CA electoral reform

Some Canadian electoral reform issues worth exploring:

See also CA electoral reform schedule.

In Canada it is considered important that voters can chose candidates and not only parties "proportionally". There is thus some tension between various schemes of reform, i.e.

Other events:

Some bioregional multi-member district schemes that would combine the strengths of both with bioregional democracy have been proposed specifically for Ontario by the Green Party of Ontario.

Ontario tabled legislation to initiatea process similar to BC's. Fair Vote Canada's Joe Murray called for 10 specific improvements including:
  • Access to a variety of experts: The assembly should have presentations from and ongoing access to a variety of voting system experts, including those with differing opinions. The assembly must be protected from being deliberately or inadvertently steered by staff experts.
  • Flexibility on recommendations: Given the recent reduction of seats in the Ontario legislature, the assembly should be allowed to consider models that involve an increase in the number of MPPs. In addition, if the assembly cannot reach a general consensus on the single best alternative voting system, they should be allowed to present two alternatives, with voters using a preference ballot in the referendum to choose among the alternatives and the status quo.
  • No super-majority required for adoption: Unlike the BC government, the Ontario government and political parties should not impose a super-majority referendum result for adoption of a new voting system. If the Government claims the right to make binding and far-reaching policy decisions based on simple majority rule, the same standard should apply to citizens.

A much more limited set of reforms is being considered in Quebec. 'See this paper.''

There is no sign of any reform activities in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador, nor Alberta, Saskatchewan nor Manitoba, nor any of the territories yet. These smaller jurisdictions are almost certainly awaiting the BC results.

federal reforms

The Law Commission of Canada is considering federal reforms. These are also being advocated by the New Democratic Party of Canada and Green Party of Canada, both of which stand to gain very substantially under any such scheme (a strictly proportional parliament would triple the number of NDP seats and give the GPC official party status).

Former leader Ed Broadbent is leading the charge, and Jack Layton has made adoption of proportional representation the number one condition of his support of a Liberal minority coalition in the parliament. This might emerge from a Canadian federal election, 2005.

municipal runoff voting

A runoff voting or instant runoff voting scheme for municipal elections would guarantee no vote-splitting - some municipal elections in Canada have dozens of minor candidates, e.g. City of Toronto.

party disapproval

There is also in Canada some desire for party disapproval options. Craig Hubley says "when I vote now I must vote for a candidate and their party simultaneously. It is possible I might want to vote
for the candidate but without approving of their party, that is, to vote for the candidate as if they were an independent candidate, signalling to them clearly how many votes they have got as an individual not as part of a party - a high number of such party-disapproved votes would be one way to encourage people with strong local support to stand up to "party whips", leader abuses of power, etc."

Such signals matter. Likewise in STV/IRV, it matters that people know they were mostly elected by second-choice or even third-choice votes. This tends to change behaviour in office, and what they choose to legislate on: or not.

low density areas have single members

To give fair representation to low population density areas (North, Saskatchewan), strict proportional representation doesn't work. This is another reason to use bioregional multi-member district so that you have effectively instant runoff voting in large sparsely-populated areas with 1.X or 2.X or even 0.X (say Labrador) votes - since many of these are native areas, it would be easy to have a "First Nations Party" pick up the leftover votes, and with the means of self-governance in their hands, it would
be less of an issue that they had no dedicated seats in the Canadian House of Commons, since any representative could easily channel their concerns.

Other regional/provincial considerations can be dealt with most effectively by linguistic and bioregion direct representation. The current Canadian "provinces" should not exist, according to Jane Jacobs, and according to the two-level system of government in European countries(though it is now adding the EU, and of course the UN, as additional levels).

encouraging voting

Once such a scheme is in place, then consider side issues:

First Nations

Some concerns are relative to one ethnic or interest or gender group; To get more aboriginal people actively involved, what if Assembly of First Nations could be given the most advanced e-government and e-democracy
tools they want to use, including, full sovereign control over all encrypted communications between bands. Craig Hubley says "They have the right - they are sovereign nations. Treat them like they are, and they'll start to behave like they are." See When Nations are Neighbours for further expansion of this approach.


To get more women involved, Craig Hubley also advises to "set up systems that rely more on mediation and interpersonal consensus and less on leader power grabs - reduce the overall power of "leaders" in the system (notice what happened to Sheila Copps and Carolyn Parrish, not to mention Kate Holloway, Gretchen Schwarz, and other women "targetted" by Jim Harris: Hayley Easto, soon perhaps Sharon Labchuk" under the regime of outgoing GPC Leader Jim Harris.


BC referendum news