Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Canada has elected another Trudeau to the Prime Minister's office.  The Liberals have a majority government and possess the power to undo much of the mess that has come from the Conservatives over the past decade.

They promised to legalize marijuana and stop the ruinous war on drugs.

They promised to get rid of our awful first past the post electoral system.

They promised to repeal much of the worst parts of C-51, Canada's "Be Afraid and don't expect to have any rights" Bill.

They promised to hold an inquiry into the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women.

They promised to bring back the long form census, and restore fact based decision making.

All of this seems easily doable.  It really just requires the desire on the part of the Liberals to do it.  Whether we actually get rid of all of the bits of C-51 that I hate, and whether we get any decent results out of the inquiry surrounding indigenous women, is much more up in the air.  All of these things are things we should absolutely expect to happen and we should make a hell of a scene if they don't.

There are other things though that aren't so clear.  The Liberals, much like every other political party ever, have promised economic growth and prosperity.  Their ability to actually deliver on that is questionable at best.  It might happen, it might not, but I don't think they have nearly as much control over it as they think they do.  Politicians don't want to admit how little power they end up having over the fortunes of the average person or how little they understand what effects their policies actually have.  Who knows?

Also like every opposition party ever the Liberals decried the government's corruption and lack of transparency, and made it clear that they would not be the same.  Again, we should pretty much ignore this as everyone says it, nobody opposes it, and time and time again we see that it won't stay true over the long haul.  Things get corrupt no matter who is in charge.

This is a sad day in some respects because the NDP made such a bad showing.  I didn't want a Liberal government, but if a Liberal government is the alternative to the Conservatives I will take what I can get.

Pass the bong.  It is time to take a big, deep hit.  For Justin Trudeau and his icky, icky dynasty.


  1. The Liberals didn't promise to decriminalize marijuana, that was the NDP. The Liberals promised to legalize it, which is way better.

    1. Ah, you are correct on both counts. Will edit.

  2. Hard to believe that the PBO is due to John Baird: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Accountability_Act

  3. This Libs didn't actually promise proportional representation. They promised a parliamentary inquiry into it (and other options) and a report in 1 year.
    Now that they have a majority I can't see any possible way that they would change the FPTP system. I hope that I'm wrong but I can't see any way that they would willingly give up a whack of potential seats now that they've swung into majority power again.

    1. The Liberals would perform better under STV than FPTP. Historically, the Liberals have been positioned politically between the Conservatives and the NDP. So they would usually do very well in terms of second choice of people that vote for other parties. The Liberals promised:
      "We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system. "

    2. I agree with Dave, and I will likely post about this exact thing. In a proportional system the government will look something like 10% green, 30% NDP, Lib, Con. In that situation the Liberals, if they aren't the government, are everybody's second choice and can steer policy quite substantially as part of a natural coalition. They would have to break a clear, iron clad promise to avoid getting rid of FPTP, probably lose the next election to the conservatives, and likely be back to helpless opposition status again.

      I think they have everything to gain by going to some other system, whether it be ranked ballots or proportional. It locks in the centre party as the default power broker forever.

    3. Sometimes governments break iron clad promises. Rarely are they punished.

  4. Dave, Sky: Are you suggesting that the Libs would have equal or more seats under a different system (still have a majority)? Would love to see the numbers if this is true. If they would lose seats by switching to a different system, you have to remember that the party would have to decide that some of its current members would have to eat it for "the good of the party". I'd be surprised to see this.
    You guys are (I'm assuming) political junkies. I don't think that your average voter thinks much about proportional rep... as evidence I'd suggest the last time it was tried. Really hope I'm wrong, doubt that I am, willing to be surprised;)

  5. Looking at the riding level results; and using the 2nd choice preference based upon Nanos' last election poll; the Liberals would have won 210 - 230 seats under STV (I feel national 2nd choice preferences underrates the BQ in Quebec). This is a better system for the Liberals and STV has several Pros over FPTP:
    1) There is no need for strategic voting; voting for what you want is voting against what you don't.
    2) There will no longer be ridings won where 60%+ of voters would have preferred someone particular over who actually won the riding.

  6. I don't suggest that the Liberals would still have a majority. However, this isn't the only election. The Liberals know that they rate to be in a minority, or *someone else's* majority in the next election. In any situation but a majority of their own the Liberals are better off in a different system due to their central placement. In some systems their would also gain a ton of votes by stealing them from the NDP from all the 'anyone but conservative' voters.

    I am not saying that they would rather reinterpret this current election as proportional - rather I am saying that in hypothetical future elections proportional favours them.

  7. I don't think proportional favours them at all. They would _never_ get a majority under a proportional system. Not once, not ever. With FPTP they get a majority around half the time!

    The number one concern for the Liberals this election was making sure the NDP didn't look like a viable option in government, and they pulled that off in spectacular fashion. They managed to convince the country that the only way to get rid of Harper was to vote for them. They can't be switching to a system that lets people think the NDP could be making decisions in government, and that's what a proportional system would do. (I seriously doubt the big 3 parties would maintain 90% of the vote in a proportional system, for quite a few reasons, not the least of which is the CPC would almost certainly split in 2 under such a system.)

    Proportional representation favours 'extreme' views, because it lets the extreme people across the country band together and get some representation. Instant-runoff, on the other hand, heavily favours the 'center'. (Though the idea that the Liberals are actually in the center is pretty silly.) Unless the party does something particularly offensive they rate to be the second choice of almost everyone, so unless a riding is particularly homogeneous it will by default go to the center.

    There's no reason to believe the Liberals would endorse a system that would be so bad for them as a truly proportional one. They said they'd look into it, and they will, and then they'll put forth an instant-runoff based system instead.

  8. That the Liberals would favour a ranked ballot system instead of PPR would not surprise me at all. Your argument makes sense there. However, they have not had a majority half the time - more like 1/4, and they have had roughly no say 1/2 of the time. I still think proportional would work out for them, but probably not nearly as well as ranked, as you say.

  9. 24 of the 42 elections in history were won by the liberals. 17 of those were majorities. The Liberals haven't been in the top two exactly once in history, so any time it wasn't a majority they were in a position to maintain the balance of power.

    I don't see a breakdown by years spent, but since minorities tend to last less time than majorities I actually expect 17 majorities to be about half the total time spent. Definitely way higher than 1/4.

    Why would proportional work out for them? And not just in the current environment, but in the long run? Proportional is all about letting weaker/fringe parties get some power. That power has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is the traditional middle.