The NDP & proportional representation - #2

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Fidel

Liberal Party leaders must take up the cause for ER or we're doomed as far as advancing the case for democracy goes. No one working under the NDP banner will be successful in convincing very many LPC supporters of the need for ER. Democracy is an idea that has to come from within that party itself. At that point we add their numbers to our's, and then we can ice a decent team. Remember, it's all about democracy and not what the NDP can force onto voters supporting other parties. Attempting to coerce them on ER at this point will only antagonize 'em. They have to conjure up the force within.

Summon the force, Liberals. Want it! Ask and you shall receive. ER is an issue not so unlike the gun registry or SSM. ER is a no-brainer.

KenS

Earlier in the discussion people have put out statistics from polling of how many people support PR.

Counter-arguments were made about why this cant be counted as support the NDP can be built on. I didnt pay attention to how far that went because its a discussion that requires some difficult approximations of weighing of apples versus oranges. Not a question we could resolve here.

I also expect it is something that has been queried by NDP Caucus staff- and didnt look promising enough to warrant it being more than one among other things the NDP promotes.

But then I'm very confident that the NDP Caucus universally wants PR. Its just too much in the interest of the federal NDP. It even dovetails with the party's limited incrementalist approach to politics... being the shorter road to some kind of greater power. Screw what the provincial sections might want or not- they dont say anything, and wont be in the way. Even their bad example wont be substantially in the way.

I'm surprised that it isnt just the habitual strong critics of NDP positions who think the Caucus is just too conflicted to want to pursue PR. So I'm not sure what to make of that, or that I see it so differently. [And while it might not look like it here, I'm not exactly known within the NDP as someone who goes along with groupthink.]

Fidel

The NDP championing ER as a single issue election campaign would be like trying to wage war on two fronts in Europe. It doesn't work. Look what happened with FTA debate from 1988 to 1993. We would need an alliance with at least one other major political party and for them not bail on voters once they are elected.

KenS

I think Seans right that a weakened Liberal Party might open up enough. Even if there is a new minority government after the next election and the Liberals do nothing more than give it lip service then... presuming they come out of that government still not back to being the LPC of old.

But thats not the point in this discussion. The discussion has been about what the NDP does or doesnt do in the here and now, with even openess from the LPC being not on the horizon.

Fidel

I think the NDP is doing what it needs to do considering the dynamics of FPP campaigns and elections. We alone are not going to incite millions of non-voters to suddenly start voting. Those jaded Canadians have attended one too many shitty house parties thrown by the other two that they won't be coming back. That leaves the NDP to appeal to the narrow 59% who are bothering to vote. We put forward fiscal responsibility Tommy Douglas style, and we keep doing the little things really well, like reducing ATM fees and bank charges in general, green policies for the economy, and supporting the troops in our own way. Yes we will.

Remember, FPP rewards those parties that do the little things really well. Harper has the most well funded campaign war chest of all three parties, and they've tanked! ReformaTories are dead-even with the Liberals still after plying Canaidans with such tantalizing enticements as more vicious toadying in Afghanistan and census forms shananigans. We just go hard. Keep plugging away. Talk the talk where and whenever we can. And pound the pavement come election time. And remember to be really polite even if they slam the door on us or talk nonsense in the face of reason. Courteous and polite will win the day.

Wilf Day

KenS wrote:
I'm very confident that the NDP Caucus universally wants PR.

As am I. I also feel very confident that Jack personally wants PR every bit as much as Ed Broadbent, if not more. Ed was never able to bring the party along with him. But the same convention that elected Jack passed a resolution supporting PR, and not just a quick rubber-stamp, but a major debate on a report from a committee that had worked for two years, with a floor debate on an amendment (an unofficial minority report) to add a reference to a 5% threshold, which carried. In short, the party willingly made PR a priority in 2003.

The question is, will the federal party take any action to help move the issue forward? It can't be done by one party alone. But silence makes it look like a Green Party issue. The Alberta and Quebec Liberals, who need PR both provincially and federally, cannot be expected to stick their noses out too far when they look to be voices in Elizabeth May's wilderness. Every poll, even the botched referendums, showed PR more popular than the NDP. There's just no downside, except in the minds of the odd strategists who think medicare is our only signature issue and can't imagine Jack being "the Tommy Douglas of Democracy." But whenever Jack is in a scrum and PR comes up, he is passionate and eloquent. Unleash Jack!!!

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
I do remember the BQ as being clear about support for PR if there was ever an opportunity.

The BQ is the key but not for that reason.

True, they know PR is democratic. Duceppe has personally been a PR advocate as long as Jack. But the PQ is conflicted, because Charest's caucus came out with a poor PR model that would have helped no one but the Liberal Party, so many in the PQ started saying "PR yes, but after independence." The Bloc used to support PR, but it is gone from their website. In 2006 when Ed got a parliamentary committee to start the PR ball rolling, the Bloc wrote a perfectly accurate comment:

Quote:
While the Bloc Québécois Members of Parliament are not in Ottawa to defend the federal system, or to reform Canada's electoral system, we accept that such reform is necessary. . . we have concerns about the creation of a citizens' consultation group. The Bloc Québécois recognizes the necessity of consulting the people of Quebec and Canada on any reform of the electoral system, but it deplores the lack of precision about such a group's mandate and the way it should be set up. . . the Bloc Québécois is afraid that giving the federal government carte blanche to decide how they are to be involved will defeat the whole purpose.

