A unicameral PR House of Commons: How would it 1) be achieved and 2) function well?

93 posts / 0 new
Last post
chamberred
A unicameral PR House of Commons: How would it 1) be achieved and 2) function well?

-

chamberred

Thomas Mulcair continues to roll out the roll up the red carpet campaign. While I admire the NDP's consistency on Senate abolition, going back to its CCF days, I harbour many reservations about this position, which I've expressed in a couple other threads. However, I've had virtually no response to the questions I posed, so here's a thread specifically for such concerns.

The Senate is not the only institution in need of change. A House of Commons elected by first-past-the-post (FPP) produces false majorities and leaves many ballots "wasted." Power has concentrated in the position of PM to a degree very unhealthy for democracy. The position of Governor-General needs updating. And are MPs appreciated more as voices of their constituents in Ottawa, or as shoulders for party leaders to stand on? These questions are inter-related.

So assuming the Senate is abolished, how would the rest of Canada's federal government structure then be further reformed, in the unicameral framework that remains?

chamberred

My questions go out mainly, but not exclusively, to supporters of the NDP agenda on parliamentary reform. So after Senate post-mortem celebrations wind down, how would further reforms be achieved? What are the obstacles and how would they be overcome, and reforms broadly approved? After those high-jumps are cleared, what guarantee would there be that the reforms work smoothly as intended? Would they be easy to modify if the need became apparent? It would take several election cycles to see how things function in practice.

The NDP favors abolition of the Senate and a proportionally elected House. Has the party thought about what to do if it cannot implement its PR House? Or if it gets fundamentally twisted in some way, like getting stuck with the PV favored by Trudeau? How well will a unicameral PR House (for example under an mixed-member proportional system), generously assuming it can be "sold" to Canadians, work in a Westminster system, especially if minority governments are foreseen to become the norm? How to check PM power; what's to prevent a manipulator like Harper from playing his games, for example in a Con-Lib or Lib-Con grand coalition? With regional top-up seats in an MMP system, would that mean a stronger presence of regional based parties such as the Bloc Quebecois and Wildrose in the House?

The biggest challenges to overcome in achieving a unicameral PR House of Commons capable of serving Canadian democracy well: 1) Convincing the public across this varied country to accept one form of PR as the best choice, given the many variables that can be adjusted.  2) Educating the public to accept coalitions as the norm. Fixed election dates would be needed, but then I see the possibility of deadlocked unicameral Parliaments towards the ends of those terms, as parties dig into positions before an election 3) Devising a check on PM power is needed regardless of election systems and the results they produce (I think Lib-Con coalitions would be quite possible, and single party majorities not impossible).

David Young

Wanting a more responsible House of Commons is admirable, but as long as we have Liberal and Conservative governments, wishing for P.R. is all that it will be...wishing.

The two old-line parties know they benefit the most from the present system, and will fight tooth and nail to preserve it.  And they will have the backing of Corporate Canada to maintain the status quo for as long as they can do so.

I would rather spend my time and energy in defeating the current government than endlessly disscussing how things would be better IF they were replaced.

Let's get our priorities in place first.  Defeat Harper with a Mulcair-led NDP majority, and then start talking about changing the electoral system...not the other-way-round!

 

chamberred

The GG was traditionally a check on the PM, but democracy has progressed since the colonial era -- so now the PM appoints his/her own check on power?

Canada's chief executive (PM) is the leader of the top party in the legislative branch (HoC) but exercises extensive control over party members. Is a unicameral Parliament to check PM power only by dissolving itself and forcing elections? Harper was a master at playing chicken during his minority PM days.

chamberred

David Young wrote:

Let's get our priorities in place first.  Defeat Harper with a Mulcair-led NDP majority, and then start talking about changing the electoral system...not the other-way-round!

The need for reforms I mentioned above require more than the input of a single political party. These topics are relevant if parliamentary reform is turned into an election issue. My reservations with the NDP position of Senate abolition and a unicameral PR House might be enough to incline me towards voting for a different progressive party. I don't like this Senate, but I feel bicameralism could serve a complex federation like Canada well.

(As for defeating the Conservatives, I'd like to see the other parties cooperate, as suggested by Cullen-Murray-May -- but that's a different thread topic.)

 

Geoff

While I appreciate the intent of the reforms proposed here, I would caution people not to get their hopes up for any fundamental change, as long as the key economic decisions are being made by an elite, mostly based outside of Canada.  Globalization has hog-tied a wide range of parliamentary systems, and we should not make the mistake of fetishizing electoral and institutional reform. Our "democratic" system may well be in dire need of a fresh coat of paint, but we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking we can transform Canada into a true democracy by focusing so much of our attention on tweaking the way we vote.

janfromthebruce

And I'm not sure there is another progressive party out there that I would support, let's face both Conservatives and Liberals are corporate Canada backed to ensure nothing changes. One just has to look at, for the latest example, of Trudeau Jr.'s latest addition to his stable, millionaire Bronfman as the libs party bagman to know the libs are not progressive.

Unionist

janfromthebruce wrote:

One just has to look at, for the latest example, of Trudeau Jr.'s latest addition to his stable, millionaire Bronfman as the libs party bagman to know the libs are not progressive.

