The NDP not serious about proportional representation - #4

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psmith
The NDP not serious about proportional representation - #4

Thread continued from here.

 

Fidel wrote:

I think siamdave is trying to say that the NDP alone is incapable of coercing the other two parties and their voters into supporting the right thing to do, which is to support electoral reform. And I couldn't have said it better myself.

I vote we change the misleading thread title to something more along the lines of the truth:

Neither the Liberal Party of Canada nor the Conservative Party supports electoral reform in Canada

And ER-PR won't happen until they do.

 

Nice spin. siamdave said that with a defeatist attitide ("we can't get the other parties to agree, so forget trying") all you will get is defeat.

But I think the "depending on other parties" argument is just a way to deflect criticism of the party. Blame the Liberals/Cons for the NDP's lack of motivation. Like KenS saying:

KenS wrote:

So why not just stick to the federal NDP?

Yeah, right: let's just focus on the federal level, because the provincial NDP aren't on board and never will be, so we don't want to talk about a glaring inconsistency between what the party says and actually does when its in power.

 

The NDP - federally and provincially - are falling down on the file, people here have recognized that, and some with close ties (of any kind) with the party are becoming defensive about it. It's apparent that it's a visceral reaction by the wildly varying defensive arguments thrown out in response - just about anything including the kitchen sink: "The other parties won't do it!"  "Recognition in the policy book should be enough!"  "It would cost too much!"  "Nobody cares about it!"

I wouldn't sweat it. The party you love and worked for isn't perfect. No party is. But it can get better if the problems / inconsistencies are recognized, and action taken to correct them. Don't deny the party that chance! You know PR is the right thing to do for so many reasons.

So if just one single NDP pronvicial government followed policy and implemented proportional representation, it would ignite a change in the entire Canadian poltical landscape. No country has ever gone from PR back to winner-take-all in modern times... all that have switched have gone in the progressive direction.

The NDP should dare to be bold again, to take a risk for the common good. That's how its acheived major progress for Canada before. What is it afraid of provincially? It can do itself (and Canadians) a huge favour by implementing its own policy.

Fidel

If the NDP alone finances a public info campaign for ER, the NDP would be slaughtered at the polls as well as sabotaging chances for a successful electoral reform campaign. And I think the author of this misleading thread title knows it, too.

What is the Green Party doing to promote ER-PR besides nothing? Will they spend all of their campaign budget on a FPTP election campaign in 2012 in competing with the NDP FPTP-style, like they did last time?

IN the final weeks of the next federal election campaign, will the leader of the Green Party advise voters in her riding to switch their votes to a party which did not and probably will not support electoral reform, like she did last time?

This discussion really is tainted with hypocrisy.

The last time the NDP campaigned on a single issue was free trade in the 1988 and 1993 elections. The Liberal Party was on side, or so Canadians thought. The result was NAFTA by 1994. The NDP learned a valuable lesson that they can't compete with a well financed party of lying-liars even when the majority of Canadians supports the idea. Most Canadians were against free trade, but that's exactly what they got by 1994. Just imagine how the NDP would be able to carry the ball on an issue like ER which is not supported by the lying-liar Liberals.

The election air is tainted since the 1990s. Canadians are jaded about democracy in Canada. They've been used and abused. Voter turnout is down. Canadians have lost faith in democracy.

The NDP doesn't have the resources to campaign on single issues. Electoral reform has to come from within the country as a whole, meaning there has to be multi-party support for democratic reforms.Anything less will be a waste of time and resources for any one party attempting to carry the stone of democracy into the 21st century.

Sean in Ottawa

I agree with most of what you have to say here Fidel but I can't agree with what you say about the 1988 election-- the NDP ran on a host of things and really did very little on Free Trade in fact the Lying Liberals ran the effective opposition on Free Trade then while the NDP tried to "do what it did best" (that's a quote from then campaign manager). The result was the NDP in 1988 failed to really capitalize on the econmic issue it could have done well on and filled the airwaves with Ed is the best (he was but that was not enough for people to vote for the party) and the party was the best on the environment (ditto). Only when the campaign was almost over did the party realize it had missed the train on Free Trade. I had just published a book on Free Trade and was really upset that the party left that discussion mostly to the Liberals. The only explanation I got was that the party percieved economics to be a weakness. I was disgusted.

JKR

Fidel wrote:

If the NDP alone finances a public info campaign for ER, the NDP would be slaughtered at the polls as well as sabotaging chances for a successful electoral reform campaign.

All the NDP has to do, provincially and federally, is put in their election platforms something like - "if elected we will implement fair voting."

If, after the election, they find themselves in power or with influence over the government, they would then be in a position to implement electoral reform.

JKR

From the previous thread:

KenS wrote:

But I'd still like to hear people who repeatedly bring up the provinical NDPs say what their point is.

 

The strongest argument against fair voting is that it is just a cynical ploy by weak parties to unfairly game the political system; that electoral reform is really just a way for unpopular parties to "sneak" into legislatures. This argument is greatly bolstered by the NDP when they only support fair voting in jurisdictions where they are not one of the two major popular parties.

The best place for one to support fair voting is for jurisdictions where ones preferred party currently unfairly benefits from our current unfair system. For NDP supporters this means supporting fair voting for BC, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan. If NDP'ers feel that fair voting is a basic democratic right then these are the jurisdictions where NDP'ers should put their first priority.

If the NDP governments in Manitoba and Nova Scotia went ahead and implemented fair voting, even though it would reduce their political power, that would be the greatest argument in favour of PR that the NDP could make. Their argument would be simple - it's the right thing to do. They could tell Canada - "we are no longer willing to unfairly benefit from an unfair system!" How much respect would that gain the party -  unilaterally giving up power for the good of the country?

One way to look at the results of the referendums in PEI, BC, and Ontario is that the people voted for or against fair voting in accordance with how they felt fair voting would effect their preferred party. They weren't voting for what system they thought was the fairest. The best way that the NDP can make the argument that fair voting should be implemented because it is the fairest policy is to support it in jurisdictions where they currently unfairly benefit from our current system.

There's nothing that would stop the NDP governments in Manitoba and Nova Scotia from implementing fair voting in the near future. They would lose some political advantage but they would gain the admiration of people who respect those who put country before short term political gain.

KenS

Aw shucks, here we are at post5 already, and I thought I was going to start and name the new thread.