An exact prediction of what Harper did when he got the anti-PR Frontier Centre for Public Policy to conduct a fake consultation.

No, the Bloc is the key to the Liberals, because the Bloc benefits from FPTP even more than the Alberta and Saskatchewan Conservatives. The majority of Canadians voted Liberal, NDP or Green in 2008. The Bloc would not have won the balance of power in 2008, nor in 2006, nor in 2004, under PR. The Liberals may finally wake up to this. For comparison, the federal PCs were the worst victims of FPTP in 1993, 1997, and 2000, and they finally woke up and supported PR at their Edmonton convention in 2002. (But then they were conned into "unite-the-right" instead.) They were somewhat slow learners. But the western Liberals have needed PR since 1979. After the Quebec Liberals needing it for three elections, the Party may have learned. As Chantal Hebert recently wrote: "If the Liberals are serious about restoring their status as a national institution, it is time for them to abandon their faith in short-term electoral short cuts and rethink their approach to a more proportional voting system." There will be Liberals who agree - let's give them a reason to come forward.

Polls showed most voters in B.C. and Ontario support a system based on proportional representation, they just didn't like the systems on offer in those referendums. The UK's Jenkins Commission gave a colourful explanation that accurately predicted why closed province-wide lists would be rejected in Canada: additional members locally anchored are "more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions."

Fidel

Okay-okay, Jack and the NDP could do more. But again, I think the choice to support ER has to come from within each of us as well as within each political party. I've changed my mind now and believe that ALL THREE or four political party leaders must support ER in order that enough people take notice. We need a federal level public information campaign over some reasonable period of time. But there has to be all-part support for ER, which is critical to the very essence of democracy itself. But we will not be successful in any attempt to impose our will on others, and those millions of Canadians will not take instruction from just the NDP on the issue.

JKR

Our anachronistic single-member plurality electoral system has created a situation whereby Canada now has the least democratic government in the developed world!

Now that Australia and the UK have coalition governments, Canada has the most illegitimate government in the developed world.

Is it too much to ask that Canada's governments represent somewhere near half of the voters?

 

Fidel

Post of the thread #58!

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

This is the time to move on PR, and if the NDP doesn't see it then I have to wonder about their judgment, instincts and principles.

siamdave

hsfreethinkers wrote:
This is the time to move on PR, and if the NDP doesn't see it then I have to wonder about their judgment, instincts and principles.

- agree in spades

Stuart_Parker

KenS wrote:
The only way that the NDP is a combination of its sections is on the level of on the ground organizing- that no one outside the party even sees, and a lot inside the NDP dont really notice it either. The federal NDP and its sections routinely are on different policy paths.

Agreed. But these different policy paths are not normally nearly as high-stakes. The NDP backing structural reforms federally that are both desperately needed and corrosive to its power provincially is a higher cost, more problematic action, than differing over something like the long gun registry.

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I already said dont think this would be a problem. Maybe someone would explain to me how it would be or some kind of evidence based on more than people's suspicions.

I don't accept this reverse onus. Your "prove it!" standard is not one you are self-applying in this debate. How about offering us something better than "I don't think that's what's going on"? We're offering a reasoned theory; you're offering bald denial. So let me put this to you: why do you think that people who rely on FPTP provincially and advocate vigorously for that system at the provincial level would have no problem functioning as good faith PR supporters at the national level?

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And I actually dont think the NDP has ever vigorously promoted PR.

You're preaching to the choir, Ken.

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This is outright pure specuation. And not even good speculation.

Why not demonstrate rather than assert this then?

Quote:
"Dion's coalition"- which probably came more from Layton- came after an election. Where was the "breakthrough possibility" under FPTP? And the possibility was over in under 60 days, so where is/was this phantom influence?

Under Dion's leadership, when we nearly came level with the Liberals in the polls, the same kind of discourse swirled around the NDP that I remember from the 1985-1988 period when it was speculated by New Democats that the country was about to undergo a European-style realignment whereby the Liberals were reduced to a rump and New Democrats finally became Canada's proper SDP. This, I imagine, had a lot to do with the policy agenda fronted by Dion and Layton not including any PR and the NDP appearing to make only the most minor efforts.

Quote:
And shots at a false majority in 1972, 2005 or 2008- who knew?

Trudeau offered Lewis PR and the NDP turned it down. That's pretty much an established fact. He did so in the wake of the 1972 campaign disaster "the Land is Strong," when New Democrats felt that looking like they had achieved economic results for people would be more likely to produce the magical realignment in '74.

So yes, I stand behind my claim that given a choice between a plausible fiction of imminent realignment and principled support for PR, the NDP consistently chooses the former.

Wilf Day

Stuart_Parker wrote:
Trudeau offered Lewis PR and the NDP turned it down. That's pretty much an established fact. He did so in the wake of the 1972 campaign disaster "the Land is Strong," when New Democrats felt that looking like they had achieved economic results for people would be more likely to produce the magical realignment in '74.

I haven't heard that. Link?

