Werner's Blog — Opinion, Analysis, Commentary
Electoral reform with strong local representation

As the federal election on October 21 is approaching, it is a good time to talk about our electoral system. The momentum for electoral reform has stalled after the last election. Our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system exhibits significant flaws, but there is no consensus on how to remedy these flaws.

As I have argued before, there is a strong case for electoral reform given that a majority of our members of parliament are elected without a majority of votes in their ridings. Supporters of FPTP claim that nothing is wrong with this system, that it has worked well in the past, and thus maintain an "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" attitude. The first claim is arguably not true: FPTP is systematically biased when votes for political parties are translated into seats. The second claim on the other hand, is harder to dismiss. Canada's democracy has been stable and resilient despite the shortcomings of FPTP. The case for electoral reform hinges on the answer to the question: what is fair representation in parliament?

Under FPTP, the translation of votes into seats in parliament is biased towards large parties and also becomes unpredictable when three-way or four-way races lower the threshold for gaining a seat below an absolute majority. Strong regional clustering of support for political parties further distorts the votes-to-seats translation. If you believe that every vote should count equally in Canada, proportional representation (PR) is the electoral system that represents voters fairly no matter which constituency they live in. The apparent disadvantage of PR is its seeming disability to provide regional and local representation. My research shows a way to address this deficit of PR. I have proposed a novel electoral system that combines proportional representation with strong local representation.

‘Votes under propor- tional representation count equally regardless of location.’

Despite the apparent shortcomings of FPTP, electoral reform has gone nowhere in Canada. British Columbia had three referendums, and while one found a majority of support, it did not meet a higher threshold that had been set. Electoral reform is only possible when people realize that FPTP delivers outcomes that defy logic, for example when the NDP was reduced to 2 out of 77 in the BC Legislature despite winning 22% of the vote, or when in 1993 the federal Progressive Conservatives were reduced from 169 to 2 seats while maintaining 16% support. Memory of such episodes fade fast, and once a new election brings about a more "normal" result, the case for electoral reform drifts out of focus.

Supporters of FPTP point to two perceived advantages of this system. FPTP promotes single-partys majority governments, which FPTP supporters argue are more stable than coalitions of two or more parties that are formed under PR. However, minority governments are possible under FPTP as well, and they are not intrinsically more stable than coalition governments. The electoral arithmetic simply makes it more likely that FPTP produces majority governments with less than a majority of the popular vote.

The other perceived advantage of FPTP is effective local representation. FPTP counts votes in each constituency, and the candidate with the most votes (even if less than an absolute majority) wins. In Canada, this has meant that sometimes candidates with as little as 30% can eek out a win over their competitors when voting is fragmented among many parties. However, the member of parliament elected in a constituency is tied closely to that constituency and is assumed to advocate strongly for the local interests of the voters in that constituency.

‘PR can be fully reconciled with strong local representation.’

My own research introduces a way to address the local representation deficit of the simple version of proportional representation. It is possible to have PR and strong local representation at the same time, and even improve local representation under full PR. My research contribution Electoral economics: Maximizing local representation under proportionality (Economics Letters, Volume 182, September 2019, pp. 109-113) shows how this can be accomplished effectively using new mathematical tools. Computational techniques and power have advanced to a level where we can figure out how we can actually maximize local representation under full proportionality by assigning constituencies optimally. I have dubbed this electoral system PROAC—Proportional Rrepresentation with Optimal Assignment of Constituencies. You can also refer to it as "proactive" because it solves the local representation problem by proactively assigning members of parliaments to constituencies in such a way that it maximizes local representation. Maximizing local representation means maximizing the number of voters whose preferred political party is representing the riding in which they have voted.

Under PROAC, seats in parliament are based on pure proportional representation, with each member of parliament assigned to represent either one or two constituences. Votes cast in each constituency matter twofold. Overall, votes determine the composition of parliament. Locally, the more votes are cast for one party, the more likely this party will represent the constituency in parliament.

‘Dual PR-OAC can actually improve local representation.’

PROAC comes in two flavours, single and dual optimal assignment. With single optimal assignment, one member of parliament is assigned uniquely to one constituency, similar to the current FPTP system. Dual optimal assignment improves upon that by assigning two members of parliament to each constituency: a senior MP and a junior MP. Allocation maximizes the number of voters who are represented directly, but with a senior and junior member a larger number of voters have local representation by their preferred candidate than under FPTP. Under dual PROAC, members of parliament will have a little bit more work as they will represent two constituencies, but the work is shared with another member of parliament. This duality may also foster greater local cooperation across party lines. With dual assignment, the senior member of parliament will typically come from one of the larger parties, while the junior member will tend to come from smaller parties. This ensures that constituents will more often have access to a member of parliament who is also in government, ensuring that ridings are not left behind because it is represented by a member of an opposition party (both under FPTP and single-assignment PROAC). Dual assignment of constituencies has a real potential for improving local representation over FPTP.

Applying PROAC to Canada, there is one important way in which our country's federal structure can be reflected in the electoral system. Party lists should all be provincial, so that ultimately only politicians from a province can represent that province in parliament. This leads to a provincial version of proportional representation: P-PR. Vote shares in each province are translated into parliamentary seats from each province.

