MMP - We Lost! Now What?



October 12, 2007

2,704,477 voted to support the outdated and undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system. How did such a sensible political decision get overwhelmingly rejected by voters in Ontario? The only exception to this was a small pocket of people in downtown Toronto. The late advertising (people so didn't understand the question) and bland structure oriented material put out by elections Ontario certainly didn't help much. But the fear, uncertainty & doubt that the opponents spun up was really quite amazing. Wikipedia has a nice snapshot of the decision.

I asked the good people at Fair Vote Canada if they had any examples of how proportional representation was successful, and I got a quick reply with a good book, Politics of Voting, The: Reforming Canada's Electoral System. The author, Dennis Pilon, also gave a good radio interview about the global practice of voting systems for CBC. In most cases, as Dennis points out, voting systems change when its in the interest of the ruling party to make that change for partisan reasons. Here's another interesting audio clip about the MMP vote.

If there is another opportunity to put this issue to a referendum I do hope that there is more opportunity to engage people in face to face discussions about the topic. The web can certainly be used to provide talking points, but providing simple things to get conversations started. I created a simple buttons, but got into dozens of interesting conversations with people who saw it and decided to ask me what MMP is. It was a great opportunity for strangers to ask me about an issue I was concerned about.

Organizing online is only partly about what happens online. We need to get folks to move not only their fingers, but also their feet & mouths -- both on this issue but also on so many others.

Note: It occurred to me after writing this that if MMP were adopted federally it would totally change the debates around Quebec. The Bloc would have much fewer seats in the House of Commons and there would be room for issue rather than geography based politics. Maybe the next parliament will just implement it, I don't know of any need to take it to a referendum.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.