Friday, May 29, 2015

Resign-a-thon

Well, today we not only got the resignation of Peter MacKay, but also of his to-be Liberal opponent in Central Nova, veteran David MacLeod.

I'm not sure what to feel about the former Justice Minister/Defense Minister/PC Party Leader. I don't think I've ever particularly liked Peter MacKay, and in some respects the guy was a bumbling fool; but like Flaherty, Prentice, or Baird, its possible he played some sort of moderating role or conscience in a Cabinet that many claim is dominated by the Prime Minister. Harper has lost so many strong voices this year that its beginning to become a bit sad; at some point, the Conservative government may truly become just the party of one man and his personal sounding board. That's a dangerous situation to be in for any government.

At any rate, I wish MacKay the best. Maybe he'll come back in a few years time, post-Harper, and run for the leadership of the Conservative opposition. Let's just hope he doesn't make any "promises" on mergers again.

As for his hypothetical Liberal opponent (or the revelation of Etobicoke-Lakeshore's Liberal candidate, Susan Watt, resigning), I'm not at all surprised. The downside of the push for early nominations is that you get people who like the idea of being an election candidate, but when push comes to shove they're just not up to the task. We had a similar issue here in Burlington in 2009, when we had a nominated candidate who then backed out when it became clear that there would be no election that year. Don't believe the nonsense talk of "rats fleeing a sinking ship" - all parties go through this, and its better happening now rather than a few days before an election call.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dream electoral reform, part 2

I've asked a lot of people on Twitter for feedback, and every single one of their responses lead me to one conclusion - I was unclear in my previous post.

I will try to be a bit more clear this time.

How MPs are elected

I actually don't care. Use a closed list, an open list, a system like 308 proposed; this "electoral reform" does not concern itself with how a member is elected.

Frankly, this system could work as well with a house of 10 members as it would with a house of 10,000. 

When people go to vote they will sometimes want a particular person in office, someone locally popular, but in general, they vote for the party. That's how people like Drever get elected. Most - not all, but most - of the elected members win their seats based on the party they represent and not based on their own personal popularity. 

As such, I care not for how the MPs get in to Parliament.

What winning means

In Canada, winning an election, in terms of the election, means nothing. A coalition could unseat you, you could win with all the seats, or win by losing in the seat count.

There are countries where it does matter. Both Italy and Greece offer the winning party a bonus of seats. Italy's system, that had been used for many elections, was that any party that win was "boosted" to at least 55% of the total seats. If that party were to capture 60% of the vote, however, they'd win 60% of the seats.

Italy has a new electoral system, one that is actually similar to what I propose. The "winning party" will only be determined (I'm generalizing here) after a second round. It is like STV without the intelligence. Basically a two round system that could potentially knock off a popular third party. 

Where you win

I made the mistake last time of using the terms "House of Commons" and "Senate" which seemed to confuse people. To help clarify, I will use new terms, the "House of Money" and "House of Laws"

This election reform applies exclusively to the House of Money. How the House of Laws is elected is not a concern of this proposal. 

What this is not

On election day, everyone goes to vote for the party they want to be government. They are therefore presented with a ballot with all party names.

What this is not is proportional representation.

We are not determining the proportion of seats each party will get (at least, for 85% of the seats) The actual vote share on the first round - again, excluding that 15% - does not matter. 

What this is

STV. Once all the ballots are counted nationwide, an STV process begins to find out which party 50%+1 of the electorate wants as their government. This is important. A party could win 49% of the votes in the first round, and still lose in the final round. This STV is the key to the entire system, it eliminates vote splitting everywhere. It will be impossible for "rounding" to result in even one extra seat for a party due to a vote split. Every ballot gets counted towards who is the government and who is the opposition.

What this does

Whomever wins that final vote will become the government. The losing party in that final round will become the official opposition.

The government is assigned 55% of the seats. The opposition, 30%.

All the ballots for these parties - in the first round - are then discarded. 

The remaining ballots are then counted, and only then do we use Proportional Representation to determine how the other 15% of seats are distributed. 

