Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Yes to 'First-Past-The-Post' at Queen's Park

WILL UPPER CANADA GO THE WAY OF NEW ZEALAND? Twelve million Ontarians will decide today whether they will stick with the time-tested British style First-Past-the-Post (FPP) plurality form of democracy, or go with Mixed-Member-Proportionality (MMP), a watered down variant of proportional representation. Today's referendum is asking us whether we should continue purely with FPP, whereby local Members of Provincial Parliament are elected to Queen's Park under a winner take all scenario, or go with a hybrid system that parachutes one-third of the members into the legislature according to lists drawn up by the parties in advance, to be apportioned according to each party's percentage of the popular vote, taking into account how many local members each party got elected under FPP.

And to that I uncategorically say thanks, but no thanks. As David Warren reminds us, "the genius of first-past-the-post, over the centuries, has been its ability to eliminate sectarian, fringe, and fruitcake parties. By contrast it favours large, broad parties within which the interests of diverse constituencies have had to be hashed out. This is the citizen's best guarantee against tails wagging dogs." It's also our best guarantee against the introduction of unaccountable politicians, who would answer to their parties, and not to local constituents. Now I know that's largely the case now, where members are whipped by their parties into voting a certain way, but at least the member has to take into consideration the wishes of the electorate; at least the option exists for the member to resign, abstain or vote against the party's position or government on a point of principle; at least we have the ability to get rid of members who don't; and at least we have the ability to kick out the undesirable and those who are unworthy of our trust. Not so under MMP. Top listed candidates in large parties would be permanently shielded against voter wrath.

Also, say goodbye to majority governments. New Zealand hasn't had one since they introduced MMP in the early 1990s. The Kiwis have experienced a proliferation of political parties from two to eight, including the recent introduction of the completely indigenous-based Māori Party. I wonder how representative of the population their lists are: Big Māori, little Māori. Young Māori, old Māori. Female Māori, male Māori. Gay Māori, straight Māori. Māori, Māori, Māori. Māori. And I wonder what a coalition with the Māoris will yield for the non-Māoris. Not a lot, would be my hunch. Would it be possible for Ontario's First Nations to organize themselves in such a way? The possibilities are intriguing.

Certainly we can expect a Toronto Party given that Greater Toronto represents nearly 50% of the population. It shouldn't be too taxing for us to get the minimum 3% required to send in list members. Hell, I might even support such a thing. The point is FPP is our best weapon against special interest groups, and self-interested one man shows like Winston Peters of New Zealand First. He happens to be their Foreign Minister, yet bizarrely remains outside of Cabinet. New Zealand Labour requires his support to continue governing, so Prime Minister Helen Clark has concocted this strange arrangement that requires Mr. Peters to report to her but not to Cabinet. That's MMP in action for you. Forgive me if I don't like what I see.

Update: FPP takes it by 62% to 38%. Not even close. On the down side, the Tories lost the election. Badly. The Tory leader, John Tory (yes, that's his real name), wore his dunce cap in the campaign by promising public funding to all faith-based schools in the province, not just catholic ones, to the obvious horror of secularists. No doubt many were thinking, including many conservatives were thinking: you mean you're proposing to fund Islamic schools? From that moment, the election was over. All the integrity in the world won't save you if you manage to scare the public. I dearly hope Mr. Tory has learned his lesson.


Anonymous said...

The best condemnation of proportional representation which I've come across was during the recent Scottish elections. Someone in the Telegraph pointed out that, under PR, the people do not elect governments, they merely create the conditions in which political parties negotiate between themselves to form governments. Nuff said, if you ask me.


Greg Benton said...

This proposal is ludicrous.
The very last thing any society needs is the preferential powers of political parties that are not accountable to anyone except the particular political party they represent.
It's bad enough as it is.
The system may be imperfect but it's better than this sovietski innovation.

David Byers said...
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Brian said...

I totally agree with this post.

I might end up voting for New Zealand First next year, as John Key has successfully branded National into ‘Labour Lite’ in my opinion.

David Byers said...
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Splendor Sine Occasu said...

MMP appears to be a terrible system.

However here in British Columbia, we had a referendum to adopt a single transferrable vote system that would have had some proportionality, while maintaining local representation. Myself and I believe 58% of the voters favoured this system, yet it required 60% of the vote to pass. Only two ridings rejected it.

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