Yes, last week we had a Canadian election. Not much changed, so it wasn’t a very satisfying experience. For the first time, I’m warming up to the notion of tinkering with our voting system.
What Happened · Before the election, we had a Conservative minority government, with the Liberals, New Democrats, and Bloc Québécois on the other side of the aisle. After the election, we had... well, the same thing. Only with more Tories and fewer Liberals.
In practical terms, this probably strengthens the Tories’ hands, because it takes all three other parties to unite against them to force another election, and Canadians aren’t going to be in the mood for one for a couple years at least.
The most disappointing thing is that the Tories are completely Part Of The Problem when it comes to the environment, and the Canadian electorate didn’t exactly seem exercised about this, so Canada as a nation will not be a leading player on the environmental world stage. Since I sometimes shudder in fear at the haphazard experiment in atmospheric remodeling whose results we’ll be bequeathing to our children, this upsets me.
My Core Principle · My feelings about the core values of democracy may be read here; one of the very first pieces published on this blog, and one I’m proud of. In fact, the Conservatives have not been notably awful as a government and the voters did not exercise the central privilege, the one that makes democracy better than the alternatives, by firing them.
Irritated · Some Canadians I know are running around complaining, saying “The election cost three hundred million and accomplished nothing. Shame! Shame! Shame!” Gimme a break; democracy isn’t free. You gonna pass a rule saying you can’t have an election unless you’re guaranteed a new government? I’d start laying out the reasons why that’d be counterproductive but if you can’t see it there’s nothing I can say that will help you.
But actually, I am irritated over the results. And for the first time in my life, I’m starting to think there’s an upside in tinkering with the rules. It totally sucks that you can be a Liberal voter and if you’re in the burbs, you needn’t bother voting. Or if you’re in the seven percent of the population who favored the Green party. Or if you’re a Tory living downtown. And so on.
I don’t know what the solution to the problem is, but I’ve become convinced that there is a problem. Check out Fair Vote Canada. I’m open to persuasion on the relative advantages of proportional representation, single transferable vote, and various other psephological mongrels.
But I have to say the Fair Vote Canada press release (PDF-only, sigh) does some pretty compelling statistical advocacy.
The problem is, it escapes me how one mounts a plausible electoral-reform campaign when all the current legislators were by definition elected under the current system. But given a chance, I’d pitch in.