Would that be because he's a millionaire, or because he has taken some very non-progressive positions on some issues that you're aware of?

 

janfromthebruce

Bronfman family took a very unprogressive action in removing millions from Canada without paying taxes and they are up with that. And from my experiences with millionaires, they are about keeping their millions and all the policies and taxation that goes with that.

But I guess some think that they are going to represent their interests and so support them. That's their choice but I'm not fooled by the whispering of sweet nothings. Don't you love that Trudeau's chief of staff was TarSands Nexen's head Lobbyist.

Anyway, you just talk with yourself.

 

Unionist

Yeah, jan, I saw your style of innuendo and generalization being used to condemn first Mulcair, and then Topp, during the leadership campaign. Remember? No?

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/bay-street-backing-thomas-mulc... Bay Street backing Thomas Mulcair?[/url]

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/brian-topp-and-bay-st]Brian Topp and Bay Street[/url]

I had to [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/brian-topp-and-bay-st#comment-... myself[/url] in both threads - that this kind of gutter politics and innuendo could be used to destroy anyone, without even paying any attention to who they are and what they stand for in life.

Of course, at that time some here were condemning Mulcair as the devil incarnate, while others painted Topp as Satan's servant - so any shitty scandal-mongering was A-OK. After all, your enemy is your enemy is your enemy. At least until the New Leader is crowned.

It doesn't become any nicer when you use it against Justin Trudeau's Liberals. You - jan - don't know the first thing about Stephen Bronfman, as your above reply richly demonstrates. But doesn't matter, does it? An enemy is an enemy is an enemy.

 

mark_alfred

Regarding the many questions asked in the opening and second post, I don't really know.  For me, my support of the NDP position boils down to feeling that the Senate is a waste of money that could be put to better use.  There are adequate safeguards for bad legislation already in place, including ultimately the SCC.  The only recent legislation it supposedly "safeguarded" us from was the Climate Change Accountability Act.  All the provinces are unicameral, and various nations run fine with a unicameral legislature (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand).

janfromthebruce

Unionist wrote:

Yeah, jan, I saw your style of innuendo and generalization being used to condemn first Mulcair, and then Topp, during the leadership campaign. Remember? No?

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/bay-street-backing-thomas-mulc... Bay Street backing Thomas Mulcair?[/url]

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/brian-topp-and-bay-st]Brian Topp and Bay Street[/url]

I had to [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/brian-topp-and-bay-st#comment-... myself[/url] in both threads - that this kind of gutter politics and innuendo could be used to destroy anyone, without even paying any attention to who they are and what they stand for in life.

Of course, at that time some here were condemning Mulcair as the devil incarnate, while others painted Topp as Satan's servant - so any shitty scandal-mongering was A-OK. After all, your enemy is your enemy is your enemy. At least until the New Leader is crowned.

It doesn't become any nicer when you use it against Justin Trudeau's Liberals. You - jan - don't know the first thing about Stephen Bronfman, as your above reply richly demonstrates. But doesn't matter, does it? An enemy is an enemy is an enemy.

 

sorry for the derailment of this thread

Let's see, I didn't post in either thread you linked to. But it's good see you backing up the "poor" millionaire club - oxymoron indeeded.

And baiting is so low.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

chamberred wrote:

The NDP favors abolition of the Senate and a proportionally elected House. Has the party thought about what to do if it cannot implement its PR House? Or if it gets fundamentally twisted in some way, like getting stuck with the PV favored by Trudeau?

Actually, the NDP should worry about getting stuck with FPP. Under that system, it took the party 75 years to become the Official Opposition. Two years later, they're back at minor party status in the polls. It will take another 75 years to repeat the same lame accomplishment.

Since PR is not a possibility at this point in time, (it would require an NDP government to legislate it,) PV ranked ballot would serve as a good compromise and intermediate step.

Considering it makes little difference to a center-left voter who they rank #1 or #2, the NDP would be able to compete with the Liberals head on. PV makes it much harder for parties to get dictatorships. It lowers the threshold at which parties get proportional seats or better.

The only way we will get PR is if the NDP forms the government. The only way the NDP will form the government is if we make our existing system democratic with PV.

sherpa-finn

While Unionist is certainly well able to defend himself, I suspect that his point was that as Bronfmans go, Stephen is actually a fairly enlightened and reasonably progressive individual. He never really bought into the whole Seagram dynasty scene and has stayed in Montreal (while most of the family has absconded), doing some creative and successful work in the organic foods sector while supporting a range of philanthropic causes including assorted community and environmental initiatives. So, he is someone who fits comfortably within the Trudeau style / persona - liberal but with some business creds.

No doubt there will also be serious efforts to follow to try and rebuild Liberal bridges with the Jewish community. 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Unionist wrote:

You - jan - don't know the first thing about Stephen Bronfman, as your above reply richly demonstrates.

