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October 4th, 2007

meanwhile…

(an edited preface to rob’s rant: for the uninitiated in the mahna mahna experience please click here. now we return you to the rant in progress…)

Hey friends… long time no chat!

Unfortunately for most this may be unrewarding as it is not a rant and really only pertinent towards those in an Ontario, Canada habitation. Those of you who like gleaning insights from other cultures and countries may want to read on anyway. And lastly to those who are disinterested regardless of either potentially life enriching possibility, well… I might sprinkle some potty words intermittently so just skim along till you find one and giggle.

What I’m talking about is the upcoming Ontario election.

That’s right, the time is upon us where we take our little toddler of a province and find a new babysitter for a few years.

Our Premier of Ontario (the equivalent of a State Governor to you folks in the USA) Dalton McGuinty has to hang up his dancing shoes and wait to see if he gets to take Ontario out for another spin.

For sake of interest I will tell you we have two main parties. The Liberals are the equivalent to the USA’s Democratic Party, and the New Progressive Conservative Party is like USA’s Republican Party. We also have the New Democratic Party affectionately known as the NDP. In addition to these we have many smaller parties with such notables as the Green Party, the Marijuana Party, and even Communist and Marxist parties. Now I’m not here to get political and sway your vote one way or the other though I do urge anyone to get themselves informed before hitting the polls. What I’m here to discuss is an important little addition known as a referendum.

A referendum is an event that occurs when the government decides an important decision needs to be brought before the people and voted on. The most important referendum in the last twenty years was so significant that it could have been the catalyst to having Quebec leave the governance of Canada. So you understand that theses referendums can have far reaching effects.

This year’s referendum question is “Which electoral system should Ontario to elect members to the provincial Legislature?”

So essentially how do you want your votes to count?

They are giving us two options.

The existing electoral system (First-past-the-post)

This is the current system we use and is named after a horse racing term meaning the first one to the finish line wins. Canadian government likes drinking and gambling, what can I say… We’re AWESOME!!!

This means you vote for a candidate in your electoral district or “ridings/constituencies”, and if your guy wins and is associated with the Retarded Monkey Party, then that means the RMP have secured themselves a seat in the provincial Parliament. There are 107 of those son bitches this year so they need 54 to cinch the win. The winner is declared by the party that has the most seats and the Premier is the agreed upon leader of said party. See… simple. The problem is this, what if you like the RMP party, and the head honcho seems quite the sly dog but the RMP candidate in your riding is a complete and total douche. Do you vote for the douche to help get your main guy another seat? Or do you vote for the guy in the Epileptic Rhino party cause he’s got his shit together and hope the RMP makes up the seats in other districts?

So comes option number 2

2) The alternate electoral system proposed by the Citizen’s Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional)

Here’s the nitty gritty, in June 2005 the government made this Citizen’ group to review our electoral system and other country’s electoral process. They asked them to basically to come up with the fairest way to run an election in Ontario. This is what they came up with.

There is still the drunken horse racer process of first one to get the high votes wins but there is also a Proportional Representation system. As a voter you would vote twice. One vote would be for the representative of your district and one vote would be for the party that you believe in. For instance, Say you are an Epileptic Rhino party supporter all the way but your best friend is running in your area and she happens to be shacking up with the Retarded Monkey Party. Not only that but the Epileptic Rhino party representative in your area is your old Grade 10 math teacher who you know specifically to be a total butt munch and is unsafe being left in control of a toaster let alone an electoral seat. This is where the new system works best. You can vote for the Rhino party as you’ve always voted and you can also vote for your friend because she’s the competent candidate in your area.

So great you’ve voted twice… now what? Well in the new voting system there are 90 elected seats called “Local Member Seats” available. In the last scenario, if everyone knew your math teacher was a schmuck, you best friend would earn an elected “Local Member Seat”. In addition to elected seats there are 39 “List Member Seats” and this is where the vote for the party comes into play. Now these details may not be important to you but I’m going to enlighten you anyway… At the beginning of an election the parties will nominate candidates as “List Members” and describe why they were chosen. Now back to the Party votes.

Let’s say the Rhino Party showed strong in the election but were unable to attain many seats, heck we’ll even say the lost by one vote each time they lost. Does this mean the province is being properly represented? No, that is why they’ve invented the “List Member” seats. If any party garners over 3% of the votes they are allowed to take up an amount of “List Member” seats based on the number of seats that they were able to attain in the “Local Seat” elections. This means you may have gone away from you party faith to vote for you friend, but your party vote will help them to place another deserving member in office in a “List Member Seat”.