An alternative is to give 10% of the total seats to whatever party was eliminated in the penultimate round, and 4% to the party in the round before that, and 1% to the party in the round before that. 

Whichever method of the two is more popular is the one I support. 

Why do this

People already think, subconsciously, this is what they do. People already think they go in to the voting booth to "Vote for a government" People already think they can vote against a government by voting for the main opposition party. People already think this system exists.

Not consciously. Certainly not. Subconsciously. 

In all the political party narratives, all the answers to all the questions that are asked of random voters, all of the presentation of all of the media, mainstream and social, of elections - this is how we view them.

"Government"
"Winner"
"Party"

We already have a political system that is set up to enable this exact sort of reform. I say we stop pretending we have something else and go ahead and be honest with ourselves. 

Who wins

This is one of the more difficult ones. Exactly how to ensure every election is not just a simple majority. We will need some way to introduce coalitions in to the mix. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is with petitions. If, for example, 5% of the public sign a petition saying they want an "NDP-Liberal Coalition" in the ballot, then the next ballot would say

"Conservative"
"NDP"
"Liberal"
"Green"
"NDP-Liberal Coalition"

We could have a situation where the final 3 parties are NDP, Liberal, and NDP-Liberal. And that's fine. That's perfectly acceptable. People need the ability to 'tap the dials' of government, and make nuanced decisions that we can't make in our blunt ham fisted FPTP system. Even a system based on STV or PR will not guarantee a coalition, but this system would. 

What then if the coalitions breaks? Another forms?

Too bad, we have another election.

We are after all electing a government, not a parliament. If the government changes, then we need a new election. 

When do we make the change

The answer is both now and never. We can do it now if we want to, we just need to amend the constitution and get all 10 provinces to agree. For that reason the more likely answer is never. This is not designed to be a proposal that could actually pass in a referendum, my other one was, this is designed to be a proposal of how things should be. 

Where do we go from here

Sadly, nowhere. We will likely fumble around with various proposals for various sorts of reform, none of which are ever popular enough to win any referendum. I doubt we'll ever see electoral reform, unless it is very mild, or we have some serious electoral incongruities. 

All in all, I hope this post is much more clear. I welcome comments below, even if I've tweeted you, so I can respond to all the concerns in one place.
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Monday, May 25, 2015

The Best Voting Method for Canadians - STV

Since Éric Grenier posted his somewhat controversial "308PR" post last week, I've spent some time looking at differing electoral systems and really trying to nail down what I liked and did not like about the various options on the table. I've come up with the one that I think I like the most, and would love to see implemented here in Canada - and I've even done a little example below.

Just to review: currently, Canada's federal, provincial, and municipal elections use a plurality vote system, whereby the candidate with the most votes in a district wins the election. That candidate could win any number of votes, it doesn't matter so long as it is more than any other single candidate has - hence why we can get situations where a district is won with under 30% of votes cast.

This system probably made a lot more sense when it was just two parties fighting it out, though you can still end up with tremendously lopsided results. Most liberal democracies have moved on from the plurality method, opting to either fully embrace proportional representation, use a hybrid system, or simply modify the existing system to ensure a candidate can reach 50% support in a riding.

Proportional representation (or just PR) generally refers to voting methods that aim to give parties and candidates a more equitable chance of actually winning seats relative to their share of the vote.

There are two types of PR - a party-list system, whereby representatives do not run individually in districts but instead are ordered on a list created by a party, and however many seats that party is entitled to after the election is how far down the list goes. For example, if the Liberals were entitled to 50 seats in an election result, you'd start with the first person on the list - lets say Trudeau - and continue on down until you hit the fiftieth candidate listed. It sounds simple, but there are different ways of getting to how many seats a party is entitled to -  I'd suggest taking a look at the voting method of Israel, the d'Hondt method, the Sainte-Laguë method, or the largest remainder method, as they are the ones you'd hear about more often.

