Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Real Lesson of the Gun Registry Debate

The Conservative PMO is cynically planting the seeds of division across the country, in the hope of winning a majority government using the economy and law-and-order as the twin themes. But if we had a different electoral system--one which more closely matched the proportion of seats with the proportion of the vote, they would have to adopt a different strategy. Then, they would have to appeal to a wider cross-section of the public.

If the Liberals win the next election, the same problem will likely emerge in a different form. A Liberal-NDP cohabitation sounds stable, but if it is too popular (e.g. gets 40% or more approval in the polls), the Liberals will be tempted to engineer their own defeat so that they can springboard into a majority government.  That is what Trudeau did federally in 1974 and Peterson did in Ontario in 1987.

The solution: move to a slightly more proportional electoral system that makes it more difficult to win majorities and that rewards politicians for seeking support across the country instead of rewarding them for doing the opposite.

That, for me, is the real lesson of the gun registry debate.

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