Monday, June 11, 2018

First-Past-The-Post: An Ontario Horror Story

Has Justin Trudeau not betrayed his promise of electoral reform, perhaps all provinces would be seriously considering it for their own jurisdictions, not just British Columbia and Quebec.

And now Ontario is about to reap the full horror of the first-past-the-post system: a clown (no doubt accompanied by seltzer bottle and whoopee cushion) about to plant himself in the premier's chair. Despite that province having rejected an opportunity for reform in 2007, The Star's Mitch Potter suggests that result could have an impacct on people's thinking:
Thursday’s outcome in Ontario — with the clear majority of voters, nearly 60 per cent, now on the outside, looking in — makes the province prime hunting ground for activists now looking to enlist the province in the reform momentum taking hold elsewhere in Canada.

“We see a shining silver lining in this terrible mood in Ontario, where you now have a government most of the people don’t want that will be doing things that most of the people don’t want,” said Réal Lavergne, president of Fair Vote Canada, a grassroots organization of 70,000 people coast-to-coast that advocates for proportional representation.

“We don’t wish that upon the people of Ontario, but we will hit the ground running, we will parlay it. There’s an opportunity to help people better understand how the status quo distorts the ideal of equal and effective votes for all.”

Fair Vote Canada held its annual general meeting in Ottawa on Saturday, poring over the entrails of the Ontario results. The organization itemized the shortcomings, noting that 52 per cent of Ontario voters essentially elected no one at all.
Such widespread disenfranchisement, and its resulting effect of voter alienation, does nothing for the health of a democracy.
And finally, it is clear that Ontario's dire state, laid bare by a bit of numbers-crunching by letter-writer Tony D’Andrea of Toronto, cries out for remediation.
Albert Einstein, who knew something about time and place, said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

So, welcome to electoral insanity — the Ford Nation brought to Ontario by its first-past-the-post style of democracy. Thus Premier-designate Ford, who was just elected by 40 per cent of voters who didn’t care that he doesn’t have a plan, has now been empowered to reverse or nullify the progressive plans of the 58 per cent who voted for Ontario to not become the populist regressive Nation of Ford.

Such is the sorry state of politics in Ontario. Once again, the legitimate power to rule determined by FPTP means that there is a disconnect between a majority government and its corresponding match with actual Ontarians.

Actually, since only 58 per cent of the eligible individuals cast their votes, it means that just 23 per cent of them voted for Ford. Consequently, his victory is representative of less than a quarter of the population. Yet Ford has a mandate to do whatever he politically chooses to do. And, although this is not illegal, it most certainly doesn’t add up democratically.

There is an urgency for the public to hurry up and discover that the math governing our elections makes a travesty of our democratic principles.
As one can see, not all horror stories are confined to the realm of fiction.


  1. When will enough Canadians understand the dark farce that is FPTP? It was devised for two-party politics and, as such, outlived its usefulness in Canada decades ago. When we enter multi-party politics, FPTP subverts democracy.

    1. It seems to me, Mound, that some form of proportional representation is the only solution to our democracy's malaise. Otherwise, we will continue to see a decline in the numbers voting. But then again, why should that matter to those in power, since power often seems to be their primary, if not only, motivation in seeking public office?

  2. Perhaps there is a silver lining in Ford's election, Lorne. His victory may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

    1. I'm inclined to agree, Owen, but my confidence in my political prognostications has been shaken by recent events.