I have heard claims that Trudeau offered Ed Broadbent PR in 1980, which I do not believe is true. He did offer Ed a coalition, with several NDP cabinet ministers, as a result of the Liberal wipe-out in the West, which Ed and the caucus turned down. But as for PR, Trudeau's 1980 Speech from the Throne promised a parliamentary committee on electoral reform, but then his own caucus shot down even a committee, so he could not have offered PR to Ed.

remind remind's picture

Oh, so stuart you are taking an example from 30+ years ago to bolster  your  nonsensical premise of the NDP consistently choosing FPTP and denying PR.

~

...it is becoming pretty damn sickening around here in respect to the fabrications, and distorations,  in respect to the NDP and indeed the name calling, actually labelling would be more accurate, of those who are NDP partisans, in a real way, is actually verbal abuse.

Fidel

Wilf Day wrote:

Stuart_Parker wrote:
Trudeau offered Lewis PR and the NDP turned it down. That's pretty much an established fact. He did so in the wake of the 1972 campaign disaster "the Land is Strong," when New Democrats felt that looking like they had achieved economic results for people would be more likely to produce the magical realignment in '74.

I haven't heard that. Link?

I have heard claims that Trudeau offered Ed Broadbent PR in 1980, which I do not believe is true. He did offer Ed a coalition, with several NDP cabinet ministers, as a result of the Liberal wipe-out in the West, which Ed and the caucus turned down. But as for PR, Trudeau's 1980 Speech from the Throne promised a parliamentary committee on electoral reform, but then his own caucus shot down even a committee, so he could not have offered PR to Ed.

Well I'm impressed to know that their supporters think as highly of PR enough to want to imagine that it happened. It's a good sign.

 

Stuart_Parker

remind wrote:
Oh, so stuart you are taking an example from 30+ years ago to bolster  your  nonsensical premise of the NDP consistently choosing FPTP and denying PR.

Only if you ignore the other examples from the past five years that I put in exactly the same post.

genstrike

Here's my thoughts on PR, and I have a feeling they are going to be controversial:

I find it hard to care.  It seems to me like it is promoted by people in the NDP simply because they want more seats.  It seems to me like the NDP wants PR federally and for every province but BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

Some people think that if the NDP gets PR then it will get more seats (not just from PR itself, but they're convinced that there are a lot of people voting strategically, or who would switch if the NDP ever overtakes the Liberals just once) and lead to a new era of progressive social change.  Fair enough on the "more seats" part, but it's a big mistake to assume that simply getting more increasingly Blairite NDPers elected will solve all your problems.  It hasn't been working in provinces with NDP majority governments, and it sure as hell won't work to just bring the federal NDP caucus from 30-something to 60-something.

So, my opinion is electoral reform, sure (FPTP is a crappy system), but don't pretend it's something more than a new way to divide the spoils of electoral politics between black, white and orange cats.

Fidel

Except the orange cats are really mice and not enjoying any cheese donations or influence pedaling by the fat-cats on Bay Street.

PR is about one mouse equaling one vote in mouseland, and nothing more complicated than that.

Quote:
It hasn't been working in provinces with NDP majority governments, and it sure as hell won't work to just bring the federal NDP caucus from 30-something to 60-something.

56. We should at least have had 56 seats in '08 if rep was proportional. Under an actual PR system, the seat counts would be different altogether.

One person one vote -that's all we want. FPTP is election fraud.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

In my opinion, genstrike, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Many of the posters who have been most strongly in support of PR, including me, are not NDP members, and only vote for that party because we have an FPTP system. If we had a PR system, there is a good chance we might have a true left wing party that could get 5% or more of the vote, and thus 16 or more seats. In that case, I'd be putting my vote there, instead of with the NDP.

And, while I don't personally support the Green party, the million or more people who do support them also deserve to have their votes count. Same goes for right wing, even religious parties, which I abhor. Despite my opinion of them, if this is to be a democracy, they deserve representation in parliament as well.

Most importantly, the false majorities which have made almost all the important decisions in Canadian history would be a thing of the past. Maybe getting closer to actual democracy isn't of much importance to you, but it sure as hell is to me.

 

remind remind's picture

Stuart_Parker wrote:
remind wrote:
Oh, so stuart you are taking an example from 30+ years ago to bolster  your  nonsensical premise of the NDP consistently choosing FPTP and denying PR.

Only if you ignore the other examples from the past five years that I put in exactly the same post.

 

Just re-read your post again, and indeed saw no such thing.

 

Please do indicate what examples you gave....

Stuart_Parker

remind wrote:
Just re-read your post again, and indeed saw no such thing.

Please do indicate what examples you gave....

So, we have Layton signing on to save the Martin government in 2005 with no PR in the deal. We have Layton agreeing on a multi-point policy agenda with Dion in 2008 with no PR in the deal. Is that sufficiently clear?

remind remind's picture

LOL

Stuart_Parker

remind wrote:

LOL

You know what I love about you, remind? The respect, precision and sophistication with which you engage with people who do not agree with you. If only our whole democratic socialist movement could be modeled on the high calibre of discourse that you model.

melovesproles

Quote:
It seems to me like it is promoted by people in the NDP simply because they want more seats. 

