This thread on Canadian politics – http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=321627 – got me to thinking about the prospects of proportional representation (at the national level) in Canada. My personal interest in this is the same as my interest in PR in the UK: If it happens there, the U.S. media would have no choice but to give at least some coverage, which might spark a debate on the topic in the U.S. (where most people don’t even know what the phrase means).
From the website of the pro-PR organization Fairvote Canada (http://www.fairvotecanada.org/):
At the national level, on June 16 Parliament’s Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs “tabled their report” (which I gather, in Canadian political parlance does not mean “filed it away to be forgotten”) on a federal electoral reform process. “If adopted by Parliament, a Parliamentary committee and a citizens’ consultation committee would be established to concurrently engage Canadians in an electoral reform discussion. The Parliamentary committee would then make a final recommendation to the House by February 28, 2006.” The question then becomes whether any recommended change would be decided on by Parliament or by a national referendum; Parliament seems to be inclining to making the decision itself.
There will be a “plebescite” (same thing as a referendum) in Prince Edward Island in November on changing to a mixed-member proportional system for the provincial parliament. If it passes, that will make PEI the first province to switch to PR.
The Ontario legislature has passed enabling legislation for a citizens’ assembly on electoral reform.
My thoughts on this, based on what little I understand of Canadian politics: For purely strategic reasons, the Liberals should be against PR (because they’re doing so well out of the existing winner-take-all system) and the NDP and Conservatives should be for it (because their share of seats in Parliament could only be greater under a PR system). But I don’t know whether these parties would have different positions on the issue based on their principles.