Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is The Liberal Government Secretly Supporting Mixed Member Proportional?


There has been an interesting peculiarity to the referendum on the mixed member proportional (MMP) system that has had my attention since the beginning. Namely, that there is no referendum on MMP. Instead, the question gives you a choice between first-past-the-post and mixed member proportional (the question is reproduced verbatim in the poll to the left). That is highly unusual. The only Act in Ontario that gives reference to how a referendum should be worded is found in the Municipal Elections Act:

"It shall be capable of being answered in the affirmative or the negative and the only permitted answers to the question are 'yes' or 'no'."

That is very clear ... and very common. How many times have you seen an advertisement on American television during their elections stating something like, "Vote YES on proposition 33." The no side in this debate clearly has an advantage in framing the debate into a yes/no question (see: Victory for "No" Side?). But the reverse is also true. So why did the Liberals frame the context of the debate in a way that gives mixed member proportional an advantage when that context is not the standard? Could it be they have been the victims of the current system far more than the victors? Perhaps MMP for the Liberals stands for: More Members from our Party.

6 comments:

Linuxluver said...

The Ontario government committed to a question that was impartial and appears to have followed the New Zealand approach to formulating an impartial question: two choices offered and the voter makes an affirmative choice between them. It certainly is an impartial question. The last thing either side needs in the debate is the issue of question bias.

Anonymous said...

You have to go half way around the world to find a question worded similarly. Sure, good example. Referendums are suppose to be Yes/No questions. Even a fifth grader knows that.

Anonymous said...

The question is fair and unbiased against either side. After setting the threshold for change so high (60%), I'm pleased at least the Ont gov't has allowed for some fairness.

Of course a simple yes or no vote on MMP would require 60%.

But now the question is a simple choice between 2 systems, yet the gov't has the 60% threshold for one.

Two choices - one wins with only 40% of the vote. That is undemocratic. But what can you do.

Furthermore the Lib gov't has done nothing to promote public awareness about the Citizens' Assembly or the question. They're only financing Elections Ontario's confusing and unhelpful campaign on the issue. Most voters will feel unprepared to make the choice, and the powers-that-be are hoping this will make them unwilling to try the new system.

You propose that the question itself be biased in favour of the status quo. And the rest of your posts seem to be biased in favour of the status quo too, despite your site header's claim of being unbiased. Perhaps you should re-name your site - NoMMP.ca's little cousin...

Anonymous said...

Every singe post is anti mmp, I can't see how you claim to be unbiased. Where's the discussion on relative pros of mmp?

Mixed Member Proportional said...

You always get some ying yang who figures unless all the posts support his side then none of them do. The first two posts are neutral, Boices Heard With MMP is PRO and Assessing MMP websites gives the PRO side the thumbs up. Some of the rest are neutral as well.

Avalon said...

Good words.