 

That's true but there are a lot of people outside of the NDP that support PR because they want to see an improvement of our archaic democracy. I'm surprised the only people you know who support PR are NDP partisans, that's certainly not the situation in BC.

 

Quote:
It seems to me like the NDP wants PR federally and for every province but BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

 

That's also true and as it's been pointed out by others on here the NDP has blown it on this issue and has very little credibility left. There are clearly too many in the party's brass who take the Stockholm analysis of Canadians that they are stupid and oblivious to both the broken nature of our democracy and blatant hypocrisy.

 

This could have been a winner for the NDP but they would have had to step outside just trying to score short term partisan points and instead taken a long term strategy of pushing the issue and worked towards building a non-partisan alliance dedicated to electoral reform. There have been lots of opportunities for that but I don't see it happening anymore, that ship has sailed.

KenS

melovesproles wrote:

That's also true and as it's been pointed out by others on here the NDP has blown it on this issue and has very little credibility left. There are clearly too many in the party's brass who take the Stockholm analysis of Canadians that they are stupid and oblivious to both the broken nature of our democracy and blatant hypocrisy.

Thats an attribution of positions to people. Its not even accurate about what Stockholm said, let alone its a dismissive tactic to take what one person says as representing everyone else with a similar position. It sure as hell isnt remotely like anything I said, and I object to being included in your charicature.

But you are welcome if you want to back that up with actual people saying that Canadians are stupid and oblivious to the problems of our democracy.

KenS

Stuart on the history in the NDP. I also dont think you are right about Trudeau and Lewis. I dont have definite knowledge of that, but I do pay attention, and Wilf Day pays more attention than me. Both of us dont think that sounds right.

Now I know you are dead wrong and winging it on what you impute about the last several years. The only evidence you have is talk in the NDP increasing on the theme of overtaking the Liberals. At best, thats not evidence that it realigns peoples thinking on what is best for the NDP. In other words, and again at best, you only have a plausible case of motive.

I know or know of some of the people who engage in that kind of talk. For one thing they are a minority in the 'inner circle. Its certainly considered credible, but not bought into by everyone- especially as something 'just around the bend'. and even those who buy into it going on doing the day to day stuff and planning for next month as if such ideas had nothing at all to do with strategy. In fatc, they think they can get there by doing this incrementalist stuff. Keep doing it, and one day we're there. Doesnt even make sense to me. But thats neither here nor there. The point is that watching them do what they do, you dont see even evidence they take seriously the big talk.

Let alone 1972, you named 3 times in the last several years when you think the NDP was getting jazzed up about the big breakthrough that was coming under FPTP condidtions- "so we wouldnt want to spoil that". You've given no evidence at all of even one of those.

"So, we have Layton signing on to save the Martin government in 2005 with no PR in the deal. We have Layton agreeing on a multi-point policy agenda with Dion in 2008 with no PR in the deal. Is that sufficiently clear?"

You think that is proof? Sure sounds like you think so.

Occams Razor: even Dion- as desperate a possible tool as we could ever hope to have- would not take supporting PR as a condition from the NDP [it would secure him a certain deposing, as opposed the maybe deposing he got]. And as badly as the Liberals will need the NDP when Harper doesnt get his majority, demanding anything more than a plebiscite would be a non-starter, and my guess is that even a plebiscite might be a deal breaker [though they are getting progressivley more fearful of their future]. And Martin? Martin refused to even negotiate on privatizing healcare. So the NDP demanding PR as a condition is a joke.

Circumstantial evidence is what yoiu have at best- if you could make a case that PR could have been extracted from the Liberals.

 

"So let me put this to you: why do you think that people who rely on FPTP provincially and advocate vigorously for that system at the provincial level would have no problem functioning as good faith PR supporters at the national level?"

First of all cut down the framing to appropriate size: people dont advocate vigorously for FPTP because they dont have to. They do nothing. [And if you want PR, let you stew over them as the inconsistency.]

Like I said, we dont need them. You are right, they wont help. But thats very small potatoes next to other obstacles.

Remember that I'm the one who said its not as easy to REALLY put PR into play as people think. And that is just not a contributing problem.

Polunatic2

Quote:
All you are looking for is something between 25 and 50% of policy staffing resources. Reallocated from where? what issues?

You're kidding, right? Here's a "starter plan" that might require a policy person for 25-50% of two days, a writer for a couple of hours and a webmaster for a couple more hours.   

1) Set up a section on the website called "proportional representation" or "electoral reform" or "voting system reform". Perhaps make it a sub-tab of "Governance" on the "Vision" menu. 

2) Write a short introductory statement that unequivocally states that the NDP will support ANY form of PR that it can negotiate with the other parties because ANY FORM OF PR has got to be better than FPTP and that's because, as Fidel says, it gives all voters equal votes. Stubbornly clinging to one type of PR does make the party look self-serving and gives the party an out (e.g. BC referendum)

3) Link to all existing federal & provincial policies on PR including the 2003 policy that does not seem to be available. 

4) Link to Fair Vote Canada, other groups and academia where detailed resources about PR models exist on their websites. 

5) Update the section periodically when there is new content to post. 