The second type of PR is the single transferable vote (STV) in multi-member districts. This is the one that British Columbians were asked to vote on twice a few years back. The idea behind it is kind of complex at first glace, but really its very simple: a voter ranks candidates based on preference (I like Jim Bob most, and Mary Sue second most, etc.), and we start from "first preference" results. If Jim Bob is last in the first preference ballots, then the voters who picked him as their first choice do not have their votes wasted, as is the case with the plurality method; instead, those voters' second choice, in this case Mary Sue, are transferred to her in the second count. On and on it goes, until a candidate reaches a quota for votes, whereby they've collected enough ballots to represent one seat in the district.

Hybrid systems are exactly what the name states. The best known is Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP), where there is a mix of plurality voting methods and a proportional party-list method that is supposed to offset a disproportional result among the plurality vote districts, thereby balancing everything out. This is more complicated than straight PR or STV, as it can require people to vote on two ballots and generally hard to understand or predict. This method was also voted on and defeated in Canada.

There are also plurality vote methods that aim to keep the general principle while giving a more equitable result. These come in a few shapes and sizes, but the one we'll know most here is the preferential ballot, alternative vote or instant-runoff voting (IRV), the method that the Liberal Party endorses for its electoral reform platform. I did a post awhile back when this was an issue during the Liberal leadership race that compares the plurality vote, MMP, and AV, as well as some calculations even longer back that showed a couple of examples of an AV vote in Canada. The short of it is that you rank your candidates much like in STV, but instead of electing multiple members and hitting electoral quotas, you elect one member per district and try to hit 50% of the vote. It is key to remember that it is not proportional, but it does ensure a majority of the riding voted for their representative.

Éric's "308PR" system is a strange mixture of party-list PR with plurality voting, whereby MPs are elected based on the performance of their party across a province, but they are ranked by their level of support within whatever riding they're choosing to run. Its a way to gain proportional representation without losing local representatives, but there are quite a few flaws and unanswered questions with it.

Main Concerns Over Changing Canada's Electoral System

As mentioned, there have been recent referendums of changing the electoral voting methods in three provinces. In Ontario  and Prince Edward Island, reformers proposed bringing in the MMP system, and was soundly defeated in both elections. In BC, the STV method was voted on twice; once in 2005, where it earned 58% support but failed to reach a level that bound the government to implementing it (60%). Then in a follow-up referendum in 2009, it went down in flames.

There has been no Canada-wide referendum on changing the electoral system, but the general consensus is that it would likely go down in defeat. Similar referendums held in the UK and New Zealand have not given reformers any hope. The question then is, why?

This is pure speculation on my part, mostly taken from various articles I've found online, as well as looking at the results in other countries, but this is what I've come up with. The biggest issues are: an electorate that is ignorant of the other options; support for the status quo by both governments and parties who benefit, as well as voters; and worries about losing representation.

The first two issues are ones that simply have to be overcome through the sheer force of will that a campaign brings to bear - it is up to people to educate voters and explain to them why a new system would be better, enough to either convince parties to jump on board or for their opinion to not really even matter.

The third is a trickier concern to answer, especially for PR advocates. Its the one that Éric tries to address with his 308PR. Essentially, the concern is that with a PR system, voters in particular districts won't have access to local MPs, who will instead focus on areas where votes are, or simply not be accountable to a local community since they'll be chosen by a party, not the electorate. It is a valid concern, especially for people living in more rural parts of the country or, let's be honest, in areas where more poverty exists and where turnout tends to be lower. In a country as widespread and diverse as ours, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Preferential Balloting

But, there is a pressing need to reform the way we elect people to higher office. Plurality voting simply does not work - it can give disproportionate power to parties that don't represent the will or intent of a majority of the electorate, as we see federally or more recently in Alberta, PEI, and Ontario -actually lets be honest, in almost every province and major city.

The Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau propose changing our electoral system to a preferential ballot or IRV method, whereby candidates in all 338-districts must be elected by 50% of its constituents. This addresses a key problem at the riding level - candidates can win without getting the support of even a majority of their constituents, thus possibly setting up a situation where over two-thirds of voters can choose to back another candidate. The most stark example of this recently was in Red Deer-North in Alberta, or in the 2013 Montreal mayoralty race.