Canadian Federal Election 2015:
Actual outcome under FPTP and hypothetical outcome under P-PR

Province Seats Electoral
System
Parliamentary Seats
CPC LIB NDP BLQ GRP
Newfoundland and Labrador FPTP        
P-PR    
Prince Edward Island FPTP        
P-PR    
Nova Scotia 11  FPTP   11       
P-PR    
New Brunswick 10  FPTP   10       
P-PR    
Quebec 78  FPTP 12  40  16  10   
P-PR 13  28  20  15 
Ontario 121  FPTP 33  80     
P-PR 43  55  20   
Manitoba 14  FPTP    
P-PR    
Saskatchewan 14  FPTP 10     
P-PR    
Alberta 34  FPTP 29     
P-PR 21   
British Columbia 42  FPTP 10  17  14   
P-PR 13  15  11   
Yukon Territory FPTP        
P-PR        
Northwest Territories FPTP        
P-PR        
Nunavut FPTP        
P-PR        
Canada 338  FPTP 99  184  44  10 
P-PR 110  137  67  15 

The most apparent result of P-PR is that the Liberal Party would not have obtained a majority in the House of Commons: they would have received 137 instead of 184 seats. The other parties would have all received more seats. The Green Party, for example, would have obtained 3 seats in BC and Ontario, 2 seats in Quebec, and even one in Alberta. Under P-PR, the three northern territories would remain FPTP because they only have a single seat each.

How would dual PROAC play out in determining which party represents which riding? The table below shows the 2015 election outcome, the FPTP winner in each riding, and the parties that would have represented each riding under dual PROAC with a senior and a junior member of parliament. Let's start with small Prince Edward Island, where all four seats went to the Liberals. Under P-PR, the Liberals would have received only two seats, with one seat each also going to Conservatives and NDP. Because the Liberals came out strongest in all four ridings, they would provide the senior member of parliament for each riding. Conservatives and NDP would provide one junior member of parliament for the two ridings they represent. The Conservative member would represent Egmont and Malpeque, and the NDP member would represent Cardigan and Charlottetown.

Newfoundland and Labrador was likewise swept by the Liberals in 2015. Under P-PR, province-wide support would have given Liberals five out of seven seats, and one each for NDP and Conservatives. Liberals would have provided the senior member of parliament for each riding. Two Liberal members would have been senior members for two ridings each, and three liberal members would have been senior member for one riding each as well as junior member for another riding. As five Liberals can represent a total of seven ridings, they can divide the tasks of who represents which riding among them.