When I read this, I realized that I didn't know the first thing about Stephen Bronfman either, so I googled him. I found an interesting 2006 profile from Forbes. My impression is that he is about as good a person as someone who was born into the ruling class is likely to be. His greed seems somewhat constrained, and he spends a good percentage of both his time and income on various worthwhile sounding charities. Of course, this doesn't do much for me, because I consider private philanthropy an abomination, which attempts to make the vicious capitalist system look more kindly. Still, most billionaires aren't this nice.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

Geoff wrote:

While I appreciate the intent of the reforms proposed here, I would caution people not to get their hopes up for any fundamental change, as long as the key economic decisions are being made by an elite, mostly based outside of Canada.  Globalization has hog-tied a wide range of parliamentary systems, and we should not make the mistake of fetishizing electoral and institutional reform. Our "democratic" system may well be in dire need of a fresh coat of paint, but we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking we can transform Canada into a true democracy by focusing so much of our attention on tweaking the way we vote.

This is paranoid drivel. Exactly what economic policies are being forced on us from without? Do you realize the difference between living standards in North America and those in northern Europe?

The reason we have had 30 years of right-wing government is because of our corrupt voting system that puts absolute corrupt power in the hands of a few people. It's much easier for greedy Canadian businessmen to influence a dictatorship than a multi-party government. That's why they are so fiercely opposed to electoral reform.

Either PR or PV ranked ballot will produce open, accountable government that reflects the will of the people. Forget silly conspiracy theories.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

chamberred wrote:

So assuming the Senate is abolished, how would the rest of Canada's federal government structure then be further reformed, in the unicameral framework that remains?

The senate has been polluted with partisan crony appointments since Confederation. It either serves as a hallowed hindrance to democratic government, or an ornamental rubber stamp. It doesn't stop tyranny. It doesn't provide "second sober thought." It most certainly does not represent the provinces.

So the senate has no bearing on how we reform our democracy. Considering the undemocratic senate has the same power as the House of Commons, there's the danger it could thwart democratic reform. Therefore if we have the opportunity to get rid of the worthless mess, we should jump at it.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

nakedApe42 wrote:
The reason we have had 30 years of right-wing government is because of our corrupt voting system that puts absolute corrupt power in the hands of a few people.

At the risk of engaging with the bugbear you seem incapable of entering a thread without, might I point out that the voting system -- or any voting system under the terms used here -- does absolutely nothing to change how power is distributed in our parliaments. It only changes to whom it is distributed.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Unionist wrote:
Yeah, jan, I saw your style of innuendo and generalization being used to condemn first Mulcair, and then Topp, during the leadership campaign. Remember? No?

Unionist, I'm assuming that this is part two of a two-part tactic to make a dramatic point. But I have to say it reads like a baiting attack on Jan that comes out of nothing. There's probably a better way to make the argument that attacking money because it's money (if that's what you read Jan as doing).

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

Catchfire wrote:

nakedApe42 wrote:
The reason we have had 30 years of right-wing government is because of our corrupt voting system that puts absolute corrupt power in the hands of a few people.

At the risk of engaging with the bugbear you seem incapable of entering a thread without, might I point out that the voting system -- or any voting system under the terms used here -- does absolutely nothing to change how power is distributed in our parliaments. It only changes to whom it is distributed.

Actually, I was responding to people who brought up the issue of electoral reform.

But either democratic voting system, PR or PV ranked ballot, will most certainly change how power is distributed and to whom. They ensure a majority of voters is represented in government. Right now we dole out absolute corrupt power to minority parties on 39% of the vote, with no checks or balances. 

Voting reform is the only issue, as far as I'm concerned. Then if we get bad government we only have ourselves to blame. Until then, people are consigned to whining and crying about bad government without being able to do anything about. That seems pointless to me.  

Unionist

Catchfire wrote:

Unionist, I'm assuming that this is part two of a two-part tactic to make a dramatic point. But I have to say it reads like a baiting attack on Jan that comes out of nothing.

Well, I was concerned about what Jan said, as I was when others (not Jan) made accusations about Mulcair and Topp based on who was supporting them. It was certainly my intent to state clearly that that kind of politics is bad news - especially when one knows little or nothing about the culprit (in this case Bronfman). I didn't mean to "bait" or "attack" Jan in any way, and if it was perceived that way, I apologize to Jan and anyone else who felt that's what I was doing.

 

janfromthebruce

And hopefully this tatic stops because it is perceived this way.

Extremely rich people, manor born can do all sorts of good works, pick and chose their hobbie horses because they are not limited by having to work. They are the same ones who advocate for less corporate taxes, no tax on capital gains, and all the loopholes that they and their elite crew benefit from.

They get to pick the charities of their choice so they get that nice branding going - look at us aren't we great? And get get tax deductions for their chosen charity work and donations as the taxpayers expense. When they dont pay we do.

Or we don't because the meme is that we can't afford all those nice social programs. So important programs and transfers don't happen, are defunded, and the rising of private charity increases in which the super rich benefit.

And so I am not a fan of Stephen as who like to quaintly call him or how he contributes to the decline of the welfare state and the dramatic increase of charity by the wealthy.

I am not going to respond anymore and derail this thread as it's not about this.

