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My Letter to my MP on Electoral Reform

September 15, 2016
Dear Mr. Saini,
I am one of your constituents and I must say very happy you won your seat and your party won the recent election even though I am not always a Liberal voter.
I was unable to attend your open house last night in Kitchener with Minister Monsef but I have a strong interest in electoral reform and I’m very happy that this process is being carried out now under your government.
In the past I have been fairly active in arguing for electoral reform of some kind and for more proportional systems in particular.
Unfortunately I have not had much time to write on this topic since I returned to Ontario.
You can find my previous writing on the subject at my blog: Pop The Stack
But just to keep it short and fun here are couple discussions of electoral reform in the language of Lord of the Rings and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy 🙂
But in all seriousness, this process is a profoundly important one and I hope after the public consultation is done, your government will follow through looking at all the opinions.  Even more importantly I hope you will have the bravery to make the right choice and implement it without a referendum even if a loud minority disagrees with it.
Option 1 – STV
The best option is clearly some form of Single Transferable Vote with ridings of various sizes, 1-3 members in rural areas, maybe 5-6 in urban areas. The BC-STV system was a good approach and was supported by many people. It would allow for voters to have influence over the candidate each party can put forward over time and make government truly representative. It was brought down in the referendum by cynical people using people’s fears. They are against all change because they benefit from the existing system.
Don’t listen to those who say STV is too complicated for Canadians. If they can handle our Prime Minister giving a lecture on quantum computing they handle a ballot where they rank candidates from all parties and the votes are weighted and counted by a computer.

Option 2 – MMP
My second choice would be something along the lines of Mixed Member proportional with party lists. If the list system is open to some primary voting process to party members this would be even better.
Option N – Something else….
Now anything is better than our current system, I do believe that. So some list based, alternative vote or instant runoff system would be an improvement, as hobbits argued.
However, it has severe drawbacks in that a party which has many third or second ranked votes could be dropped off before those votes are used. This would in particular hurt parties competing in the ideological space of the Liberal party such as the NDP and especially the Green party.
So choosing such a system would be bad for the country, waste a once-in-a-generation opportunity for change, and look like the triangulating, strategic manipulation that Liberal opponents love to attack the party for. It would, in my opinion have a much greater chance of emboldening conservatives who support FPTP (for some reason) to use in a later election and would be at risk of being reversed. Which is strange because I truly believe conservative voters have should be even more eager for change that liberal voters (use of case intentional) as they have considerable wasted votes in the urban centres that are the engine of our country.
So that’s it. Do the right thing and make us proud.
Thank you for your time,
Mark Crowley
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