Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ranked ballot will end Harper’s “vote marketing”

In today’s Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson laments the sad state of Canadian politics since Harper came on the scene.

The era of big-tent parties — who tried to win over the people by widening their appeal — appears to be over. We have now entered “the stage of non-stop marketing (and campaigning), wherein political parties find out what a particular slice of the electorate wants” and zero in on it.

Constant war (campaign) mode

Simpson describes the modus operandi of Harper’s Ministry of Truth:

“Mr. Harper directs the marketing, involving himself in all aspects of it, presiding over a huge staff who do nothing but focus on communications, event-planning and, at central party headquarters, organize a massive information-collection effort on citizens in every corner of Canada so as to better identify which voters will be most influenced by which message.”

Shopping For Votes

Simpson’s column is a book review of Susan Delacourt’s Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them. This quote sums up the insanity:

“In a nation of consumer-citizens, the customer is always right. It is not the politician’s job to change people’s minds or prejudices, but to confirm them or play to them, to seal the deal of support.
“Speeches are not made to educate or inform the audience but to serve up marketing slogans. Political parties become ‘brands’ and political announcements become product launches.”

The antidote

Harper’s sleazy practice of building Orwellian voter databases and micro-targeting Canadians only works under corrupt First-Past-the-Post where a party needs just 39% of the vote to get 100% of the power.

If we implement ranked ballot voting, the entire dynamic changes.

FPP rewards polarizing politics which help a party lock down its base support. Preferential voting, on the other hand, moderates the debate. Parties must reach outside their base for alternative votes, which extremists lose out on.


Justin Trudeau is championing ranked ballot voting reform.

It is imperative we get this done after the 2015 election. Odds are an alternative government will replace Harper. But it will likely be a minority government that won’t last long.

Due to three-way center-left vote splitting, the Cons could be back in power for another decade as soon as 2017.

We need to ensure an actual majority is represented in government to stop the Cons from destroying the country against the will of Canadians.


  1. No thanks. I prefer the NDP with its proportional representation proposal. Besides, why should progressive supporters assume that I would rank the Liberals as number 2 or 3. I could rank the Conservative candidate as my second choice.

  2. Yes I think PR is the superior system. The problem is the lack of support. It has been rejected in ON, BC and PEI by over 60%. That's why I believe the safest approach to voting reform is to first fix our existing system with PV ranked ballot; then work on making our system more proportional.

    The major benefit of PV is that it distributes center-left votes to center-left parties. (And center-right to center-right, like in Australia which has 4 center-right parties.)

    The reason the Cons control the country even though more than 60% are against them is because of vote splitting, which awards them dozens of center-left ridings. PV will stop this.

    Alternative votes cut both ways. They don't benefit the Liberal party in particular. If we had PV in 2011, the NDP would've been positioned to form the government with Liberal support (50% of the vote; 53% of the seats.)

  3. I wonder if those who support AV are also supporting the Meslinite voting system for the City of Toronto.

    No thanks.

    Don't assume that the Conservatives would be my last choice among the major parties. I could go NDP, Conservative, Green, and then Liberal. Besides, AV will still bring distorted results with one party and one leader gaining 100% of the power.

  4. David Meslin is actually a part of Unlock Democracy that promotes PR.

    It doesn't matter if you would vote for Harper over the Liberals and Greens. It matters how *most* center-left voters would vote. Most would certainly welcome the chance to vote "Anyone But Conservative."

    PV will actually raise the level at which one party gets unfettered power: about 5 points from 39% to 44%. That would've stopped Harper in 2011. Fact is even PR is not perfect. In Germany, Merkel almost got 100% of the power on 41.5% of the vote using MMP 5%. She was only 6 seats short of 630.


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