Like: Proportional Representation: Beyond Beating on the NDP

KenS

psmith wrote:
But I think the "depending on other parties" argument is just a way to deflect criticism of the party. Blame the Liberals/Cons for the NDP's lack of motivation. Like KenS saying:

KenS wrote:
So why not just stick to the federal NDP?

First of all, good luck finding me blaming the Liberals or Cons. But continuing with your point"

psmith wrote:

Yeah, right: let's just focus on the federal level, because the provincial NDP aren't on board and never will be, so we don't want to talk about a glaring inconsistency between what the party says and actually does when its in power.

I didnt say dont talk about it. I reapeatedly acknowedged that its very much there, and I asked what is the point? Where is this going? What is it for?

You are certainly one to talk about deflection. How come you cant say one word about that?

psmith wrote:

The NDP - federally and provincially - are falling down on the file, people here have recognized that, and some with close ties (of any kind) with the party are becoming defensive about it. It's apparent that it's a visceral reaction by the wildly varying defensive arguments thrown out in response - just about anything including the kitchen sink: "The other parties won't do it!"  "Recognition in the policy book should be enough!"  "It would cost too much!"  "Nobody cares about it!"

I'm doing wildy defensive arguments? Do I really even fall in the category of 'becoming defenisive about it'? [Which is not, have I ever been defensive about it?] You can keep lecturing Fidel about that, hes an easy target for it. [Mind you, even Fidel who would defend the NDP for anything anywhere and with anything, has raised some good points. But thats not interesting is it? Just what he says that is fodder.]

Not to mention that of those 5 highlighted attributions of yours at the end... only the first- the soft target- was actually said by anyone. The other 4 are trivializing misrepresentations of what was said.

psmith wrote:

I wouldn't sweat it. The party you love and worked for isn't perfect. No party is. But it can get better if the problems / inconsistencies are recognized, and action taken to correct them. Don't deny the party that chance! You know PR is the right thing to do for so many reasons.

Once again, thanks for the advice of not taking it personally that the NDP isnt perfect. That is so me. And the other Dippers here who have made suggestions about what the NDP could do, even including shaming / or otherwise pushing their party.

Fidel

psmith wrote:
But I think the "depending on other parties" argument is just a way to deflect criticism of the party.

The gun registry will live regardless of what the Harpers want, and they're in government. This is an example of a single party going against the political grain - it doesn't work. And the Harpers likely won't revisit the issue afterwards no matter how strongly they feel about gun registry. They'd have to ram it through parliament Brian Mulroney style, and they don't have the phony majority to do it.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
Only when the campaign was almost over did the party realize it had missed the train on Free Trade. I had just published a book on Free Trade and was really upset that the party left that discussion mostly to the Liberals. The only explanation I got was that the party percieved economics to be a weakness. I was disgusted

The NDP won a record 43 seats in the 1988 election. Both the Liberals and NDP campaigned against free trade in 1988. But the Liberals made themselves out to be the most anti-free trade, most anti-Mulroney and anti-GST party of the two.(They had a larger campaign war chest than the NDP, too) The combined anti-free trade vote was more than 51%. FTA was enacted the following year. Canadians were so frustrated by Mulroney's dictatorial rule tha the Conservatives were reduced to 2 seats by 1993. The Liberals won campaigning against free trade again, and the result was an expanded free trade deal with NAFTA in 1994. Canadians were betrayed a second time, and that betrayal by the Liberals is often cited as the reason why voter turnouts dropped in the decade of the nineties. Conservatives never really recovered from the Mulroney legacy of free trade betrayal, and Canadians surely don'tr trust the Liberals after considering sponsorship scandals in addition to the NAFTA betrayal.

And today, Canadians don't trust  either of the lying-liar Bay Street parties enough to hand either a phony majority. We need a fair voting sysem, but at the same time, the NDP doesn't need to be a one-trick pony. FPP will probably not reward anymore one-trick ponies since the free trade betrayals. Canadians want to vote for the best party overall and not too heavy on the special secret sauce - there's a rumor it causes electoral indigestion among voters.

[url=http://www.ndp.ca/xfer/campaign2008/Platform_2008_EN.pdf]Canadian Federalism and Public Institutions[/url](pdf)

ndp.ca wrote:
To strengthen federalism for a mature and modern Canada, Jack Layton and the New Democrats will:
Modernize key federal institutions:
• House of Commons: change the electoral system to ensure that every vote counts. We will implement a proportional representation system that mixes constituency representation with party representation. This will result in fairer representation in Parliament, fewer regional differences, and more women in elected office.

[url=http://ontariondp.com/node/1707]Reforming the political process[/url]

ontariondp.com wrote:
The NDP has long supported a fairer political process in Ontario, which means accountability in government and proportional representation where every voter has a fair say in how they are governed. Working families are tired of seeing big money buy political access and influence while average voters are shut out of the democratic process.

KenS

 

I have a particularly hard time getting my head around how people could think its even possible that in the case of the Ontario NDP that part of the problem is that they dont really want PR.

Really? The party that has for many years now been at risk of going down below the threshold of official party status?

But whatever turns peoples cranks. And the longer we talk about it the less I care what people think drives the NDP.

Anyway...

I was thinking about the BC and/or Ontario referendum experiences, and the NDP.

I have some questions, and both cases might be relavent. But I'm inclined to think that the situation for the ONDP and the federal NDP are more comparable. We seem to have a problem coming to any kind of common understanding about this, or about aspects that matter. Nonethless, at the very least, PR is more in the 'strategic intersts' of the ONDP and the feds.

Questions:

I get the impression the NDP did not have much to do with either referendum. Correct? Leaving aside blame or not blame points about why; about whether the NDP werent wanted, etc. [And it comes to mind that even if everyone wanted the NDP at arrms distance, that wouldnt necessarily mean they could not have been initiatators anyway.] At any rate: is that more or less correct that the referendums werent initiated, even somewhat, with the influence of the NDP?

Is there an easy [enough] answer or summary to what the ONDP learned from the referendum?

Is or might the experience of the referendum clarify what the ONDP will do? Not so much, what kind of PR and being clear about that... but clarify what to do?

Implications? Especially for the federal NDP?

One possible implication, this suggestion not to deflect other implications people want to speak to: Could a "twin approach" of outside and inside the federal NDP be fruitful?