Electoral District Vote Shares of Parties FPTP
winner
Dual PROAC
CPC LIB NDP BLQ GRP senior junior
Newfoundland and Labrador
Avalon 11.1  55.9  14.4  —  0.5  LIB LIB LIB
Bonavista--Burin--Trinity 10.1  81.8  7.3  —  0.8  LIB LIB LIB
Coast of Bays--Central--Notre Dame 18.3  74.8  6.1  —  0.8  LIB LIB CPC
Labrador 13.9  71.8  14.4  —  —  LIB LIB LIB
Long Range Mountains 12.2  73.9  11.3  —  2.7  LIB LIB CPC
St. John's East 6.5  46.7  45.3  —  1.1  LIB LIB NDP
St. John's South--Mount Pearl 4.6  57.9  36.8  —  0.8  LIB LIB NDP
Prince Edward Island
Cardigan 16.2  65.0  11.1  —  6.4  LIB LIB NDP
Charlottetown 14.8  56.3  23.1  —  5.8  LIB LIB NDP
Egmont 29.0  49.3  19.2  —  2.6  LIB LIB CPC
Malpeque 17.6  62.1  11.2  —  9.2  LIB LIB CPC
Nova Scotia
Cape Breton--Canso 14.4  74.4  8.2  —  3.0  LIB LIB LIB
Central Nova 25.8  58.5  10.2  —  4.1  LIB LIB CPC
Cumberland--Colchester 26.5  63.7  5.7  —  3.6  LIB LIB CPC
Dartmouth--Cole Harbour 14.0  58.2  24.4  —  3.4  LIB LIB NDP
Halifax 8.6  51.7  36.1  —  3.3  LIB LIB NDP
Halifax West 15.6  68.6  11.8  —  3.9  LIB LIB NDP
Kings--Hants 18.6  70.7  6.4  —  3.4  LIB LIB LIB
Sackville--Preston--Chezzetcook 14.9  48.0  34.4  —  2.8  LIB LIB NDP
South Shore--St. Margarets 22.6  56.9  16.8  —  2.9  LIB LIB CPC
Sydney--Victoria 10.6  73.2  13.1  —  2.5  LIB LIB LIB
West Nova 26.1  63.0  6.8  —  4.2  LIB LIB CPC
New Brunswick
Acadie--Bathurst 7.6  50.7  39.4  —  2.3  LIB LIB NDP
Beauséjour 11.4  69.0  15.1  —  4.5  LIB LIB NDP
Fredericton 28.4  49.3  9.9  —  12.4  LIB LIB CPC
Fundy Royal 37.1  40.9  17.5  —  3.9  LIB LIB CPC
Madawaska--Restigouche 16.5  55.7  25.9  —  1.9  LIB LIB NDP
Miramichi--Grand Lake 34.3  47.3  15.4  —  3.0  LIB LIB CPC
Moncton--Riverview--Dieppe 21.5  57.8  16.2  —  4.6  LIB LIB NDP
New Brunswick Southwest 38.6  43.9  12.6  —  4.9  LIB LIB CPC
Saint John--Rothesay 30.5  48.8  17.5  —  3.1  LIB LIB CPC
Tobique--Mactaquac 37.0  46.6  11.3  —  5.1  LIB LIB CPC
Quebec
Abitibi--Baie-James--Nunavik--Eeyou 9.3  32.1  37.0  18.5  2.3  NDP NDP GRP
Abitibi--Témiscamingue 6.9  29.6  41.5  19.4  1.7  NDP NDP LIB
Ahuntsic-Cartierville 7.3  46.8  30.0  13.2  2.1  LIB LIB NDP
Alfred-Pellan 11.3  44.5  24.0  17.8  2.0  LIB LIB NDP
Argenteuil--La Petite-Nation 11.1  43.3  24.8  18.7  2.2  LIB LIB NDP
Avignon--La Mitis--Matane--Matapédia 6.1  39.5  20.2  21.0  1.0  LIB LIB BLQ
Beauce 58.9  22.3  9.7  7.4  1.7  CPC CPC LIB
Beauport--Limoilou 30.6  25.4  25.5  14.8  2.4  CPC CPC NDP
Bécancour--Nicolet--Saurel 11.4  24.3  22.1  40.0  2.3  BLQ BLQ NDP
Bellechasse--Les Etchemins--Lévis 50.9  20.7  13.6  11.5  3.2  CPC CPC LIB
Beloeil--Chambly 9.3  29.3  31.1  27.7  2.3  NDP NDP BLQ
Berthier--Maskinongé 10.2  20.3  42.2  25.8  1.6  NDP NDP BLQ
Thérèse-De Blainville 12.4  32.5  24.9  27.1  2.4  LIB LIB BLQ
Pierre-Boucher--Les Patriotes--Verchères 10.2  28.3  24.3  28.6  8.5  BLQ BLQ LIB
Bourassa 9.3  54.1  14.9  17.1  2.2  LIB LIB GRP
Brome--Missisquoi 11.5  43.9  24.5  17.5  2.3  LIB LIB NDP
Brossard--Saint-Lambert 12.6  50.3  24.6  10.6  1.9  LIB LIB NDP
Rimouski-Neigette--Témiscouata--Les Basques 7.5  28.0  43.1  19.3  1.5  NDP NDP LIB
Charlesbourg--Haute-Saint-Charles 42.2  23.2  20.1  12.3  2.2  CPC CPC LIB
Beauport-Côte-de-Beaupré-Île d'Orléans-Charlevoix 33.5  26.9  18.4  19.1  1.7  CPC CPC BLQ
Châteauguay--Lacolle 11.2  39.1  23.1  24.4  1.9  LIB LIB BLQ
Chicoutimi--Le Fjord 16.6  31.1  29.7  20.5  2.1  LIB NDP CPC
Compton--Stanstead 12.5  36.9  27.4  20.7  1.9  LIB LIB NDP
Dorval--Lachine--LaSalle 11.1  54.9  21.6  9.8  2.3  LIB LIB NDP
Drummond 17.7  26.5  30.5  22.8  2.4  NDP NDP CPC
Gaspésie--Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine 6.1  38.7  32.5  20.9  1.0  LIB LIB NDP
Gatineau 8.2  53.8  26.6  9.4  1.6  LIB LIB NDP
Hochelaga 6.8  29.9  30.9  27.7  3.2  NDP NDP BLQ
Honoré-Mercier 12.1  56.5  16.4  12.9  1.6  LIB LIB CPC
Hull--Aylmer 7.7  51.4  31.5  6.5  1.9  LIB LIB NDP
Joliette 10.1  28.2  25.7  33.3  2.4  BLQ BLQ LIB
Jonquière 16.9  28.5  29.2  23.3  1.4  NDP NDP BLQ
La Pointe-de-l'Île 8.0  28.6  26.8  33.6  2.0  BLQ BLQ NDP
La Prairie 11.9  36.5  22.9  26.2  2.1  LIB LIB BLQ
Lac-Saint-Jean 33.3  18.4  28.5  18.4  1.5  CPC CPC NDP
Lac-Saint-Louis 17.4  64.1  12.8  2.7  2.9  LIB LIB CPC
LaSalle--Émard--Verdun 6.9  43.9  29.0  17.0  3.2  LIB LIB NDP
Laurentides--Labelle 9.8  32.1  26.3  29.7  2.0  LIB LIB BLQ
Laurier--Sainte-Marie 4.1  23.7  38.3  28.7  3.5  NDP NDP BLQ
Laval--Les Îles 18.1  47.7  19.8  12.4  1.7  LIB LIB CPC
Longueuil--Charles-LeMoyne 9.6  35.4  24.1  27.0  2.9  LIB LIB BLQ
Lévis--Lotbinière 50.1  21.7  14.8  11.4  1.8  CPC CPC LIB
Longueuil--Saint-Hubert 8.7  30.0  31.2  27.3  2.5  NDP NDP BLQ
Louis-Hébert 27.2  34.8  20.8  14.4  2.5  LIB LIB CPC
Louis-Saint-Laurent 50.5  21.4  15.9  10.3  1.9  CPC CPC LIB
Manicouagan 10.3  29.4  17.5  41.3  1.6  BLQ BLQ LIB
Mégantic--L'Érable 35.4  28.1  22.0  12.3  2.1  CPC CPC LIB
Mirabel 10.1  26.1  30.1  31.5  2.2  BLQ BLQ NDP
Montarville 10.9  32.5  24.7  28.4  2.4  LIB LIB BLQ
Montcalm 9.6  27.3  23.5  36.6  1.8  BLQ BLQ LIB
Montmagny--L'Islet--Kamouraska--Rivière-du-Loup 29.0  28.4  24.2  16.1  1.7  CPC CPC LIB
