Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rebuttals of Pro-MMP Inaccurate

In rating the effectiveness of the two campaigns for the Ontario referendum I definitely would give the lead to the pro-mixed member proportional (MMP) side. In fact, they are the hands down winner. Their website has been the best, for reasons I mentioned in previous posts. Their commercials are funny, and the only ones to be seen. However, I hope the commercials are only the first of a series. They are effective at opening people's minds to the possibility of change. Now they need to sell the value of the change they are proposing. How will I be better off? They have set the stage for that and need to hit the ball out of the park with a new series of ads that do that. I might add that the current ads would be more effective if they were less negative, but it is also fair to point out that the "no side" of the debate is nearly all 'negative'.

Where I give the 'yes side' zero points is their rebuttals to the no side. In fact, the misinformation they have presented in some of their rebuttals is frustrating. I am going to dissect one as an example:

MMP, Inaccuracy

By Chris Tindal, the Democratic Reform Advocate for the Green Party of Canada

Somewhere, there must be opponents of MMP who are able to argue their case without resorting to misleading statements and inaccuracies. The Sudbury Star’s Claire Hoy does not appear to be one of them. In yesterday’s paper he writes a frsutratingly irresponsible attack against MMP that contains numerous fallacies which beg to be corrected.

TINDAL HAS SET THE STAGE - CLAIRE HOY'S OPPOSITION TO MMP CONTAINS NUMEROUS FALLACIES.

First, he claims that MMP would result in “considerably more politicians.” What he doesn’t say is that under MMP Ontario would still have fewer representatives than we did before the Harris years, and still less political representation per person than any other province or territory in Canada. Either way, most Ontarians will recognize stronger representation as a positive thing.

OKAY. SO THERE WAS SOME INFORMATION THAT TINDAL WOULD HAVE LIKED HOY TO MENTION. HOWEVER, THIS STATEMENT HAS NO FALLACIES AS TINDAL HAD PROCLAIMED. IN FACT, IT IS ENTIRELY FAIR AND ACCURATE.

Second, he makes the equally inaccurate but often repeated claim that the list representatives under the new system would not be elected, but would rather be chosen in secret. In fact, it is our current system which allows parties to choose candidates in back-rooms without any transparency; the new system requires them to open up the process so that voters can make informed decisions. Parties will nominate their list candidates as they nominate candidates under our current system, but they’ll also be required to make public the process by which their list is chosen, making it all but impossible for “party hacks” to control the list in secret.

THE LIST CANDIDATES WILL NOT BE ELECTED. MOREOVER, IN THE CURRENT SYSTEM CANDIDATES FOR ALL MAJOR PARTIES ARE NOT ELECTED IN BACKROOMS THEY ARE ELECTED AT PUBLIC NOMINATION MEETINGS. SO TINDAL HAS IN FACT PUT FORTH A FALLACY. MOREOVER, THE PROPOSED SYSTEM WILL NOT OPEN THE PROCESS UP. THERE WILL BE ABSOLUTELY NO CHANGES TO THE WAY LOCAL CANDIDATES ARE NOMINATED AND FOR THE LIST CANDIDATES THE PARTIES SIMPLY NEED TO DEFINE HOW THEY WILL BE SELECTED. TINDAL SAYS THAT PARTIES WILL NOMINATE THEIR LIST CANDIDATES AS THEY NOMINATE CANDIDATES UNDER OUR CURRENT SYSTEM. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR THAT. IF THE PROCESS A PARTY SELECTS IS THAT THE PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE SHALL SELECT THE CANDIDATES THEN THAT MEETS THE RULES AND THE PARTY HACKS WILL IN FACT SELECT THE LIST CANDIDATES, CONTRARY TO TINDAL'S STATEMENT.

Third, Hoy inaccurately claims that MMP leads to minority governments. In reality, countries that use MMP (like Germany and New Zealand) experience coalition-majority governments that have proven to not only be stable (Germany has had exactly the same number of elections since adopting MMP as Ontario has had in the same time period), but also to do an extremely effective job of reflecting the will of the electorate.

