Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 19, 2021
Steven Del Duca is promising Ontario a better way to vote
Fresh from the last federal election, months away from the next provincial campaign, Steven Del Duca wants to talk about how people vote.
And why they don’t.
The question is whether Del Duca, the leader of Ontario’s Liberals, can do anything to reverse the steady decline in voter turnout — and turn around the electoral fortunes of his own party after hitting bottom in 2018.
After all, his party did its bit to boost democracy in the last election, even if inadvertently. Whenever people are angry enough to “throw the bums out,” as they were with Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government, voters come out in force and the turnout goes back up — but it’s a blip.
Unfortunately, the lopsided results from those massive swings can sometimes prove even more vexing for voters: Premier Doug Ford won 40.2 per cent of the vote in the 2018 provincial election fair and square. Yet that percentage handed his Tories a disproportionate 76 of the 124 seats at Queen’s Park, giving him a rock solid 61.3 per cent majority in any legislative vote.
Ford’s boasts of winning a landslide were built on shaky ground. The vast majority of the electorate — who supported NDP, Liberal or Green alternatives — were sidelined in opposition, shut out of government.
It doesn’t add up. Yet nothing seems to change — and likely never will if we don’t rethink things.
Now, Del Duca is trying to reframe the reform question by recasting the way voters cast their ballots. He may be a voice in the wilderness, but given the wild gyrations in our electoral system, his idea deserves a hearing from voters even if his political rivals refuse to listen.
For too long, Canadians have boxed themselves in with a false choice between two rigid alternatives — proportional representation (PR) that reflects the popular vote, versus our current winner-take-all system (dubbed first past the post) that generates disproportionate majorities out of whack with voter sentiment.
The problem with PR is that it’s a poor fit for a vast territory like Canada or Ontario with strong geographical and historical allegiances to the constituency system. There’s a compromise solution to that problem, but it’s a hard sell — and voters weren’t buying it when they had the chance in a 2007 referendum that flopped spectacularly in Ontario.
Speaking to his party’s annual general meeting, Del Duca proposed a better fit for Ontario: The ranked ballot. (Continued: The KW Record)