Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why Ontarians Said No to MMP

The York University Institute for Social Research released a study today, answering the question "Why Ontarians said no to MMP" - it's in today's Globe & Mail, and online behind their subscriber firewall.

The study concludes that a lack of information about the referendum was what doomed the referendum to defeat.

The study also suggests that had Ontarians had more information about the electoral reform referendum, specifically had Ontarians had more information about what MMP was (proportional results, two votes, infrequent majorities, list candidates) and who proposed it (who the Citizens' Assembly was and how they were chosen), the results would have been 63% in favour, and 37% opposed.

It concludes that:
This is probably heartening, and yet disappointing, for electoral reformers. And perhaps opponents should show more relief than smugness.

Some have dismissed the claim that ignorance about the referendum was the cause of its defeat, arguing that there were plenty of commercials and ads informing the public about the referendum. Or, presumably there was enough information out there for people to educate themselves - the cure for apathy is "not to be apathetic" obviously. Duh.

Well, for political geeks, those ads were pretty apparent because we tend to pay attention to them. I tend to notice ads and spots for things I'm interested in - I think the average person does.

For those who are apathetic to politics, it was just a lot of noise mixed in with a lot of other political noise - along with the latest Britney Spears gossip and a new release of Halo.

Whatever Halo is.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

On Vacation ...

I'm going to take a political blogging break for a little while.

I will be back, just not sure when at this point.

Normally I fire up the comment moderation when I go away, but I just fired up some new posts. So, look for the moderation to start up around the weekend.

Should something breaking happen, I'll probably come back sooner.

Later skaterz.

Updated: Comment moderation is on. See you when I see you.

Updated x 2: Well, that was quicker than I anticipated.

On John Tory ...

I continue to support and endorse John Tory as the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

I supported John Tory over Jim Flaherty and Frank Klees for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. I carried a sign, I still have my 4-not-8 t-shirt.

John Tory is the right kind of conservative to lead this party, and we should not let this electoral defeat derail the positive message the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party brings.

Some argue that it's bravado that's keeping Mr. Tory around. I don't think so - it's his first term in Opposition, and some would have argued that it was bravado that kept a Mr. McGuinty around after his first term in Opposition.

Make no mistake - we didn't do well, but the next time, we will win.

The next few months will be interesting, but let's keep our focus.

On the Progressive Conservative Party ...

I'm not going to lie, and I'm not going to delude you into thinking that the results of yesterday's election came as a shock to me. It was disappointing, of course, but not shocking.

The campaign was a long one for me. I was a Progressive Conservative supporter who found himself on the opposite side of my party on two fairly substantive issues - electoral reform and extending funding to faith-based schools. The former was completely opposite. The latter, while I understood the fairness aspect and could support it, I'd have preferred a single secular public school system - Mr. Tory should have campaigned on that.

One of the things you never really get used to, as a partisan cheerleader, is exactly what triggers or does not trigger the electorate to move. If you had have asked me two months ago if allocating a whole 2.5% of a Conservative public education budget (or 2.8%, if you use the Liberal budget numbers) to funding faith-based schools like the Catholic school board or the Mennonite school in St. Catharines, I would have said you were nuts.

Shows to go you, I guess.

That said, the rest of the Progressive Conservative election platform was the right platform for Ontario. The Liberals have successfully branded themselves as "centrist" when in fact they are not - they are what you would call "anything to get elected-ist".

During this whole campaign, I can't remember a single thing Dalton McGuinty said, except for Family Day.

The Progressive Conservative Party must continue to embrace progressive conservatism. It must reconfirm that:
  • The free market can determine and regulate many things, but the free market cannot govern social justice and social equality, and profit cannot be the driving factor behind education and health care. Those things require sound public investment.
  • That individual freedoms must be protected and respected.
  • Fiscal prudence doesn't mean tax cuts or program cuts every month. Fiscal prudence means simply spending when spending is required and not spending when it's not required. If a program is wasteful, or not generating results, you cease the bleed and review. We must recognize that we need sound public infrastructure, that we need sound public investment, we need to make sure that there's a basic fulfilment of public needs. And we can do that and return some of that money to taxpayers - we can eliminate wasteful spending, revitalize public spending, and return what's leftover. Those things are all possible all at once.
The Liberal Party is unwilling or incapable of delivering sound public investments. That's why we need a Progressive Conservative Party.

On Electoral Reform ...

If you've been living under a rock, then you probably have not heard that the referendum to select the mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system in Ontario has failed. This is extremely disappointing to me, but not so much that I feel I will give up on pushing for electoral reform in Ontario or Canada.

I think though, it will be some time before we see a real proposal for electoral reform in Ontario again. There is no advantage for either the Ontario Liberals or the Ontario Progressive Conservatives to pursue it.

There are just too many flaws with first-past-the-post (FPTP) to simply fix it - it simply does not work.

I truly believe that some form of proportional representation is the right direction to move in. It makes sense to me that if a group, however it collects itself, should receive a certain percentage of the vote, they should receive the same percentage of legislative weight - regardless of how I feel about their policies.

I haven't done a lot of reading on single transferable voting systems - but, it seems to me that a system where you have to vote for a second or third choice just seems wrong, somehow. I probably will read more into it.

When's Family Day?

I figure, I was about 1 for 5 yesterday.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is the official Opposition.

John Tory lost to Kathleen Wynne in Don Valley West.

MMP was defeated.

My local PC candidate was defeated.

On the bright side, however, I get a day off in February.

I have a few thoughts I want to get out, specifically on the Progressive Conservative Party, John Tory, and the future of electoral reform. I'll do that a bit later.