If so, are there any groups that are or could become national at the grassroots level?

Fidel

JKR wrote:
If the NDP governments in Manitoba and Nova Scotia went ahead and implemented fair voting, ...

Manitoba had STV from the 1920s to 1950's. The largest argument against it was that it undermined the link between representatives and their ridings. It's probably why the BCNDP wasn't all that keen on STV. And still, I believe more BC NDPers voted for STV than Liberal Party supporters.

Quote:
...even though it would reduce their political power, that would be the greatest argument in favour of PR that the NDP could make

The NDP fully realizes that proportional representation would require political allegiances and cooperation among left wing parties in general in order to achieve anything. Of course, that's what modern 21st century democracy is all about. And what better way to democratize the country than with PR voting systems in Canada's largest province, and supported by the ONDP, and especially at the federal level and covering all Canadian provinces and territories. STV has been tried in at least two provinces before and it didn't set the country on fire with democratic aspirations. The two oldest political parties have to want advanced democracy before their supporters will consider voting for reforms.

Ontario's referendum was a valuable lesson as well, Without all-party support for PR, chances are voters will not support it in significant numbers, and especially not when public information campaigns are short-changed the way the McGuinty's Liberal government botched it. In that way, Campbell's Liberals deserve credit for properly funding the first public info campaign on STV, but then they lost interest after that. And it showed with the drop in support for STV by 2009.

The NDP isn't asking for anything out of the ordinary by supporting advanced democracy. PR isn't even considered advanced in most countries where it's been law of the land for as many as 50 and 100 years. For some countries, PR is as easy as regarding basic human rights. The NDP just wants one person to equal one vote. It's not difficult to remember.

Sean in Ottawa

I have no doubt that the Federal NDP wants PR. I do believe there are many in the NDP who see democratic reform as necessarily non-partisan and that by making it a party issue the NDP would effectively kill it.

Provincial NDP wings may feel differently-- in part this could be due to the way other parties moved against them in a coalition to stop them in BC. In many provinces there is no middle party for the NDP to work with. As well perhaps some are concerned that provincially such a system if it did open the door to a renewed middle party that party might eat up NDP support but not work with it.

So I think there may also be a desire within the NDP to let it be a non-partisan issue just to avoid the divisions between some provincial wings and the the federal wing. Still, I suspect the Federal party would like PR but might not want to be the ones to lead the way for a number of reasons.

These are guesses as I have no hard evidence.

KenS

JKR wrote:

The strongest argument against fair voting is that it is just a cynical ploy by weak parties to unfairly game the political system; that electoral reform is really just a way for unpopular parties to "sneak" into legislatures. This argument is greatly bolstered by the NDP when they only support fair voting in jurisdictions where they are not one of the two major popular parties.

I dont think this passes the common sense test when we are looking at provincial optics. The BCNDP sure isnt a weak party. I'm not even sure the ONDP really qualifies as a weak party looking to sneak in.

As far as the possible optics on the federal level- we dont know anything about that because we havent had the kind of scrutiny where this would come up.

Certainly, it will come up when we get there. But how much it will matter is a guessing game. I dont see any evidence it will be one of the top handful of obstacles. We are talking abut what will happen when PR has some real legs, and whoever is responsible or most responsible for getting that off the ground: the NDP is on board. [If they arent on board, then this just isnt a question. Leaving aside whether the issue can ever get legs without the federal NDP being on board.]

If we do get to the point that PR has real legs, and the federal NDP is clearly behind it.... we will also be far enough along that at least some prominent figures of the Liberal Party are saying they think we should be doing something about this. Again, this is something we can expect to see somewhere along the line.... and if we havent got at least this far, then the issue doesnt really have legs.

Its a dynamic process. Or it isnt happening. And if the issue has legs, then it is not going to be seen as "the NDP thing". Or the NDP and the Greens for the obvious reasons. Which doesnt mean that wont be a common characaturization. It will be. But because it means something to the people who will never like PR, doesnt mean that it will be very imprtant to the leaners who the action is all about.

Most people do not, and will not look at this as a litmus test thing. When they are engaged, which is what we are talking about, they will judge PR on its merits. Certainly they will be influenced by the negative smearing- of which the NDPs inconsistency will be one. But just like all negative attacks- it wont be decisive with the leaners.

When it comes time for people to look at the rubber on the road, they will be looking at will this make government better. Or not. And the NDPs lack of purity will be a side show.

 

 

Fidel

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I agree with most of what you have to say here Fidel but I can't agree with what you say about the 1988 election-- the NDP ran on a host of things and really did very little on Free Trade in fact the Lying Liberals ran the effective opposition on Free Trade then while the NDP tried to "do what it did best"

And just for emphasis,  the Liberals were actually lying when they campaigned against expanding Mulroney's free trade deal. I think Canadians have been conditioned not to put all their eggs in one basket by voting "strategically" in order to punish the lying-liar Tories. They know now that it doesn't work so well.

The NDP won 43 seats in 1988. We should have had 60 if rep was proportional then. We have 37 seats today with a cranky electorate not so keen on either of the two Bay Street parties. The worst thing we could do now is change the game plan. We're not actually competing with the two old line parties for the jaded Canadian nonv-voters. Those millions of Canadians likely won't be voting based on past performances of the two old line parties who've poisoned the well of democracy in this country. The NDP will be competing for the same narrow base of the electorate who voted last time. Steady as she goes, Jack. Keep the pressure on, and we may be able to force the Liberals into either a compromise after the next election, or force their so-called leader to step down and pave the way for a more reasonable person to lead that party toward food and water. my metaphors for democracy aka the big tamale, the big prize, power to the people an' all that.

KenS

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

So I think there may also be a desire within the NDP to let it be a non-partisan issue just to avoid the divisions between some provincial wings and the the federal wing. Still, I suspect the Federal party would like PR but might not want to be the ones to lead the way for a number of reasons.

My highlight.

I dont think so Sean.

Which is why even though I object in principle to the characterisations that the federal NDP is conflicted, and question even more what is the point of dogging that.... I choose to focus on my overlap with critics that dont trust the NDP at all: the federal NDP is not doing enough to get PR.

And if the perception that being the ones to lead really was a big sticking point, then the party would be quietly working on someone else to initiate. Jack Layton could do that with two hands tied behind his back and one side of his mouth taped shut.