FROM A LAYMAN'S POINT OF VIEW MMP WILL NEARLY ALWAYS LEAD TO MINORITY GOVERNMENTS IN ONTARIO. TECHNICALLY, IT IS MORE CORRECT TO SAY THAT MMP WILL LIKELY NEVER RESULT IN A MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. THAT SOUNDS LIKE SPLITTING HAIRS BECAUSE IT IS, BUT I'M TRYING TO BE GENEROUS WITH TINDAL. AND TO GO A BIT FURTHER WITH THAT GENEROSITY, MOST MMP RESULTS WILL LIKELY LEAD TO COALITION MAJORITIES.

Finally, Hoy feels the need to mock the Citizens’ Assembly itself, which is most objectionable. The Citizens’ Assembly–103 every-day Ontarians chosen at random from each riding–worked for eight months on our behalf learning, consulting, and deliberating about all of the world’s many electoral systems, including our current system and France’s system that Hoy favours. This represents an unprecedented exercise in democratic engagement for our province and should be applauded. The citizens who made up the assembly know more about the advantages and faults of MMP than any other group of people in Ontario, and yet they voted over 90% in favour of recommending MMP as being the best system for Ontario.

TINDAL MAY NOT LIKE THAT HOY MOCKED THEM, IT IS PROBABLY EVEN RUDE TO MOCK THEM, BUT MOCKING IS NOT IN ITSELF A FALLACY.

Of course, Mr. Hoy is free to disagree with them. However, he should do it using facts, and with a respect for the overwhelmingly democratic process that was used to arrive at the conclusion that Ontario should vote for MMP.

WHERE ARE THE FALLACIES, MR. TINDAL? THERE WERE NOT NUMEROUS FALLACIES AND IN FACT IT WAS YOUR REBUTTAL THAT INCLUDED FALLACIES.

MOST OF THE OPPOSITION TO MMP HAS BEEN PUTTING FORWARD VALID CRITICISMS AND THE PRO-MMP SIDE HAS BEEN PUTTING FORWARD VALID BENEFITS. HOWEVER, MANY OF THE REBUTTALS OF THE PRO-MMP HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY INACCURATE.

9 comments:

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

The list candidates will be elected. The list candidates will be elected. The list candidates will be elected.

I understand why pretending this isn't true is a good strategy for the No-MMP crowd, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Now, will the list candidates be elected in a different way than the riding candidates are? Yes. The riding candidates are elected directly, through votes cast for the candidates, while the list candidates are elected indirectly through votes cast for the parties. That's still ELECTED.

If list candidates aren't "elected" then there are several less democracies in the world then we've been led to believe. Several modern democracies use ONLY list candidates and party votes to fill their legislatures. Are Anti-MMP advocates saying that these nations are not democracies? 'Cause if they're not, we have a lot more countries to spread democracy too!

BTW, it's also not strictly true that "IN THE CURRENT SYSTEM CANDIDATES FOR ALL MAJOR PARTIES ARE NOT ELECTED IN BACKROOMS THEY ARE ELECTED AT PUBLIC NOMINATION MEETINGS." In fact, it's not true at all. Candidates CAN be elected through public nomination meetings, but they quite often aren't (Dion appointed his candidate in Outrement in the latest by-election for example) and there is no requirement whatsoever that parties select their candidates democratically (and often they don't). All that is required in the current system for a person to be a candidate for a party in an election is for the leader of that party to sign that candidate's endorsement papers. There's no requirement to follow any procedure whatsoever (the party leader can grab the first person they see on the street and make them the candidate for the riding by fiat) and there's not even any requirement that the parties make public how they choose their candidates (while, under MMP, parties would be required to publicize how their list candidates were chosen well in advance of the election).

Now, could "party hacks" theoretically choose list candidates to stand for election for their parties under MMP? Yes. Just like they do today, all the time. Under MMP though, for the list candidates, they are required to tell the public what process they used to select the candidates. If they want to tell the public "the leader chose this candidate himself" they are free to do so. And voters are free not to vote for that party's list if they don't like it.

Anyway, if you're going to claim to be breaking down Tindal's inaccuracies (of which there were a couple) don't attack him with your own inaccuracies. It doesn't bolster your argument. The truest thing Tindal said was his suggestion that most anti-MMP advocates (though not all) are spreading falsehoods and misinformation about both how the new system would work, AND how the current system works. While I'm sure it wasn't intentional (and it often isn't) your post is a perfect example of this.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CT said...

