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By: Brad Rubinoff

As if it wasn’t interesting enough being a Liberal in Ontario, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has announced his intent to step down as Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and Premier of the Province. I know I am not alone when I say that the announcement came as a total shock. I was one of many Liberals who attended the Ontario Liberal Party’s Annual General Meeting only a few short weeks ago, and I was one of the 85% who voted their approval of the leadership of the Premier. I am a big fan of the Premier, and it’s going to be hard to see him go.

I could speculate wildly as to why he chose to do this, and why now, but that’s currently being done to death by every commentator under the sun in Ontario, and the reality is that wild and rampant speculation is just that – speculation. As much fun as that is, I’m not really interested in jumping in.

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By: Brad Rubinoff

An awful lot has been written about Justin Trudeau since he announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Reactions from pundits and analysts have run the gauntlet from praise and approval to scorn and dismissal. Love him or hate him, I’ve yet to see anyone react to his announcement with indifference. This, as a Liberal, has been fascinating to watch, and quite frankly it’s a great deal of fun. For the first time since the ’11 electoral decimation there’s a sense of energy amongst federal Liberals. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing Trudeau’s name appear in article after article as every pundit and their sibling weighs in.

Especially since I’m convinced that the majority of the analysis is just plain wrong.

Trudeau is, by and away, the best chance the Liberal Party has of getting back to any semblance of political significance. That’s not to say there aren’t other good candidates out there, there are, but ultimately Trudeau gives the Party its best chance to actually make meaningful gains in 2015.

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By: Brad Rubinoff

Let’s start with a question: What is the purpose of an election? I would argue (and I don’t believe that this is particularly controversial) that the purpose of an election (and by extension the system under which an election takes place), fundamentally, is to establish, through a democratic mandate, who will govern. It is the method by which we, the people, select who will represent us in the municipal, provincial and federal legislatures. An election is a democratic expression of the will of the people, and the results of any given election should, as best as possible, reflect this.

As such, every once in a while it behoves us to step back and admire just how terrible a voting system First Past the Post (FPTP) really is. It’s almost embarrassing just how utterly it fails at representing the democratic will of the populace. Take the recent Quebec Election, in which Pauline Marois’ Parti Quebecois won 54 seats (43% of the Legislature) with 31.95% of the popular vote; in comparison, François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec won 19 seats (15% of the Legislature) with 27.05% of the vote. Marois’ extra 4.9% of the total vote translated into 35 additional seats for the Parti Quebecois. Less than 5% of the vote was worth 28% of the seats in the Legislature. 1

In other words, the 1,180,000 people who voted for the CAQ are dramatically under-represented in the Quebec Legislature, as compared to the 1,393,000 people who voted for the PQ. And that’s not even the most absurd example of FPTP in Canadian history. Our elections are littered with silly results. Consider the 2008 Federal Election, in which the Green Party of Canada received over 937,000 votes (roughly 6.7% of the popular vote) and yet won 0 seats in the House of Commons, compared to the Bloc Quebecois, who received 1,379,000 votes (Just under 10% of the popular vote) and yet won 49 seats. Again, the ‘efficiency’ of the BQ vote (centred, of course, entirely in Quebec) meant that their votes were worth far more than the votes of the scattered votes of Green Party supporters, which were ultimately worth nothing at all. 2

My favourite example of the dismal failure that is FPTP comes from the 1979 Federal Election.  In this election, Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservatives won a minority government of 136 seats, with Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal Party forming the Official Opposition at 114 seats. However, Trudeau won a staggering 40.11% of the popular vote to Clark’s 35.89%, receiving over 400,000 more votes than Clark. Nonetheless, due to the ‘inefficiency’ of the Liberal vote, Clark won 22 more seats in the House of Commons than Trudeau. 3

No voting system is perfect. While I, personally, am a fan of STV/Instant Runoff Voting, it is not without faults. Neither is Mixed Member Proportional Representation, or any of the other proposed replacement voting systems. However, whatever their faults, virtually all voting systems have fewer problems, and less absurd results, than FPTP. While we may debate what we should change our voting system to, we can all agree that we need change. FPTP is an antiquated failure that needs to be replaced.

  1. http://monvote.qc.ca/en/resultats_parti_politique.asp
  2. http://elections.ca/scripts/OVR2008/default.html
  3. http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/FederalRidingsHistory/hfer.asp?Language=E&Search=Gres&genElection=31&ridProvince=0&submit1=Search