[That easily only if there is an independent body that could already do that. Which is why I was asking that question at the end of post9 about whether there is one....  whether there are already strong resources for working in parallel inside and outside the federal NDP.]

KenS

psmith wrote:

So if just one single NDP pronvicial government followed policy and implemented proportional representation, it would ignite a change in the entire Canadian poltical landscape. No country has ever gone from PR back to winner-take-all in modern times... all that have switched have gone in the progressive direction.

The NDP should dare to be bold again, to take a risk for the common good. That's how its acheived major progress for Canada before. What is it afraid of provincially? It can do itself (and Canadians) a huge favour by implementing its own policy.

I did say this just a while ago, post 108 in the previous thread:

KenS wrote:

The point gets made that if one of the NDP provincial governments would support PR, then that would do wonders for advancing PR on the national level.

I couldnt agree more. That would probably seal the deal.

But there is that word "if". As in, if pigs could fly.

Which does NOT mean its not worth trying.

But it is a hell of a lot more likely to get the federal NDP on board. AND, things may open up if the Liberals stay mired after the next election- as I think is the greatest likelihood. I cant see any provincial scene where things look as 'fertile'.

Parallel to the 'ifs' about getting one of the provinical governments on board: if the federal NDP gives real legs to PR, the provincials, including governments will be compelled to eventually fall into line.

Its not as certain to unfold so easily in that direction as in the other scenario of having a provincial government support PR. But the first step is the tricky part. Getting a provincial government on board is certainly worth trying for the people there. [And the rest of us?] But its also incomparably more difficult than getting the federal NDP really moving.

Maybe you dont agree. But since we are talking about the very same sub-topic, you could maybe acknowledge that I had just said something about it. Possibly even say why you [apparently] dont agree.

KenS

JKR wrote:

The best place for one to support fair voting is for jurisdictions where ones preferred party currently unfairly benefits from our current unfair system. For NDP supporters this means supporting fair voting for BC, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.

......

There's nothing that would stop the NDP governments in Manitoba and Nova Scotia from implementing fair voting in the near future. They would lose some political advantage but they would gain the admiration of people who respect those who put country before short term political gain.

Agreed. I addresed this here:

 

KenS wrote:

.... it is a hell of a lot more likely to get the federal NDP on board. AND, things may open up if the Liberals stay mired after the next election- as I think is the greatest likelihood. I cant see any provincial scene where things look as 'fertile'.

Parallel to the 'ifs' about getting one of the provinical governments on board: if the federal NDP gives real legs to PR, the provincials, including governments will be compelled to eventually fall into line.

..... [And] it is also incomparably more difficult than getting the federal NDP really moving.

Excerpted from post8.

Nobody says not to work on moving the boulder(s).

But they are boulders. While the federal party is at least receptive. Its not either / or. I will note that people keep returning to what would look the best, with little or no regard to integrating in whats most likely to get some results.

Sean in Ottawa

Ken, I think there is a consensus within the Federal NDP that PR would be a good thing-- some because it would help the party, some because it would reduce the chance of a majority Con government and most because it is a better reflection of the vote.

However, I can say that I have definitely been aware of people in the NDP who on principle believe this should be non-partisan. I am also aware of people who think the party would damage the chance of PR by making it partisan. And I am aware of people who were against bringing the party in to a split assuming some of the provincial wings would have difficulty because they have seen a pile on by other parties trying to keep the NDP out. BC.

I am not sorting out which I agree with but I can say with certainty, I have been aware of people who took those positions and explained them to me.

All that being said-- the federal NDP wants PR but as I say, there are people in the NDP who do not want to lead it because the feel it could cause a rift with some provinces, could actually hurt the cause, or on principle this should be pushed outside a political party. Many of those people will actually divide their efforts between PR and the NDP wanting both but not wanting to connect them too strongly.

I have never taken a poll and could not presume to know enough people in the NDP to say how strong each opinion is but I can say with certainty that these opinions exist.

I have however, not met a federal NDPer not in favour of PR at least privately so sabotage of PR from the NDP is not credible.

Sean in Ottawa

I also think the Federal NDP does not look at PR as essential to its survival-- it sees itself as being potentially successful in both systems and therefore is unlikely to raise the issue of PR above other important issues.

 

KenS

For survival reasons. But I dont think thats saying much one way or the other.

I think the ONDP has a lot more to worry about. And PR would be a great insurance policy against those downsides. But I doubt its a motivating factor even for them.

gadar

Why is a vote in Regina equal to almost 2 in Toronto. And here I thought all citizens were equal. If ever there is PR this discrepency should be removed.

Sean in Ottawa

Gadar that is a complicated issue-- First how can the unity of the country be maintained if one big city can outvote everyone else? If all votes were equal whole underpopulated regions of the country as important as they may be would become politically insignificant.

Everything else would be a hinterland to the top few cities

And that also speaks to good governance-- it is not just that those people outside of Toronto have an opinion -- they also have knowledge. It is one of the few reasons why large countries are often not coherent and don't make sense when dominated by a central majority. The solution is either to break them up in to smaller countries so large ones do not dominate small ones or create an electoral system that in parts tilts the power somewhat away from the population centres towards low population areas. The rationale is with the huge weight of population those main centres still have a huge amount of power but this compromise allows for alternate voices sufficient enough to maintain a large country. By creating balances it forces the country to talk to itself rather than allowing big areas to ignore everyone else.

This principle is one reason why the over-representation of minorities in governance serves well while the under-representation is a disaster.

PR can be managed on a provincial basis allowing for (or not) these huge vote value differences. I am in favour of PR but I am not in favour of absolute equal value of all votes because much of the country would have no voice leading to bad government and unity crisis.

This idea may be hard to get your head around but if you consider the momentum of large minorities if given equal weight instead of taking their actual weight they take all -- that is due to the democratic process and a dynamic we need to watch with checks and balances. One is a proper legal system with a constitution and basic rights and rule of law another is political compromise in highly populated areas. Already those areas, even under-represented rule the roost. In order to allow the smaller regions a voice proportionate to their size, they may need representation that is disproportionate because of the dynamics of majority rule.

This is a difficult concept to explain-- I hope I have explained well enough for some to get it or take it from here and finish but it is not anti-democratic to allow minority voices a greater political say than direct proportional voting and as I say, it can lead to greater unity and better governance.

