This seems to be Ian Urquhart’s assessment of the matter in his column. He starts by misrepresenting support for MMP as being entirely driven by anti-Harris sentiment:
“The motivation springs from the election of the Mike Harris government in 1995. Harris’s Conservatives won a majority in the Legislature with less than half the popular vote (45 per cent, to be exact).”
Nice. Start the column by impugning the motives of MMP supporters. No one cares about democratic reform in and of itself, they all just fueled their fears about another Common Sense Revolution into electoral reform. Odd that the 103 people chosen for the citizens assembly that proposed this change were all alike in their fear of Mike Harris.
Urquhart goes on to compare us to New Zealand:
“Take New Zealand, for example. It used to have an electoral system just like ours, with two parties (Labour and National) trading places at the top and a third party occasionally winning a seat or two.
But in 1993 New Zealand switched to a new system – mixed-member proportional, or MMP, which is the same system on the referendum ballot in Ontario.
Now New Zealand has eight different parties in its parliament, including a Maori party, one that opposes more Asian immigration, and another that wants a hard cap on government spending.”
Oh no! Now New Zealand has several additional political parties! Never mind that the two main parties in the old system probably had elements that were supportive of Maori rights, stopping Asian immigration, and capping government spending, now these groups have their own parties! I suspect in Ontario that if you replace “Maori” with “Aboriginal Canadians” you’d probably have the exact same interest groups within the major parties.
Urquhart raises the spectre of regional separatist parties (for the North and Toronto) gaining a foothold too. What strikes about me about this comment is that the Bloc always got way more seats than their share of the popular vote suggested. I find it hard to believe that you would get anywhere near enough votes to send a Toronto separatist to Queen’s Park – or a northern one for that matter.
Urquhart concludes with an even more bizarre MMP doomsday scenario:
“So we might end up with another Mike Harris who becomes premier with the support of a pro-life party and/or a northern party that is against gun control and for logging in provincial parks.”
Considering that the Family Coalition Party would need to double its vote share to get any seats and the fact that no northern party has been elected in recent memory makes me suspicious of this scenario. If this was the prospect, why on earth does Urquhart think that more progressive parties wouldn’t work together to counteract this. In this scenario, the Liberals, NDP, and Greens would have to be devastated for this to happen. And what prevents this massive electoral meltdowns? That’s right, it’s MMP!
I was worried that Ian Urquhart would rehash some of the standard issue anti-MMP talking points. Instead though he has worked up a set of improbable and bizarre scenarios and tried to scare us with the prospect of more than three parties in the legislature.