I will admit that I initially was in complete favour of this system... but I've come to believe that it actually is not the best system for our country. It does address riding-level concerns, and it certainly can lead to a more representative result nationally, but it still doesn't reflect the will of all voters, not even in local districts. A candidate can win with 51% of the vote, leaving the other 49% without their chosen representative - that right there seems to me to be just as unacceptable as what we have right now.

Single-Transferable Vote

Now we get into the meat of this post - the system I think is probably the best choice for Canada.

The STV method is used in several familiar places to us, such as Australia's Senate elections and the Republic of Ireland. As I explained above, while the system can seem complex, it is in fact not that hard to understand once you clear away the nonsense and confabulations.

The key thing with STV is that it is not based on party lists, it is actually based on constituencies and district representation. The voting method is more or less the same as preferential balloting, but the key difference is that the balloting is done in multi-member districts, instead of one single district. The best example is the electoral system and district apportionment of the Dáil Éireann (lower house) of Ireland.

The Dáil has 166 members who are elected from 43 constituencies across the Irish Free State. The number of members elected from each district can range from three to five, and the candidates are local to the districts, and can also campaign by community - for example, a candidate can campaign exclusively in one community to build up his voter base, and work for transfers from other candidates and from other parts of the wider constituency.

Thus a candidate can remain a local member and accountable to his or her community, while also becoming part of a larger regional delegation, and crucially, better representing the will of voters.

While there is no way to ensure that "every vote counts," even under pure PR, we jump from a possible 70% of votes not counting under our current system, to 49% of them not counting under preferential ballot, to maybe 10-20%, while retaining a strong constituency member representation.

It also grants parties that might otherwise be locked out in a plurality voting system or in preferential ballot a way a chance to have its members elected. There is no better way to explain this than graphically.

The Example - Saskatchewan


In 2011, the votes of the province of Saskatchewan gave the majority of their support to the Conservative Party of Canada, while the New Democrats came second with nearly a third of votes. However, that was not the representation Saskatchewan received in the House of Commons; instead, 13 of the 14 Saskatchewan MPs elected were Conservatives, while one was a Liberal.

In other words, the Conservatives received 56% of the vote, but 93% of the seats, while a third of voters were left without representation anywhere in the province. This happened because of a quirk in the way Saskatchewan's districts were designed in the 2003 representation order, and while it has been corrected in the new boundaries, it would still only give the NDP two of the province's 14 seats, leaving 11 for the Conservatives. There are a few close races, but because the Conservatives can eek out a percentage or two more of voters, even without hitting 50%, they win.

But what if the 2011 election was held with STV? If it were, you would see much different results - 9 Conservatives, 4 New Democrats, and 1 Liberal.

 How did I get there? Let me show you.


What you see above is the results for the 4-member constituency of Regina, as elected by the single transferable vote method. Represented are two Conservative MPs, one New Democrat and one Liberal, with a total first preference count of 47% Conservative, 34% NDP and 16% Liberal.

Essentially what I did here was take the four existing Regina ridings (Lumsden-Lake Centre, Qu'Appelle, Palliser, and Wascana) and throw them together as a single district. From there, I treated each of the four riding's candidates as a single candidate running for one of the four seats in the constituency. To earn a seat representing Regina, candidates have to reach a quota of 27,243 valid votes - or, roughly one-fifth of the valid votes cast in the election. This ensures that each member elected will represent the minimum number of electors in the district needed for one seat, in this case about 20%.

Let me take you step by step, and show you what I've done.

First Preference (Count 1)

There are 17 candidates running in Regina, four from each major party and one independent. On the first preference counts (those that marked candidates with a "1", meaning their main choice, or depending if they voted for the group), Tom Likuwski of the Conservatives won the most votes at 18,076, but he and everyone else still remains far short of the quota of 27,243. Thus no one is elected on the first count.
What the Canadian STV ballot could look like

Candidates that did not make the minimum number of votes to qualify for a deposit (set at 5% in the constituency) were eliminated off the ballot - three Liberals, all four Greens, and the Independent. All eight candidates will have their votes redistributed based on their voters' preferences into the second count. Some may also not choose another preference, thus their ballot will not count.