Mount Royal 37.9  50.3  8.1  1.9  1.6  LIB LIB CPC
Notre-Dame-de-Grâce--Westmount 14.4  57.7  21.8  2.5  3.1  LIB LIB CPC
Outremont 9.5  33.5  44.1  8.4  3.6  NDP NDP LIB
Papineau 4.7  52.0  25.9  12.2  2.8  LIB LIB NDP
Pierrefonds--Dollard 20.0  58.7  16.4  3.5  1.5  LIB LIB CPC
Pontiac 13.9  54.5  22.5  6.9  1.7  LIB LIB CPC
Portneuf--Jacques-Cartier 44.0  21.5  22.1  10.7  1.8  CPC CPC NDP
Québec 21.8  28.9  27.0  18.8  2.9  LIB NDP CPC
Repentigny 10.8  27.3  23.3  34.7  1.9  BLQ BLQ LIB
Richmond--Arthabaska 31.6  24.7  24.2  17.2  1.7  CPC CPC NDP
Rivière-des-Mille-Îles 10.5  32.4  29.5  25.4  2.0  LIB LIB BLQ
Rivière-du-Nord 8.5  26.4  30.1  32.0  2.5  BLQ BLQ NDP
Rosemont--La Petite-Patrie 4.3  20.7  49.2  21.1  3.1  NDP NDP BLQ
Marc-Aurèle-Fortin 11.9  40.9  23.5  21.7  1.9  LIB LIB BLQ
Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot 16.7  27.6  28.7  24.3  2.3  NDP NDP BLQ
Saint-Jean 10.8  33.2  29.1  24.8  2.1  LIB LIB NDP
Saint-Laurent 19.5  61.6  11.5  4.7  2.4  LIB LIB CPC
Saint-Léonard--Saint-Michel 11.1  64.7  14.8  7.2  1.8  LIB LIB GRP
Saint-Maurice--Champlain 16.3  41.5  20.8  19.2  1.9  LIB LIB CPC
Salaberry--Suroît 10.0  29.2  30.4  28.4  1.4  NDP NDP BLQ
Shefford 12.8  39.0  23.7  22.2  2.4  LIB LIB BLQ
Sherbrooke 9.4  29.8  37.4  20.4  2.0  NDP NDP LIB
Vaudreuil--Soulanges 13.8  46.6  22.3  15.0  2.2  LIB LIB NDP
Terrebonne 11.3  28.0  25.6  33.0  1.7  BLQ BLQ LIB
Trois-Rivières 18.6  30.2  31.8  17.0  1.7  NDP NDP LIB
Ville-Marie--Le Sud-Ouest--Île-des-Soeurs 11.9  50.8  23.4  8.6  4.8  LIB LIB GRP
Vimy 13.4  46.2  21.0  16.7  2.4  LIB LIB CPC
Ontario
Ajax 34.4  55.9  8.2  —  1.4  LIB LIB CPC
Algoma--Manitoulin--Kapuskasing 23.7  34.1  39.9  —  2.2  NDP NDP LIB
Aurora--Oak Ridges--Richmond Hill 45.2  47.3  5.7  —  1.3  LIB LIB CPC
Barrie--Innisfil 46.4  37.1  11.8  —  4.0  CPC CPC LIB
Barrie--Springwater--Oro-Medonte 41.7  41.6  10.3  —  5.2  CPC CPC LIB
Bay of Quinte 34.3  50.7  12.1  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Beaches--East York 16.4  49.4  30.8  —  2.6  LIB LIB NDP
Brampton Centre 33.7  48.6  15.1  —  2.1  LIB LIB CPC
Brampton East 23.5  52.3  23.0  —  1.1  LIB LIB NDP
Brampton North 33.0  48.4  16.5  —  1.9  LIB LIB CPC
Brampton South 35.0  52.1  10.7  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Brampton West 30.1  55.9  12.4  —  1.6  LIB LIB CPC
Brantford--Brant 40.9  30.7  24.8  —  2.5  CPC CPC NDP
Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound 46.7  38.8  11.1  —  3.3  CPC CPC LIB
Burlington 42.5  46.0  9.1  —  2.4  LIB LIB CPC
Cambridge 38.6  43.2  13.9  —  3.2  LIB LIB CPC
Chatham-Kent--Leamington 41.7  37.2  18.4  —  2.7  CPC CPC LIB
Davenport 10.6  44.3  41.4  —  3.1  LIB LIB NDP
Don Valley East 29.2  57.8  10.4  —  2.6  LIB LIB CPC
Don Valley North 37.8  51.4  8.5  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Don Valley West 37.6  53.8  6.0  —  1.7  LIB LIB CPC
Dufferin--Caledon 46.3  39.1  7.3  —  7.3  CPC CPC LIB
Durham 45.1  35.8  16.0  —  2.5  CPC CPC LIB
Eglinton--Lawrence 42.6  48.9  6.3  —  1.4  LIB LIB CPC
Elgin--Middlesex--London 49.2  31.0  15.4  —  3.1  CPC CPC LIB
Essex 35.7  20.9  41.4  —  1.9  NDP NDP CPC
Etobicoke Centre 37.3  52.8  7.9  —  1.4  LIB LIB CPC
Etobicoke--Lakeshore 32.4  53.7  10.9  —  2.3  LIB LIB CPC
Etobicoke North 23.0  62.4  12.4  —  1.2  LIB LIB NDP
Flamborough--Glanbrook 43.5  39.1  14.0  —  3.4  CPC CPC LIB
Glengarry--Prescott--Russell 36.4  53.3  7.9  —  1.8  LIB LIB CPC
Guelph 26.3  49.1  12.0  —  11.3  LIB LIB GRP
Haldimand--Norfolk 44.1  36.6  13.6  —  3.3  CPC CPC LIB
Haliburton--Kawartha Lakes--Brock 44.8  31.8  19.4  —  4.0  CPC CPC NDP
Hamilton Centre 14.6  33.4  45.6  —  4.3  NDP NDP GRP
Hamilton East--Stoney Creek 25.3  39.0  32.7  —  2.6  LIB LIB NDP
Hamilton Mountain 25.7  33.5  35.9  —  2.5  NDP NDP LIB
Hamilton West--Ancaster--Dundas 31.8  47.7  16.3  —  4.2  LIB LIB CPC
Hastings--Lennox and Addington 41.9  42.4  12.7  —  2.9  LIB LIB CPC
Huron--Bruce 44.9  39.7  13.0  —  2.4  CPC CPC LIB
Kanata--Carleton 39.2  51.3  6.8  —  2.7  LIB LIB CPC
Kenora 28.5  35.5  33.9  —  1.6  LIB NDP GRP
King--Vaughan 44.2  47.4  6.5  —  1.9  LIB LIB CPC
Kingston and the Islands 22.7  55.4  17.0  —  4.5  LIB LIB NDP
Kitchener Centre 30.4  48.8  16.6  —  3.1  LIB LIB CPC
Kitchener--Conestoga 43.3  42.8  9.8  —  2.8  CPC CPC LIB
Kitchener South--Hespeler 36.7  42.3  15.6  —  3.7  LIB LIB CPC
Lambton--Kent--Middlesex 50.2  29.4  17.0  —  3.3  CPC CPC NDP
Lanark--Frontenac--Kingston 47.9  33.8  14.1  —  3.5  CPC CPC LIB
Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes 47.4  40.6  8.4  —  3.7  CPC CPC LIB
London--Fanshawe 27.2  31.4  37.8  —  2.9  NDP NDP LIB
London North Centre 31.1  50.5  14.7  —  3.6  LIB LIB CPC
London West 35.3  45.8  14.8  —  2.8  LIB LIB CPC
Markham--Stouffville 42.8  49.2  6.1  —  1.9  LIB LIB CPC
Markham--Thornhill 32.3  55.7  10.7  —  1.2  LIB LIB CPC
Markham--Unionville 49.4  43.3  5.1  —  2.2  CPC CPC LIB
Milton 45.4  40.4  10.9  —  2.3  CPC CPC LIB
Mississauga Centre 33.6  54.7  9.5  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Mississauga East--Cooksville 35.4  54.2  8.6  —  1.5  LIB LIB CPC
