Friday, October 07, 2011

Screwed Up System Almost Screws Ontarians

Well we seem to have dodged a bullet, but just barely. The first past the post system did its usual magic and almost produced a majority of seats with less than 38% of the vote. In fact, thanks to the magic of splits, the Liberals with 2% more of the popular vote than the Conservatives go 14 more seats. It is criminal. Add to this, the fact that voter turnout was a pathetic 47.6% and you have to ask yourself whether the whole exercise was even legitimate.

The fact is, this is just another in a long line of phony exercises in kabuki democracy, where the voters know that their votes will be wasted if they back a party other than the two biggest ones and so gave the exercise a pass. It is long past time when we realize that our system of voting is suited to a bygone era of binary politics. We need electoral reform.

Dalton McGuinty is now faced with a minority situation. He has already signaled that he is going to do a Harper and rule like he has a majority and dare the opposition to bring him down. This is unwise for two reasons. First, if he was serious about the need for stability for the province during an economic crisis, he would make a deal with one of the other parties to provide this stability. Second, unlike Harper, McGuinty was just slapped by the voters. It is clear that patience with McGuinty is quite limited and if he pushes the voters, he will not like the answer he receives from them.

My fear is that instead of having a government of give and take and compromise, Ontario will be faced by years of phony confrontations, proroguing and threats of elections. This is the main "feature" of first past the post politics, where a shift of 2% of popular vote yields massive majorities. It is a feature our democracy can no longer afford.
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  1. Hey, it's the 39th and 40th Parliaments of Canada all over again, with Dalton McGuinty playing Stephen Harper. :p

  2. In my opinion you should rethink some of this statement. McGuinty has indicated he won't do any coalition or non-aggression deals and that he will govern as a minority. However there isn't evidence yet that he will be unwilling to compromise on everything or that he'll constantly use brinksmanship against the other parties as Harper did. McGuinty could very well end up being fairly accommodating.

    Agree though that the 47% or so turnout is just plain sad.

  3. After his swaggering press conference, I am doubtful Dalton will go for any other option than confrontation.

  4. I hope McGinty has the good sense to pass proportional representational or a run off would be way better.