6) Ensure that all MPs have PR talking points that they can use at the appropriate times but as often as possible. 

remind remind's picture

Stuart_Parker wrote:
remind wrote:
LOL

You know what I love about you, remind? The respect, precision and sophistication with which you engage with people who do not agree with you. If only our whole democratic socialist movement could be modeled on the high calibre of discourse that you model.

Why thank you Stuart, I am surprise that you realized the extent of my economy of words in respect to your empty positions. It is a skill I have honed over the years of dealing with men who are too full of their own privilege, though I shoulda started using it here sooner.

As I leave the long rebuttal diatribes over nonsense to the other male posters these days, as opposed to wasting my time.

KenS

There is a misunderstanding. Or multiple. You listed some staff resources. As it read, it would take that much of the staff resources.

Apparently that isnt what you meant. But even if you did mean it, as I assumed at the time, in quoting me you left out the part where I said doesnt matter, I'll take it as you saying more could be devoted.

The website is pathetic all around, so judging what it doesnt have on any issue is kind of pointless. The "little things" like that are not done on countless issues.And the lack of interactivity goes beyond the website.

ETA on point 6) :

There wont be opportunities to use the talking points if the NDP does not make them happen. They arent lying out there. The present situation being bad is not iin itself an opportunity to talk and be heard. Those opportunities happen when you prepare the ground. [And none of your previous 5) would subsatantively contribute to doing that.]

KenS

This is a big part of the problem, the difference here.

People think that you move an issue by talking, having talking points, issue press releases.

When you do all that, and its an empty room, what next?

Fidel

I liken PR to SSM rights and women's rights, children's rights etc. It's a no brainer and shouldn't even be up for debate. We need to help/cajole the two oldest political parties in Canada to recognize equal voting rights in our fair country. The struggle for democracy continues.

psmith

hsfreethinkers wrote:

Well Ken, the voting system is pretty fundamental to a democracy, and the NDP should be talking about PR regardless of whether they think it has "traction" [...]

Exactly what other 'issues' do the NDP place above this one, in terms of long-term strategy? Whatever the issues, obviously the NDP is currently a very small voice, and substantially increasing the seat count (almost doubling it, actually) would make that voice stronger in all other issues - so surely focusing on a long-term strategy like getting PR known and accepted by Cdns would be a more useful use of resources than simply responding to short term hot-button issues promoted by the major parties and/or MSM?

 

Bravo. Recently NDP strategists have been copying the unsuccessful strategy of the Green Party on this. Every election, I end up arguing with Green Party activists that put 75% of their time and effort into making noise so that Elizabeth May gets into the TV debates. If they spent as much time & energy to educate Canadians on why electoral reform was so important, they would be much farther ahead in the long term. But like NDP activists (and leadership, apparently), they can't see beyond the latest hot-button issue.

For a minute let's set aside the obvious democratic and policy advantages that proporational representation could offer Canada, and look at naked self-interest. The NDP have to start playing the long game, and they have to start realizing that for them to get real power to change things - consistently for every election going forward - there has to be fair and proportional voting system in place. No other single policy reform will put the federal NDP closer to the levers of power, forever.

New Democrat apologists sometimes give excuses for the party paying lip service to electoral reform by telling you that it's not an issue that Canadians care about (so why bother with it). If Canadians indeed couldn't care less about proportional representation, it's not electoral reformers who have a major problem, it's the NDP - they are the ones that will pay the biggest price by being marginalized for as long as we have first-past-the-post. No other party in Parliament is hampered more by lack of true democratic representation in this country.

If there's progress to be had, the NDP has to start taking ownership of the issue. Start educating voters, start moving on the issue. It's good politics for the long-term, and it's just plain good policy.

psmith

Fidel wrote:

The NDP championing ER as a single issue election campaign would be like trying to wage war on two fronts in Europe.

 

Straw man argument. I haven't read a single person suggest that the NDP should campaign on ER as a single issue election campaign. Some people on this thread who are apologists for the party doing nothing on ER in the last few years seem to think that's what the pro-PR people are asking for. It is not, as far as I've read - just make it a principal part of a whole election platform. Important - not the be all and end all. Because right now it's been relegated so far back on the burner that people have to wonder about the sincerity.

KenS

I agree that PR is in both the interests of the NDP and GPC. [And people have suggested only plausible motives that the NDP leadership does not really see PR as in their interests.]

And I also have made the point that even though the GPC says more than does the NDP about PR, it isnt categorically more. And by the same way I judge the NDP- the actions of the GPC leadership shown in what issues they actually put time into, by that where-is-the-beef measure, PR isnt really a priority.

So in bothe parties' case, its in their interest, but they dont make it a priority.

How do people explain that?

Fidel

PR has been a platform plank of the NDP's for years. The NDP declared a motion to restart the federal study on electoral reform in May of 2007. Of course, it was voted down by the two oldest political parties like every other Parliamentary motion originating from the NDP.

The NDP still does have to play by FPP electoral dynamics, an obsolete method of voting which tends to punish voters not voting for the two mainstream parties. The NDP has to strike a balance between all promoting all progressive issues and doing what it takes to have as many democratic voices in Parliament as possible and speaking out on behalf of the widest range of progressive issues on behalf of Canadians as possible.

