Thomas Mulcair, NDP running on electoral reform in 2015

| September 20, 2013 | 5 Comments
thomas mulcair

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, in white. Photo: NDP.

Thomas Mulcair confirms NDP will put electoral reform forward if elected

It goes all the way back to Ed Broadbent, forty years ago. Electoral reform. Now, Thomas Mulcair and the federal NDP, which benefitted from our first-past-the-post or winner take all voting system to become the Official Opposition, are holding to their principles rather than ignoring them now that they’ve improved their position.

thomas mulcair

Toronto-Danforth MP Craig Scott.

Last night, in Toronto, Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair joined Toronto-Danforth MP Craig Scott at “Democracy Day on the Danforth,” a meeting jointly held by Fair Vote Canada and the riding’s NDP association, to discuss changing the way Canadians vote.

Mulcair announced clearly and precisely that a vote for the NDP in 2015 is a vote for electoral reform, and that “we will treat it as a mandate for change”.

That implies, he answered in a follow-on open question and answer (members of the local Green Party riding association were confirmed to be in the room asking questions; it’s presumed the Conservatives and Liberals had their people sitting quietly there too), that change could come by simple legislation amending the Canada Elections Act, as opposed to by national referendum.

MP Scott then took the audience through a presentation of the NDP’s proposals, which are for a mixed-member proportional representation system using flexible party lists.

Mixed-member PR is the system used in New Zealand, in Germany, and in Scotland, amongst others (83 democracies globally use proportional voting systems rather than the system we use; others do have a winner take all approach but, like Australia, use a ranked ballot to reallocate votes and get clear majorities rather than simply a “one more vote than anyone else” approach like Canada’s).

In it, you cast two votes at an election: one for your local MP, just like today, and one for the party of your choice. Parties end up with seats, first from their elected MPs in ridings (your first vote), then filled out as needed from a list of candidates to reach their share of the popular vote for their party (your second vote).

Unlike other countries, which simply allow you to “vote for the party,” the NDP proposes that Canada allow voters to select an individual name from the party’s list to say “this party and this person”, or simply “vote for the party.” They also want regional lists, dividing larger provinces like Ontario, Québec, Alberta or BC into multiple regions, so that individuals on the list relate to a region and can become known.

Scott presented how the 2011 election would have worked out if the NDP’s proposals had been in effect for it. What gave his presentation credibility was the fact that the NDP itself would have had fewer seats under their own proposal than they actually won.

Other alternatives were also presented, and the 130 or so people in attendance polled for feedback throughout the evening.

Thomas Mulcair, in opening the event, also reiterated his promise that “the NDP in power would appoint no Senators” and that the party would be working to “abolish the Red Chamber.” He received a standing ovation after taking open questions on a variety of subjects for nearly ten minutes.

Scott has been travelling the country this summer holding events like this, and has an extensive travel schedule planned throughout Western Canada this fall to hold similar evenings in all major Western cities.

This is the second major plank in the NDP’s 2015 electoral strategy that has been revealed, after an urban affairs focus. It’s clear that the New Democrats want the next election to be about ideas and policies rather than about personalities.

Scott also indicated that there would be continued outreach to the country during the next two years, including mailings, a video campaign, online information, and door knocking and leafletting so that Canadians can make an informed choice about their future. Feedback from these will refine the proposal into the formal policy plank at the election.

No voting system avoids skewed and perverse results (this has been mathematically proven), but this proposed change would help empower the many Canadians who live in parts of the country where the real battle is at the nomination meeting, not on election day.

Kudos to the Thomas Mulcair and the NDP for standing for their principles even when it might hurt them.

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Category: Politics

Comments (5)

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  1. Greg Vezina says:

    The NDP sells out its supporters every chance it gets. PR has been official NDP policy for decades. There have been a half dozen minority governments elected in Canada since 1979 and the NDP has never made electoral reform a condition for propping them up.

    Jack Layton could have used any of the three minority governments elected between 2004 and 2008, headed by both the Liberal and Conservative Parties to force the issue, but he drank the Kool-aid and believed he could win a majority himself, why else would he not have used these wonderful opportunities to bring about real change. Saint Jack and the NDP’s belief in real Democracy was a charade designed to give them political power they complain about others exercising.

    The NDP’s real position is do as we say, not as we do, which is the same position of Mr Trudeau and Mr. Harper.

    • Greg Vezina says:

      Anyone wishing to read the chapter called “Fair Voting” in the book “Democracy Eh?” I co-wrote with former Toronto Star reporter and Liberal Party of Canada supporter who has resigned from the Liberal Party of Canada to run in Toronto Centre for the Green Party can get a pdf at the link below. This is the same book I personally gave to Bob Rae when he was the NDP Premier of Ontario with a big majority and I gave to Jack Layton in 2004, when he campaigned on PR, only to ignore it in the two elections that resulted in minority governments followed. The reason many Liberal and NDP supporters that believe in PR have moved to the Green party is because they are sure that neither the NDP or Liberals will actually follow through with PR is they got power or shared it in a minority or coalition government. http://gregvezina.com/democracy-eh-ch3-greg-vezina.pdf

  2. Andy Blair says:

    Bravo to Mulcair and the NDP for standing by their principles on the vital issue of democratic reform – even when it is of no immediate profit to them in terms of seats. That is a highly principled stand that puts voters first.

    I’d like to contrast that with what the Trudeau as proposed in the Liberal Party of Canada: a system called the “Alternative Vote” (AKA the “preferential ballot in single-member districts”) that is not proportional, would not ensure every vote counted, and which would probably put the Liberal party in government for the next generation or three. The Alternative Vote is a cynical, self-intrested politicians’ fix for a voting system problem that disenfranchises all voters, and it has been defeated resoundingly by votes in referenda in the UK and New Zealand in 2011. There’s no reason Canada should accept anything less than proportional representation.

  3. Thats fine to have proportional representation.However a lot depends on how well they do in the next election.Abolishing the senate may prove to be much much harde then they think because it will probably mean reopening the Constitution.the Supreme Court already ruled in 1971 that the House of Commons cannot abolish the Senate by themselves.

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