I'll complicate this a little further and say that we could have a set Aboriginal presence for the same reason. This is controversial because some feel that it would marginalize Aboriginal voices in to a "political ghetto." Others believe it would create a needed balance bringing to the table voices not heard from enough. It introduces the idea of group rights which is problematic to some.

Like the market does not do everything, population numbers also may not and sometimes you have to engineer to a degree the structure of democracy to minimize its excesses as well.

Fidel

What the two old line parties fear most is democracy itself. Other than that they have nothing to worry about.

JKR

 

KenS wrote:

Questions: At any rate: is that more or less correct that the referendums werent initiated, even somewhat, with the influence of the NDP?

None of the referendums were initiated by the NDP.

 

The referendum in PEI was initiated by the PEI Progressive Conservative Party.  The PC Party grew disgusted with FPTP when in a previous election they received 40% of the vote but just 1 seat in the Legislature!

The referendums in BC were initiated by the BC Liberal party. The BC Liberals grew disgusted with FPTP when in a previous election the NDP won a majority government after coming in 2nd place to the BC Liberals.

The referendum in Ontario was initiated by the Ontario Liberal Party. They were also disgusted with FPTP after the election in 2000 when Harris won a fake majority with a minority of the votes and went on to implement draconian right-wing policies.

(The New Zealand Labor Party held a referendum after elections where they had more votes then the National Party in two elections in a row and the National Party won two wrong winner majority governments in a row!)

The thing in common here is that a party felt cheated out of power by FPTP and promised to replace it if voted into power. These parties critisism of FPTP was a way to delegitimize the party in power.

 

KenS wrote:

 

Is there an easy [enough] answer or summary to what the ONDP learned from the referendum?

- That closed list MMP is unpopular and proposing to add more politicians to the legislature is even more unpopular.

- That open list MMP is the way to go and never propose to increase the size of the legislature in a referendum.

 

JKR

Fidel wrote:

The two oldest political parties have to want advanced democracy before their supporters will consider voting for reforms.

If we need Conservative support, electoral reform is a non-starter. At all costs, the Conservatives will want to keep FPTP. It's the only electoral system that would allow a party that has the support of just 33% and is the least liked by by 45% to become government. The  only way the Conservatives would accept electoral reform is if they split up again into two parties like they did with the advent of Reform.

JKR

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Provincial NDP wings may feel differently-- in part this could be due to the way other parties moved against them in a coalition to stop them in BC.

In the BC referendum Bill Tielman was probably the strongest opponent of STV. He's an NDP insider who has likely the strongest media exposure of any NDP supporter in BC. He effectively led the NO STV side.

KenS

Thanks JKR. If I didnt already ask, I was wondering what the ONDP had learned from the referendum besides what form of PR people dont like.

JKR

The ONDP also learned that people need more info in order to judge electoral systems.Most Ontarians had no idea on what they were voting on. The general election totally eclipsed the referendum.

I don't think electoral reform should be decided by referendum. Requiring electoral reform to pass a referendum is like requiring union rights to pass a referendum. Basic rights should not be approved by a majority.

Doug Woodard

Fidel wrote:

Manitoba had STV from the 1920s to 1950's. The largest argument against it was that it undermined the link between representatives and their ridings. It's probably why the BCNDP wasn't all that keen on STV. And still, I believe more BC NDPers voted for STV than Liberal Party supporters.

Alberta had PR-STV in urban ridings (just Edmonton and Calgary if I recall rightly) and AV/IRV in rural ridings from 1924 to 1956.

Manitoba had PR-STV in urban ridings (I think just Winnipeg) 1920-1955, and AV/IRV in rural ridings 1924-1955.

Whatever the explicit argument against PR-STV and AV may have been, I think the real reason they were done away with is that PR-STV made it hard for the rural-interest party, or any party, to win a majority in the province, and for both large old parties it gave a voice to inconvenient minorities. And as we have just seen in Australia, AV/IRV allows supporters of small parties to vote for them, keep them on the scene,  *and* influence the final result.

Various western cities used PR-STV in their municipal elections at different times over the period 1916-1971. Again, I think it gave a voice to inconvenient minorities, and I suspect that the provincial parties didn't want it around to give people ideas. In Ontario the Municipal Elections Act prescribes plurality voting (in wards or at-large) for all the municipalities in the province; no local initiative allowed. Big Brother insists, and no doubt he has his reasons.

Doug Woodard, St. Catharines, Ontario

KenS

I havent seen any discussions among electoral reformers, but I would certainly think that people have noticed that referendums are a losing proposition.

Although I can see it being pulled off as part of a legislative process. It just may have to be that way. For example, that when and if the Liberal Party of Canada would even consider a demand from the NDP in retrun for governing support- which is only even a possibility if they remain weak.... the most that the NDP can get out of them is a promise of a referendum.

But if no one is looking to referendums as a preferred way to go, it must leave electoral reformers with lots of questions of what to build a campaign around.

Otherwise, it just leaves waiting for the political parties.

Mind you, if for the NDP to have an impact its just a matter of them taking the issue more seriously, and not being internally conflicted about whether PR is in their innterst, then how hard can it be?

So where is everyone else in getting this puppy moving?

KenS

It sure looks like electoral reformers are organizationally thin and very spread out. Its not like you have a backbone of organizations to take things up, such as among environmentalists.

That would be a very obvious obstacle in front of people. But how obvious that one is would tend to obscure the problem of figuring out what to do even if there was more organization to do it with.

There may be more chicken and egg to this than meets the eye. That the difficulties in establishing the basic starting points of what a campaign is and how it goes about things, are a large part of why there is a very limited organizational presence.

[I'm not minimizing Fair Vote Canada at all. But around other issues, FVC would be just one of several organizations working loosely together.]

KenS

Which brings up an exchange in the previous thread.

saimdave wrote:

- and then you can just imagine where we'd be today in terms of, oh, say, medicare, if a certain Sask pol named Tommy Douglas had of had an attitude like this .... guys like he and David Lewis must be flipping in their graves reading stuff like this from the party that is supposed to be fighting for the rights of the little guy .... if you start with the idea that something cannot be done and therefore there is no point in trying - well, that's what you're going to get.

 

KenS wrote:

Who said it cannot be done? Or even close?