The NDP knows what the results are when it puts all its eggs in one basket and becomes a one issue party. The FTA-NAFTA debates are a bad example of that happening with the majority of Canadians betrayed on those major issues of trade and economic sovereignty. Those people wishing the NDP to please commit FPP electoral suicide by transforming itself into a one issue party will probably continue to be disappointed. The NDP is still an important voice in Parliament regardless of how distorted the vote to seat counts are. The NDP owes it to its support base to win as many seats as it can every FPP election. It's what the NDP will attempt  to do every election. The NDP will probably not become a one issue party anytime soon. I think it would be political suicide for the NDP to abandon the fight for medicare and women and children's rights to focus on an issue which the two mainstream parties are not ready to deal with. That decision has to come from within those two parties for ER and PR to stand a real chance in Canada. As it was with the FTA-NAFTA and GST debates, the NDP simply does not have the resources to do an effective public information campaign for PR. If I am not mistaken,  in every country where ER-PR was successful, there was a national level effort to educate voters.

Polunatic2

Quote:
People think that you move an issue by talking, having talking points, issue press releases.

When you do all that, and its an empty room, what next?

I think we're having a hard time understanding each other and that's unfortunate. 

I don't agree that the room is empty. Nor would I say that it's full if you're referring to voters. Life is complicated and people are able to have views on multiple issues at the same time. Awareness of PR has probably never been higher in Canada. Most of our society is politically apathetic, except at election time. For a lot of people, politics has become a bad reality tv show and the notion of civic responsibility (and engagement) has become just another consumer choice. They mistrust politicians and political parties. They're barraged with sound bites and gimmicks. It's a sad state of affairs.

So "what's next"? I guess the answer to that question depends on the objectives and being able to have effective short, medium and long term plans - to operate strategically. "What's next" includes prioritizing "democracy" itself as it is under steady and vicious attack by the Harper Conservative agenda. How politics are done is probably just as important to the voters as good (or bad) policy. Build it and they will come. Let it erode and it might die. There are new generations of voters and citizens coming of age who don't like what they see and need to understand why politics appear so fucked up. Who's going to tell them the truth about our rotten electoral system and our rotten economic system? 

Fidel

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of the NDP taking a huge gamble on ER-PR as psmith suggests. I just know that it would be political suicide for the NDP to focus off of the wide range of issues to concentrate on ER. It's a huge gamble and one that I think would not reap the rewards people like psmith suggest it might.

In fact, if the NDP were to lose very many seats, the pressure would be off the Liberals and Tories to even consider ER-PR. That's all those two parties care about right now is winning the much coveted phony majority dictatorial power in Ottawa and transforming even more Canadian votes into frustrated non-voters. The idea here with FPP is to punish and frustrate voters who support all three parties in general, but at the same time, it's good to punish voters of third and fourth parties even moreso. And the best way to frustrate NDP and Green party voters is to make every FPP as hard a go as possible. There is a marathon poker game in progress ever since Layton became head of the party.  And he has the two big money players at the table sweating a little. I at least want to see how this game plays out. FPP is like a card game of baseball poker, or perhaps bullshit poker. Or is FPP more like a box of chocolates? Stale and moldy chocolates?

Polunatic2

Quote:
those people wishing the NDP to please commit FPP electoral suicide by transforming itself into a one issue party will probably continue to be disappointed. 

Puh-lease Fidel. Even if you actually believe that anyone is promoting a "one issue party" (without a shred of evidence); and even if you believe that it could result in "electoral suicide", the tactic of casting aspersions ("those people wishing") on the motives of people with whom you disagree is sleazy and unnecessary. You are labeling us as enemies as a way to win an argument. Please stop it. 

psmith

KenS wrote:

And I also have made the point that even though the GPC says more than does the NDP about PR, it isnt categorically more. And by the same way I judge the NDP- the actions of the GPC leadership shown in what issues they actually put time into, by that where-is-the-beef measure, PR isnt really a priority.

I don't agree with you there. But I'm not going to get dragged into a debate about who means more per word said or is more sincere about PR when they talk about it - the NDP or GPC. It doesn't matter anyways. One thing that the NDP could do at any time that the GPC can't is table legislation on PR, or raise it in debate in the House of Commons. Heck, they could at least put a couple of web pages on their website up about it. Or talk to the NDP base about PR. But they haven't done any of these things since around the turn of the milennium. So forgive us former or wavering New Democrat supporters for doubting sincerity. Many of us live in provinces with NDP long-standing governments who are just as dead-set against PR as any Liberal or Conservative government has ever been ...and thus some doubt whether being a New Democrat is right for them. Yes, we see the "actions/words" hypocrisy as plain as day.

If PR really is an NDP important policy like some people here are saying, how come not a single New Democrat provincial government has implemented it - or even put it forward as a proposal? Nothing could help the cause of PR in Canada more than a province adopting it, and showing other Canadians over time that it isn't the devil incarnate and can actually work. One single New Democrat government doing that could really douse burning fears Canadians have about PR (enflamed by Lib/Cons and others wanting to keep the status quo).

I'd like to hear the apologists come out with their reasons/exuses for that one.

KenS

Polunatic2 wrote:

How politics are done is probably just as important to the voters as good (or bad) policy.

 

Agreed, Very much.

 

Polunatic2 wrote:
Build it and they will come.

 

We dont agree. And as you said, hard to even agree about what we dont agree about. But not hopeless.

