled $20.4-million in fiscal 2007 and $12-million the previous year.

The Minister at the heart of the matter, Mike Colle, acknowledges the questions are legitimate [Toronto Star, Questions `legitimate,' Colle says]:

"There's legitimate questions being raised and I've been trying to answer them to the best of my ability," said [Liberal MPP Mike] Colle, who as minister of citizenship and immigration has been under fire for three weeks over grants to groups with Liberal connections.

Why won't this government allow an audit to happen now? It seems the best way to show that there was nothing underhanded happening, is to allow an audit to occur.

Earliest Smog Advisory?

It may be semantics about alerts and watches, but the Ontario Ministry of the Environment issued a smog watch on February 3, 2005 [Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Smog Watches in Ontario [PDF]]:
On February 3, 2005, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment issued its first Winter Smog Watch, to remain in effect until February 6, 2005. An accumulation of particulate matter (PM2.5) due to unusual weather conditions has resulted in this Watch.

Smog alerts are never good, so while yesterday's is unfortunate, it's not the earliest.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I Got an Idea

How about instead of using the legislature for partisan campaigning purposes, the Ontario Liberals could use the legislature to produce the cocktail napkins that applications for grants were written on.

Blue Blogging Soapbox says it best:
The Premier and his Liberal Cabinet Ministers can't come up with a coherent answer, demonstrated decision making process or single scrap of paper to table in the House on how $30 million in so called "slush fund" monies were distributed to various Liberal-friendly groups around the Province, but can mount a concerted smear campaign on the floor of the Legislature against a candidate who was nominated a scant 3 days ago.

Yay, for your Ontario Liberals!

Updated: Added additional labels.

Thursday, May 03, 2007