Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Electoral reform in the news

Three stories appeared in the mainstream media today that may be of interest to electoral reformers. The first is a CTV piece about Jack Layton, who's saying that proportional representation really will be the key to NDP cooperation in a minority parliament. And yes, he's said that before, but there's an explanation for why it didn't work out that way in the article. Good to finally hear the whole story on that.

The second is an election special on Fair Vote Canada and proportional representation--nothing new to most of you, I suspect, but it's quite informative for people who have just started to hear about the concept and are curious about what it's all about. It's a nicely balanced article, a mixture of proponents and detractors, with smart people on both sides. (What I really want, though, is to get these people in a room together and make them debate the issue, backing their arguments up with real-life examples from comparative politics. I'd buy a ticket to that.)

The other story doesn't actually mention the words "proportional representation," but it's arguably the most interesting of the three. It's an article in the National Post that started out with Harper's statement that the Conservatives wouldn't be willing to form a coalition with any party, but which ends up being about coalitions in general. It quotes Rick Anderson, a senior advisor to former Reform leader Preston Manning:

[Anderson] has become so disillusioned with the prevailing political culture that he has founded the Fireweed Democracy Project, which aims to promote democratic reform in federal politics. "If ever there was a country needing a coalition governance model in its democratic institutions and culture, it is 21st century Canada," he says. "[The political system] remains stuck in the past, better suited to excessively partisan combat than to legislative co-operation. This needs to change."
The article's exploration of coalition-based models fits in quite nicely with my own discussion of coalitions toward the end of my proportional representation FAQ. Coalitions are, of course, possible under first-past-the-post as well, but historically they haven't been a part of Canadian political culture, and it may well take PR to change that. It makes me wonder how things would have been different if Manning hadn't been ousted in favour of Stockwell Day way back when, actually. (Who knew there would come a day when I'd be pining for Preston Manning?)

Hat tip to the Jurist at Accidental Deliberations.


Hishighness said...

God help us all.

Annamarie said...

Thanks for bringing the news items to my attention. Thanks also for your excellent FAQs on proportial representation. You explained it very well.
Being a relatively new member of Fair Vote Canada (and fairly new to
politics in general), I still don't quite understand the finer points,
but do know that any form of it is better than what we have. Our present
system is antiquated and does not democratically represent the voters. In
the last election, 3 m votes were meaningless. No wonder we have such a low voter turnout! If I am not mistaken, of the developed countries only 3 do not have a proportional system: Britain, Canada, U.S.A. I post some info about Fair Vote Canada on my blog, so check it out sometimes. You obviously are much more knowledgeable about this than I am. Still, even a novice like myself can do a lot to help at the grassroots level. I have been placing flyers wherever permitted, and will be going to my local library to do likewise. I've also talked about this with my riding's NDP candidate, Anna Mather, (whom I support) who agrees with it. I've sent letters out to all the candidates in my riding, asking the same question, but so far, only the NDP (mine) responded. The others did not bother to email me back, yet.

Thanks again for posting the info! I missed those in the news, somehow.

Take care and have happy new year!Cheers,Annamarie