We probably agree at least that there is a gap between people care about how politics is done, and connecting that to PR as a solution. [Though it would be nice if people would acknowledge that they arent the same thing.]

The difference would be in how much it takes to close that gap.

Obviously, it takes more work.

How do you resolve the difference around 'more work alone doesnt cut it?' I dont know the answer to that.

 

One thing I'd add is that part of the difficulty in the gap between people desiring better done politics and PR as solution, is that a lot of the 'gap' to be covered is around the fundamental lack of faith even in what it is you want to reform. "What good is PR going to do?" Damn good question. There is a lot of chicken and egg in this that isnt aced by PR.

 

Polunatic2 wrote:

Let it erode and it might die. 

 

True of everything important. and...?

 

Polunatic2 wrote:

There are new generations of voters and citizens coming of age who don't like what they see and need to understand why politics appear so fucked up. Who's going to tell them the truth about our rotten electoral system and our rotten economic system? 

 

Which of course gets back to what the disagreement is about, and from my side, truth telling is not sufficient. If it was, we wouldnt be where we are.

And of course people dont mean it as simplistically as literaly just truth telling- "I speak, they hear". But I think you do mean in practice something far enough down the continuum, that just does not work for us.

Fidel

I think I will leave FPP strategy to the strategists. And I'm sorry, but FPP is still very much in play in Canada. We meed shrewd leaders in the NDP not kamikaze strategy IMHO. I'm not labelling anyone as enemies, and I resent that remark.

The NDP has obligations to the widest range of Canadians to stick to our guns and try to be a democratic voice for as many people as possible. IMO, we would lose support if all we did was focus on ER-PR. Under FPP, every party has to appeal to as many voters as possible, and the best way to do that is to multi-task. Spend too much time on one issue, and the results are simply not worth it. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is with FPP.  And I don't see the NDP as slackers when it comes to addressing the widest range of progressive issues as possible. The NDP is working very hard right now. And as everyone who knows PR should also realize, the NDP has to work a lot harder than the other two parties for every seat we do win. We can't give them an inch, or there will be even fewer NDP MPs representing all of those platform planks including ER-PR. And then where will we be?

KenS

I didnt want to get into degree points either. You did say in your post its in the NDPs interest too. so I took it from there.

We agree that the GP isnt putting as a high a priority on PR as you would think given its in their interests.

You think that even if PR is in the NDPs interest, its not in the interest of the people in the NDP that matter. Thats close enough for our purposes to what you said. So leave the NDP out. Why doesnt the GPC make it a higher priority?

Fidel

Yep, here we go with the FPP politicking again. Fooey on that. psmith, here's your chance to make fools out of all those provincial NDP governments dictating things to Ottawa. Support PR and vote NDP federally, and let's someday force provincial NDP governments to see the light on ER on a national level.

psmith

Fidel wrote:

IMO, we would lose support if all we did was focus on ER-PR. Under FPP, every party has to appeal to as many voters as possible, and the best way to do that is to multi-task.

Again: no-one is saying the NDP should spend all their time on this one issue. All they are saying is please please spend some time on this issue. As has been pointed out the party has spent zero time on it lately: the Critic hasn't done anything, it hasn't been brough up in Parliament at all, and there isn't even any communications with NDP supportrs on it at all (which should be preaching to the choir). And as Wilf Day pointed out, when Jack speaks on it he is both passionate and eloquent, why not use that?

Would one single press conference, amongst many others during an election campaign, be so much effort to make for an "important policy plank"? Would Harper or Ignatieff be more credible than Layton to Canadians on this issue? All that has to be done is to frame the issue as Parliament and the system is "dysfunctional" or "not working" and is "increasingly unstable" and this reform is a fundamental part of the cure... not exactly difficult messaging for people to grasp, and it would at least open up a debate on the issue. Proroguing laid the groundwork.

I disagree with your assumption that talking about PR will lose the NDP votes. It will energize the party faithful and outside the party will appeal most to young, educated voters, especially women, if it is spoken of in moderation with other issues (exactly the demographic that mostly votes Liberal right now).

What's sad is that the NDP seems to want to sweep PR under the rug completely right now.

Fidel

They're too busy trying to stand out as the greenest party in the land. And look at the results. I'm not scoffing at a party that takes environmental issues so seriously. It's just that the environment really is a high priority, and look how FPP rewards a one-issue party. It's a travesty of democracy. The Greens should be an important democratic voice in Ottawa, and they aren't there. Not a single MP.

WE NEED A UNITED FRONT ON THE LEFT if we are to make good things happen in this country. We have to play their game and be better at it than them.

In school, kids learn that homework and long term goals require a lot of work. Inch by inch it's a cinch. But mile by mile, it's a pile. There are few shortcuts to democracy. It's not going to be easy. Bay Street and rightwing think tanks won't make it easy for us.

Jack is fully open to shortcuts to democracy and has indicated to the Liberal Party in the recent past that his door is open to discussions. That's the only short cut that I know of. ER-PR has to be a democratic decision though. This is a basic truth and isn't going to change soon.

JKR

Fidel wrote:

I liken PR to SSM rights and women's rights, children's rights etc. It's a no brainer and shouldn't even be up for debate. We need to help/cajole the two oldest political parties in Canada to recognize equal voting rights in our fair country. The struggle for democracy continues.