PrairieDemocrat15

The NDP's strict abolitionist view is harmful. By only advocating for Senate abolition they are throwing away a real opportunity at electoral reform. Public appetite for Senate reform is much higher than that for HoC reform. Reforming the Senate would be an excellent way to introduce PR in the Upper House. Australia has PR in their Senate. The result: it is very rare for a party to have a majority in both houses, forcing them to work with the opposition in the Senate to pass legislation. Moreover, because the Senate is almost always controlled by the opposition parties, committees are much more probing and important.

A NDP-Liberal Senate would have been able to stop most of the worse aspects of the Harper agenda. I don't seen how more opposition and power in the legislative branch is a bad thing.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

mark_alfred wrote:

Same answer as above.  MMP would allow for seats allotted to more accurately reflect votes cast.  PV not so much (also see this interactive tool).

According to the interactive tool, if we had PV in 2011, we would've got a NDP-Liberal coalition government with 50% of the vote and 54% of the seats. That's no minor difference. It's also much more reflective of the will of Canadians than a 40% Harper dictatorship. 

mark_alfred wrote:

 So, I imagine a renewed interest in MMP if PV is tried and fails to more accurately mirror votes cast with seats won (which is what I would hope for, though unfortunately trying the inane idea of PV might discourage the population from attempting any other electoral reform -- so best to do it right the first time).

PV ranked ballot is far from "inane." It's a compromise that will accomplish a lot:

  • stops vote-splitting which can saddle voters with the opposite of what they voted for
  • prevents minority parties from getting absolute corrupt power
  • automatic strategic voting: guarantees Anyone But Conservative voting
  • permanent electoral cooperation: in Australia right-leaning votes are distributed among 4 right-leaning parties
  • prevents wasted votes: vote transferred to alternative choice; parties much reach out for alternative votes
  • ends need for party mergers: Australia has 4 right-wing parties
  • stops the spoiler effect 

No doubt, compromise makes little sense to ideologues.  

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

nakedApe42 wrote:

No doubt, compromise makes little sense to ideologues.  

And anyone who disagrees with you is by definition an ideologue, while you, of course, are a pragmatic progressive who has all the right answers.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

mark_alfred wrote:
 

 So, I imagine a renewed interest in MMP if PV is tried and fails to more accurately mirror votes cast with seats won (which is what I would hope for, though unfortunately trying the inane idea of PV might discourage the population from attempting any other electoral reform -- so best to do it right the first time).

How many centuries will Canadians have to wait before PR supporters get it right the first time? All they've managed to do so far is blow PR referendums.

If we are lucky enough to get PV legislated, that won't be what stands in the way of PR. It will have the same problem it's had all along:  lackluster support among the population.

Since the mainstream media marginalizes PR, support for the system will have to come from the social media. But that isn't going to happen overnight.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

Michael Moriarity wrote:

nakedApe42 wrote:

No doubt, compromise makes little sense to ideologues.  

And anyone who disagrees with you is by definition an ideologue, while you, of course, are a pragmatic progressive who has all the right answers.

Actually, anyone who rejects compromise is by definition an ideologue... If we can't get PR legislated when a new government forms, then compromise is clearly the right answer.

 

Wilf Day

“In a democracy, every vote should count. It’s as simple as that. But sadly, in our outdated, winner-take-all electoral system, that isn’t the case. It’s a system that allows parties to wield majority control with a minority of votes – and as a result, the voices of many Canadians just aren’t heard. It doesn’t have to be this way. For decades, New Democrats have fought for fair and proportional voting system. And we’ll continue to lead the fight to modernize our electoral system – so that parliament finally reflects your will.”
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition
Campaign 2015: Make Every Vote Count!

PrairieDemocrat15 wrote:
Reforming the Senate would be an excellent way to introduce PR in the Upper House. Australia has PR in their Senate. The result: it is very rare for a party to have a majority in both houses, forcing them to work with the opposition in the Senate to pass legislation. Moreover, because the Senate is almost always controlled by the opposition parties, committees are much more probing and important.

Reforming the Senate requires a constitutional amendment. Introducing proportionality into the House of Commons requires no constitutional amendment.

chamberred wrote:
With regional top-up seats in an MMP system, would that mean a stronger presence of regional based parties such as the Bloc Quebecois and Wildrose in the House?

Quite the opposite. Any winner-take-all system (including the preferential ballot) rewards parties with regional strongholds, and penalizes parties with support spread across the country. As Stephane Dion says, "Our current voting system is weakening Canada’s cohesion. I do not see why we should maintain a voting system that makes our major parties appear less national and our regions more politically opposed than they really are, favouring regional parties at the expense of national ones concerned with reconciling the regional interests of our vast country. I no longer want a voting system that gives the impression that certain parties have given up on Quebec, or on the West. On the contrary, the whole spectrum of parties, from Greens to Conservatives, must embrace all the regions of Canada. In each region, they must covet and be able to obtain seats proportionate to their actual support. This is the main reason why I recommend replacing our voting system. . . . Thus, seats would be truly up for grabs in all ridings, even in the most Conservative ones in Alberta and the most Liberal ones in Toronto and Montreal."

janfromthebruce

The NDP has known since its inception that the Senate was a place for elites to control democracy of the many (although FPTP) is very shallow on the democratic side.