..... I have used the example, more than once, of Tommy Douglas and the CCF bringing medicare to SK, as a template of how to bring a big project along, starting small.

The most fundamental point to that is that there is more to it than 'they did, it you know'.

And to use that case- the CCF government in Saskatchewan had a strong mandate from voters. But there was still LOTS of internal discussion about HOW they were going to explain and develop support for the large multi-faceted idea of medicare, let alone how to implement it. They didnt do it by plotting out what the finished product was going to look like and saying here it is.

It can obviously be answered that what comes first is the will to do it. The 'how,' no matter how complex and contingent, follows from that.

And from there its valid to say that what is different about the NDP and proportional representation is that the NDP doesnt have that kind of will.

And my point is equally valid that its quite sterile if that is ALL you ever have to say.

Going backward even to move from a point that at least has some utility- that it needs to be understood the NDP lacks will- backwards to moralistic flaggelation about just how bad the NDP is. Organically self-perpetuating flagellation both because it cannot decisivley be supported or refuted, and because the flagellators have a stake... even if they cant really tell you what it is.

KenS

At any rate. There is the point that the NDP lacks the will.

And the validity of that point is not effected even if we successfully establish that it goes too far to say that the NDP are so conflicted about proportional representation that all they really want is to pay lip service to PR.

And even if maybe it overstates to just baldly say the NDP lacks the will.... so what?

The NDP lacks the will. I'm not going to argue with that.

I'm also not going to argue with the idea that the ceasless flagellation of the NDP serves the purpose of holding feet to the fire. Thats rather obvious [even if questionable about how successful it is].

I still think its useful in its own right for people to have to actually think through and spell out what ceaseless criticism is supposed to achieve. But no one seems to want to, and everyone in this discussion except me lets them off the hook. So be it.

So back at the NDP lacks the will.

What next?

Keep pushing them until they change their ways? Again, if thats what it is, I'd like someone to explicitly say it. How likely is it, that is what would put the NDP over the top? The collective noise of some people that have what impact now?

Or is it just not even a question of how likely, but what else is there to do?  Which unfortunately is never admitted, allowing it to come out as 'the right thing to do'. ["You are a shmuck. I'm OK."]

The NDP isnt going to be beaten into submission by the peanut gallery. Its a lost cause.

Holding out some carrots can get results. The carrots available at hand are too puny. And where bigger carrots are supposed to come from is a very good question.

Maybe you should be able to expect more from the NDP. But is that the world we live in?

For that matter, is that the way we operate- about anything.... whether the NDP is involved or not.

There is a reason that the electoral reform movement has little idea how to proceed. Lots of ideas within the movement do not together make even a degree of consensus of what needs to be done and how to get there.

And as cynical as you have reason to be about the the NDP, its very likely that the lack of idea of how to proceed is a substantial obstacle. Just putting another foot forward doesnt cut it when what you have been doing hasnt been working.It is a cop-out to balk at figuring out what else to do. But so what. What are you going to do about it?

I have disagreed with Sean that there is a sufficiently material obstacle in NDP seeing a problem in leading the way in what needs to be a non-partisan issue. I think if that was all, it would already be solved by encouraging someone else to take the first public steps.

I think the problem lies in the same thing that baffles electoral reformists- at least those with the wisdom to know what they dont know: how to give the issue enough traction to get moving.

It doesnt matter which of those "it really is". The endpoint is the same- the NDP needs help on this.

What does it really matter that maybe they shouldnt need help? Establishing that they should just do it isnt going to get anything done.

siamdave

haha!! - a good interview with Layton on the Current today (Tuesday) - and I wonder if he hasn't had somebody reporting on our discussions here! - he gave a *very* solid comment on - well, not PR exactly, but he did take a good run at 'our ridiculous electoral system' - which is exactly the kind of thing I and others have been talking about - what Jack did today would, I presume, have used more or less zero resources - but he gave a very clear message (Ms Tremonti saw it coming and actually tried to cut him off, but he said, 'No, let me say this'..). One message is not likely to change a lot of people - but imagine this sort of thing every time, or most times, you hear some NDP person speaking - over time, it would get people thinking, and looking for more info, and that is all we want. The drive to create a demand for a change to the electoral system is going to take time - but if we never start - it never gets done. Carry on with all the other things you think are important - but start getting this into the message stream, and let it grow and build. It will be like medicare 60 years ago - it is something that is good and needed, so people *will* come around, in time. If it is pushed. It's like the long journey of a thousand miles that begins with that single step. Never take the step - never finish.

KenS

I think that if you get your wish and hear Jack Layton talking about PR like this somewhat more often, that it is STILL not the NDP moving the issue, or even taking steps.

Its more of the same of just keeping it alive. Hit the Refresh button for Status Quo.

If the NDP has had a lack of will, there is no evidence that has changed.

thorin_bane

I was about to mention it. He brought up the need and called our present system ridiculous. He did say we need PR but like you mentioned dave, Pollyanna was trying to protect the existing power structure. I think he needs to speak out about this. May would do well to talk about this too. It would make a lot of sense to sound more political than environmental. For being taken more seriously and or viable for those that support the greens.

It should sell well in the west when you figure the blocs seat count vs their pop vote is very skewed. Not that I want to see the bloc diminished, but if we had our seats topped up I think we would have perhaps a better functioning democracy. Some may argue less would be done. But this is only if you assume the libs and cons couldn't work with us at all. At least at that point you would see a grand coalition and know the air that separates the two main parties isn't very much.

KenS

More talking heads and improved webpages could be part of a supported resolution to give the issue legs.

But in themselves they are not it.

Fidel

KenS wrote:
The NDP lacks the will. I'm not going to argue with that.

I think if anything is obviously true, it's that our phony minority government and their phony opposition lack the political will to move on issues of modernizing our electoral system. They've both certainly lied to the public with platitudes for creating transparency and accountability in government.

The NDP is another story. Without an actual record in federal government, the claim above is little more than wild speculation based on an assumption. Perhaps the assumption says that because the two Bay Street parties have taken Canadian voters for granted for decades at a time, then so, too, must the NDP be lying to the voters. Here we are encouraged to assume the NDP is not only not serious about electoral reform, they must be lying about supporting electoral reform toward a proportional system. And if so, then it's too bad for the NDP that their political reputation has to be tainted by the bad performances of the two oldest and very similar political parties monopolizing federal power in Ottawa for the last 140 years in a row non-stop and twice as long as the Soviets ruled the USSR in dictatorial fashion.