Then, I'm going on vacation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Comment Moderation On

Since I'm going to be out and about tomorrow, I'm putting comment moderation on until after the polls in Ontario close.

MMP : The Truth About FPTP - The Summary

Over five pieces, I have discussed the truth about FPTP. If you couldn't tell, most of it was in response to the ironically named "Truth" About MMP list put out by the advocates for the status quo.

The fact of the matter is, the referendum isn't about choosing whether or not we should move to mixed member proportional (MMP); it's about choosing to remain on the first-past-the-post or moving to mixed member proportional.

The advocates of the current system will tell you the real solution is to fix the current system and not to change, but somehow in the same breath argue that the system has worked well unchanged for a couple of hundred years.

The advocates of the current system will tell you they support electoral reform but that the real solution is to find a different electoral system other than MMP, but somehow fail to explain why we haven't explored a different electoral system for a couple of hundred years.

The fact of the matter is, the advocates of the current system want to remain on first-past-the-post. What they don't want you to know, however, is the truth about first-past-the-post.
This is the truth about FPTP.

Updated: Reworked the wording of the last paragraph.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Andrew Coyne on Democracy

Because this quote needs to be repeated over and over again.

The test of a democratic institution is not whether it produces outcomes I happen to agree with, but whether it accurately reflects the public's preferences.
- Andrew Coyne

[H/T, Political Staples]

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Proven Strategy

Back here, I said that I thought it was a silly political strategy for the Ontario Liberal Party to ignore Durham Region.

Well, apparently I was wrong.

Metroland Durham Region Media Group: Progressive Conservatives deserve your vote
New to the provincial scene after a run for mayor of Toronto in 2003, Mr. Tory has proved a quick study. He has made a number of trips to Durham Region and has shown a deep interest in issues our way whether it be the badly needed extension of Hwy. 407 past Brock Road in Pickering, the need for a new hospital in north Whitby, or the requirement that the underfunding of the 905 region be fixed. He has a plan in his platform to fix these problems.

...

Durham voters have a chance to help play a major role and to get Ontario moving in the right direction after Oct. 10. They can best do that by voting Progressive Conservative.

I personally believe that Dalton should continue to ignore Ontario - similar to the way he previously governed.

Seems to be working for him.

MMP : Garth Turner : One Voter, Two Votes

While I'd like to think of Garth Turner as a "conservative" for MMP, he is in fact, technically a "Liberal" for MMP.

The Turner Report : One voter. Two votes.

The coming provincial referendum in Ontario is the latest attempt to break the influence of machine politics. A citizen’s assembly came up with a compromise system called MMP. In brief, citizens will get two votes, one for a local rep and one for the party they want to form government. The guy getting the most votes in a riding (like now) will be elected. In addition there will be a list of other candidates-at-large and they will become MPPs in a proportion equal to the support their party received. The party with the most elected from both ridings and lists gets to govern.

...

A proportional representation system empowers voters. It gives them more choice. It ensures the majority opinion is reflected in government. It is fairer. It allows smaller parties a role. It encourages compromise. It lets parties increase the role of women and minorities as list candidates. It permits citizens to decide on the best local candidate, and also the best party to govern. One voter. Two votes.

And, I seriously hope, an end to politics as we know it.

And, just to further discuss one aspect of Mr. Turner's post. He comments that "all responsible parties under a PR system like the one Ontario is debating will surely be nominating their list candidates in an open and fair manner"; this is indeed the case.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

MMP : FPTP Supporter Need Not be Confused

Over at Aaron Lee Wudrick's blog, Joanne (True Blue), noted supporter of the first-past-the-post electoral system, laments:
You said a mouthful, especially the part about not voting early because things can change.

I'm really confused now. John Tory convinced me that [faith based]-funding was an issue of fairness. The UN backs him up.

Now my local PC candidate says he'll vote against it.

If only Ontario had a democratic electoral system where a vote for the candidate could be separated from the vote for the party platform. There would be no confusion.

If only ...

While Joanne may ultimately come to a different conclusion, a similar voter exists who is left scratching their heads having to decide which viewpoint they find the least offensive. It doesn't matter if they are voting Liberal, Conservative, NDP, or Green.

That person will either hold their nose and vote for someone or something they don't believe in, which is okay to those supporting FPTP, that's democracy after all. In the worse case, they'll stay home, and allow someone or something they don't believe in to be elected - that's also democracy, apparently.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Good News / Bad News

Good news...
Eglinton-Lawrence Liberal MP Joe Volpe is endorsing Progressive Conservative leader John Tory’s plan to extend public funding to faith-based private schools.

Bad news...

Eglinton-Lawrence Liberal MP Joe Volpe is endorsing Progressive Conservative leader John Tory’s plan to extend public funding to faith-based private schools.

I view it as one of those "glass half full" things. :)

[Source: Town Crier Online, Liberal MP backs Tory school plan]

I must now remark that the Ontario election for 2007 has officially jumped the shark if it's now legitimate to comment about Joe Volpe.

Free Vote on "Inclusive Public Education Policy"?

I think somebody reads this humble blog if this holds to be true.

CBC, Tory expected to allow free vote on extending school funding

Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory is expected to make a dramatic announcement Monday aimed at repairing the split within his party over his controversial promise to fund faith-based schools.

In a significant change, Tory is expected to allow a free vote on the issue of extending funding to private religious schools if his party wins the Oct. 10 election.

It doesn't change the fact that a legislature built on proportionality is better. These calls for free votes some of the time (read: politically expedient) is insufficient.