Mississauga--Erin Mills 39.2  49.7  9.4  —  1.6  LIB LIB CPC
Mississauga--Lakeshore 41.2  47.7  8.0  —  2.4  LIB LIB CPC
Mississauga--Malton 26.4  59.1  12.3  —  1.7  LIB LIB NDP
Mississauga--Streetsville 40.4  47.8  9.0  —  2.3  LIB LIB CPC
Nepean 36.1  52.4  8.2  —  2.3  LIB LIB CPC
Newmarket--Aurora 42.6  45.2  8.5  —  2.4  LIB LIB CPC
Niagara Centre 29.7  35.7  31.5  —  2.4  LIB LIB NDP
Niagara Falls 42.1  34.5  20.9  —  2.5  CPC CPC LIB
Niagara West 48.8  32.7  11.5  —  3.0  CPC CPC LIB
Nickel Belt 16.7  42.8  37.8  —  2.5  LIB LIB NDP
Nipissing--Timiskaming 29.3  51.9  16.2  —  2.6  LIB LIB NDP
Northumberland--Peterborough South 39.6  42.5  14.8  —  3.1  LIB LIB CPC
Oakville 42.5  49.4  5.9  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Oakville North--Burlington 43.3  46.7  7.2  —  1.6  LIB LIB CPC
Oshawa 38.2  27.3  31.9  —  2.5  CPC CPC NDP
Ottawa Centre 14.5  42.7  38.5  —  3.0  LIB LIB NDP
Orléans 30.5  59.7  8.0  —  1.8  LIB LIB CPC
Ottawa South 24.3  60.1  11.6  —  2.9  LIB LIB CPC
Ottawa--Vanier 19.1  57.6  19.2  —  3.1  LIB LIB NDP
Ottawa West--Nepean 30.0  55.9  9.8  —  2.8  LIB LIB CPC
Oxford 45.7  32.2  16.5  —  3.5  CPC CPC LIB
Parkdale--High Park 13.0  42.0  40.2  —  3.0  LIB LIB NDP
Parry Sound--Muskoka 43.3  38.9  10.1  —  7.2  CPC CPC LIB
Perth--Wellington 42.9  37.6  15.0  —  2.6  CPC CPC LIB
Peterborough--Kawartha 35.1  43.8  18.7  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Pickering--Uxbridge 38.2  50.3  9.2  —  2.3  LIB LIB CPC
Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke 45.8  32.7  8.6  —  1.9  CPC CPC LIB
Richmond Hill 43.3  46.9  8.0  —  1.7  LIB LIB CPC
Carleton 46.9  43.7  6.1  —  3.3  CPC CPC LIB
St. Catharines 37.6  43.2  16.5  —  2.6  LIB LIB CPC
Toronto--St. Paul's 27.0  55.3  14.7  —  3.0  LIB LIB NDP
Sarnia--Lambton 38.8  27.3  31.1  —  2.8  CPC CPC NDP
Sault Ste. Marie 31.1  44.8  21.8  —  2.1  LIB LIB NDP
Scarborough--Agincourt 38.0  51.9  7.9  —  1.4  LIB LIB CPC
Scarborough Centre 32.7  50.5  11.6  —  2.1  LIB LIB CPC
Scarborough--Guildwood 26.5  60.0  11.3  —  1.4  LIB LIB NDP
Scarborough North 27.4  48.2  22.1  —  1.5  LIB LIB NDP
Scarborough--Rouge Park 27.4  60.2  10.4  —  2.0  LIB LIB CPC
Scarborough Southwest 21.2  52.5  23.7  —  2.6  LIB LIB NDP
Simcoe--Grey 46.6  38.6  9.6  —  4.4  CPC CPC LIB
Simcoe North 43.5  39.8  10.6  —  4.5  CPC CPC LIB
Spadina--Fort York 15.7  54.7  27.3  —  2.1  LIB LIB NDP
Stormont--Dundas--South Glengarry 51.1  38.5  8.2  —  2.2  CPC CPC LIB
Sudbury 21.1  47.4  27.8  —  3.0  LIB LIB NDP
Thornhill 58.6  33.8  5.2  —  1.2  CPC CPC LIB
Thunder Bay--Rainy River 21.1  44.0  29.7  —  5.2  LIB LIB NDP
Thunder Bay--Superior North 17.4  45.0  23.2  —  13.8  LIB LIB NDP
Timmins--James Bay 20.4  34.7  42.9  —  2.0  NDP NDP GRP
Toronto Centre 12.2  57.9  26.6  —  2.6  LIB LIB NDP
Toronto--Danforth 9.9  42.3  40.2  —  4.7  LIB LIB NDP
University--Rosedale 17.5  49.8  28.6  —  2.9  LIB LIB NDP
Vaughan--Woodbridge 43.9  48.7  4.6  —  1.3  LIB LIB CPC
Waterloo 32.3  49.7  14.9  —  2.9  LIB LIB CPC
Wellington--Halton Hills 50.9  36.5  8.3  —  4.0  CPC CPC LIB
Whitby 42.1  45.0  10.3  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Willowdale 37.0  53.4  7.0  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Windsor--Tecumseh 27.5  26.6  43.5  —  2.0  NDP NDP CPC
Windsor West 20.8  25.2  51.3  —  2.3  NDP NDP GRP
York Centre 44.0  46.9  7.3  —  1.8  LIB LIB CPC
York--Simcoe 50.2  37.8  8.9  —  3.1  CPC CPC LIB
York South--Weston 19.2  46.0  30.4  —  2.0  LIB LIB NDP
Humber River--Black Creek 20.2  66.9  10.7  —  1.6  LIB LIB GRP
Manitoba
Brandon--Souris 50.3  37.3  6.3  —  6.1  CPC CPC LIB
Charleswood--St. James--Assiniboia--Headingley 39.0  52.0  6.0  —  2.9  LIB LIB CPC
Churchill--Keewatinook Aski 10.3  42.0  45.0  —  1.8  NDP NDP LIB
Dauphin--Swan River--Neepawa 46.3  29.5  12.3  —  3.8  CPC CPC NDP
Elmwood--Transcona 34.0  29.5  34.1  —  2.4  NDP NDP CPC
Kildonan--St. Paul 39.8  42.7  14.3  —  1.8  LIB LIB CPC
Portage--Lisgar 60.8  25.8  6.2  —  4.0  CPC CPC LIB
Provencher 56.1  34.7  5.3  —  4.0  CPC CPC LIB
Saint Boniface--Saint Vital 28.7  58.4  10.6  —  2.3  LIB LIB CPC
Selkirk--Interlake--Eastman 51.9  31.4  11.4  —  3.5  CPC CPC LIB
Winnipeg Centre 12.4  54.5  28.0  —  4.1  LIB LIB NDP
Winnipeg North 15.3  68.9  13.4  —  2.4  LIB LIB CPC
Winnipeg South 34.7  58.3  5.0  —  2.1  LIB LIB CPC
Winnipeg South Centre 28.2  59.7  9.0  —  3.1  LIB LIB CPC
Saskatchewan
Battlefords--Lloydminster 61.0  16.5  17.6  —  1.7  CPC CPC LIB
Cypress Hills--Grasslands 69.2  14.9  13.2  —  2.7  CPC CPC LIB
Desnethé--Missinippi--Churchill River 30.1  33.9  34.2  —  1.8  NDP LIB CPC
Carlton Trail--Eagle Creek 64.7  14.4  18.7  —  2.2  CPC CPC NDP
Moose Jaw--Lake Centre--Lanigan 55.5  18.0  23.8  —  2.3  CPC CPC NDP
Prince Albert 49.8  19.8  28.5  —  1.9  CPC CPC NDP
Regina--Lewvan 34.9  27.5  35.2  —  1.8  NDP NDP CPC
Regina--Qu'Appelle 44.7  22.8  30.2  —  2.3  CPC CPC NDP
Regina--Wascana 30.3  55.1  12.6  —  2.1  LIB LIB CPC
Saskatoon--Grasswood 41.6  26.4  30.2  —  1.8  CPC CPC NDP
Saskatoon--University 41.5  25.2  31.5  —  1.5  CPC CPC NDP
