Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why MMP is Wrong for Ontario pt. 6

This part of the argument revolves around the idea of two classes of MPP. The basic question is: are list candidates and local candidates interchangeable? If the answer is no, we have a problem. I believe the answer to be no.

Do they have the same responsibilities? No. Nobody disputes that local MPP's have the added responsibility of dealing with constituent complaints and problems. With this in mind should we really pay the same to each when they don't do the same work? More importantly, do they deserve the same say in our government.

Do they have the same rights? This is an interesting question and because the recommendation of the citizens' assembly has not been put into bill-form yet we have no idea what the answer would be. Federally, we just saw Joe Comuzzi cross the floor; would list MPP's have the same right? I can't imagine that they would.

Neither the same rights nor the same responsibilities means no to me. This creates a problem do we trust a list MPP with a cabinet portfolio? With the Premier's office? If these new list MPP's will be second-class why do they have equal power?

Slightly off topic point: It has been raised elsewhere that the list MPP's will provide diversity to the legislature. I do admit that this is a possibility. The problem is even if they look different they will not be able to act differently. I can't imagine a list MPP going against the wishes of the party that elected him or her. Diversity is only valuable if it brings a diversity of opinion. Otherwise it's little more than pandering and vote-grabbing.


Anonymous said...


You may find a lot of voters disagreeing with your premise, that "all politics is local". There are MANY voters who actually consider a party's leader, platform, and province-wide vision more important than the "local" candidate, when they go to the polls to vote in a provincial election. Not every provincal voter puts an over-riding value on the geographical component of representation.

Transparent party lists create an incentive for parties to offer some geographical balance to their lists, for their own province-wide, electoral success. Since the list members also represent the entire province, there is never an unrepresented region, even when there are local vacancies.

In the CA's MMP model, list seats represent only 30% of the legislature. They would primarily be used to supplement the parliamentary caucuses of the "lower-placed" parties.

A "list member" could certainly become premier, but it is more likely that this position will be filled by a leading, "locally-elected" member of the 1st-, or possibly 2nd-, placed party. This is because the MMP system creates an incentive for parties to elect their most valued members in local ridings first... for "insurance" purposes. (This incentive already exists in our current system where parties often elect their leaders to "safe" ridings).

Because of the list process & ordering tranparency requirements, I don't see "cabinet postings for list members" as being problematic. (For a point of comparison, we have seen a senator appointed to the last federal cabinet...which I think is a bit more problematic.)

Raymond Lorenz

Anonymous said...

For those voters that feel the vote for their "local representative" is an extremely important value, MMP allows them to "split the vote". Voters can choose to vote separately for a good local MPP with the "candidate choice" vote. Voters can then choose to vote for a different "preferred party", if they wish, for the party choice vote. (Local voting is clarified for voters who are torn between a local representative and a different provincial party.)

Matt said...

Your analysis continues to seem stuck in some kind of obtuse, sophomoric trap, unable to contemplate even the most basic explanations about the questions you raise.

Would list MPPs and riding MPPs have the same responsibilities? In the legislature, the answer is obviously yes. Both would have votes, etc.

Right now, riding MPPs only take care of constituents from their own riding. If someone is outside their riding, they'll forward that person to their respective riding MPP for service. The MPP for Sarnia won't look into the WSIB issue for a person living in London, for example.

However, list MPPs won't represent any one riding. In essence, they'll be representing the entire province.

So it's entirely conceivable anybody in Ontario could call any one of the 39 MPPs and expect help and service. Thus it's easy to suggest that list MPPs will have even more work than riding MPPs as riding MPPs only have to worry about their constituency.

Would a list MPP be able to cross the floor? Not sure.

List MPPs would primarily be used to top-up the losing parties to ensure they had more or less fair representation in the house. As a result, most list MPPs would opposition MPPs.

As we know, the opposition has pitiful resources to fight the government, so adding a few more bodies to opposition caucuses strikes me as good for democracy and government.

Again, as list MPPs would be primarily opposition MPPs, then governments wouldn't run their best people on their lists as they'd rarely get a chance to be in the government/cabinet.

People even close to the top of their party's list would likely not get into the legislature were their party to win the election. It's how the system would work. Thus worrying about list MPPs taking over cabinet or the Premier's office is unfounded.

At least you admit list MPPs would provide for greater diversity in the legislature which it would. Yet somehow this increased diversity is negated by the fact that they're partisan? Once again, you don't have much of a point here.

Good luck with future anti-MMP arguments making more sense than what you've come up with so far.

aginsberg said...

The title of my blog of course is a quote from long time Democratic speaker of the house Tip O'Neill. Thank you for the MMP 101. However, my point about the difference in MPP rights and responsibilities stands.

Anonymous said...


The right to "cross the floor" seems to be a red herring issue & an aberation in our political culture.

Because you place geographical representation as your only electoral value, "floor crossing" is seen as a "desireable" right. If you ask most voters, they will probably be repelled by this "distorted" virtue of your value system.

I don't think that this particular example is doing your overall argument any good.

Raymond Lorenz

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