Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reforms that Actually Will Increase Diversity

The pro-MMP side claims that their system will improve the representation in the provincial legislature. As I have already argued, this is only true if parties choose to use undemocratic methods of candidate selection. However, there are things we can do to improve diversity. The biggest challenge facing any candidate seeking election is how do I sustain myself and maybe my family while I run for office? This is particularly true for traditionally disadvantaged groups like single mothers and new immigrants. So here are two reforms that would help alleviate the financial burden of running for office.

  1. Provide Job Security: One of the problems people of all walks of life face when seeking elected office is that they will have to either get a significant leave from or give up their present job. This problem affects all candidates not working in politics but is particularly burdensome to those who do not have sufficient savings to simply not work for months during and after an election. How often have you heard losing candidates, when asked about their next step in life, answer, "I have to find a job"? We can solve this problem by forcing private and public employers by law to provide unpaid leave to their employee for the term of the election and guarantee the employee the same position upon the completion of the election if they lose. Now, if there is significant concern about people abusing this policy to get a vacation (the cost of registering as a candidate should deter this), we could say that corporations are liberated from their commitments should the candidate fail to get a certain number of votes.
  2. Pay People to Run For Office: Why should people have to spend their life savings to run for office? It would make sense to pay all serious candidates (you could use the threshold for campaign financing) a small amount to cover basic costs of living. Something in the order of $100 per day. Let's say we set the threshold at 5%(lower, I know then the finance threshold of 10%). There are 107 ridings in Ontario. Realistically only around four candidates per riding get above 5%. That would mean 428 candidates would qualify (this is a very high end estimate). In a typical thirty day campaign that would mean a cost to the government of $1,284,000. A drop in the bucket relative to total government expenditures. This is even small compared to the cost of running an election. The benefit would be huge.
These reforms would do a lot more to get the best people in Queen's Park than any electoral system.

3 comments:

Scott Tribe said...

Well Aaron, above and beyond what you propose, claiming we wont get better representation without parties resorting to undemocratic methods is a completely ridiculous claim.

In fact, Greg Morrow and I spelled out how parties could pick their list MPP's democratically and with balance. I suggest you read it.

Andy said...

As I've pointed out, the party that actually wins will usually elect very few list MPPs, so even if we grant for the sake of argument that diversity will be increased in the legislature overall, the increase will likely be heavily concentrated in the opposition. But details like this don't seem to interest many of the MMP people.

Anonymous said...

Dear APIL
At the outset I am going to tell you that I will vote NO to MMP.
And now I will tell you why (in case you are interested).
I am not opposed to electoral reform but MMP is not the answer.
1) If we need electoral reform its because of particular circumstances here in Ontario (apathy, turnout, prepresentation etc etc) But we need an Ontario solution not one borrowed fron NZ or Germany or wherever. The circumstances in these other countries when they make their decision were different than in ON at this time.
Why can't we be creative and come up with a MIO (made in Ontario) soultion? Why do we have to follow?
2) MMP will create 2 classes of MPP's This is unfair and unsustainable. Why should one MPP work their ass off getting birth certificates or housing allowances or disability concession and other case work for constituents while others cruise....serving no constituent other than their politcal party masters
3) This MMP system will assure continual minority governments.
Minorities are not all bad but constantly? Who will ever make the difficult decisions? Certainly not minorities / caolitions
The only thing MMP has going for it is, it is understandable (unlike the STV pan in BC) AND it is a change.
How often have we herd the pro-MMP folk refer to the archaic FPTP system. I would prefer an archaic system to one that's only true claim is newness.

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