So glad there are no NDP senators as it's obvious that this latest scandal is a Conservative/Liberal pork fest.

And so glad that women didn't give up the right to vote although men sure told them it would never happen. Same with slavery - the bible told them so. I wonder if they would be identified is ideologues now - eye roll big time.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Wow thx for that Jan. I missed the perspective that abolishing the Senate was the same as the fight for the vote for women and the fight to end slavery.  Since you are a woman I guess you get to say abolishing the Senate is the same as the suffragette movement (although I disagree vehemently)  but  do you really think you have the right to claim this tinkering with our electoral system is the same as the fight for freedom from slavery.

  Foot in mouth

mark_alfred

nakedApe42 wrote:

mark_alfred wrote:

Same answer as above.  MMP would allow for seats allotted to more accurately reflect votes cast.  PV not so much (also see this interactive tool).

According to the interactive tool, if we had PV in 2011, we would've got a NDP-Liberal coalition government with 50% of the vote and 54% of the seats. That's no minor difference. It's also much more reflective of the will of Canadians than a 40% Harper dictatorship.

No, it would have been a Conservative minority.  Remember, Ignatieff ruled out a coalition.  Further, Ignatieff previously had broken a signed agreement with the NDP to enter into a coalition, which could have occurred after the proroguation ended, and instead continued to support the Conservatives.  So likely the Liberals would have continued supporting the Conservatives. Those two parties have more in common with each other than either has with the NDP.

Also, I think the critique of PV should not be ignored.  That being:

Quote:
I don't think switching to a system where your first-choice still might not get appropriate representation is something Canada should adopt.

Some might point to this and claim it’s better than First-Past-the-Post because it didn’t result in a majority government. However, it should be noted that just a slight change in voter preferences and regional differences could easily have tipped the result into majority territory. Note also that a high number of votes (45.4%) didn’t go towards electing anyone.

Why go through the difficulty of reforming the voting system to something that's clearly flawed?  It should be done right the first time.  And opting for an inferior choice of reform is not a "compromise", it's simply opting for an inferior choice of reform.  Why do that?

mark_alfred

PrairieDemocrat15 wrote:

The NDP's strict abolitionist view is harmful. By only advocating for Senate abolition they are throwing away a real opportunity at electoral reform. Public appetite for Senate reform is much higher than that for HoC reform. Reforming the Senate would be an excellent way to introduce PR in the Upper House.

Do you have a source for your claim on public appetite?  The public wants a better HoC.

Regarding Senate reform, which generally means an elected Senate rather than an appointed Senate, I agree with Stephane Dion when he says,

Quote:

Mr. Speaker, recently Italian voters sent a majority to one chamber and another majority to the other chamber with no dispute settlement mechanism between the two, so they are unlikely to find a government and they may have to come back to an election at a time when the economy is collapsing.

In the United States, the two chambers cannot agree about the budget, and they put the world economy at risk.

I ask the minister not to dodge this question for once. Why do he and his government want to do the stupid thing of importing to Canada an institutional arrangement that would paralyze our institutions here in Canada with two elected chambers that are unable to find a solution other than a stalemate, as is the case in the United States, Mexico and Italy, and in all the countries where there are two elected chambers speaking for the people with no dispute settlement mechanism between them?

This is a very dangerous reform he is proposing. He should not dodge the question but answer it.

As Stephane Dion says, it would be stupid and redundant and ineffective to have two elected chambers present, and having an unelected chamber oversee the elected chamber is an antiquated idea from over a century ago, that has simply led to good legislation being obstructed on purely partisan grounds (IE, the Climate Change Accountability Act) and is simply a dumb waste of money.

Here's some very good reading on it.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

kropotkin1954 wrote:
Since you are a woman I guess you get to say abolishing the Senate is the same as the suffragette movement (although I disagree vehemently)  but  do you really think you have the right to claim this tinkering with our electoral system is the same as the fight for freedom from slavery.

I think you can clearly read that jan said no such thing.

janfromthebruce

Catchfire wrote:

kropotkin1954 wrote:
Since you are a woman I guess you get to say abolishing the Senate is the same as the suffragette movement (although I disagree vehemently)  but  do you really think you have the right to claim this tinkering with our electoral system is the same as the fight for freedom from slavery.

I think you can clearly read that jan said no such thing.

Exactly, the anology was about not giving up and buying into the TINA mentality - there is no alternative. Which works to suppress competiting ideas.

Insightful read in debunking neoliberal mythology.

“There is No Alternative” – Debunking the Greatest Myth of Thatcherism

 

 

janfromthebruce

mark_alfred wrote:

PrairieDemocrat15 wrote:

The NDP's strict abolitionist view is harmful. By only advocating for Senate abolition they are throwing away a real opportunity at electoral reform. Public appetite for Senate reform is much higher than that for HoC reform. Reforming the Senate would be an excellent way to introduce PR in the Upper House.

Do you have a source for your claim on public appetite?  The public wants a better HoC.

Regarding Senate reform, which generally means an elected Senate rather than an appointed Senate, I agree with Stephane Dion when he says,

Quote:

Mr. Speaker, recently Italian voters sent a majority to one chamber and another majority to the other chamber with no dispute settlement mechanism between the two, so they are unlikely to find a government and they may have to come back to an election at a time when the economy is collapsing.

