The Manougian Model for Canadian Electoral Reform

During the recently-completed Canadian federal election season, the Liberal, NDP, and Green parties all suggested that major reforms were required to the way in which Canada elects its Members of Parliament.  The ruling Conservatives had refused to appoint new Senators to fill vacant seats out of frustration with the status quo system for the Upper House.  Everyone agrees the federal parliament can be improved.

You have probably already heard about why the First Past the Post system is flawed.  Instead of having me repeat it all, let’s review by watching this video by CGP Grey:

The winner of the 2015 Canadian federal election was the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau.  They made their stance on electoral reform very clear.  You can read it on Page 27 of their platform at: https://www.liberal.ca/files/2015/10/A-new-plan-for-a-strong-middle-class.pdf.  In case they remove the file, it says

LiberalPlatformElectoralReformThey were sworn in on November 4, 2015.  Unless they break their promise, a bill with proposed changes will be introduced by May 4, 2017.

I started this blog to have my say on how I think the country should choose its legislators.  Ultimately, you, as a Canadian citizen, are the final decision-maker.  I plan on posting weekly to go into depth into various aspects of electoral design, defending the different pieces of my proposal, which I’ll call the Manougian Model.

For now, with no accompanying explanation or defense, here it is:

  1. Make the Senate an elected assembly using the fully proportional method of closed party lists.
    • Senate elections to be held concurrently with the House of Commons.
    • Senators to have no geographically-subdivided constituency.  They would be elected from the entire country-wide vote tally.  (Constitutional amendments required.)
    • Allocate seats not from the usual method of vote share percentage, but by absolute number of total votes.  That is, a lower voter turnout would result in less total Senators.
  2. Elect MPs to the House of Commons using an optional preferential ballot.
    • Maintain the current 338 electoral districts and their boundaries (until the next census).
    • Include a “Declined” option on the ballot, which does not drop off the final count.
    • Allow for a seat to remain vacant for 12 months if the “Declined” option obtains a majority.  (By-election to follow.)
  3. Add Student Parliamentarians to the House of Commons
    • Elected by 14-17 year-old citizens and permanent residents.
    • Candidates must be aged 14-17 at the time of the election and be a Canadian citizen.
    • Two representatives per constituency, elected for two year terms on a staggered basis, separately from the regular general elections.
    • Constituencies would be much bigger than the regular 338 electoral districts to reflect a similar number of eligible voters.
    • Student Parliamentarians would have the right to speak and vote in the House of Commons.  Their votes would be recorded but not counted towards the passing or defeat of a bill or motion.
  4. Introduce a term limit of two consecutive general elections within the same House.
    • Allow MPs to run for the Senate immediately after two terms in the Lower House and vice versa.
    • Allow returning to a House after a one term absence.
  5. Maintain the freedom to not vote without penalty.
  6. Maintain the requirement to cast a paper ballot.
    • No on-line voting option.
    • Machine-assisted voting available for accessibility needs only.

Check back often to get more details of what I mean, and why I think this way.

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