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More proof electoral reform isn’t dead

I hope Ian Urquhart and the Toronto Star editorial board have a subscription to the Hill Times. It might make their heads explode after reading the results of this poll:

When asked whether there should be a national referendum on PR in Canada’s next general election, 48 per cent said yes nationally, 32 per cent said no, and 20 per cent said they don’t know. When asked how they would vote if a such referendum was held, 45 per cent said they would support a system of PR, 28 per cent said keep the current First Past the Post system, and 27 per cent didn’t know.

Very impressive, but surely support in Ontario, where voters recently rejected Mixed-Member Proportional by a 63% margin, would be on the low end of this, right? Not so:

The poll shows significant support for a system of proportional representation in Ontario and Quebec, where, respectively, 46 per cent and 52 per cent said they would vote in support of PR if a national referendum were held in the next general election.

That tells me that Ontarions weren’t necessarily resistant to electoral reform. I believe they either had misgivings about this particular version of mixed member, or they weren’t informed enough about it, and decided they weren’t going to make a switch from the current system without knowing more about a proposed system that they’re being asked to switch to. As the poll shows, they are willing to look at the idea of switching to a PR-based electoral system.

Another interesting aspect of the poll; minority governments aren’t hated:

When asked whether they prefer majority or minority governments, 37 per cent said minority governments, 20 per cent said majority governments, and 38 per cent said it depends on which party forms the government.

Now, there are systems of electoral reform out there that don’t necessarily disqualify majority government as a possibility (the Globe’s version of Mixed Member that they laid out as a model in May 2005 and supported is one such system), but this poll shows that more Canadians then one might think support the idea of a government being forced to take into account other parties views and work with them to get legislation passed.

The conclusion of this particular pollster?

“A lot of people are looking at PR as dead in Ontario right now, whereas it may just be sleeping,” Greg Lyle, managing director of Innovative Research, said in an interview. “The rejection of this particular proposal for PR in Ontario is not the end of the road for change. It just illustrates the challenge in change because it’s hard to get a majority in any specific proposal”

And the political scientists think the same thing:

Stephen Clarkson, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.. acknowledged that momentum for some form of PR seems to be growing. “It’s on the agenda now,” he said, adding that effective lobbying has helped identify electoral reform as a priority.

This might be wishful thinking on my part, but I’d love to see the federal Liberal Party propose electoral reform as one of their platform planks.


4 comments to More proof electoral reform isn’t dead

  • ALW

    Oh good, we’re back to opinion polls again.  Ones you like, of course.

  • IP I wish they would adopt it as policy too, but given how they behaved in Ontario, I don’t trust the establishment wing of the Liberal party. Sure they will let the reform wing promise reform and then do everything it their power to destroy it.  The Liberal establishment, it seems to me, treats electoral reform as something to toss to the "kiddie table", while the "grownups" plan for their next "majority".

  • I’d love to see the federal Liberal Party propose electoral reform as one of their platform planks.

    Dion is supposedly for it.  He likes MMP, so it seems. Not that we’ve heard word one about it since he became leader…

  • […] in Ontario. As I’ve talked about previously, there is at least 1 recent poll where there is plurality support for holding such a referendum on electoral reform. Where Dion’s views on the electoral system […]

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