This is what the referendum is asking, I won’t tell you which party I’m voting for but I will tell you that I think the new election system is the better choice. 60% of all referendum ballots need to be counted as voting for “The alternate electoral system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly” in order for the change to take effect. So whether you agree with my choice or not discuss this with your friends and coworkers, your family and neighbours. Help make people aware that a big change is happening and they have a direct way to influence that.

And this goes for the election as well, don’t bitch and moan about the Government when they’re doing something wrong if you’ve never taken the time to figure out who you’re voting for was the most prudent decision to make. All the candidates can be found online if you take the time to look. Usually you’ll find their entire platform upon which they are riding. That platform is the degree by which you can hold them accountable if the begin to lose the confidence of your vote.

That my friends is global, all of us who are given the freedom of choice have a responsibility to act upon it.

Our Ontario elections are on October 10th 2007. Go out and do your duty and everyone remember this when your election time comes around.

Just so you know…

Rob.

58 Comments!

  1. Mathieu

    That was very insightful, Rob! Thank you!

    If this goes through, I wonder how it will take the rest of Canada (government-wise) to acknowledge it follow suit, or at least decide to vote on it.

  2. Colleen

    YES. PLEASE don’t make the screwup BC did. Most of the voters had NO CLUE what the hell that referendum thing was about when we had the chance to do the same thing here. The question was confusing and the anti-change people worked overtime to make sure the voters were as confused as possible.

  3. Andrew

    This was just as good as reading your comics man. I’ve been a diehard BNS fan since day one. I am very pleased to see guys like you take an unbiased opinion on political association, but still have the ability to inform the public on politics itself. I don’t live in Canada myself; I wish I did, but I don’t. But if I did, this educational “rant” would have given me good information to have before I would vote. I enjoyed reading about Canada’s political system, and keep up the good work on BNS!

  4. Just passing through

    > Our Premier of Ontario (the equivalent of a Senator to you folks in the USA)

    I believe you meant that the Premier’s role was comparable to that of a Governor in one of the US states.

    Br./

  5. JD

    Are you guys gonna be getting any merch soon?

  6. Andrew

    While I do agree that the voting system in Ontario, not to mention Canada needs change. Proportional representation makes it not just possible but likely that governments formed will be unable to make any real decisions. For instance if say the conservatives and the liberals both get a third of the voting power in the house of commons, they will be constantly be undermining each other this would create a state of chaos in the House of Commons. While proportional representation is in theory a good idea I think and many will agree and many will disagree it needs some form or other of a trial run first.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion

    PS your comic rocks

    Just the two cents of a realist

  7. ben gillard

    We in NZ currently have the MMP system for national elections after it was chosen in a referendum about… 12 or 15 years ago I suppose, ahead of the FPP system. It actually works ok once voters understand what is going on with the two votes and how they can use them cleverly.

    However, since it allows the smaller parties more of a presence in parliament (and the Big Two Parties correspondingly fewer seats) it can tend to put a disproportionate amount of power in the hands of the smaller parties when neither of the Big Two have an outright majority. Since I vote [party deleted] (an inevitably minor party), this is slightly cool, but once or twice it has lead to difficulties forming a workable governing coalition.

    The other thing to consider is: what happens when someone gets in (to parliament or whatever) on the party list by the party vote, then leaves their party. Check the fine-print of the proposal.

  8. Billingsly

    I agree with the person above me. Nothing ever gets done in the States because we have two parties that fight each other constantly.

  9. Empyress

    Agreeing with Just Passing Through – Canadian Provincial Premiers are like State Governors. Although (sadly) none of them are former wrestlers, I do live in a province where the (now ex) premier was a total joke.

    Your provincial elections look like a mud-slinging contest this year (we watch TV on Ontario channels and get your ads).