 

Since the fairness of the electoral system is a basic democratic right, it should not be subject to a referendum.

The best way to establish electoral reform is for the political parties to put it in their platforms and establish it when they are in government.

Another way to establish PR would be to take the issue to the courts and have the Supreme Court support PR as a basic part of democracy. The one million people who vote for the Green Party and get no representation would have a very strong argument.

JKR

Polunatic2 wrote:

Quote:
All you are looking for is something between 25 and 50% of policy staffing resources. Reallocated from where? what issues?

You're kidding, right? Here's a "starter plan" that might require a policy person for 25-50% of two days, a writer for a couple of hours and a webmaster for a couple more hours.   

1) Set up a section on the website called "proportional representation" or "electoral reform" or "voting system reform". Perhaps make it a sub-tab of "Governance" on the "Vision" menu. 

2) Write a short introductory statement that unequivocally states that the NDP will support ANY form of PR that it can negotiate with the other parties because ANY FORM OF PR has got to be better than FPTP and that's because, as Fidel says, it gives all voters equal votes. Stubbornly clinging to one type of PR does make the party look self-serving and gives the party an out (e.g. BC referendum)

3) Link to all existing federal & provincial policies on PR including the 2003 policy that does not seem to be available. 

4) Link to Fair Vote Canada, other groups and academia where detailed resources about PR models exist on their websites. 

5) Update the section periodically when there is new content to post. 

6) Ensure that all MPs have PR talking points that they can use at the appropriate times but as often as possible. 

 

The NDP should come up with their preferred system. This would come in handy if and when the NDP ever finds itself in negotiations with the Liberals over support of a coalition or minority government. The NDP officially supports MMP but has not come out in favour of a particular form of MMP. Coming up with a detailed version of MMP would move electoral reform forward.

Most people who support PR seem to prefer either an open list system like Bavaria's or a best near-winner version like Baden-Wurttemberg's. Personally I prefer Baden-Wurttemberg's best runners up version. Baden-Wurttemberg's system would probably be the easiest sell in Canada. I would make one change to Baden-Wurttemberg's system; I'd use AV instead of single member plurality to select constituency members.

For many people who support PR the debate over the best system seems to have whittled down to Bavaria vs Baden-Wurttemberg or open list vs no list/best near-winner.

The NDP could be at the fore-front of democratic reform if it came up with an excellent model of MMP.  And NDP members in Manitoba. New Brunswick, and,  BC, could immeasurably help the process along if they ensured that NDP provincial governments implement PR ASAP.

psmith

Fidel wrote:

Yep, here we go with the FPP politicking again. Fooey on that. psmith, here's your chance to make fools out of all those provincial NDP governments dictating things to Ottawa. Support PR and vote NDP federally, and let's someday force provincial NDP governments to see the light on ER on a national level.

Make you a deal: if the federal NDP moves significantly at all on the issue to show that they're serious about it (eg. like introducing legislation before the next election, or focusing on it for one single day or a single major announcement during a 5+ weeks-long election campaign) then I will be reassured and can support the federal NDP in that effort. But as things stand right now, there's just no evidence that they give a hoot federally, or will push the provincial governments on it. Ever.

You probably think I'm just about alone amongst Canadians in this being important (even now after all the proroguement drama, the increasing dictatorial concentration of powers in the PMO, and successive unstable minority parliaments, all circling the issue). But you'd be wrong. I'm here talking about it because I was turned onto it by friends over coffee.

And no, I'm not an electoral reform wonk and don't have a grad degree in voting systems. I don't even have a degree, even if I do take an interest in politics and I'm concerned about what's happening to this country. I have a mortgage and drive a pickup and drink coffee at Tim Horton's. Remember those polls showing that more & more Canadians are turning on to PR and the issue as a whole in recent years? I'm one of them.

Fidel

psmith wrote:
Make you a deal: if the federal NDP moves significantly at all on the issue to show that they're serious about it (eg. like introducing legislation before the next election, or focusing on it for one single day or a single major announcement during a 5+ weeks-long election campaign) then I will be reassured and can support the federal NDP in that effort. But as things stand right now, there's just no evidence that they give a hoot federally, or will push the provincial governments on it. Ever.

The courts in Quebec have said that ER is a political issue. I think they are on to something. I think referendum would legitimize such an important issue as ER. We wouldn't want them to ram a bill through Parliament without any debate to hand all federal powers of money creation and credit to six large privately owned banks would we? In fact, they did it in 1991. No debate, and no referendum either. We should not resort to their dictatorial methods. Choice is an important underlying theme of populism and the very essence of democracy itself. There are other important reforms which need introducing as well, like transparency and accountability in government, and a non-elected senate still representative of a bygone era when rich land owners were the only ones considered fit to rule over the common rabble. Harper lied

JKR

Fidel wrote:

If I am not mistaken,  in every country where ER-PR was successful, there was a national level effort to educate voters.

Countries that have PR received PR the way we received single-member plurality (SMP). Just like here in Canada, political elites established their electoral systems.

New Zealand is one notable exception where a referendum was required.

In countries where the political elites have felt that minorities must be respected, PR has been established.

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