Saskatoon West 32.9  24.5  39.6  —  1.7  NDP NDP CPC
Souris--Moose Mountain 70.1  13.5  13.7  —  2.6  CPC CPC LIB
Yorkton--Melville 59.2  17.8  20.2  —  2.8  CPC CPC LIB
Alberta
Banff--Airdrie 63.4  26.1  6.8  —  3.8  CPC CPC LIB
Battle River--Crowfoot 80.9  9.4  6.5  —  3.2  CPC CPC CPC
Bow River 77.4  13.7  5.2  —  1.8  CPC CPC CPC
Calgary Centre 45.3  46.5  5.6  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Calgary Confederation 45.9  43.5  7.1  —  3.2  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Forest Lawn 48.0  36.0  9.8  —  3.0  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Heritage 63.8  26.0  7.3  —  2.1  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Midnapore 66.7  22.6  7.7  —  2.7  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Nose Hill 60.0  26.9  8.9  —  2.5  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Rocky Ridge 60.4  31.7  5.8  —  2.1  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Shepard 65.9  24.7  6.8  —  2.6  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Signal Hill 60.6  30.6  5.0  —  2.5  CPC CPC LIB
Calgary Skyview 39.8  45.9  8.0  —  1.9  LIB LIB CPC
Edmonton Centre 35.0  37.2  24.5  —  2.6  LIB CPC NDP
Edmonton Griesbach 40.0  21.7  34.0  —  2.4  CPC CPC NDP
Edmonton Manning 45.2  27.6  23.6  —  2.2  CPC CPC NDP
Edmonton Mill Woods 41.1  41.2  12.8  —  2.2  LIB LIB CPC
Edmonton Riverbend 49.9  30.2  17.1  —  2.2  CPC CPC LIB
Edmonton Strathcona 31.3  20.7  44.0  —  2.3  NDP NDP CPC
Edmonton West 49.3  34.9  13.0  —  1.9  CPC CPC LIB
Edmonton--Wetaskiwin 65.8  21.5  9.7  —  2.3  CPC CPC LIB
Foothills 75.7  13.4  6.4  —  3.3  CPC CPC GRP
Fort McMurray--Cold Lake 60.6  28.4  7.7  —  1.6  CPC CPC CPC
Grande Prairie--Mackenzie 72.9  14.7  8.1  —  3.1  CPC CPC CPC
Lakeland 72.8  13.7  10.1  —  2.3  CPC CPC CPC
Lethbridge 56.8  18.5  20.5  —  2.6  CPC CPC NDP
Medicine Hat--Cardston--Warner 68.8  17.9  9.7  —  2.6  CPC CPC CPC
Peace River--Westlock 69.4  12.8  14.4  —  2.5  CPC CPC NDP
Red Deer--Mountain View 74.3  13.4  8.4  —  2.6  CPC CPC CPC
Red Deer--Lacombe 70.7  15.0  11.4  —  2.9  CPC CPC NDP
St. Albert--Edmonton 45.2  22.5  11.2  —  1.4  CPC CPC NDP
Sherwood Park--Fort Saskatchewan 63.9  20.4  9.8  —  2.5  CPC CPC LIB
Sturgeon River--Parkland 70.2  15.6  10.0  —  3.0  CPC CPC GRP
Yellowhead 72.3  14.2  9.0  —  2.9  CPC CPC CPC
British Columbia
Abbotsford 48.3  32.8  13.7  —  5.0  CPC CPC LIB
Burnaby North--Seymour 27.8  36.1  29.6  —  5.3  LIB LIB NDP
Burnaby South 27.1  33.9  35.1  —  2.8  NDP NDP LIB
Cariboo--Prince George 36.6  31.5  25.8  —  3.5  CPC CPC NDP
Central Okanagan--Similkameen--Nicola 39.6  37.2  19.3  —  3.9  CPC CPC LIB
Chilliwack--Hope 42.3  33.8  18.2  —  4.7  CPC CPC LIB
Cloverdale--Langley City 34.8  45.5  15.7  —  4.1  LIB LIB CPC
Coquitlam--Port Coquitlam 32.0  35.3  27.3  —  3.7  LIB LIB CPC
Courtenay--Alberni 28.2  21.8  38.1  —  11.7  NDP NDP CPC
Cowichan--Malahat--Langford 22.8  23.8  35.9  —  16.9  NDP NDP GRP
Delta 32.8  49.1  14.9  —  3.2  LIB LIB CPC
Fleetwood--Port Kells 29.3  46.9  21.5  —  2.4  LIB LIB CPC
Kamloops--Thompson--Cariboo 35.3  30.4  30.8  —  3.6  CPC CPC NDP
Kelowna--Lake Country 39.8  46.2  14.1  —  —  LIB LIB CPC
Kootenay--Columbia 36.8  19.5  37.2  —  6.5  NDP NDP CPC
Langley--Aldergrove 45.6  36.6  12.5  —  4.4  CPC CPC LIB
Mission--Matsqui--Fraser Canyon 34.9  37.2  20.5  —  5.1  LIB LIB CPC
Nanaimo--Ladysmith 23.4  23.5  33.2  —  19.8  NDP NDP GRP
New Westminster--Burnaby 20.0  29.0  43.5  —  4.7  NDP NDP LIB
North Okanagan--Shuswap 39.3  29.9  25.6  —  5.2  CPC CPC LIB
North Vancouver 26.9  56.7  7.8  —  8.3  LIB LIB CPC
Pitt Meadows--Maple Ridge 31.4  33.9  29.6  —  4.2  LIB LIB NDP
Port Moody--Coquitlam 29.5  30.9  36.0  —  3.4  NDP NDP LIB
Prince George--Peace River--Northern Rockies 52.5  24.9  15.5  —  5.2  CPC CPC LIB
Richmond Centre 44.2  41.4  11.5  —  2.9  CPC CPC LIB
Esquimalt--Saanich--Sooke 17.5  27.4  35.0  —  19.9  NDP NDP GRP
Saanich--Gulf Islands 19.5  16.7  9.1  —  54.4  GRP GRP CPC
Skeena--Bulkley Valley 24.8  18.7  51.1  —  3.6  NDP NDP GRP
South Okanagan--West Kootenay 29.8  28.1  37.3  —  4.2  NDP NDP CPC
South Surrey--White Rock 44.0  41.5  10.4  —  3.4  CPC CPC LIB
Steveston--Richmond East 38.5  45.1  12.1  —  3.7  LIB LIB CPC
Surrey Centre 19.8  45.1  30.1  —  3.5  LIB LIB NDP
Surrey--Newton 15.7  56.0  26.1  —  2.2  LIB LIB NDP
Vancouver Centre 16.9  56.1  20.0  —  5.8  LIB LIB NDP
Vancouver East 10.8  28.2  49.9  —  9.2  NDP NDP LIB
Vancouver Granville 26.1  43.9  26.9  —  3.1  LIB LIB NDP
North Island--Powell River 26.2  25.5  40.2  —  8.2  NDP NDP CPC
Vancouver Kingsway 21.0  27.8  45.7  —  3.3  NDP NDP LIB
Vancouver Quadra 25.8  58.7  10.9  —  4.2  LIB LIB CPC
Vancouver South 33.9  48.8  14.0  —  2.6  LIB LIB CPC
Victoria 11.8  11.8  42.3  —  32.9  NDP NDP GRP
West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country 26.2  54.6  9.9  —  8.9  LIB LIB CPC
Yukon Territory
Yukon 24.3  53.7  19.4  —  2.6  LIB
Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories 18.3  48.3  30.5  —  2.8  LIB
Nunavut
Nunavut 24.8  47.1  26.6  —  1.5  LIB