In the United States, the two chambers cannot agree about the budget, and they put the world economy at risk.

I ask the minister not to dodge this question for once. Why do he and his government want to do the stupid thing of importing to Canada an institutional arrangement that would paralyze our institutions here in Canada with two elected chambers that are unable to find a solution other than a stalemate, as is the case in the United States, Mexico and Italy, and in all the countries where there are two elected chambers speaking for the people with no dispute settlement mechanism between them?

This is a very dangerous reform he is proposing. He should not dodge the question but answer it.

As Stephane Dion says, it would be stupid and redundant and ineffective to have two elected chambers present, and having an unelected chamber oversee the elected chamber is an antiquated idea from over a century ago, that has simply led to good legislation being obstructed on purely partisan grounds (IE, the Climate Change Accountability Act) and is simply a dumb waste of money.

Here's some very good reading on it.

Thanks for the read - it was excellent and thoughtful.

chamberred

Geoff wrote:

I would caution people not to get their hopes up for any fundamental change, as long as the key economic decisions are being made by an elite, mostly based outside of Canada.  Globalization has hog-tied a wide range of parliamentary systems, and we should not make the mistake of fetishizing electoral and institutional reform.

Note of caution heeded. But the global revolution has to happen locally, no?

janfromthebruce wrote:

And I'm not sure there is another progressive party out there that I would support, let's face both Conservatives and Liberals are corporate Canada backed to ensure nothing changes.

I was thinking Green, or Pirate if a candidate runs in my riding.

mark_alfred wrote:

various nations run fine with a unicameral legislature (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand).

I'll read more on their systems. But do those countries have a large minority language group as a central linchpin of the federation? Do they have quite tiny sub-national units alongside rather large ones (eg PEI/Ont.)? Did they have Idle No More movements reminding the population at large of deep historical injustices needing to be addressed?

chamberred

nakedApe42 wrote:

This is paranoid drivel. Exactly what economic policies are being forced on us from without?

Read Whose Trade Organization? by Lori Wallach of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen. That's just one book, plenty of others. I wonder how much the Koch brothers determine Harper policy.

janfromthebruce

I don't see the Green Party as progressive.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

janfromthebruce wrote:

And so glad that women didn't give up the right to vote although men sure told them it would never happen. Same with slavery - the bible told them so. I wonder if they would be identified is ideologues now - eye roll big time.

Whatever this has to do with Senate reform is lost on me.  Sorry for not getting the subtlety of Jan's messaging. She of course was not comparing the current NDP campaign to other historic movements. 

mark_alfred

To get back to the original topic, I'll try to give my own opinion on some of the original posters questions.

chamberred wrote:

The NDP favors abolition of the Senate and a proportionally elected House. Has the party thought about what to do if it cannot implement its PR House?

It's long advocated implementing PR in the Commons and abolishing the Senate, but thus far has been unable to.  So, it still continues to advocate it.  And each time more people vote NDP.  So, hopefully in the future it will be an NDP gov't.  If not, I'm guessing the NDP will continue to advocate it.

chamberred wrote:

Or if it gets fundamentally twisted in some way, like getting stuck with the PV favored by Trudeau?

Same answer as above.  MMP would allow for seats allotted to more accurately reflect votes cast.  PV not so much (also see this interactive tool).  So, I imagine a renewed interest in MMP if PV is tried and fails to more accurately mirror votes cast with seats won (which is what I would hope for, though unfortunately trying the inane idea of PV might discourage the population from attempting any other electoral reform -- so best to do it right the first time).

chamberred wrote:

How well will a unicameral PR House (for example under an mixed-member proportional system), generously assuming it can be "sold" to Canadians, work in a Westminster system, especially if minority governments are foreseen to become the norm?

Minority gov'ts need to be more cooperative.  So, things should ultimately work better.

chamberred wrote:

How to check PM power; what's to prevent a manipulator like Harper from playing his games, for example in a Con-Lib or Lib-Con grand coalition?

From what I understand, the NDP has some policies on limiting the ability of the PMO to play games, such as requiring nominations to federal agencies to be submitted to Parliament to ensure greater transparency.  So, if the NDP is successful in creating a unicameral PR House, I imagine that they would also implement some reforms to the PMO to lessen the likelihood of the game-playing culture that Chretien and subsequently Harper brought to it.  This way, even in the scenario you describe (a Con-Lib coalition), there'd be less of these types of issues.  And with PR and minorities, there's a greater need to be cooperative and not alienate potential allies.  Just look at Cameron's loss on the Syria vote in the UK.

chamberred wrote:

With regional top-up seats in an MMP system, would that mean a stronger presence of regional based parties such as the Bloc Quebecois and Wildrose in the House?

Depends how people vote.  Wildrose is a provincial party, so they'd not be a consideration in a federal contest.  Until last election the BQ were seriously over-represented while the Green Party was severely under-represented.  PR would help fix this.  So, regional parties geting a disproportionate amount of seats would be less likely to happen, since the allotment of seats would strive to better reflect the proportion of votes cast, rather than the localized cluster of votes that now sometimes gives parties like the BQ far more seats than a party like the Greens who received similar numbers of votes but more spread out.  MMP would allow for seats allotted to more accurately reflect votes cast.