Count 2

After the preferences have been allocated, Ralph Goodale of the Liberals has the most votes on the second ballot, but everyone is still far short of the quota. Thus to move on to the third count, we have to eliminate the last place candidate, that being Marc Spooner of the NDP. His votes will be redistributed to other candidates, again based on his voter's preferences.

Counts 3, 4, and 5

As we move on throughout the counts, three more candidates are eliminated - Fred Clipsham of the NDP, and Ian Shields and Ray Boughen of the Conservatives. With each eliminated candidate, the vote totals change and we get closer to hitting the electoral quota.

Count 6

On the sixth count, we have two winners who have hit above the electoral quota of 27, 243 - Ralph Goodale of the Liberals and Tom Likuwski of the Conservatives, and are now duly elected. Thus, their surplus of votes above the quota will be redistributed to the remaining three candidates - not the total sum, but only the surplus.

Count 7

We've reached the end of the count, however no one has reached the quota. Nevertheless, both Andrew Scheer of the Conservatives and Noah Evanchuk of the NDP have been elected. Why?

With two seats remaining, and only three candidates, eliminating the last place candidate (in this case Brian Sklar of the NDP) means that the two remaining candidates are going to be elected no matter what. Thus, they're declared as having been elected without reaching the quota. This means the 23,723 voters supporting Sklar can be considered "wasted votes," however the result overall in the constituency is more representative than if Sklar actually won.

Consequences

After seven counts, Regina has all four of its MPs, but instead now we have a New Democrat joining their ranks, along with Conservatives and a Liberal.

This shows how STV can work to produce a result that benefits parties on both a local and national level. The New Democrats get their Saskatchewan representation, while the Liberals won with a strong local representative who was able to get enough transfers and reach the electoral quota on his own. The Conservatives also have their representation which better reflects the actual level of support they received in the region, and thus no one can truly cry foul at them anymore.

The above results were modelled directly after how its done in Ireland, right down to the fancy chart. Check it out for yourself - here's an example constituency with four seats, Longford-Westmeath, which also had a recent by-election. This particular riding is also interesting; if you look for the name Mary O'Rourke, she was a former minister, deputy party leader and long-time member for the constituency who was soundly defeated as a local candidate, being eliminated on the second count. Local representation matters, can you can still sink or swim based on what the people back home think of you.

Anyway, this has been a long post but I think I've made my case - STV is definitely the way to go. We can have our cake and eat it too, folks... I now feel guilty for not supporting it more, but that shall change.

If you're curious for more, I did the rest of Saskatchewan as well, just to see what it would look like. If you're wondering how I got the transfers, I really just generalized the preferences and made some guesses here and there (for example, I suspected most eliminated Liberal voters in Regina would throw their support behind Goodale, while in other districts they'd be a bit more split).




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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ban the Thing Keeping Us All Fed!

Boo-urns
I continue to be perplexed by the anti-GM (genetically modified) food groups, who were out yesterday in force in 48 cities across the world, including Toronto.

A lot of these groups specifically target Monsanto, a giant agricultural and biotechnology firm which has some shady history and legal issues, as well as being accused of "playing God" or population decline or something. It is the bogeyman of the anti-GM movement, and I'm sure the little children everywhere are frightened by the campfire stories of Monsanto and the cancer-giving corn.

The reality is, as always, much more complex. Monsanto surely does have some predatory corporate practices, but it is also, you know, a for-profit corporation. I won't pretend to understand the legal issues underscoring some of their patent claims, but I'm also not surprised - they have to make their money somehow, and losing control of their patented seeds probably isn't a good thing.