Moving to British Columbia, look at the outcome for the five ridings in Vancouver. The Liberals won in Centre, Granville, Quadra, and South, and the NDP in East and Kingsway. Based on dual PROAC, Liberals would have only won two seats, giving up one seat to the Conservatives. One Liberal would represent Quadra and South as senior member of parliament, and the other Liberal would represent Granville as senior member and Kingsway as junior member. The single Conservative member would represent Quadra and South as junior member. The two NDP members would represent East and Kingsway as senior members, and Centre and Granville as junior members.

Optimal assignment of constituencies works out rather well in practice. Note that the senior member of parliament is virtually always from the party that won the plurality in that riding, which means that voters in that riding will not be worse off than under FPTP with respect to having access to a member of parliament. No riding will have a senior member of parliament from a small party or fringe party. And it is exceptionally rare that a senior member of parliament is not the candidate with the most votes in that riding. Looking through the table, the only riding where this is the case is Edmonton Centre, where the votes for Liberals and Conservatives were virtually tied. In this case the algorithm may shift assignments in order to maximize the province-wide local representation. But, as is shown here, such cases are rare and would be limited to instances where outcomes are extremely close.

In parliament, senior and junior members have the exact same role. However, with respect to representation of constituencies, senior members will take on a larger responsibility—also in many instances because of their closer proximity to government.

