Lord’s Day Over: Number Recrunch

The results of New Brunswick’s provincial election on Monday “is another classic illustration of how voters say one thing with their ballots but the [current] system ends up giving them something different,” says the executive director of Fair Vote Canada.

I found the report of New Brunswick electoral reform commission. Taking note of the four regions the commission proposes* and correcting a mistake in the calculation formula in my spreadsheet (which I’ll amend on all other spreadsheets one day), I recrunched the numbers.

Proportional representation isn’t perfect, but it would indeed be a lot better. With my calculation fix, the NDP would still have been shut out of the N.B. Legislature, and with barely 5% of the vote, I begrudgingly admit that’s how it should be. Consequently, the recrunch shows that the election would still have yielded a slim majority …but for the Progressive Conservatives, not the Liberals.

Actual: Lib: 9; PC: 5; NDP: 0
MPP: Lib: 7; PC: 7; NDP: 0
Central **
Actual: Lib: 9; PC: 4; NDP: 0
MPP: Lib: 7; PC: 7; NDP: 0
Actual: Lib: 7; PC: 7; NDP: 0
MPP: Lib: 7; PC: 7; NDP: 0
Actual: Lib: 4; PC: 10; NDP: 0
MPP: Lib: 6; PC: 8; NDP: 0
Actual: Lib: 29; PC: 26; NDP: 0
MPP: Lib: 27; PC: 29; NDP: 0

In other words, not only would the results have been opposite, but they would have better reflected the popular vote, even though only 1,359 votes separate the PCs and the Liberals province-wide.

* Being from New Brunswick, the four regions I had created had an unequal number of ridings but, in my mind, were geographically and “culturally” logical. For instance, knowing how the roads are in this province, I thought it would impractical for a regional MLA to cover a region like “North,” which takes in Grand Falls/Grand-Sault in the northwest and Shippagan in the northeast. Similarly, having a region with Fredericton and Woodstock with Miramichi is not as “intuitive” to me as one with Fredericton and Saint John, although I realize my view would place two of three major centres in the same region. Sometimes, a strictly mathematical division is fair but not practical or responsive to cultural bonds. The “Brayons” of the northwest are very different from the “Acadiens” of the northeast even though both groups are francophone, not to mention that the northwest is in better shape economically than the northeast. But that said, I recognize that a mathematical approach is not as arbitrary and, thus, probably better.

** Extra regional seat to make region equally weighted.

{4} Thoughts on “Lord’s Day Over: Number Recrunch

  1. We do need to revamp our electoral system. Whatever happened in BC, I think they voted the changes down in some sort of referendum, but that may be my Sustiva brain at work here.

  2. Yes, my dear Brian, I think your Sustiva brain may have been at work when you posted that remark, but that’s okay. 🙂

    You’re correct that the B.C. did not pass, but there, unlike everywhere else in Canada, the recommendation is for a system called STV (single transferable vote), which is impenetrably complicated. That said, P.E.I. also voted against MMP-style proportional representation last year. However, in both cases, the bar was set unreasonably high (60% vote share for a riding to be considered in favour, and 60% of the ridings in favour), whereas New Brunswick’s Premier Lord recommended a simple majority. Even with the bar set so high in B.C., it came close to passing at 57%, which signaled to the Campbell government that the idea is not dead in Lotusland.

    There are many reasons why revamping our electoral system is a good idea. By far the most compelling argument is that perhaps if fewer votes end up being thrown out (due to overrepresentation of votes for one party in one region, or many votes spread out too thinly across a region), voters might believe once again that their vote IS worth something. Most opponents of PR cite the “I” countries (Italy and Israel) as examples of PR’s inefficiency, but they fail to look at the many more other legislatures where PR does work. Even regions of the UK where our current FPTP system originated, namely Scotland and Wales, are using an MMP PR system. The trick is to set a minimum treshhold (5%) in order to avoid what has tended to happen over the years in the “I” countries.

    By the way, I really enjoyed meeting you for brunch this past weekend.

Comments are closed.