Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ontario - A Vote for MMP is a Vote Against CO2

I've argued in this blog that voting for MMP in the October 10 Referendum would be good for the environment and climate change policy. Cameron Smith obviously agrees, for reasons that are complementary to mine. He writes in the Toronto Star that
"Right now, the most important environmental issue facing Ontario is whether proportional representation will be adopted. Voters in the Oct. 10 election will make the decision.

"The current system of voting delivers unequal representation, which inevitably distorts the wishes of the public. How else to explain why the government at Queen's Park has kept a weak minister in the environment portfolio while the public has made it clear that environmental deterioration is a top-of-the-mind concern?"

He says that this happens because
"The current [Ontario electoral] system breeds instability. It's a blood sport, where opposition parties focus more on gaining power than on good government, largely because they have little hand in creating policies and have no commitment to them.

"As a result, government policies often have a short life span. In the face of global warming, short-term, ever-changing policies are a recipe for disaster."

He argues among other things that
"...proportional representation will result in more minority governments and coalitions, which means responsibility for government policies would lie with more than one party." [Bolding added throughout.]
According to Arend Lijphart
Lijphartconclusions on environmental policies? Consensus democracies have lower carbon dioxide emissions, fertilizer consumption, deforestation and higher energy efficiency" [bolding added].
I take it that "consensus democracy" means that more than one party has to agree on policy, because governments are formed by coalition. That's more frequent under forms of Proportional Representation (like MMP) than under our current "first-past-the-post" or "winner take all" system. I would have to read the book to find out more.

General theories aside, as I've argued, MMP would probably mean Green Party members in the Legislature by 2011. No MMP would likely mean this Party being shut out again. The same applies to the federal Parliament and many other provincial Legislatures. This hard reality makes it critical for the the MMP side in Ontario to win -- and for similar reforms to prevail Canada-wide in the coming years.

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