A Simple Ontario Formula for Big City Proportional Representation
While the election system wars play themselves out in the national parliament, solutions are slowly emerging. One of these solutions may help to square the circle and give both the Proportional Representation (PR) advocates and the First Past the Post (FPTP) traditionalists, a way to achieve a compromise position, that gives both sides, not their first choice but ‘a position they can live with’.
There are already models like the Jean Pierre Kingsley model, described in the link below, that operate on a rural urban split. Simply put PR in major urban areas and FPTP in rural and small city areas.
The model described below could be a model for Ontario provincial elections but could be used in other provinces or a version in national elections.
The arguments for PR:
Every vote counts
More women, minorities and other equity seeking groups
The arguments to retain FPTP:
Voters have “their own” MPP
Community of interest and so on.
A ‘Big City’ PR system for Ontario elections would use PR for our biggest cities which elect 5 MPPs or more and retain FPTP for the remaining seats. This would place 47 seats under PR in Peel Country, York Region, Durham Region, City of Toronto and Ottawa. Smaller cities like Hamilton, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor, and so on would stay with the FPTP system for now and this would be reconsidered with each census and seat redistribution.
The estimated below are based on the 2014 election. Clearly, under the FPTP system, the Liberals won a large majority with a minority of the vote at 38.6%. This gave them 17 ‘unearned’ seats based on a pure PR system listed below. Both a “pure PR system” based on assigning all Ontario seats by vote % and a ‘Big City’ proportional system generate minority governments since no party received 50% of the vote. The seat totals of the pure system and the Big City system are highly comparable and far more similar than either is to the FPTP system.
In other words, with minimum disruption to the existing FPTP system, most of the benefits of PR are achieved.
Overall, the Greens are cheated out of 4 seats based on pure PR but at least achieve one MPP in Toronto. Of course voting patterns for all parties could change based on the understanding that all votes in the cities can produce seats. Perhaps, after another election round the Greens could generate more seats in the GTA or in Ottawa.
The PC Party PCO, would gain seats they deserve in Toronto, the NDP would more closely represent its Toronto and GTA vote. In fact the PCO is slightly over represented based on pure PR by 4 seats since they gain in urban areas while retaining their rural base.
The Liberals, still with the largest block of seats would be forced to choose a governing partner from either the PCO thus alienating their progressive wing, or choosing the NDP, thus angering their ‘Blue Liberal’ wing. This assumes a PCO-NDP government is not in the cards today but who knows the future?
Conclusion: It is very easy to achieve the benefits of a PR system with minimum disruption in 5 cities alone. Could we have a Hamilton-Niagara block, a KW Cambridge Guelph block, a Windsor-Sarnia block? Sure we could in time but it would take compromise and consensus in the future. This report recommends a GTA-Ottawa beginning. The rest is up to Ontarians.
Across Canada a lower Mainland PR system could fit in an otherwise FPTP BC, a Calgary-Edmonton PR system within Alberta, a Winnipeg PR system within Manitoba, A Montreal PR system within Quebec and so on.
BC In the education news in a big way
Two huge stories from BC rocked education in the last month. First in what appears to be a vindictive political and simultaneously bone headed move ‘Liberal’ Premier Christy Clark through her education minister Mike Bernier fired the entire Vancouver School Board. This because the trustees were not balancing their budget fast enough. One reason is than BC has one of the worst records in Canada at funding K-12 education despite having one of the highest standards of living. BC now ranks second lowest in terms of funding as a % of GDP. Notwithstanding its wealth as one of three ‘have’ provinces, BC teachers’ wages lag well behind Ontario and Alberta.
Firing the VSB trustees who are popular with BC parents, especially the Vision Vancouver faction of the board simply sends a message to Vancouver parents that the Liberal government is not listening or does not care.
It is particularly galling that, notwithstanding this deplorable level of funding, BC has the money to pay up to half the cost of tuition for BC students in private schools including toney elite private schools like the one Christy Clark’s son attends the prestigious St George’s school.
Bernier and Clark may have thought they silenced the VSB trustees but, in fact they have freed them up to campaign actively in the next provincial election coming in 2017.
Let’s hope that this anti-democratic move results in the loss of a few Liberal MLAs in Vancouver in the provincial election. In what is expected to be a tight election at this point, we may look back on the firing of the VSB as one of the points where the Liberals lost the 2017 election.
I have little doubt that the Vision Vancouver trustees will be reelected with a majority at the next opportunity.
Supreme Court of Canada decides BC Teachers have the Right to Negotiate Class Size and Composition!!!!
In a second shocker to the BC education community, the Supreme Court has decided that BC teachers have the right to negotiate class size and composition. This was a right that was arbitrarily removed through legislation in 2002 by then education minister, now Premier Christy Clark and it has taken until 2016 to wind its way through the BC lower courts and finally to the SCC
The decision has profound implications across Canada. As only one example, Ontario teachers also lost this right. A SCC decision can hardly apply only to BC (although on a temporary basis it does). What about all Canadian teachers? What about nurses, social workers?
When a decision of this magnitude comes down there must be a ‘remedy”. Parties to the decision need to be ‘made whole’ which means, as much as possible returning to the position immediately before the legislation was passed. The decision is expected to cost $300 million and lead to the hiring of literally hundreds of teachers in BC alone.
This is one more decision that makes Christy Clark appear either spiteful or incompetent – choose your own adjective. I suggest both. This decision has actually been ‘spun’ by Clark as “an opportunity to reinvest in education”. Our Jewish friends have the best word for it - chutzpah.