What is it about Ontario Conservative Premiers and their obsession with beer? Doug Ford’s predecessor, Mike Harris, was strongly criticized 20 years ago for attempting to justify eliminating a food allowance for pregnant mothers on the grounds that they might spend the money on beer. Now we have Ford rejecting a “cash grab from the hardworking people of Ontario,” by eliminating an impending November 1st tax increase that would have added a cent a can to the price of beer.
There has been a recent upsurge in calls for the abolition of our “first-past-the-post” system of voting. Interestingly, critics claim two rather contradictory problems with our existing system. On the one hand, we hear the long standing argument that with multiple parties contesting most ridings, governments are elected with majorities even while winning only a minority of votes. Conversely – and in contradiction of the first point – we are told that voters are increasingly moving to the extremes represented by minor parties with the result that majority governments are becoming increasingly rare. As a recent editorial in the Globe and Mail noted, nine of the 20 federal elections since the 1950s have produced minority governments, including three of the last five.
How can that be, you may well ask? We’ve just had the election in Ontario and the federal election isn’t until next year. Given the extensive media coverage of federal and provincial politics along with the continuous coverage of all things Trump, the October 22 municipal elections in Ontario face stiff competition for the attention of potential voters. After all, how can discussion about the respective merits of high versus low density development hope to compete with the heartwarming story of the U.S. President and the North Korean leader falling in love while exchanging letters, as Trump reported at a recent rally. [The mind boggles – and the stomach churns.]
C. Richard Tindal, Ph.D is a retired Professor of Government. He taught for 30 years at St. Lawrence College, Kingston and was an occasional Visiting Professor at Queen's University. He has also written and consulted extensively about government.