STV and MMP have been dealt essentially lethal blows in BC and Ontario - I think when it boils down to it people felt they were either too complicated, weren't sure how their vote would translate into who got elected, and/or that the system lacked riding level accountability. Canadians for the most part favour incremental change, and moving from First-the-Post to a PR based system may have been too much for electoral reform advocates to ask. It's unfortunate that electoral reform advocates pegged their hopes to provincial referendums when the case for changing the electoral system in any province is not nearly as persuasive as at the national level. In no province where a referendum took place does their provincial electoral system badly inflate regional divides, is leading to perpetual minorities (and elections every two years), and benefits a separatist party more than any other party. Voters like stability and elections every 4 years and the provincial systems have provided that, while the national system no longer does. But optics being what they are, with STV and MMP systems being dealt such overwhelming defeats at the provincial level they are clearly off the table for any national referendum on this issue. The sooner the electoral reform advocates (including Fair Vote) come to this conclusion the better and I say that as someone who would have voted for STV if I lived in BC.
So I would hope that anyone who wants to change our first-past-the-post system nationally (where the need is greatest) can now come behind the idea of holding a referendum on instant run-off voting. This system is extremely simple to explain and would dramatically empower the value of every vote cast in an election. We would still have 308 MPs, everything would be the same, except you would rank your choices for your riding. If someone doesn't have 50% of the vote, then the bottom candidate drops off and the 2nd, 3rd choices are re-distributed and so on until a candidate can legitimately be said to have 50% support in the riding. No more would someone who is the first choice of 35% of voters and the LAST choice of the other 65% be elected (like a good number of Conservative MPs).
PR advocates should realize that would be a major improvement and that were IRV adopted and Canadians liked it, it would at least open the door to national STV one day, but trying to move directly to a PR system would be doomed to failure.
This should also be easy for supporters of all the major parties to get behind. Liberals just overwhelming approved Instant-Run Off voting for our leadership races and the NDP and Conservatives have the same system in place for electing theirs. This is because it would be deemed unacceptable for a leader (and in the Liberal/Conservative case, potential PM) to win with only 35% of the support in a multi-candidate race. So why would we accept less for the election of each of our MPs?
It's also easily applied to the Westminister model of Parliament. Australia has the political system most similar to us and use Instant-Run Off voting to elect their lower house MPs, so why can't we?
The arguments against MMP and STV simply don't apply - it's not complicated whatsoever, it wouldn't lead to Parliamentary instability (Liberal majorities would actually be FAR MORE likely under IRV), and doesn't affect the riding level accountability we have now.
It will also carry many of the same benefits of STV such as enhancing the power of each person's vote (if you really dislike your MP but really like their party, you could register that view through your rankings), giving a voice to those who support smaller parties or independent candidates (no longer would your vote be irrelevant - a Green MP would have likely been elected in Guelph if we had IRV in place), enhancing accountability to constituent's in close ridings (35% will no longer suffice to win), and forcing candidate's to campaign beyond "getting out their base" and avoid negative campaigning so as to ensure they maximize their second choice votes. Just as importantly, no longer would parties come to power with little representation from some regions of the country. It should also increase voter turnout which become more and more abysmal with each national election.
Everyone knows our national electoral system is the source of major national unity problems (regional divides and being the lifeblood of the Bloc Quebecois) and is giving us unstable minorities as far as the eye can see, so the solution isn't to pretend these problems don't exist, it's to do something about it.
Just because provinces where the need for electoral reform wasn't that pressing rejected the idea, is no reason to ignore the problems our national system creates. What exactly are the counter-arguments against IRV other than using the provincial votes as an excuse not to act?
Want to increase the number of western Liberal MPs in future Liberal governments while simultaneously wiping the Bloc Québecois off the political map? Instant-run-off voting would be guaranteed to make it happen.
As the party of national unity here's hoping Michael Ignatieff the Liberals take the lead on this issue. We have to trust the intelligence of Canadians that they can see for themselves that the need for eletoral reform at the national level was always greater than it was at the provincial level.
The next election is very likely to give us a Liberal minority and so might the election after that. That would be 5(!) minorities in a row, something that has never even remotely happened provincially. I of course will be hoping and working for two Liberal majorities, but the math to get there is incredibly difficult so we have to consider what our response be to two more minorities.
We can lead in calling for a national referendum ourselves or have Canadians call for it because they have grown tired of the instability created by the current system. I prefer to see us lead.
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