  10. Samson

    First off, very well said. I’ve heard the people trying to push for this electoral system change not explain things as clearly as you just did. You’ve done some serious homework reading up on this, or you can decipher parliamentary amendments better then I (which wouldn’t be hard considering they rarely make any sense and are 30 pages long). This is a decision that most people will not understand, and despite anyones best efforts will remain mostly misunderstood. I’m not saying that everyone in Ontario is stupid, I’m saying that, for the most part, people hate change. Most would look at the referendum and say “Things work just fine now, why do they need to change”. Its even worse where I live, Saskatchewan, because we’re already a decade behind the rest of the country anyways, and half the population are seniors and farmers. They hate change. While neither system is perfect, but at least with MMP the Green Party has a chance at getting some seats. (If they change the federal electoral system as well, even better)

    As for your actual election coming up, I agree with Empyress, its been messy this year.

    Oh and most premiers are total jokes, mine looks like a Keebler Elf.

  11. ramón

    now to play devil’s advocate. an interesting forward sent to me by a friend…

    I am sending it because I read the pamphlet sent to us on the Referendum and still do not understand it. We are looking for more information to make an informed decision and this is something that was apparently published in the Ottawa Sun.

    I never thought the day would come when I would strongly endorse commentary by that old ‘Ratpacker’ Sheila Copps, who does write interesting and thought-provoking political commentary. Yet, I strongly urge you to read her column (see below) which was on page 23 of The Ottawa Sun of September 16, 2007 – and to tell everyone you know that it is a ‘must read.’ She concisely and effectively argues for defeating the proposed new Ontario electoral system in the Ontario Referendum of October 10, 2007. Here it is:
    SHEILA COPPS: ‘Anyone who fears extremism should take a hard look at the upcoming Ontario Election.

    In less than a month, voters will be asked to pronounce by referendum on a crazy proposal to redraw the provinces’ electoral map. The outcome could shape Canada’s political forever.
    The proposed changes would open the door for more power for political and religious zealots. What do the burka wearing Muslims, evangelical Christians and the ultra-orthodox Jews have in common? They are each inspired by the righteousness of their beliefs and represent a small minority in their fervour.
    Most Muslims, like most Christians and Jews, respect the separation of church and state, and work hard to ensure that personal religious beliefs do not interfere with the rights of others. The fear that a fanatic few are out to proselytize the world is not unique to a singe religion, nor is it a solely a Canadian problem. But if Ontario’s electoral system is changed, we may find ourselves joining those countries where a vocal, organized minority dictates for the majority.
    The Ontario referendum asks whether citizens would like to throw out the current voting system in favour of a Mixed Member Proportional system.
    New System

    The new system would mean that all parties with more than 3% of the vote in a general election would choose almost one-third of the members in the legislature. In the proposed mix, voters would directly elect 90 MPPs while 39 additional MPPS would be chosen from party lists. A citizen’s ‘assembly, mandated to review electoral inequities, proposed the changes. They recommended the direct vote by every citizen be mixed in favour of a system where members can also be elected from party lists. Too bad the assembly never experinced the polarizing effect of proportional voting in other jurisdictions.

    In the Israeli Knesset, (its Parliament) any party with 1.5% of the vote is entitled to occupy seats proportional to their vote.
    In theory, the system was established to give voice to every citizen, the same rationale used in Ontario. In practice, it has lead to fractious political coalitions where extreme religious-based parties often hold the balance of power.

    The proportional system institutionalizes extremist influence. Picture a minority parliament where a party with 3% of the vote is in control. That is exactly what is being proposed.
    Some women’s groups are organizing in favour of the new alignment, hoping it will counterbalance the appalling shortage of women in elected office. But the current deficit results from a nomination process controlled by political parties. Robbing citizens of their rights in favour of political parties will never address the power imbalance.

    The new mixed system inserts another level of potential discrimination. To be elected by proportional vote you must be included on a party list. Independent thinkers need not apply. The proposal gives new meaning to the term ‘party favours’.

    The Ontario referendum is woefully silent on how the selection to the party lists is determined. Elections Ontario says every political party would nominate candidates in advance of the election and describe how they were chosen. But one thing is clear. The party controls the list.

    Anyone who thinks this is good for democracy is either naive or nuts. The current system, with a single party winning successive majorities with a minority of public support, is ripe for reform. But there are better reform models around the world. In France, two votes are held to achieve a consensus. The first round eliminates all but the two major candidates.
    The second, a week alter, is a runoff between the contenders, guaranteeing am outcome with majority public support.

    Unfortunately, a clumsy attempt to fix one problem has spawned another. Ontario is now proposing a political system that empowers extremism and curries party favours. Does a political party with 3% public support deserve a seat? Is a party better placed to elect legislators than the people?

