Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ranked ballot will benefit Green voters

“Some people don’t like the voting system. We’ll call them the losers. Or the crazy people. Or the Green Party.” — Rick Mercer

Most developed countries have determined that PR best reflects the will of voters — 85% use the system. Unfortunately, PR has yet to make headway in Canada. Four provincial referendums have failed. The corporate media hates the system.

If we were to hold a federal PR/FPP referendum at this point in the game, it would lose and cement FPP as the democratic choice of Canadians. Therefore it’s time to consider other options.

Liberals and the ranked ballot

The Liberal party voted to fix our existing Westminster system with Preferential Voting (ranked ballot) at its last convention. Justin Trudeau has made it a key plank in his democratic reform platform.

If he wins the election and legislates PV direct on a party platform, it won’t be the final word on electoral reform. This would set the stage for a PR/PV referendum, cutting corrupt FPP out of the picture.

Green party with ranked ballot

Therefore, let’s consider what an intermediate step of PV can do for the Green party.

  1. More Green votes: In 2011, the Green party was polling as high as 10%, but dropped down to 3.9% at the ballot box. Since PV stops FPP vote splitting, Green voters no longer have to worry about the spoiler effect.

  2. Automatic electoral cooperation: Elizabeth May wants electoral cooperation in 2015 to stop another Harper majority most voters are against. The ranked ballot allows Canadians to vote Anyone But Conservative. This ends the need for party mergers and difficult inter-party arrangements. It will also stop radical conservatives from ever getting unfettered power again.

  3. Electoral reform experience: Electoral reform has failed to resonate because the corporate media doesn’t talk about it — except to say it’s the worst idea in the world. The ranked ballot, however, would give Canadians direct experience with reform. Then when the issue of PR comes up, people’s eyes won’t glaze over (as Rick Mercer would suggest.) They’ll have a good idea of what you’re talking about.

  4. Better representation: Under FPP, the major center-left party has no reason to listen to the concerns of minor ones. In fact, partisan animosity can build up. With PV, both the Liberals and NDP will have to reach out to Green voters to get alternative votes. Since PV tends to produce multi-party governments, Green voters will get actual representation in government.

  5. Get something accomplished: Currently the Conservatives take anti-environment positions to drive up the Green vote and balkanize the opposition. This has made Canada the worst offender in the developed world. These divide-and-conquer tactics, which work so well under FPP, are punished under PV. With alternative votes as leverage, Green voters will actually affect legislation and get Canada back on track.


We have a small window of opportunity to get the ball rolling on electoral reform. The all-or-nothing approach will accomplish nothing. But if we’re practical, and fight for reform step-by-step, we will make Canada a real democracy.

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