You thought I was crazy? Another Strategic Proposal for NDP-Libs
Well, my last post suggesting that the Green Party strike a strategic deal with other parties to get their fair share of the votes generated a lot of good discussion. Most of you answered my final question “Am I crazy?” with a decided “Yes, Mark, you are, now go play.” Fair enough, I can take it, maybe it is a crazy idea. We worked out some more plausible ideas in the comments where the Greens don’t give up so much. Well, today an atom bomb of an opinion piece in the Canadian #fairvote community by UBC Poli.Sci prof Michael Byers.
In the article in yesterday’s Toronto Star Byers suggests that the NDP and Liberals declare a “ceasefire” in the next election composed of two main promises:
- Each party would retract candidates from ridings where the other party beat them last time to increase the chance of electing a non-Conservative party member. This deal could also be extended to the Green party in about five federal ridings where they came in second last time in exchange for their withdrawal from other ridings.
- A promise from both parties to introduce legislation to have a referendum on instituting proportional representation
Whew! Go Michael! Go UBC!
Now I know as well as you do that the chances of this deal occurring are very low. Personalities seeking power are very wary of giving it up to benefit an enemy. This is part of the problem that Byers is addressing, the NDP and Liberals treat each other (and sometimes themselves) as such bitter enemies that the Conservative party barely has to do any work tearing them apart themselves. For progressive-centrist voters this is a horrible period for Canada where we have a more conservative government than the US, we’re behind on environmental issues and a party that doesn’t believe in government solutions is recklessly spending all the government’s money on superficial ‘solutions’ to the economic crisis rather than on bold, social programs and development that Canada needs such as universal daycare, high speed rail and green technology other than carbon capture and storage.
Voters get the final say right? Well they don’t, when the two or three parties they might trust to represent them can’t stop fighting amongst themselves rather than cooperating for the common goals they should have. That is what Byers is getting it. Even if his proposal is laughed off the stage in the next 24 hour news cycle (come on @andrewcoyne, you can at least bring it up in the panel this week!) it will serve a purpose in opening people’s minds to crazy ideas. We need to think big to literally get out of this box of minority governments being formed by the left over conservative voters restuling from a split centre-left. Conservative voters are split too, they just decided to swallow their pride (or sell it, in Peter McKay’s case) and unite into one megalithic party to get power. Because that’s what our messed up voting system rewards! Byers’ proposal is much less megalithic, and purposely temporary. After such a deal results in a Liberal minority government with Green and NDP support they would institute some program of public education on Electoral Reform followed by a series of Referenda on 1) Whether we need to fix the system and 2) How to fix it.
This would take years but it would be worth it to have everyone actually represented in this country by who they voted for, even if it wasn’t the first choice they voted for. So good for you Prof. Byers, I hope we hear more crazy ideas from you and other in the future. The crazier the better, some day one of them is going to stick and we’re going to fix this thing.
Related links and news. If you are on the twitter take a look at these lists that FairVoteUBC has created :
Update : Here’s another great opinion piece on the need for a coalition at the Department of Culture.