What they do not make money off, however, is trying to kill people. GM crops and foodstuffs are among the most widely studied products on the planet, and the science behind them is well researched and understood. We are not playing around with some new-fangled technology that was just recently discovered, and the issues surrounding the use of GMO seeds and their consumption are documented. The science is already in, and GMs are safe.

On the other hand, what isn't documented is the arguments from the anti-GM crowd. Their opposition comes mostly from ignorance of the science, and when they try to do studies to back their stories up, they turn out to be poorly-done mockeries of scientific inquiry. We're supposed to trust them because, oh, they're not in it for the money - yet meanwhile, they remain silent or cheer on while anti-GM personalities like Kevin Trudeau make millions by defrauding people; or when the "Health Ranger" Mike Adams uses legal trickery to silence critics; or while corporations use their opposition to GMOs as an advertising gimmick.

Plus, here's the other caveat never mentioned by the anti-GM crowd: how are you going to feed 7-billion people? GM crops are made to withstand circumstances would normally kill off harvests, they're modified to resist disease, insects, and weather. They've also been modified to provide more nutrition per unit, so as to reap greater efficiency from every crop yield and thus every product shipped to market.

In other words, they're modified to ensure people have better food security, and in a world with a rapidly increasing population, its a necessity. Yet the ignorant continue to cheer when fields containing GM crops are burned or protested against, with nary an alternative proposed.

Think about their position now - they oppose a scientifically-backed, well-documented and life-sustaining product on the basis of oooh its not natural! What utter nonsense - dangerous, ignorant, murderous nonsense.

GMOs are safe, end of, so shut up and eat your giant mutant strawberry already.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Dream Electoral Reform

Electoral Reform is something I've been thinking about, and working on, for a good 15 years. When I make posts like this one, it comes from years of seeing Canadians reject one proposal after another at the polls. Seeing proposals, like the recent one from 308, makes me wax nostalgic for the old days.

In short, I see his proposal as a "dream" proposal. Something that would be awesome if Canadians wanted it, but something Canadians would never support.

I have my own set of "dream" proposals, but perhaps my most interesting is also my most simple.

What is Government?


What is a Government? What do we expect when we go to the polls? How do we look upon the people we elect?

In modern times, we look at a vote in the ballot box as being one for a money. Taxes, spending, funding programs, and all that. We also take care to pay attention to the administration; if we feel a certain party is corrupt, we'll replace them.

This, unfortunately, does not jive well with the way our Parliament is designed. It works well when electing a group of people who decide what is a crime, what is legal, and what is illegal, but does not work well when electing a group of people to "run the country" 


How to change?


The key here is that we need a simple change that takes advantage of a quirk of our modern political system; a minor quirk that has existed for centuries, and defines the entire way we look at elections in the modern period.

Political Parties.

Proportional Representation already does a good job at this, especially nationwide-PR lists. The problem with this is that it frequently produces minority governments. As I've tried to hammer into fans of PR, Canadians do not want minorities. They do not want to "have to" vote 50%+1 for a party for it to become a majority. Canadians are fine with a party winning a majority on 40% of the vote. This is why all those arguments that so-and-so should not have won a majority on 40% of the vote never seem to appeal to anyone except those already in favour of PR. 


Change to what?


This is where it gets interesting. I propose we simply do away with the idea of seats being decided based on local vote, or even national vote, and distribute them according to a seemingly strange formula. 

First of all, we combine the idea of a nation-wide PR with that of STV. 

Next, we remove the whole idea of votes-for-seats. 

When the voter goes into the ballot booth they would see a list that looks like this:

[  ] Conservative
[  ] NDP
[  ] Liberal
[  ] Green

and so on. They would fill it out with the numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

Thus a ballot may look like this:

[4] Conservative
[3] NDP
[2] Liberal
[1] Green

When it comes time to count, we begin with a simple FPTP count. This may produce a result like so:

CPC - 40%
LIB - 30%
NDP - 25%
GRN - 5%

Since no one party has taken 50%+1, we begin to distribute the votes in an STV manner. Lets jump to the final round in this example:

CPC - 49%
LIB - 51%

In this sample election, the Liberals win. For that victory, they get 55% of the seats in Parliament. It does not matter if they win by 51-49 or 55-45 or 90-10, winning nets them 55% of the seats. So what of the others? Well whomever ends up facing them in that final ballot wins the Official Opposition, and as such, wins 30% of the seats. Again, regardless of their vote, for finishing second, they win 30% of the seats.

