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Monday, September 27, 2010

An interesting discussion about the municipal election

The National Post's weekly political panel discussion was very interesting this week.

They discussed changing Toronto's first past the-post-system to a one that ranks choices when to achieve a winner with a majority of support.

But when given thought, this proposal ends up being less-than-fully democratic its mathematical implications and a person with a majority of second choice votes could actually win over someone who had more first choice votes. The only honest way of implementing that type of idea would be to have separate, run-off elections in which candidates were gradually eliminated until one achieves a clear majority.

But on the subject of support and opposition towards front running mayoral candidate Rob Ford, two of the panelists, Anthony Furey and Chris Selley, showed some genuine insight into what is helping to mobilize Ford's support and why his opponents' tactics haven't been able to turn it away:

FUREY: It’s not the content of the anti-Ford articles that ends up working to Ford’s benefit, it’s the attitude. It’s the suggestion that Ford voters are too stupid for their own good and fail to understand how voting for Ford goes contrary to their own interests. Now THAT is anti-democratic. It presupposes what people want out of government based on their salary level, the colour of their skin or something other non-determinate variable. Ford supporters may be completely aware of what will happen should he become mayor and they are voting for him specifically for those results. Few anti-Ford pundits have been able to toss off their self-righteousness long enough to understand this.

SELLEY: Don’t think I can put it much better than that. You read some opinion columns and you’d think Toronto will be nothing but a smoking crater at the end of four years of Rob Ford. (In fact there’s only a small chance Toronto will be a smoking crater in 2014.) People who think that the city is already horribly broken in any number of ways are unlikely to respond well to that. They sense, I think, an implicit message that the status quo is OK. It really isn’t, and that’s what attracted them to Ford in the first place.

Furey and Selley make very good points. It's illustrated in the attitude of people like Councilor Joe Mihevc, a local politician whose comments suggest that Ford's supporters are too stupid to understand the implications of their choice, to say nothing of the histrionics in the media from columnists like Christopher Hume and Heather Mallick, which does a lot more to help elect Ford than defeat him.

Read the full piece here in The National Post

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