Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ontario: MMP R.I.P., Climate Change Ignored During Election

As you probably know by now, the Mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral reform proposal has been soundly defeated in Ontario. At the time of this writing, the interim referendum results stand at First-past-the-post (the current electoral system) 63.3%, MMP 36.7%. Prof. Dennis Pilon, an MMP supporter, told the Globe & Mail that Elections Ontario's pre-referendum education campaign had been "an unmitigated disaster". The sad part is that election results like the ones below will continue to happen. And not coincidentally, issues like climate change will continue to be ignored.

As of this writing, the 2007 Ontario Election results look like this:

Liberals: 42% of votes = 70 seats

P.C.: 31% of votes = 26 seats

N.D.P.: 17% of votes = 11 seats

Green: 8% of votes = 0 seats

Others: 1% of votes = 0 seats

I want all those hours in Math class back: my teachers were obviously wrong about how numbers work!

Anyway, now we get to watch the usual charade: the Liberals will form a so-called "strong majority government" -- despite having a minority of the votes. The P.C. and N.D.P. will be weak opposition parties despite having more votes between them than the Liberals.

I know, there would have been no chance of a coalition between the N.D.P. and P.C. -- but what if the positions of the P.C. and Liberals had been reversed? A Liberal-N.D.P. coalition could have happened under MMP. Under the current system, though, the P.C. would have formed a "strong majority government" and shut them out. Yes, with only 42% of the vote vs. a combined 48% for the other parties. Oh, wait, this sort of thing has already happened! In 1995, we got the notorious anti-environment Harris P.C. government -- despite the Liberals and N.D.P. getting many more combined popular votes than the P.C. (Citizen's Assembly chart).

The Greens' 8% vote in 2007 gave them the same number of seats as the Others got with only 1% -- a big, fat zero! Despite the Greens' recent momentum, pundits like Prof. Nelson Wiseman are already predicting that with the MMP's defeat, the Greens would sink back to being a marginal party.

In other news, the Toronto Star's Tyler Hamilton notes that "Climate [change] went AWOL during this election". Despite the fact that many voters were interested, the major parties decided to skirt the issue. The Greens were the only ones who raised it consistently.

While I still disagree with the Greens on one plank of their climate change platform (carbon taxes), I agree with most of their other policies on climate change and other issues. Unfortunately, even if the Greens get some people elected under the current system, they would have no more influence than today's N.D.P. So long as the larger parties get fake "majorities" most of the time, smaller parties are shut out of policy-making even if they make it to the Legislature.

Alas for real democracy. And alas for issues like climate change.

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