There's a lot to respond to here, but for now let's keep it simple. According to Elections Ontario's "just the facts" website:

"If a political party is entitled to more seats than it won locally, 'List Members' are elected to make up the difference."

And yet, you've said the "list members will not be elected." If I'm wrong, so is Elections Ontario. If we're right, than you're not. I think you should clarify if you're accusing Elections Ontario of inaccuracy. If not, your argument's foundation is shaky.

You'll also note that I criticized Hoy for both "misleading statements and inaccuracies," I didn't say that everything he said was factually inaccurate. You've hung your hat on the inaccurate believe that I did.

Chris Tindal

Anonymous said...

CT,
Your comment contains another logical fallacy - Appeal to Authority (i.e. Elections Ontario).

That aside, I would propose that the Elections Ontario statement *is* inaccurate. List members are not elected. The most accurate way to put it is that PARTIES are elected. Slightly less accurate is that LISTS are elected.

It's also misleading. Taken by itself (the context you provided), it suggests that the "election" of list members takes place AFTER it is determined that a party has earned more seats. (obviously this isn't the case, and not what the statement intends to convey)

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Anonymous,

No, the most accurate way to put it is that list members are indirectly elected. Saying that the "parties are elected" perpetuates the myth that the parties will choose who goes into the legislature AFTER the party vote is counted. I.E. that they'll "appoint" MPPs based upon the vote totals. In fact, the VOTERS choose who goes into the legislature when they vote, it's just that they do so indirectly through their party vote. Even under FPTP, most voters don't vote for a candidate, they vote for a party. The list portion of MMP just makes this current reality of indirect election more concrete. The list candidates are ELECTED based upon the party vote totals. It's indirect, but it's an election nonetheless. When they vote, citizens will know who's on the parties lists, what order those candidates will be elected based upon the party vote totals, and how those candidates on the list were selected to be on the list. Then they'll cast their votes and list MPPs will be elected based upon those votes.

Now, it's true, voters won't know which members on the lists will get elected before they cast their vote. MMP doesn't give us magical telepathic powers that let us see into the future and to know which list candidates will get elected before the votes are even counted. If we had that kind of power, elections would be kinda pointless.

Again, plenty of modern democracies use party lists and indirect election based upon party votes EXCLUSIVELY. Try telling someone in one of these democracies that they don't actually have elected leaders just because their method of election is different from ours, and they vote directly for parties and indirectly for candidates instead of directly for candidates and indirectly for parties. They won't buy it.

Anonymous said...

Lord Kitchener,
First of all you must then agree with my assertion that the statement CT quoted from the Elections Ontario website IS inaccurate since it omits the word 'indirectly' that is key to your position.

That notwithstanding, I have to disagree with you on a couple of points. All the phrase 'parties are elected' perpetuates is the idea that when you go into the voting booth you mark the ballot in a circle beside a party name, not a list of potential representatives. Now you can say that I'm arguing semantics by insisting that what you elect is literally what you vote for, and a lot of people would probably agree with you. I don't. I think it's fundamental for understanding the question that's being asked on October 10.

Even if you don't agree with my linguistic stance, functionally - as you've already pretty much conceded - the 'proportional' aspect of MMP *is* a vote for a party, not for a list.

As for your (repetitive) argument that plenty of democracies elect governments entirely based on list:
1. I have yet to find one that has a single vote for a single party and a closed list.
2. They would have an elected government, which is different from saying MPs are elected
3. Whether they would buy my arguments or not has no bearing whatsoever on the issue. Appeal to majority is not a valid argument.

Anonymous said...

Are there any restrictions on the "elected" party members? For example, can someone elected from the "party list" be a minister of finance?

Who do the "party list" members represent?
Do I continue to work with my locally elected representative? If this is the case then my local representative's workload will go up since there are fewer ridings (i.e. more people per riding).

If the "party list" members don't represent anyone, and all they are doing is giving the parties a representive vote proportional to the election's party vote, then why don't we just give the party leaders the "extra" party votes. This way we don't have to pay for the bodies to cast the party votes.

Anonymous said...

I found this site using [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

Sorry for offtopic

Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!