    As for those looking to PO as a solution to gender inequality, beware of politicians bearing gifts. If you bemoan discrimination in existing political structures, why would you give parties more power?
    Other Canadians viewing this as strictly an Ontario issue need to wake up! A political model based on empowering extremes would send shock waves across the country. Come Oct 10, Canadians could be witnessing a political
    tsunami in the making.

    ‘Anyone who thinks this is good for democracy is either naive or nuts
    sheilacopps@sunmedia.ca
    My supplementary comment:
    The Ontario proposal would create two classes of MPPs.

    1. The constituency representative, elected first-past-the-post as is now done (a system the Citizen’s Assembly condemned);

    2. A form of Ontario ‘Senator’ appointed by each party that gets 3% or more of the votes on a separate ballot. This raises the question – do we need an Ontario Senate? If yes, what would its powers and role be?

    To have MPPs in one legislature who represent actual constituency electors and party-appointed ‘MPP-Senators’ who do not, is like trying to make a fruit salad out of apples and potatoes. Both are foods, but they should not be in the same bowl. The only difference between the Senators in the Canadian Senate and the Ontario ‘Senators’ would be that the parties choose the Senators, not the Prime Minister. Sheila Copps is right ‘Anyone who thinks this is good for democracy is either naive or nuts’

  12. Sarz

    While I am Canadian, I’m not from Ontario, nor am I currently residing in Canada.

    Vote for those of us abroad boys! Mixed all the way.

  13. a mysterious voice from the back

    While I’m the NS (Nova Scotia, byes. Please don’t get me started on goofy premiers. Ours is maybe two years old and known for fiddle playing.) brand of Canadian, I agree with Ontario getting proportional representation. Honestly, I find Sheila Copps is off track on this one, and her statements inflammatory. Political extremism? And the Bloc separatists are…? But seriously, I think that canadians as a group would get squeamish about religious parties in a hurry. How can she say that most muslims, christians, and jews believe in separation of church and state, and then go on to threaten with religious parties taking control? She also seems to think that the MPPs would be somehow loftily separated from the people, having been chosen by the party. Hello?? who chooses who is going to run in a given riding right now?? It would be no different, as I assume voters would know that john doe was the (xparty) local candidate and jeff deer the (xparty) MMP, so the choice is still with them. Three or four percent of Canadians vote green, and more would probably do so, were it not that geography negates their power. how is that democratic?
    Good luck Ontario, may you become an example for the rest of us.
    PS: sorry to rant
    PPS: Thanks again Ramon for the drawing of Cola at word on the Street. 🙂

  14. That Not Quite French Guy

    Just be happy you don’t live in Crazy Quebec

  15. ifrinn

    I am an ontarian like a few of the others here and I have to say the proposed mixed electoral system is a very bad. It is taking the choice of who governs us out of our hands and is puting it in the hands of a political party. I don’t know about you but I don’t trust politions enough to alow them to make that kind of decision.

    I read the Shiela Copps article there and I believe she is right but for the wrong reasons. It isn’t the religious extremists we need to worry about it’s the big party politicians we need to focus on. Sure the Green, Marijuana and Communist parties may get a few more seats out of the deal but honestly it will still be the big 2 who garner the majority of the 39 list member seats.

    Now here is the big question, what is to stop the big two from abusing the opritunity to place who ever they want in those seats? What is to stop the PC leader putting his brother in law in a seat? Or the Liberal leader from putting a major financial backer in one of those seats? We just went through a huge sponsorship scandal in the federal government, do you honestly think the provential government is any better and would you trust these people to chose who represents you in government?

    Bottom line, you give up your right to chose the PEOPLE who make up more than a third of the government and give that choice to parties who have their own motives and agendas. And frankly no mater what party you support NO ONE should trust their party or government that much.

  16. Derek Hartley

    I am one of those “senior citizens” who apparently is adverse to change. I do believe our current election system needs to be changed but not as proposed in the referendum. Apart from the fact there is likely to be no party in a position to make decisions to move the Province forward, the proposed system would increase the members of Parliament by 22 (20.56%). I, for one, have no desire to fund the now exorbitant salaries and benefits paid to these people. The proposal has been thrown at the people without proper time to consider the end result. The information provided, including the pamphlet delivered to each home and the website, is totally inadequate to explain the true impact of this type of change. There needs to be further consideration of alternative systems that do not increase the number of Members of Parliament and, thus, the cost to the taxpayer.

