Saturday, September 05, 2009

Note To Jeff Simpson III

Jeff, may I call you Jeff? I have written you so much, I feel I know you. Jeff, you kinda flew off the rails, in this morning's offering.
Set the following criteria. Leaders whose parties get at least 15 per cent of the popular vote and/or whose parties have 50 seats (roughly 15 per cent) in the House of Commons can participate in the nationally televised debate in English in the main network.

Then, let there be one-hour interviews, or something of this sort, with the leaders of the other parties on prime-time programs on the specialty channels.

The same criteria could be used in French. Leaders whose parties commanded 15 per cent of the vote (in Quebec) can participate in debates on the main channels; interviews would be reserved for the others.

Of course, some people who support marginal parties will scream, claiming equality, equality, equality. But what's fair about allowing a party with no seats, or 10 per cent of the popular vote, to receive the same exposure to viewers/voters as parties with more than 100 seats, or 150 seats, and almost 40 per cent of the vote?
What you wrote seems reasonable, until someone reads it. What you are proposing to do is give a leader of a party with 33-37% support, 100% access to the media while giving a leader of a party with 10 to 14%, 0% access. What you are proposing is essentially overlaying the crazy distortions of our electoral system to the debates. Such a distortion is extremely undemocratic, because it presents the views of the party with 37% of the vote as the view of the majority. Whereas, the actual vote count shows this is simply not true. At the same time, your formula pretends that the views of 10 to 14% of the population do not exist at all. It is bad enough that our electoral system distorts the reality of the country. To overlay that distortion on the debates is unthinkable. Go back to the drawing board, Jeff. This proposal is a non-starter.
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  1. Not to mention that Francophone Canada extends far beyond Quebec! What a ridiculous idea.

  2. Simpson might as well just say it -- let Harper and Ignatieff go at it hammer and tongs.

    No need for the disingenuous requirements. And if that can't be defended, then probably his formula can't either.

  3. Jennie: Ridiculous is a good word for it.

    Ben: Exactly. He is pushing for it without saying so.