Malcontent

The first step is to get the 90% or so of Canadians to literally pull their heads out of their asses and away from reality tv and corporate 6 pm newscasts..

 

The only way i can see things changes is a revolution and thankfully most revolutions only need 3-5% of the people and not the massive amount of sheep.

 

50 years from now iwe will be talking about same issues from senate to FPTP to why the NDP has only once ever been hgher than 3rd party status.

 

Seriously a revolution is the only way i see that things will change. I doubt that will happen though.  The vast majority of people do not give a dam, sad to say.  hell i doubt you wil get the over represented provinces east of Manitoba to make things fair.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

Wilf Day wrote:

Quite the opposite. Any winner-take-all system (including the preferential ballot) rewards parties with regional strongholds, and penalizes parties with support spread across the country.

PV isn't winner-take-all. PV ends the odious effect by putting a stop to vote splitting.

The winner-take-all effect is very evident in the last election. In many ridings, voters wanted a Liberal, NDP or Green MP. Yet vote-splitting stuck constituents with the opposite of what they voted for: a Con MP. This winner-take-all effect, at a riding level, allowed the Cons to win dozens of unearned seats collectively, which awarded them 54% of the seats and 100% of the power — winner take all.

PV stops winner-take-all by making MPs earn their seats with a majority of the vote, ensuring they have the right to represent constituents.

If we had PV in 2011, Harper would not have won it all. In fact, the NDP and Liberals would've ended up with 53% of the seats, which would've been enough to form an NDP government with Liberal support. (Just to nip partisan silliness in the bud, the Liberal and NDP parties have a long history of working together in minority situations.)

Wilf Day wrote:

For decades, New Democrats have fought for fair and proportional voting system.

And have gotten absolutely nowhere. Left-wingers remind me of Christian Fundamentalists: they'll wait millennia for a revolution that will never come… 

Wilf Day wrote:

As Stephane Dion says, {snip}

Yeah, there's an influential voice… I think one of the main reasons Fair Vote Canada has been such a dismal failure is that they have no leadership. There's no face in front of the movement Canadians can connect with.

I heard Bob Rae joined their "National Advisory Board" (whatever that means.) Now he's definitely a leader who could take the movement somewhere.  (Of course, why do that and break the losing steak?) 

Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

Sorry, if working with he LPC means the guy with nice hear in charge, I pass. Nope NakedApe, doesn't work for me.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

mark_alfred wrote:

Also, I think the critique of PV should not be ignored.  That being:

Quote:
I don't think switching to a system where your first-choice still might not get appropriate representation is something Canada should adopt.

Some might point to this and claim it’s better than First-Past-the-Post because it didn’t result in a majority government. However, it should be noted that just a slight change in voter preferences and regional differences could easily have tipped the result into majority territory. Note also that a high number of votes (45.4%) didn’t go towards electing anyone.

This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. The Cons won dozens of seats due to vote splitting: i.e., voters wanted a center-left MP but got stuck with a Con MP. It would take a lot more than a slight shift to get a center-left riding to elect a Con MP with a majority of the vote. This guy is confusing the polarizing of effects of FPP with PV, which PV actually moderates.

 

mark_alfred wrote:

Why go through the difficulty of reforming the voting system to something that's clearly flawed?  It should be done right the first time.  And opting for an inferior choice of reform is not a "compromise", it's simply opting for an inferior choice of reform.  Why do that?

Yes, why drive a Ford Focus when you can drive a Ferrari? Why date the girl next store, when you can get the cheerleader? Why make $20,000 a year working at Walmart when you can be a billionaire! It's all so easy!

What else is the NDP going to do right the first time after the next election on 50 seats?

 

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

Arthur Cramer wrote:

Sorry, if working with he LPC means the guy with nice hear in charge, I pass. Nope NakedApe, doesn't work for me.

I'm not suggesting that progressives should vote Liberal. The Liberals got half the left-leaning vote in the 1990s and moved right of Mulroney. Trudeau will be right-of-center; he is not going to represent progressives.

My prefered form of government is multi-party: Liberal-NDP coalitions — or NDP-Liberal like we would've got in 2011 if we had PR or PV ranked ballot.    

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

mark_alfred wrote:

nakedApe42 wrote:

mark_alfred wrote:

Same answer as above.  MMP would allow for seats allotted to more accurately reflect votes cast.  PV not so much (also see this interactive tool).

According to the interactive tool, if we had PV in 2011, we would've got a NDP-Liberal coalition government with 50% of the vote and 54% of the seats. That's no minor difference. It's also much more reflective of the will of Canadians than a 40% Harper dictatorship.

No, it would have been a Conservative minority.  Remember, Ignatieff ruled out a coalition.  Further, Ignatieff previously had broken a signed agreement with the NDP to enter into a coalition, which could have occurred after the proroguation ended, and instead continued to support the Conservatives.  So likely the Liberals would have continued supporting the Conservatives. Those two parties have more in common with each other than either has with the NDP.