  17. Absangel

    Thanks Rob!!! I have an 18 year old who is voting in his first election and explaining the referendum in terms he could understand has been nearly impossible, but you did a great job and he gets it now. Again Thank you!!!!!!!

  18. Just a lowly computer grunt

    I am still a little confused by the idea of the MMP system, however I am leaning towards it.

    A few things worth clarifying. ifrinn is asking what is to stop the politicians from abusing the seat by placing a brother-in-law or a financial backer in the seats. Unless I am entirely mistaken, the person who is elected to these seats by popular vote would have to be from the party – not someone off the street – which seems to say that Party Backers are not allowed. Brother-in-laws may be allowed, assuming they are politicians.

    The other question I have is whether or not the names presented before the election (for the purpose of the list) are voted on by the entire party or if they are just decided on by the party leader. That will require some research and I hope someone has the answer.

    My other concern is with Sheila Copps – her inflammatory remarks may have a seed of truth, but I somehow doubt that the entire popular vote will be given over to “muslims, christians or jews” as she puts it. Furthermore, I think her attempt to use this sort of example is just a thinly veiled attempt at fear-mongering. “Don’t change anything or the Christians/Jews/Muslims will come get you in the middle of the night and make you convert!” Initially there may be some discord with multiple parties, however one of the major concerns is balance. We don’t want laws and motions passed because someone has a majority and decides that’s how the country should be. We want to make sure everyone agrees – otherwise all our kids will be learning about The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

    The other issue I have is that there are many deserving politicians who are overlooked because they are not PC or Liberal. Everyone overlooks the NDP who keep gaining votes – this system will allow them to have a real say in what decisions are made. Considering people complain that they cannot trust the Liberals and cannot live with the Conservatives, this seems like an option where one does not vote for the popular group for fear of their vote “not counting”.

    I can see how this system may be abused and I would definitely like to learn more in the next week or so (cause we have so much time left). I still think this is better than what we currently have.

  19. Doug

    This thing about “but they can put whoever they want on the list!” is silly. My current MPP doesn’t even live in the riding and was foisted upon the constituency association by party headquarters. MMP would make it possible for me to vote against them, but still vote for their party. Under First Past The Post, I just have to hold my nose and take it like a man then do it again in four years.

  20. michaela

    Thanks for encouraging this dialogue Rob. I love hearing the views that are out there and your readers are all helping me make an ‘informed’ choice.

    You know, politics can be fun and exciting and everything, but…

    Ramonnnnnnnn…..where are you???? Where is my BNS? I’m dying here!

  21. greykat

    Nice to see Sheila Copps being her usual shrieking-extremist self.

    There’s a good side by side comparison in the Toronto Star for Fri 5th. The common complaint against (and I’m simplifying here) is the ability of small minority possibly extremist groups to get people into positions of power. Well if that happens then it happens and the two centerist parties (Libs and PCs) will have to cooperate, along with the lesser “main” parties. I don’t think the new proposed system is perfect but I am 100% convinced the current one is broken.

    CBC did a piece a night or two ago that deals with it and there’s a podcast that interviews someone (Dr. Dennis Pillon) who wrote a book that deals with reforming the electoral system. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post links here but it’s on the CBC Podcast page and it’s titled CBC News Online: Your Interview Dr. Dennis Pillon.

    My understanding is that there are only three western countries that hold elections that aren’t using a proportional representation system (PR) of some sort. There are several different types of PR electoral systems that are loosely discussed on the CBC piece.

    If this gets passed, which is doubtful, I’m hoping we will get fewer majority governments and there might even be some Independents that manage to get it. These would be people who don’t have to toe any party lines and can speak out for the population they represent with fear of recrimination from their party. But then I’m an idealist. It would be great (I think) if the parties would have to find a way to cooperate and leave partisan politics behind. Again, I’m an idealist.

    As far as crossing the floor (which is where one elected representative changes parties part of the way through a term) that happens now and needs to be addressed regardless of what system gets elected. Though now that I think about it, it would be less onerous now because in the past you vote for an official in order to put a party in power and if they switch sides then your vote is wasted but now you vote for the person and the party seperately so the vote isn’t wasted. Am I right in that thinking?

