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GREENINGS: Results beg for electoral reform (July 2018)

July 18th, 2018 · No Comments

Environment would benefit from a system that’s not a winner takes all

Big congratulations to Jessica Bell who is now representing us in University-Rosedale at Queen’s Park.

It’s unfortunate that someone who doesn’t agree with science is calling the shots but the silver lining in the June 7 election is that we now have a Green Party Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) whom I presume won’t let the Greenbelt get paved over without a fight. It would have been nice to see a few more Green MPPs, but at least it’s not zero.

If ever there was a case for electoral reform, this election makes it.

All the environmental gains made…risk getting undone by a man who acknowledges the existence of climate change, but has doubled down on his indifference to human extinction.

Doug Ford got 60 per cent of the seats with 40 per cent of the vote. This means there is no effective opposition. However much we might like individual MPPs on the other side of the legislature, there isn’t a lot they can do when the government makes a decision. We’ve handed unchecked power to a party that couldn’t handle enough math to give us a costed platform.

Despite the bloodbath, it is bewildering to me to see Liberals still defend the first past the post system. Having to negotiate with the far right for every decision is dangerous, they argue. Well, we just handed the far right absolute control with no opposition.

All the environmental gains made in the last decade and a half risk getting undone by a man who acknowledges the existence of climate change, but has doubled down on his indifference to human extinction.

The Liberals will have to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whether retaining absolute majorities the last three elections has been worth the electoral wipeout they are about to face.

The federal Liberals should be looking at Queen’s Park and seeing this as a warning shot across the bow. It’s hard to scrap a system that hands you majority government but the cost can often be high — as we are seeing now. Nobody wanted to give away their power when a minority of votes can lead to a majority of seats.

Their short-sightedness cost them, big.

In a proportional system, we are often able to get other voices into the legislature. Outside of our own Mike Schreiner and Elizabeth May, and some colleagues in France, Mexico, Australia, and Hungary, nearly all other Green lawmakers are in countries with some kind of proportional representation. (Australia is a strange beast because senators are elected via proportional representation but members of parliament use first past the post.)

In Canada, the last federal election gave the Greens 3.5 per cent of the popular vote. Instead of getting the 12 seats that would normally represent, they were lucky enough that enough votes were concentrated in Elizabeth May’s riding to give them 1.

Conversely, the Liberals have 54 per cent of the seats with under 40 per cent of the vote.

Taking 40 per cent of the seats would have still given the Liberals a strong mandate but forced them to compromise on many issues, perhaps with the greens.

If that had happened, we might not be proud owners of a $4.5 billion pipeline.

Prime Minister Trudeau has walked back on his promise of electoral reform and if there’s anything that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s implosion can teach him, it is that popularity doesn’t last forever. We need a system that encourages parties to work together. Both our democracy and our environment would benefit from a system that isn’t winner take all.

Terri Chu is an engineer committed to practical environmentalism. This column is dedicated to helping the community reduce energy and distinguish environmental truths from myths.



GREENINGS: Choosing the lesser evil (Election Special 2018)

GREENINGS: Reduce, reuse, and then recycle (May 2018)

GREENINGS: Car-free parenting is not rare (Spring 2018)

GREENINGS: The science of board games (Mar. 2018)

GREENINGS: Driving fuelled by unseen subsidies (Jan. 2018)

GREENINGS: No solutions for nobody’s problem (Dec. 2017)

GREENINGS: Celebrate science not milestones (Nov. 2017)

GREENINGS: Down to the data (Oct. 2017)

GREENINGS: Reducing paper waste (Fall 2017)

GREENINGS: Taking tolls to the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway (July 2017)

GREENINGS: Lessons from Madrid (June 2017)

GREENINGS: Thoughts on hitting the 400 benchmark (May 2017)

GREENINGS: Solving the food waste problem (April 2017)

GREENINGS: Kellie Leitch was right (March 2017)

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