But to suggest that the federal NDP will break their election promises the same as the two lying-liar parties have done for years and years is without merit. There is no precedent for such a claim against the NDP.  As for lacking the political will, perhaps electing more NDP MP's and punishing the two crooked old line parties at the polls as a result is the only way to find out if the federal NDP has political integrity or not. Ralph Nader said a number of years ago that Canadians do have a third political option. I think Canadians need to choose wisely for a change.

KenS

Note too where Jack delivered this message: to an audience heavily weighted towards who already place a substantially higher priority on PR, or at least on th importnace generally of concrete moves to improve our democracy.

If he wanted to bump the issue he would be on TV with it and talking to Sun Media.

Hit the Refresh button.

KenS

I would expect people to be saying that a lot more of that kind of talk this morning from Jack is what is required. [posts 32-35]

I'll start digging into that with how much you can do that. But that is just where to start. The real point is why its not the right kind of work to get the issue onto legs.

Layton and the Caucus in general [the institutuion, not just as the collection of MPs] have a certain amount of media time to work with. You have a bunch of other "communications time" as well. But it is in principle as limited, and much less comes back out of the pipe from using it, so parcelling out ends up not being any different as a dynamic. Since its harder to see and talkk about, leaving it does not change the discussion and makes it easier to represent and manipulate in your mind the dynamic.  

So the Caucus takes this media time, and the issues they want to cover, and they allott it. Then decide where best to look to the details where and how and who with to put it out there.  

This is a pie of a very bounded size. You can very modestly grow the pie over time- and an example of that would be the broad appreciation the media had for Jacks finessing of the difficult long gun registry situtaion.  

Growing the pie, or at least not letting it shrink, is good. But it doesnt change that there is a limited pie, and a lot of slices to cut.  

Using that scarce time available to do a lot more talking up of PR would very quickly bump up against diminishing returns. This means less time for other issues.  

True as that is, and would be compelling in its own right.... looking at the dynamic that way mostly misses the main point.      

You hit your buttons and pull your levers on the different issues. It takes talent and follow through to keep all the plates spinning.  

The plates you keep spinning are the ones that have been getting you results, or which in your estimation are likely to get you results if you have 'a hand in the game'.  

Do all this well, and some of those issues will take off on you.... and you get to capitaize because you did the advance work.  

But notice those words: an issue takes off on you. You didnt move the issue, it took off on you. Thats not reactive, but its not pro-active either.  

PR is one of those issues that is NEVER going to take off like that.  

And the corollary: no issue at all, let alone one like PR, is put over the top to taking off because you started talking about it more.  

If you want issues like PR to move- or climate change action packages for another example- you have to do more than that to get them moving. Or as I believe is the case about PR for the NDP: you just keep your hand in it for the long game, some day the environment/situation/issue alignment may change, and you'll be ready to go with it.  

The problem is not the NDPs commitment to PR. The problem is that the NDP does not do anything else for "issue development" than the button and lever pushing and pulling I described- for ANY issue.  

Nobody else does either. But thats not a useful point.

Fidel

I'm afraid there isn't much incentive for any party to take chances with politicking on any single issue today unless there is all-party consensus on the issue. The problem is that neither Liberal nor Tory party leaders believe all votes cast should be equal.

Even if the NDP were in the same governmental position enjoyed by the Harpers today with 22 percent of registered voter support under them, the NDP would still want the other two party leaders to encourage Liberal and Tory voters to support ER-PR. A public information campaign would go a long way to informing Canadians of how advanced democracy works. But without the endorsement of the two oldest political parties, ER-PR would likely fail a referendum test.

Modernizing our obsolete electoral system and closing the democracy gap will likely not happen unless Liberal and Tory parties develop a political will to do so. One would think that if the Liberals suffer another humiliation in the next federal election, then they might consider a return to the political centre and even cooperate with the NDP on the left. But I think the Liberals are still hopeful that the phony majority machine can work in their favour. Let's hope it doesn't, and that more NDP MP's are elected in order to pressure one or both of the oldest political parties to do the right thing and work toward modernizing Canada's obsolete electoral system.

Every Canadian should have the right to cast a vote and have it count for something. Fair voting is law of the land in other rich countries. It should be in Canada.

 

Wilf Day

I didn't hear Layton's interview. Someone who did reports "he stated emphatically that we had to have proportional representation to have real democracy and that this was going to be one of the conditions for the NDP supporting a party in a minority situation. It could not have been clearer." True?

psmith

siamdave wrote:

haha!! - a good interview with Layton on the Current today (Tuesday) - and I wonder if he hasn't had somebody reporting on our discussions here!

 

It's not just people here, NDP core supporers are getting antsy because nothing is being done. This is the first minor mention of anything close to proportional representation by anyone in that party for over a year. He's smart and picking up on the unease expressing itself in many ways. Unless we can assume that Layton secretly follows and posts on Rabble. Maybe he is KenS?

BTW I'm not surprised Polyanna tried to cut him off when he started to talk about electoral reform - most of the mainstream media simply aren't interested in hearing about it, convering it, or letting anyone know about it. To them, the political system used by most of the democratic world is a crackpot theory. This is just some of the establisment resistance that must be overcome whenever any new paradigms are introduced, or major progress made in a country.

 

Wilf Day wrote:

I didn't hear Layton's interview. Someone who did reports "he stated emphatically that we had to have proportional representation to have real democracy and that this was going to be one of the conditions for the NDP supporting a party in a minority situation. It could not have been clearer." True?

 

That'll be the day!

The day that the NDP discovers its backbone on the issue, that is. But even demanding some movement on the issue as a condition of support would be major progress. Maybe like having Elections Canada draw up a report of what a good proportional system would look like for the country, or a real national Citizens' Assembly with the time and independence to do a good job, etc. (But not another parliamentary committee that would be opening to politicking and bury the whole issue again).

Wilf Day

psmith wrote:
Maybe like having Elections Canada draw up a report of what a good proportional system would look like for the country.