    As for the list members (the ones who get selected by the parties) they need to be selected and we (the voters) need to be presented with the names. These people can be anyone. So the opponents have said that these people won’t have gone out and garnered constituent support. I agree this is a problem but how do we benefit more from putting a professional politician in charge of a portfolio that he/she has no experience in as opposed to someone who is in that field? The fear is that these people (the list members) will have no accountability to us as voters but in fact they’ll have the same accountability as the poloticos do. If they want to get reinstated they need to get on the list and the party needs to win to do so, or they need to run for office themselves. If they sucked when they were in power then don’t vote for the party, which is kind of how it works now.

    I’m not sure I’m completely convinced of the benefits of MMP but I know that FPTP (first-past-the-post) doesn’t work. When a government wins a majority (which basically gives it carte-blanches) without garnering the majority of votes, then somethings wrong.

    For you Ontarians out there think about the last election and remember how scared you were that one of the two idiots would win a majority. Chilling.

    Sorry for the disjointed rambling, I’m still working this whole thing out in my head and there are obvious errors. Dialog is very good because this is important.

    Oh yeah… I LOVE BNS, keep up the great work.

  22. Mike

    Hi there,

    I’m from Germany and we are using your alternative system (with slight differences, e.g. half of the seats are taken by proportion) for about 50 years now. Works just fine!

  23. Jeremy

    Rob, you are a frakkin’ god. What an excellent discussion and a genius rant. You began with a solid, intelligent and entertaining thread and people are responding in kind.

    Not that this helps me to pick any winners mind you… its still a weak field if you ask me. But at least someone is trying to improve upon things.

    Kudos.

  24. Max

    on a side note, today was the first time I ever actually ate butternut squash… I must say I enjoy the comic much more..

  25. Rob

    Wow, I’m quite pleased by all your well thought out responses, we have some edumacted fans!

    Just a note about the Sheila Copps article, her fear was small groups of extremists getting elected by the new system (“extremists” being a popular term to use when attempting to drive a person’s decision through fear tactics. Any one remember the Liberals telling us to not vote for NDP so that those votes can go to the Liberals and stop the chance of a PC Government? Try reporting responsibly miss Copps).

    What she fails to mention is that in addition to receiving over 3% of the vote to be eligible to appoint “List Members”, they are only going to earn a proportionate amount of seats based on the amount of electoral seats that the party obtained through the individual ridings.

    In one scenario if the entire provincial vote was divided between Liberals and PCs, and in every case the PCs lost every district by one vote they wouldn’t have any “List Member Seats”. They may have 49.9% percent of every vote but unless they have an elected member of parliament they are unable to have any additional representatives in the elected government.

    So for an extremist group to gain any hold, they would need an entire riding to elect one of their Candidates, and an entire 3% of the province would have had to vote in favour of this radical political party. That means almost 400,000 (or significantly less since there are a lot of non voters out there) people would have to agree with this group as a valid party. If she thinks we’re all that breed of sheep then I feel sorry for her.

  26. Strafe Malone

    I would like to leave a coment about the upcoming elections up there, but most of it has been covered in other posts and I have enough to worry about here in America.

    Anyway, nice job on the comic and I am suprised that I was right about the muppets.

  27. W.Ashton

    OMG! You killed Mahna Mahna! Ramón how could you! 🙁

  28. Lostmuskrat

    I just moved to Ontario from PEI, where we had a similar referendum last year. I’ve got no problem with electoral reform, but I have to vote against the proposed system of MMP because it effectively means that those representatives that hold proportional-vote seats do not owe their seat dorectly to the electorate but to the party. I see these seats as being nothing more than another patronage opportunity for the back-room bunch who are not likely to be elected to a regular seat.

    I voted against it in PEI and I’ll vote against it here. I want my MPP to be beholden to the electorate and not the party.

  29. Pinky's Brain

    Politicians can already not owe their seat to up to 50% of the electorate and unless you ban political parties altogether they are already beholden to their parties for support. Party whips are as big a force as votes.

    From a practical point of view, a significant amount of people purely vote for a party rather than a person (decrying that doesn’t change it happening) especially when the vote for the executive is tied to that of the parliament. This simply recognizes that the party also has to be beholden to it’s electorate … and this force is actually bigger with proportional representation (where people can move their vote to minority parties without throwing it away entirely, rather than having to completely switch sides in an effectively 2 party system).

