Friday, October 12, 2007

Political Rant

Yes politics and religion, best not to talk about in polite company, and an odd thing to find discussed on a blog devoted to acting and writing. But I have been feeling very strongly about a recent vote we had here in Ontario and just had to share my opinion with y'all.

I hope you don't mind the digression.

On Wednesday we had a provincial election (we elect Premiers here in Canada). But that isn't really what has got me a bit peeved. What has got me a bit peeved, is that at the same time as we were electing a party to run the province, we were having a referendum. And this is what gets to me, because this referendum was incredibly mismanaged.

First off, very few people knew there was a referendum happening in the first place. I've heard people say things like, "And then there was this extra piece of paper . . . "

And Second, people really did not understand the issue. Which is understandable because watch me try to explain it to you now. The referendum was a vote for whether or not we should change the current way we elect members of parliament. The new version was called MMP: Mixed Member Proportional.

Let's have Wikipedia explain what that is:

"In this system, a voter casts two votes - one for a candidate (or 'local member') and one for a political party. The local member is elected in a first-past-the-post style election and represents the electoral district, while the political party vote determines, in conjunction with the number of elected local members belonging to each party, how many list members a party receives. A list member is a candidate on an ordered list that a party issues before the election; if the MMP formula determines that a party can have more seats than it won locally, it receives a "top up" number of list seats. Under this new system, the Legislature would have 129 seats: 90 local members (70% of the Legislature) and 39 list members (30% of the Legislature)."

Basically there are two ways you can vote (okay I am sure there are more, but for my purposes . . . ) One is you vote for the person you vote for, and whoever gets the most votes wins. Makes sense. This is called "First Past the Post".

BUT, what is John Smith gets 51 votes, and Annie Doe gets 49? Well yes John Smith technically won the election but almost half the population wanted Annie. And then what if in other ridings the same thing happens, and occasionally Annie's party wins some seats, but not as many as John, so that it is still possible that in the end, Annie could have actually had MORE votes than John despite his win.

The "Popular vote" decides the election by actual number of votes cast per party and in such a case, Annie would have won.

The MMP new way of voting would have combined the two ways of voting.

Okay, so there are pros and cons and I have seen sites devoted to why you shouldn't vote for MMP and why you should. I'm not saying MMP is the answer or even what people had to vote for.

My point: Very few people knew there was a referendum, and those that did, didn't understand what the heck the question was about. I know of people who went into the booth, looked at the question and went, "Well I don't know what all this is about, I guess let's just keep it as is" and that was why they voted the way they did.

This was the first referendum Ontario had had in 83 years!! And no one understood, or cared, or even knew about it!

And I put the blame on the media (sure they are an easy target but hear me out). I know every detail of Britney's custody battle, but darn it if even I can explain the MMP thing clearly (and I understand it!)! They tried, there were some television ads that told people to go to a website to read about it (yeah . . . right . . . people are going to do that . . . ), but the MMP thing should have been there all the time, being shoved down our throats so we were getting sick of the topic. Instead . . . well instead it was barely a blip on the radar.

So we get a really pathetic referendum. Yes on the surface: the people voted no. But that isn't what happened. The people voted "I don't know" or "what are you talking about?"

And that's just sad.

Political rant over.

Thank you.


Welshcake said...

Good post, Adrienne.

Sad thing is, many, many people are more interested in whether Britney's wearing panties or not than politics. Even if people are given the information, many won't bother figuring things out.

It's the same here in the UK. I find it scary. Political apathay does no-one any favours. Except those who might want to sneak stuff in under the radar.

Paul said...

Good points Adrienne,

The real culprit for MMp's demise is the government. They were quite happy to have it fail. First past the post is their bread and water and they wouldn't have it any other way.

I have spent the better part of my professional life working for MP's and provincial legislators...believe me we will never have MMP here in Canada.


Adrienne said...

Yeah you guys are both right, about the people and their apathy and the government and their help in making the referendum fail.

So depressing.

Maybe that's why I don't post about this stuff often.