Coalition likely wouldn’t bring in Proportional Representation

paulitics-coalition-parties-logoWith news that the proposed coalition may be going forward despite rumors that Harper may prorogue Parliament, bloggers of all political stripes (but especially NDP bloggers) have begun excitedly talking about one thing: the possibility that the coalition will bring in proportional representation (source, source, source, source).

The only problem is that these bloggers have clearly not done their research if they believe that any coalition including the Liberal Party and supported by the Bloc Québécois would do more than give perfunctory lip service to the idea of proportional representation.

bc-stvThe struggle for proportional representation and all other manners of electoral reform is both honourable and something which should continue.  Indeed, those who are long-time readers of Paulitics know that this blog has long supported proportional representation (especially Single Transferable Vote proportional representation) [1][2].  However, if we are going to be honest with ourselves, we have to realize that all evidence suggests that any opposition coalition would be almost as opposed to Proportional Representation as the current government.

Back in March, 2006, Jerome Black and Bruce Hicks of the French-language publication Le Devoir reviewed a survey of all Parliamentarians conducted by the Public Policy Research Institute.  The original publication, entitled Strengthening Canadian Democracy: The Views of Parliamentary Candidates more or less conclusively demonstrates that expecting the coalition to put forward proportional representation legislation would be foolish.

Black and Hicks write:

« Dans le cadre d’une étude qui vient d’être publiée par l’Institut de recherche en politiques publiques (IRPP), intitulée Strengthening Canadian Democracy : The Views of Parliamentary Candidates, nous avons examiné les positions des candidats du Bloc et de ceux des quatre partis ayant présenté des candidats dans toutes les circonscriptions aux élections fédérales de 2004 (le Parti conservateur, le Parti libéral, le NPD et le Parti vert). Nous avons comparé les points de vue des candidats du Bloc avec ceux des candidats des autres partis et avec ceux des Canadiens. »

« Alors qu’on aurait pu s’attendre à ce que les positions du Bloc s’opposent à celles des grands partis, notre étude montre plutôt que le Bloc a tendance à avoir, sur la question de la réforme démocratique, un point de vue semblable à celui des libéraux et des conservateurs. [emphasis added] »

[…]

« Au cours de notre enquête, 80 % des candidats du Bloc ont affirmé que ce système est acceptable. En cela, ils se situent entre les libéraux et les conservateurs, qui soutiennent ce système respectivement à 85 % et à 71 %. [emphasis added] »

« Ces chiffres démontrent également la divergence entre le Bloc et le NPD (social-démocrate) et le Parti vert (écologiste). Ces derniers s’opposent au système électoral actuel dans une proportion de 94 % et de 97 %. Ces deux tiers partis appuient aussi fortement (à 69 % et à 84 %) l’introduction d’une forme de représentation proportionnelle dans notre système électoral, ce à quoi s’opposent 76 % des candidats du Bloc. »

party-support-for-pr

For the Anglophones who don’t read French, the first emphasized quotation reads roughly:

“Our study shows that, on the question of democratic reform, the Bloc’s point of view resembles very closely that of the Liberals and the Conservatives.”

The second emphasized quotation reads roughly:

“80% of Bloc candidates affirmed that the current system is acceptable.  Here, they are situated roughly in between the Liberals and Conservatives who support the current system at rates of 85% and 71% respectively.”

The last emphasized quotation reads roughly:

“These numbers also demonstrate the divergence in opinion between the Bloc, the NDP and the Green Party.  The latter two oppose the current electoral system at rates of 94% and 97% respectively.”

Thus, I would advise pro-Proportional Representation bloggers to continue the honourable struggle for a representative electoral system.  But I would also advise them to shed any illusions that we are likely on the eve of seeing any of these reforms enacted.

7 Responses to “Coalition likely wouldn’t bring in Proportional Representation”


  1. 1 Stephen Elliott-Buckley 30 November, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    I’m surprised that the Green desire for PR was 3%. Other than that, I can’t argue with your analysis of the likelihood of PR under a coalition. It’s fun though to figure out how it could come about.

  2. 2 paulitics 30 November, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Stephen, you misread that table. The 3% in the table means that only 3% of Greens desire to keep the *current system*. It DOES NOT mean that 3% of Greens desire PR.

  3. 3 Skinny Dipper 30 November, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I don’t see PR being a high priority in a coalition gov’t. The Liberals and the NDP will need the support of the Bloc–a party that greatly benefits from the current FPTP voting system. At most, a coalition gov’t may propose a committee that may look at alternative voting systems among other democratic issues.

  4. 4 Chrystal Ocean 30 November, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Agree that neither the Libs nor Bloc want PR. They may do lip service to “electoral reform” but by that they mean Alternative or Runoff Vote – yet another majoritarian system. Dion mused about AV on CBC radio during the election and Lib bloggers also were doing some of that, oh, as short a time as a week or so ago: see David Graham, Scott Tribe and Libs for ER, for example.

    From the latter: “If STV fails in B.C. this May, it might be a fatal blow to the PR dream in Canada. If that happens, alternatives like IRV as proposed by Graham might be the only type of electoral change possible in this country.”

    In this case, there’s a clear misunderstanding of IRV/AV. Libs for ER, at least, are known to be strongly in favour of proportional representation. Yet IRV/AV is NOT a PR system.

    As for the others, one does have to wonder if IRV/AV isn’t a ploy to be used to fool the electorate.

  5. 5 martinp 1 December, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Yes, that is a pipe dream, at this point I can’t even think its serious talk to take ANY policy change seriously. Unfortunately, at this point I believe (I could be wrong), that it would require a national referendum. If it doesn’t require one, then certainly its going to be ‘demanded’, its a big change.

    The NDP, of course, supports PR whenever they get screwed. They could have brought it into ontario, and they could have in the prairies. It might have been here but a couple of years ago the NDP in Manitoba voted on a resolution to make party resolutions binding on the party leader, the Premier basically laughed at them.

    The Bloc, of course, wouldn’t have nearly the power if PR were implemented, and they know it. For the other parties, each knows that in the next decade they will rule once canadians are disgusted with the other party. I think you’d have to have serious rose coloured glasses to assume a coalition would try to rework the electoral system.

  6. 6 marcel 1 December, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I’m pretty disappointed about that.

    I suspect if the coalition goes ahead, there will be enough of a voter backlash that the next election will destroy all 3 opposition parties. (That’s just the way these things tend to go, unfortunately, what with they right wing media howling for 3 straight years) the best way to weather that would be PR.

    Unless the coalition runs an amazing government…and somehow ends the recession, reverses the manufacturing disaster of central Canada, the forestry disaster of BC…in short fixes everything in a year or two, the next election results will likely look like this…CON 48…LIB 23…NDP 15…BLOC 8…GREEN 4. Punch those numbers into seat projectors in a FTTP system…(compare that to a PR system) What kind of club will Harper beat them with in that sistuation? It’s in their intrests to bring it in. Canada’s too.

  7. 7 computer forensics law enforcement 9 April, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    I visit everyday a few websites and blogs to read content, but this website presents feature based posts.


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