Keith Rankin’s Chart of the Month – First-Past-the-Post in Action: Ontario 2018

Are the Progressives the Winners? Chart by Keith Rankin.
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I was in Ontario for a week in May. The premier of Ontario is Doug Ford, leader of the ‘Progressive Conservative’ party; brother of the late (and somewhat notorious) Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. Ford is indeed the leading rightwing personality in Canadian politics.

The chart shows what we in New Zealand would call the ‘progressive parties’ (ie leftwing) in red and green. Together they got 58 percent of the vote. What we in New Zealand would call a landslide win to the Left.

But no, the result was actually a landslide win to the Right – and quite a belligerent Right, given the new government’s propensity to cut back on government-funded services. The PC party scored 61 percent of the seats, leaving just 39 percent to the Left; the Conservatives are comfortably in charge in Ontario.

Canadian democracy is horribly distorted by the socalled ‘firstpastthepost’ voting system (never mind that the PCs never got close in Ontario to the 50% ‘post’ that constitutes a popular majority). Divided and ruledover is the fate of the Left in Ontario, and probably Canada too, especially when Ford moves over into Federal politics.

I cannot see much momentum to change. Ontario had a referendum in 2007. FPP soundly defeated MMP. A similar result (61% to 39%) occurred in British Columbia last year. Federal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau abandoned his party’s commitment to electoral reform soon after taking office in 2016. The only hope seems to be little Prince Edward Island, which did support MMP in a popular referendum in 2016, and will hold another in October this year.

In a socially progressive (but arithmetically challenged) country, the divided Left can only beat the remorseless FPP arithmetic when it throws up charismatic personalities (such as Trudeau) as its leaders.