Crawl Across the Ocean

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Ugly Face of the Establishment

I have to say, arguing that voters in Ontario should reject MMP in the upcoming referendum because if they don't the scary brown people will take over, is a new low. Of course, since we're talking about Murray Campbell here, this is no surprise.

Warns Campbell: "Could Mr. McGuinty have resisted the pressure to adopt sharia law if he had needed an Islamist party to govern?"

Via John


  • I think he starts out well enough, and then trails off into hypothesis. The first sentence of his article explains it well enough: all you need to know about MMP is that it would expand the legislature and stack it with people who didn't have to win an election.

    I think an Islamic party is a little far-fetched, but I wouldn't count it out as impossible. After all, what about the B.C. provincial Chinese party?

    By Blogger Raphael Alexander, at 8:21 PM  

  • The first sentence is ridiculous, just like the rest of the column.

    The word 'stack' reflects an obvious bias, not to mention an incorrect usage, given that when you 'stack' something, you are unfairly arranging it to assist one side (e.g. stacking a deck), which is not the case here. "Fill" would have been a better choice.

    The part about the people who are elected to list seats not having to win an election is incorrect as well, given that they will only be given seats if enough people vote for the list they are on. Campbell is basically saying that nobody has ever been elected in any of the countries which use closed list systems (which may be news to the people in those countries who regularly vote in elections despite the fact that nobody ever gets elected!)

    The first part of the sentence is the most ridiculous, arguing that the most important (indeed pretty much the only) criteria you need to judge which electoral system is best is to check which one results in the fewest representatives.

    Apparently questions about whether the results of the election reflect the will of the people are not 'something you need to know' about an electoral system, which is somewhat odd since the whole point of an electoral system is to translate (accurately, in my opinion) the will of the electorate into a body which represents that will.

    One imagines the introduction for the first meeting of the Citizens Assembly, as imagined in Murray Campbell's world -

    "OK, men and women, we've gathered here to figure out the best electoral system for Ontario. In deciding which system is best, you only need to consider two things: Are there more MPP's in the new system and are there any MPP's elected in a different manner than the current method. If either of those is the case, the option is ruled out. Thus, we only need to consider systems which elect MPP's the same way we do now. So, that means the current system with the current number of MPP's, or the current system with fewer MPP's. Well, we already have the least representation of anywhere in Canada, so let's just stick with the current system. OK, thanks for your time citizens, you can go home now."

    I mean really, on what basis would anyone argue that Ontario would have too many representatives? The post-MMP amount would be pretty much the same as what Ontario had in the early 90's, and far less per capita than the representation that existed for all of Ontario's history prior to Mike Harris' (unsuccessful, and also silly) attempt to pinch pennies by shrinking the number of MPP's. Even with the added MPP's, Ontario would have less representatives per person than pretty much the rest of the country.

    As for the Islamist (not Islamic, note) party reference, what matters is not the probability of its occurrence (which one imagines is in the order of less than 1 in a million, given the number of Muslims in Ontario, the likelihood of them voting as a block for an Islamist party, the likelihood of that party holding the balance of power and the likelihood of that making a permanent difference on the issue), but rather Campbell's choice to exploit people's irrational fear/hatred of Muslims to gain support on an unrelated issue - just like federal politicians did in the manufactured 'controversy' over veiled voters in the run-up to the Quebec byelections.

    Meanwhile, back in the world of probabilities higher than 0.0001%, it seems quite likely to me that if Mike Harris hadn't had a majority government despite not having a majority of the votes cast, he wouldn't have been able to sell out Ontario for an entire century and a near incalculable (but likely in the tens of billions) cost on the highway 407 deal. Of course, that's not something you need to know in order to make a decision on which electoral system is best, so never mind.

    By Blogger Declan, at 12:41 AM  

  • Hi Declan:

    I'd have written this in email, but I cant find one for you :)

    I take it you're an MMP supporter, or at least supportive that Ontario do this. I was wondering, if you are, if you might consider putting up the Vote For MMP logo at your website here, as well as at the same time getting your blog added at the Vote For MMP site to the growing # of bloggers who support MMP.

    Both getting the logo and requesting your blogname be added can be found at this link here.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 10:12 AM  

  • The email address is under the 'Send a Letter to the Editor' link on the sidebar. Admittedly, it's not obvious. I've been known to support electoral reform on occasion so I may as well sub in the pro-mmp banner for the past-its-sell-by-date great debate link.

    By Blogger Declan, at 6:47 PM  

  • Thank you for the laugh Declan!

    Your dissection of his arguments (if you can call them that) was bang on. I don't understand why people think those on the list somehow get there by appointment. No votes, no getting a seat. A prof said to look at Ontario as one riding for the second vote, so the question is which party do we want to represent that riding. It excites me to think that if we manage to hurdle over the impossible barrier and get MMP, I might again have a say in an election outcome.

    I'm thrilled that people from other provinces are interested in this issue. I really hope MMP is voted in and maybe we can inspire the rest of the country to change their systems to a fairer one as well.

    By Blogger talk talk talk, at 6:48 PM  

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