The remaining parties share equally the remaining 15% of the seats, so long as they meet a threshold - say 2% of the vote - in the first round.

Canadians think they are going to the polls to elect a government. Lets let them do that. If a party "wins" the election, they get to be the government. They get a majority strong enough to overcome a few defections, but not so strong as to overcome a backbench rebellion.

Ideally, this system is coupled with a major change to how Parliament works. All money bills would have to come from the Commons, and need to be passed by the Senate without delay.

The Senate meanwhile would take over as the law chamber. It would probably look like our modern commons, but all members would be independent of the commons parties. Their main role would be to discuss laws, things like long guns and terrorist convictions and the age of consent.

This would remove that from the whole idea of "governing" as we, in modern times, see it. This is, IMO, how it should be precisely because this is how most Canadians think of it being.

Complications?


This system is not perfect. Crafting a coalition would be difficult; for that reason I propose allowing petitions (IE the public signing things) the power to add specific minority combinations to the list. Exactly how to do this can be determined later on; the important changes are already done, and supposed "loopholes" could be closed later. The main objective here is to make elections do what people think they do - elect a new government - and to make them do that well. That is already done. From there, we make things better, but once this simple change is in place, we already have a far better system.

Of course, it would never get support; hence why it's just a dream.
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Timing of future provincial elections.

Just a quick post to note an interesting occurrence that came about due to fixed election dates.

While Newfoundland is expected to go to the polls this fall, along with the Federal government, other elections will be "grouped"

Both Manitoba and Saskatchewan have laws saying the next election is in April of next year. Saskatchewan in particular could theoretically go in the Fall, but not if there is also a Federal election.

Nova Scotia is the only province without a fixed election date, however, it is possible a 4.5 year government would see an election near the time of the next BC election, in May of 2017, or, it is possible NS might end up having an election close to the Yukon, also without a fixed date, some time in the fall of 2016.

Lastly is the grouping of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, all scheduled to vote next in the Fall of 2018.

This, of course, does not even mention PEI and Alberta, which will also find themselves in sync in 2019.
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Visualizing where things stand

With all the news about the Federal "3-way tie" I decided to put in a poll average; weighted towards more recent polls.

The results were near what other political predictors and election projectionists have come up with.

117 - CPC
106 - NDP
105 - LIB
10 - OTH:

5 - GRN
2 - F&D
2 - BQ
1 - IND

I've also mapped the results, they are as follows:












Not much in the way of commentary, as usual, just a marker for how things stand at the start of the summer season before a fall election.

I will, however, say that I have been noting for quite a while that the NDP can win the 2015 election; I've insisted such even during their period in the low 20's

By the same token, I again note the Greens could win three-dozen seats, and the F&D could sweep Quebec - it's also possible neither of the two win any seats, though May losing her seat is slightly less likely than the Greens winning 36 seats.

As we saw in Alberta, a lot can change in a short time. The reason the NDP won is that people in Alberta were willing to considering a progressive alternative. There are many across Canada who are willing to consider a small-g green alternative. In addition, there remain a large number of voters in Quebec who are willing to consider a Quebec-based alternative.

The only thing I do not see as likely is the Bloc winning too many seats (IE 50%+1 in Quebec) as Quebec voters seem unwilling to back a highly separatist party, especially at the federal level.

In term of minimum extremes, the Tories could suffer a heavy defeat, down to around 40-60 seats or so. The worst the Liberals could do is about even with their 2011 performance. The NDP is best suited for a good minimum, being very unlikely to win under 30 seats. While that's less than the Tories or Liberals, keep in mind that the NDP usually struggled to get 30 seats, and they seem all but certain to take that this time without a doubt.
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