If one ignores the facts. The reality is that the Liberals and NDP have worked together in minority governments many times in Canada's history. They are currently working together in Ontario.

A coalition technically means the minor party gets cabinet positions. Iggy wasn't ruling out working with the NDP. He was ruling out offering them cabinet positions to try and diffuse Harper's "coalition with the socialist and separatists" rhetoric.

His plan was to get support from the NDP to form a government from 2nd place after Harper lost a confidence vote. Harper burned all his bridges with opposition parties using sleazy, obstinate tactics. Like Harper said himself, if he didn't win a majority he was gone. If we had PV, he'd be a thankful distant memory.

 

Geoff

nakedApe42 wrote:

Geoff wrote:

While I appreciate the intent of the reforms proposed here, I would caution people not to get their hopes up for any fundamental change, as long as the key economic decisions are being made by an elite, mostly based outside of Canada.  Globalization has hog-tied a wide range of parliamentary systems, and we should not make the mistake of fetishizing electoral and institutional reform. Our "democratic" system may well be in dire need of a fresh coat of paint, but we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking we can transform Canada into a true democracy by focusing so much of our attention on tweaking the way we vote.

This is paranoid drivel. Exactly what economic policies are being forced on us from without? Do you realize the difference between living standards in North America and those in northern Europe?

The reason we have had 30 years of right-wing government is because of our corrupt voting system that puts absolute corrupt power in the hands of a few people. It's much easier for greedy Canadian businessmen to influence a dictatorship than a multi-party government. That's why they are so fiercely opposed to electoral reform.

Either PR or PV ranked ballot will produce open, accountable government that reflects the will of the people. Forget silly conspiracy theories.

Italy has a PR system of voting, as does Israel, so has PR "produced open, accountable government that reflects the will of the people" in those countries?  You're right, the electoral system is important, but, on its own, it won't make our economy any more democratic. That's not a conspiracy theory; it's the reality of how power is wielded in a capitalist society. 

Even the NDP shies away from PR when they benefit from FPTP.  Otherwise Manitoba would have adopted PR a long time ago.  They work within the parameters of the market just like the Libs and the Cons.  It'll take more than a bit of electoral tinkering to create a real democracy in Canada. 

janfromthebruce

I agreed with Alice Funke's statement in her support for a unicameral House:

Alice Funke Anyways dear Dan, a "partisan" argument is not necessarily an invalid argument in the case of an electoral democracy, if the existence of one appendetic institution is designed to thwart the ability of one legitimate political formation to carry out its democratic mandate. Arguing for the continuation of the Senate is no less "partisan" in that sense.

In response to a debate and article here on FB and here http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1151076-leger-abolishing-senate-establishing-fraud-no-easy-task

As for ease, Noah Evanchuk wrote:

The ease of making public policy should never be the arbiter of what the best policy choice should be. Our Consitution was not drafted with the understanding that major residual powers would vest with the Provinces, but here we are. My province doesn't need Senate "regional" voices. My region doesn't want the Senate.

good posts by many including Leger.

JKR

nakedApe42 wrote:

PV isn't winner-take-all.

All electoral systems that have only single-member ridings are majoritarian or "winner take-all" systems. So both FPTP (which is more accurately called SMP - single-member plurality) and PV (single-member majoritarian) are winner take-all systems.

Under both FPTP and PV a party can win every single seat in a legislature even when it is favoured by only a minority of the voters. This is not true for proportional systems like MMP, STV, and party list.

nakedApe42 nakedApe42's picture

JKR wrote:

nakedApe42 wrote:

PV isn't winner-take-all.

All electoral systems that have only single-member ridings are majoritarian or "winner take-all" systems. So both FPTP (which is more accurately called SMP - single-member plurality) and PV (single-member majoritarian) are winner take-all systems.

Yes, according to FVC ideologues. But not according to Wikipedia which distinguishes between single-member-plurality winner-take-all and single-member majoritarian:

The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies. ... 

The most common system, used in Canada, the lower house (Lok Sabha) in India, the United Kingdom, and most elections in the United States, is simple plurality, first-past-the-post or winner-takes-all. In this voting system the single winner is the person with the most votes (plurality); there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes.

Winner-take-all means the leading candidate wins: i.e., plurality. Collectively, this process can allow a minority party to win all the power on less than 40% of the vote (due to vote splitting.)

JKR wrote:

Under both FPTP and PV a party can win every single seat in a legislature even when it is favoured by only a minority of the voters.

That is neither true of FPP or PV. Perhaps you are confusing a minority party winning over 50% of the seats and 100% of the power (a common occurance under FPP.)

Harper won 54% of the seats on 40% of the vote. PV would've stopped him. Under FPP, a minority party can get absolute power on 39%. PV raises that up a number of points. (Won't be able to know how many until its implemented. Canada has a left, center and right party. Australia has one left and 4 right-wing parties, so no comparison can be made.) But every MP will be sent to Parliament with a majority of votes.

But even PR is not perfect. In Germany, which uses MMP 5%, a right-wing coalition formed on 48% of the vote last election (2009.)  

Pages