Monday, 19 September 2016

Perverting Democracy

While the world seems to be experiencing a trend towards more populist and democratic demonstrations, in Canada the left is doing its utmost to distort democracy. Since accessing to power the Liberals and the NDP have started to propose changes to electoral reform, not to expand but rather to control the democratic process.

At the federal level the Liberals have said that they would prefer an electoral system of proportional representation (PR). This idea is supported mainly by the left, including the NDP and the, one elected member, Green Party. The whole idea of PR is that too many votes under the First past the Post (FPP) system are squandered. Those who oppose the current system argue that too many majority governments are elected by less than 40% of the vote.
Because of the disparities, in geographical, urban and rural ridings, Canada’s system has peculiar voting differences. The Maritimes and Northern Canada have ridings of 20,000 or less voters compared to Ridings in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia with ridings of 100,000 voters. The result of this discrepancy is that in the last elections it took approximately 38,000 votes to elect a Liberal MP, whereas it took 57,000 to elect a Conservative. Some argue that the system also allows the minority to rule the majority, because for example Atlantic voters have 5 times the power of voter in larger ridings; and furthermore votes cast for unelected candidates under the FPP are wasted. It is also claimed that the current system further divides the country into regional lines. As a result the Liberal party would supposedly bring Canada in line with OECD and other countries who choose a different system than FPP.

While most voters understand FPP, most voters do not really know what PR means. Broadly speaking PR can be explained by two forms: Proportional, which represents the popular share of the votes and Preferential where voters chose candidates in order of preference. Preferential is closer to FPP, whereas Proportional on the other hand will produce multiple elected members based on the percentage of votes received.

A PR system tends to favor single-issue parties, like the Green Party, where with a very small national vote they could garner many seats, and thus able to play kingmaker in a closely contested election and influence policy making. The result will not only be undemocratic but could result in the chaos of multiple parties like Italy and Israel where elections have to be called  ever so often because of government collapse due to a lack of majority and constant coalition governments. The risk of political instability is increased and may have nasty economic consequences.

In Alberta the NDP came to power in a protest vote against a ruling neo-lib Progressive Conservative Government of 43 years that had become arrogant and lost its conservative principles. In a political move the new NDP government has made proposal to legislate new electoral rules. Limit the contributions by Unions and Corporations and  how much a candidate can spend during a campaign.  More disturbing are the rules that The NDP adopted to limit leadership race spending to $300,000. These new NDP rules are clearly designed to affect Conservative parties’ fund raising, and to handicap the entry of Jason Kenney in the provincial arena.  These rules may be seen as a desperate move to retain power rather than true electoral reform.

Furthermore the Progressive Conservatives changed the rules for the next leadership race and moved back to the eighties delegate system of 15 delegates per constituency. This will include what some will call, super delegates, Five of those delegates must be from those who have been on a constituency board since before October 1. The other 10 will be chosen from those who bought party memberships at least two weeks before the delegate vote. We have seen a similar scenario during the Democrat’s Primary between Clinton and Sanders, A system clearly designed to discriminate between the establishment and ordinary members.
There is no doubt that no system is perfect, however it is also said that ‘if it is not broken, do not fix it’. In all the cases mentioned above, it seems that there is no clear reason why the current systems should be changed.  Voters in general only want a simple, transparent system that results in a strong and stable government. FPP already provides this. In the case of Alberta the only reason for the NDP’s changes are to affect the fundraising of Conservative parties. Ignoring the failures of the past three leadership races the PC’s new manipulated system is purely designed to maintain the status quo, which incidentally caused their demise in the first place. If there is  something that is broken and need fixing it is the Progressive Conservative party of Alberta which lost its ways a long time ago with the inclusion of neo-libs in its ranks.
At the Federal level only a Referendum is acceptable. In Alberta a democratic membership driven choice of a PC leader is required, which in the long run may result in a united right Party and ultimately the defeat of the NDP. . These steps are needed to stop the nefarious, reprehensible and vicarious perversion of democracy by the left in Canada.