During an election, parties do not yet know precisely which member of parliament will ultimately represent a riding if they win seats, as the allocation follows the algorithm. However, it will always be the case that a riding that has a plurality for one party will have a senior member of parliament from that riding. For the parties, it will be possible to narrow that down to a few possible permutations in each city, and previous election results are a good guide. There is an implicit benefit in this system. To the extent that politicians campaign locally in each riding, parties cannot simply ignore ridings in which they are unlikely to achieve a plurality: they may still end up representing these ridings as a junior member of parliament. This forces parties to engage voters in ridings that are not traditionally their "home turf".

When a member of parliament resigns, under FPTP there are by-elections that are often hamstrung by low voter turnout. Under PR, a member who resigns (or dies) is automatically replaced with the next person on the party list, which is more efficient than by-elections and preserves the voter intent of the last election. Floor-crossing of members of parliament would still be possible, although this distorts the proportional representation determined by the election. Extensive floor-crossing could upset the intent of voters, and to protect against such use of floor crossings, the electors in the two ridings represented by a floor-crossing member could be given a mechanism to object and ultimately expel the member from parliament, with a vacated seat reverting to be filled by the party that won the seat in the last election.

The dual PR-OAC electoral system that I have developed is a rare case of being able to have your cake and eat it too. It provides pure proportional representation at the provincial level (with the exception of the three single-seat northern territories). At the same time, it provides local representation that preserves party choices in each riding for the senior member of parliament, and additionally introduces a junior member of parliament for each riding. With PR-OAC, each riding now has two representatives rather than one. Ultimately, members of parliament may need to work more two represent two constituencies, but it also offers the opportunity for more competition and more local representation if two rather than just one member of parliament is charged with looking after the interests of each riding. The bottom line is thus: electoral reform that embraces proportional representation is possible while preserving strong, and even improved, local representation.

Whether dual PR-OAC will ever see the light of day in Canada or another jurisdiction around the world will remain to be seen. Perhaps it may find favour more quickly in jurisdictions that already use proportional representation and are looking at ways to improve local representation, or to simplify their ballots by moving from two-vote ballots (one each for a party and a local candidate) to single-vote ballots. Either way, my own research should put to rest the argument that local representation is incompatible with proportional representation.

Posted on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 12:35 — #Politics | #Canada
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