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Proportional Representation: Better Democracy or Trojan Horse?

June 14th, 2018 · 74 Comments

Doug Ford was elected Ontario’s new Premier with 40.6% of the province’s popular vote:  59% of the voters wanted someone else … and yet, Ford took ALL the power at the TOP.

And his Conservative party, under the first-past-the-post system, also captured 76 seats in the Ontario legislature, compared to the NDP with 40, the Liberals with 7 and the Greens with 1 … again, out of line with popular vote percentages.

Sounds like a perfect argument for proportional representation.

But it could have been even worse.

Imagine a political setup where someone gets only 16.8% of the vote but can hold a gun to the head of a Premier who garnered more than 40% of the popular vote!

That’s what we now have in BC.

Green leader Andrew Weaver’s party took only 332,387 votes … out of the total of more than 1.9 million votes cast in the last BC election.

And yet, it is Weaver who can decide IF and WHEN John Horgan’s propped up NDP government will fall: the Greens’ three seats being used after the ballots were counted to prop up the NDP’s 41 … keeping the Liberals’ 43 at bay.

Of course, let’s keep it real: the NDP is fairly confident the Greens do not WANT an election right now … probably because they know the government is not unpopular; the public doesn’t WANT an election; and the Greens can’t afford one …financially or politically. So Horgan and the NDP have been able to withstand (overlook) Green objections on several issues: Site C, LNG, bridge/road tolling, etc.

Nevertheless, the FACT remains: the Greens can topple BC’s government at the time of their choosing …  a very powerful position for a party that won only 16.8% of the vote … and that 83% of the electorate did NOT choose.

And that’s a problem proportional representation would make even worse!

There was a time I believed proportional representation was long overdue: after all, every vote should count and every point of view supported by voters should have a voice in debating/deciding political issues.

But wherever p.r. has been introduced, the number of small, parochial, religious or ethnic parties has multiplied … and it can become almost impossible to form government without catering to, pandering and giving blackmail powers to sometimes several of them.  It becomes a mess.

And yet, BC voters will soon be asked if they want to change to a p.r. system: in fact they will be offered THREE different types of p.r. systems.

BC could soon end up with not only minority parties like the Greens or Conservatives, but all kinds of small, fractured and fractious political, religious, ethnic entities,  holding seats …  and BC’s political REALITY would end up much differently: with small parties ending up with BLACKMAIL powers.

Just like we see now in Italy, Israel … and BC.

First past the post (the system we have now) is not perfect … but it provides much better stability and even some powers (ask the Greens) for minority parties … without the dangers and turmoil of proportional representation.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: You can receive free first alerts of all new postings on this B.C. blog by following @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No spam … just alerts of new blog topics.)

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Doug Ford Will Be Canada’s Trump

June 8th, 2018 · 53 Comments

He’s rude; he’s crude; and he was elected on a wave of shallow rhetoric and highly expensive promises …. and yet, no costed-out platform or detailed fiscal plan of how to pay for it all.

Ontario’s new premier, Doug Ford, will be Canada’s version of Donald Trump … and although his “base” will love him  and the richest will cash in …  Ontarians with deeper consciences and Canadians who understand Ontario’s wider national importance will rue the day he was elected.

I predict:

Under the guise of freeing up development and creating jobs, jobs, jobs Ontario under Ford will adopt a to-hell-with-the-environment attitude to resource extraction, industrial projects, any carbon footprint controls and air and water pollution reductions etc.

To pay for Ford’s promised personal tax/Hydro cuts/gasoline price reductions, watch for … despite his promises to the contrary … staffing and program cuts at Ontario schools, hospitals and social programs for the poor and elderly.

Growing Ontario deficit spending, along with increased taxes/fees/permit costs of almost every kind for individuals/consumers.

And, to pay the piper, corporate tax breaks.

All made possible and plausible because Ford and the Ontario Conservatives were … incredibly … allowed by their voter base to run an entire election campaign without coming up with a published Platform saying not only what they planned to do …but MOST IMPORTANTLY … HOW they would be paying/financing all or any of it.

Ford’s base was like Trump’s base: they hated what had gone before; wanted change; and were prepared to buy an entire new government … asking fewer questions than they would if they were buying a TV!

Speaking of which, many were also unaware … or shamefully unconcerned … that the man who would be their premier REFUSED any sit-down media interviews during the campaign … except for chats, of course, with his OWN team’s personal “campaign reporter”.

That does not bode well for the future.

I believe Ford will now, in power as premier, mirror Trump’s arrogance and disdain for transparency (despite his campaign vow to the contrary), will treat the free press as the enemy of the people  …especially those who ask tough questions or demand FACTS, not just rhetoric.

NO ONE in Ontario should believe it serves the voters’ or taxpayers’ best interests: electing a leader who publishes no detailed plan, refused any serious in-depth interviews … and having been successful … will likely now govern answering even less.

And the rest of Canada should care too.

Ontario …which produces 38% of Canada’s GDP … has also played a HUGE (if often unnoticed) role in keeping the country together: a calming source of understanding and accommodation when Quebec went through its ranting and raving stage; a sympathetic response to Western Canada’s demands for fairer representation; and, a tolerant constant contributor to the endless fiscal support provided the Maritimes and the North.

Doug Ford will NOT continue Ontario’s historical national leadership role: he will be a parochial, petty, provincial politician … becoming increasingly provocative, dismissive and eventually looking for scapegoats as his “plan” to make Ontario great again fails …and the cuts and costs come home to roost.

Just wonder if he too will blame Hillary … or Obama!

And, of course, the fake media.

Harv Oberfeld

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