  30. Maximum Taco

    I have to agree with Lostmuskrat here. While something is clearly wrong with our current FPTP system, MMP is not the way to change it.

    If you vote for a candidate in your riding, and he does a terrible job over the term you can always change your vote in the next election. He is directlyu accountable to the people in his riding. But under the MMP system those 39 “List Members” would not be accountable to the party, not the people. If one of them does a terrible job, they could very easily get elected next time around, as the party will put them back on the list and the party will receive vote (unless your loyalties have changed). Your vote could be used to elect a candidate that you do not believe in.

    Personally, I think that every single MPP (and MP in a federal election), should be held accountable by the people. And I just don’t see that happening effectively under the MMP system.

  31. Andrew

    I gotta ask, who is this Mahna Mahna?

  32. Pinky's Brain

    Personal accountability is not that big a factor to begin with because of party line voting (just because the guy turned out to be Kang are you really going to switch sides to Kodo if the party puts him up again?). Also why would a party keep carrying people who lose them votes?

    Hell, they are FAR more likely to keep lame ducks in seats in uncontested districts than they are to keep them on a list for proportional representation.

  33. Doug

    Yeah, the international experience is that the party list is where you focus your best and brightest. Since your list is relevant to the entire province instead of one district, bad apples tend to tank your vote province-wide, while if you run a bad apple in a single constituency, nobody cares outside of that immediate area. People realize that their vote may be used to elect someone miles down the list, and punish/reward the party accordingly.

  34. Laura

    ROFLMAO! Never saw the Muppet death coming…and apparently, neither did he! Poor schlub! LOL! LOL!

  35. Mondo Kane

    Like Scanners with Muppets lol 🙂

  36. Samson

    Wow, this is a hell of a discussion. I really wasn’t expecting this many people to join in. Everyone has an opinion and all of them seem well informed. Good work Rob.

    Oh, and Mahna Mahna were an “act” from The Muppet Show.

    Classic

  37. Ramon

    for the uninitiated…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MW4TgdKoYo

  38. David Riches

    Okay a few things to say here and I hope I don’t get too edited if it comes down to it.
    One, normally when someone dies in such a horrible way I would expect someone to pop up and say “Oh The Humanity!” but in this case “Oh The Muppetry!”
    Second, how come none landed on Rob?
    Third, why does the picture on the wall look familiar?
    Fourth, I already voted in the advance polls, suffice it to say some of what has been said was followed.
    Fifth, one of the election issues is the funding of faith or religious based schools. Now I am not trying to incite anything since alot has not been said by the vairious parties on this however one of the things I though that was overlooked was what determines a religion or faith. If this passes I know from the last census that Ontario Canada can look forward to having Earth’s first Jedi Academy so let the midi-chlorians counting begin.
    There is no number six. I will not make any deals with you. I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I resign.
    Be seeing you.

  39. ifrinn

    I’ve always liked the World of warcraft remake.

    Roflmao!

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=iEWgs6YQR9A

  40. Kyle Voltti

    I’m against the proposed system for two reasons.

    1: they’re reducing the number of “elected” seats and Living in Northern Ontario, I damn well know they won’t be reducing the number of seats in southern Ontario.

    2: I seriously don’t trust any system that has people sitting in power who don’t directly answer to citizens.

  41. Amethyst42

    When “Mnah Mnah” came on The Muppet Show in the 70’s, EVERY kid in the neighborhood was out there singing that song. There were fights over who got to be the Mnah Mnah. Tho some did like being the Doodoo’s.

    Poor Mnah… at least Muppets can be repaired!

  42. Kris

    Just thought you guys would like to know that you convinced me to make Butternut Squash soup for Thanksgiving today. It’s awesome.

    Tim Horton’s is selling it, but it’s better home-made.

  43. Villanousftas

    We have used this system for the last two elections in Scotland. It worked quite well the first time (despite my reservatons about the winning party) but the second time was a complete c*ck up. We now have a leading party with only a 1 seat majority. Oddly though, whether it is the politicians getting there act together in an unprecedented show of competence or whether it is just the wheels being slowed Scotland seems to be getting things done more nowadays.
    So just a wee warning, MMP works (better than FPTP) but getting the ballot papers right is hard, we had over 100,000 wasted votes and we’re a tiny country.

  44. Bruce

    I’m frankly quite surprised at the response from the BNS Community to tomorrow’s referendum, and it really shows what kind of readership this strip attracts. I think congratulations are in order to Ramon and Rob for bringing together such a sharp community. You guys rock!

