Responding to yesterday’s National Post editorial "PR is a bad idea", Andrew Coyne asks:
What is it about proportional representation (PR) that turns otherwiseGood question Andrew! What is it about PR that makes Andrew Coyne such a raving fanatic in favour of changing an electoral system that’s served us so well for well over a century? He calls the Ontario proposal a "minor patch" to the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. He’s written several columns on the subject recently to convince Ontario voters to ‘go for it’.
sensible individuals into raving loonies?
We in BC narrowly escaped switching to STV (single transferable vote) in a recent referendum. But the PR pushers are still trying to get their way so we’re not out of the woods yet.
I'm not fond of the idea of switching to a system that institutionalizes back-room dealing to set up governance coalitions between parties. Who do the voters hold accountable for screw-ups and malfeasance? I'm not sold on the screwball notion, advanced by PR enthusiasts, of votes being "wasted" in the FPTP system (a vote for someone who fails to get elected is presumed to have been wasted?)
We were told that voting wasn’t complicated. The ballots were clear and simple - no problem - just show up and tick off the candidates. That's true, but then you try to follow how those ballots are counted to determine winners and losers. Not so simple. There’s a complicated formula cooked up in the back rooms by the experts and a computer spits out the answer. A website set up by the BC Citizen’s Assembly offers an animated simulation of exactly what happens in a typical scenario. That’s what finally convinced me there would be lots of unintended consequences.
And one more little thing. Coyne wrote in a column last week that the Citizen’s Assemblies set up to make recommendations on PR (or otherwise) were "randomly selected". So that’s good and fair and very democratic, right? Wrong. The BC Citizens’ Assembly (and I assume the Ontario CA) may have been randomly chosen - but from a list of self-selected, motivated and activist individuals heavily pre-disposed to changing the system. That a majority of the ‘expert’ witnesses they would hear would be enthusiastic champions of novel voting systems was highly likely. That the Citizens’ Assembly would recommend switching from FPTP to some other system was a foregone conclusion.
I hope the National Post continues to oppose PR. But it might be better if they printed rebuttals to the Andrew Coynes in the form of columns written by identifiable individuals rather than in anonymous editorials.