You might think that wouldn't work. Yet the Quebec Director-General of Elections, mandated by the government to do just that, took a year to do a wonderful report. It ended up with a very similar model to that recommended by the Law Commission of Canada: open-list MMP with middle-sized regions like Scotland's (16 MPs), and Wales' (12 MPs), averaging 15 MNAs (9 local, 6 regional). But Quebec is so easy to do a 60:40 MMP model, because 60% of the 125 provincial ridings is 75 ridings, like the federal 75 ridings. However, most of Canada is almost as easy to do a 33:67 model: every group of three ridings becomes two ridings. Not easy to sell in the most remote 2% of Canada, but otherwise pretty workable.

siamdave

Wilf Day wrote:

I didn't hear Layton's interview. Someone who did reports "he stated emphatically that we had to have proportional representation to have real democracy and that this was going to be one of the conditions for the NDP supporting a party in a minority situation. It could not have been clearer." True?

You can hear it here - the PR comment is very near the end - he does not say anything about this being a condition for their support. Your friend dreaming, I suppose - many of us think it should be ....

http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/audioplayer.html?clipid=1596405418 

(not sure if this is a 'peralink' - if it does not work, just find the Current webpage and check their archives)

- geez AM is getting more like a tabloid every day - she asks him about his cancer, which I suppose is fair enough, but when he says he does not want to give particulars about his treatment - "Why not? Why don't you want to tell us about your treatment?' - we didn't used to expect American talk radio crap on the CBC.

JKR

siamdave wrote:

http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/audioplayer.html?clipid=1596405418

(not sure if this is a 'peralink' - if it does not work, just find the Current webpage and check their archives)

cbc.ca/thecurrent/2010/09/sept-2110---pt-1-ndp-leader-jack-layton.html 

Past Episodes 

 

Wilf Day wrote:

However, most of Canada is almost as easy to do a 33:67 model: every group of three ridings becomes two ridings. Not easy to sell in the most remote 2% of Canada, but otherwise pretty workable.

Sounds wonderful to me.

siamdave

JKR wrote:

 

Implementing electoral reform is different from implementing medicare because for, some strange reason, electoral reform is the only major issue that has to pass a 60% referendum. Patriating the constitution didn't even require a referendum! Let alone a super-majority.

- indeed - inagine if 'free trade' - a pretty major constitutional change sold as a 'treaty' - had of been subjected to such a referendum, it may well have done even worse than PR - I suspect they knew that, so they did it with one of their pretend-majority govs. If they want something, they just do it. If they don't - there are many ways to not do it.

JKR

 

KenS wrote:

And to use that case- the CCF government in Saskatchewan had a strong mandate from voters. But there was still LOTS of internal discussion about HOW they were going to explain and develop support for the large multi-faceted idea of medicare, let alone how to implement it. They didnt do it by plotting out what the finished product was going to look like and saying here it is.

Implementing electoral reform is different from implementing medicare because for, some strange reason, electoral reform is the only major issue that has to pass a 60% referendum. Patriating the constitution didn't even require a referendum! Let alone a super-majority.

I don't think medicare could have passed a referendum requiring a 60% yes vote. If there had been a referendum on medicare in Sask, the enemies of medicare ithere would have just said that there were other types of public health insurance that would be much better then the one proposed by Douglas. Some opposed to medicare would have argued that proposed medicare plan was too socialist while others would argue that it wasn't socialist enough. Some would say that it cost too much while others would say it wasn't broad as it should include things like optometry and dentistry.  The doctors in Sask would have used every trick in the book to cloud the issue. And in the end 58% of the voters could have voted medicare but it could have "failed", just like STV failed in BC with 58% support.  And this "failure" would have tainted medicare provincially and federally for a generation.

 

KenS wrote:

The NDP lacks the will. I'm not going to argue with that.

The federal NDP's support for PR is excellent. Not much more could be expected from a party that holds 37/308 seats.

 

KenS wrote:

The problem is not the NDPs commitment to PR. The problem is that the NDP does not do anything else for "issue development" than the button and lever pushing and pulling I described- for ANY issue.

Nobody else does either. But thats not a useful point.

Then why should electoral reform wait for the miracle of "issue development" to occur in Canada? The NDP should not be afraid to support electoral reform without a referendum. Trudeau passed the constitution without a referendum.  Mulroney passed free trade without a referendum.  Layton will pass fair voting without a referendum.....

KenS

JKR wrote:

Then why should electoral reform wait for the miracle of "issue development" to occur in Canada? The NDP should not be afraid to support electoral reform without a referendum. Trudeau passed the constitution without a referendum.  Mulroney passed free trade without a referendum.  Layton will pass fair voting without a referendum.....

Do we have to keep going down the road of surmises about what the NDP "is afraid of?" Not to mention no one said a referendum was required, or indicated that the NDP needed it as cover.

And the question is not what the federal NDP could do if it was government. Given clearing that "if", bringing in PR would be a piece of cake. The nut to crack is giving PR legs in the here and now.

Why should electoral reform wait for the miracle of issue development?

The operative words are not "Why should ". Rather they are "it does" await someone doing issue development.

 

Why should electoral reform wait for the miracle of an NDP government of Canada?

KenS

For achieving proportional reprentation it looks like some broad agreement that when it comes down to it, the NDP is the centre of the universe.

That the strategy for getting there is to talk about how good it could be if the NDP would see the light, and bitch like hell when they dont.

psmith

For acheiveing proportional representation in our lifetimes short of an Act of God, the NDP is the centre of the universe. What other party which purportedly supports PR could realistically have any chance of making sure it happens?

Re: strategy - umm, how is this strategy any different from pushing any other initiative within a political movement? If the membership is bitching like hell, then the party will start to take notice and react. That's how things change.

JKR

KenS wrote:

For achieving proportional reprentation it looks like some broad agreement that when it comes down to it, the NDP is the centre of the universe.

The NDP is just one planet in the fair voting solar system. Other planets include, Fair Vote Canada, Green party supporters, Liberals who are tired of getting cheated in places like BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba; Conservatives who are tired of getting cheated in places like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver; neo-conservatives who would want to resurrect the Reform Party, anti-Separatists who dislike the BQ having an artificial lock on Quebec, people who support Canadian unity and hate the artificial regionalism created by FPTP, and all fair minded Canadians, just to name a few.

The only places the NDP could go ahead and even think of implementing fair voting unilaterally is in Manitoba and Nova Scotia where they are the governing parties.

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