    I wasn’t going to go foisting my opinion here, but I got some rant in me.

    I’m like any other Ontario-nian who is utterly confused by the current referendum, and is frustrated by the shroud of ambiguity which they (Elections Ontario) seem to be throwing over this entire ordeal. (Perhaps they think the average Joe Ontarian is stupid and can’t handle all the knitty gritty? Who knows! I certainly won’t!)

    PS – . . . Mahna Mahna????? NOooOOOooOoooo!!!! Well, if I had to pick a way to go, spontaneous cranial explosion would be my choice. Rest in peace fuzzy buddy.

    PPS – The BNS guys were at Word on the Street??? How didn’t I see you? Arrgh!

  45. Wolvan

    As mentioned above, BC had a referendum for similar changes a couple years ago, and as Colleen said, it was extremely confusing with a lot of information just not getting out there. When I voted, I voted against the referendum – even though the concept of proportional representation sounded good in the little sound bites I could glean, I just couldn’t vote for something where there were so many unknowns.

    My questions for Ontario’s referendum are thus:

    1) What are the requirements to become a List Member?
    2) Is the List Members list made available to the public before hand?
    3) Are the lists put forth by parties weighted? Meaning, if Party Rhino puts forth a list of 20 members and gains 12 proportional-rep seats, do they choose from their list as to who gets in or is it just the first 12 in the list?
    4) Are the lists put forth by parties allowed to have more members on it than members running in electoral districts?
    5) What powers are afforded citizens for enacting pressure of opinion on the List Member seats?

    The reason these questions are important to me are because I feel that unless they are addressed, which they may be already, there seems to be a high potential for corruption.

    I’m just concerned about a party propping up a bunch of Yes-Men that will tow the party line regardless of citizen will. Sure, there already are a lot of Yes-Men that do that (my local MP Jay Hill comes to mind) but there is still a process for accountability for the citizens of that electoral district to use on their official if they want him or her to do something different.

    Good luck with it though.

  46. Rob

    1) The List member is nominated by the party.
    2) The list is submitted before the election.
    3) That is an excellent question that I encourage people to call the hot line about.
    4) As there are only 39 “List Member” seats in comparison to the 90 riding it would make little sense to have too many more then 39 (maybe 45 in case someone dies or drops themselves from the list) since the odds of them having all the list seats is highly unlikely.
    5) Once again an excellent question, but if those list members go against party promises it will discredit them and the party under which they were placed in the government. Pressuring your local MP may work since the position is by appointment and will most likely be under tight scrutiny in the first few terms.

    If you haven’t voted yet make an informed choice tomorrow. Check out the platforms of everyone in your local riding. It’s always better to come up with questions then to let yourself be spoon fed answers. Grill them, review them and google them until you get the facts you need to choose wisely.

  47. Pinky's Brain

    The greatest potential for pressure on parties is that it is trivially easy to switch your party vote without having it go to waste and without having to support anyone with a platform completely counter to your own, There will likely be a wealth of smaller parties in the running for list seats.

  48. a mysterious voice from the back

    Again about MMP: another problem that has not been addressed as much in this thread is the potential loss of action. some have argued that an MMP system would mean that there would never be any large majorities (well, except for NFLD. Go Danny Boy!) and that the government would constantly have to be brokering deals with other parties to get things done, whereas in a FPTP system they could just push it through. Honestly? I think the only difference is whether you would prefer a fast governement that makes more mistakes, or a slower government that is more cautious. considering that Canada is facing few terrifying threats (depession, total war) I think cautiosness is more important than speed.
    At first when I saw the mahna mahna comic, I could remember only some vague stirrings in the back of my memories… Then I saw a real picture of them on the internet and the song I annoyed my family and friends with for years came back to my mind. Mahna Mahna, O how I mourn for thee! well, it sucks to die through head implosion, but his spirit can at least rest knowing that I and everyone who reads this will sing his refrain once again.
    but how will rob come baaaaack???

  49. a mysterious voice from the back

    PS its far funnier when you sing it aloud as you read the comic

  50. vampyreasr

    And yet again, we have voted to have a right to complain when promises are broken, when funding is cut, and when healthcare fails. Small comfort for the next four years echos of the last four years resound in our ears “I didn’t vote for them. How’d they get a majority?”

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