Tue, Aug
3
2004

The Twelve Percent Solution?

Tue, Aug 3, 2004

My father sends me this interesting link wherein John Bossons describes a Proportional Representation tweak to our system that makes the seat counts in an election more closely match the popular vote, while at the same time preserving the advantages of constituency representation. Don at All Things Canadian talks about the article here.

It is an ingenious proposal: John Bossons suggests tacking on 42 additional seats assigned at-large by region to the current 308 in the house (or 12%, hence the name of the proposal). Manitoba/Saskatchewan would get three, the Atlantic provinces three, Alberta four, British Columbia six, Quebec ten and Ontario sixteen. These seats would not be filled by election. Rather, the chief electoral officer would look at the seat totals for each party in each region, compare it to each party's popular vote, and decide which party is severely underrepresented due to awkward vote splitting. The at-large seats would be assigned accordingly.

For example, Alberta, wherein the Conservatives received 26 out of 28 of the province's seats despite taking only 61% of the vote, would assign its four at-large seats to the competing parties. The Liberals, who won two seats despite getting 22% of the votes, arguably deserve seven. Two of the at-large seats would be assigned to fill that gap, while one would be given to the NDP (9.5%) and one would be given to the Greens (6.1%). I assume that these at-large seats would be assigned from the bottom up, to any party that got over 5% of the vote. The Greens would get their seat first before the NDP and then the Liberals.

Likewise in Quebec, the BQ would receive no extra seats because their seat totals in the province far exceed their share of the popular support. The Conservatives, who were shut out despite receiving 300,000 votes, would be guaranteed at least a couple of seats.

Interesting idea, although I'm pretty sure that now that John Bossons has had the guts to put this idea out there, others will be lining up to tear it down. Assigning extra seats to the "losing" parties within a region seems somewhat counter-intuitive, even if it does break up the regional hegemonies of Alberta, Ontario and Quebec and give minorities in these areas a voice. Then there is the fact that these at-large MPs will have been elected by no-one. How do you keep bad MPs off of the plate? In true at-large elections, you can vote against individual members of a party's slate; in this election, even if the parties put up a slate of their preferred nominees before the election, there is little an individual voter can do to express his displeasure over an at-large candidate except by voting against the party's candidate within the constituency. If the NDP bring forward someone totally unacceptable on the Ontario at-large slate, I have to vote against Richard Walsh-Bowers in Kitchener Centre?

But then, this is the fundamental problem with the P.R. debate: there are too many choices and too many proposals out there. The pursuit for a perfect solution is going to consume so much time and effort, nothing will get done. Can we settle upon a simple system that we can all agree is better than the system we have? For as long as we try to achieve perfection before action, we shall never achieve improvement.


Wasted Holiday

Computer Ragef

Did not spend much time doing constructive or fun things over the August Civic Holiday, I'm afraid. First thing's first, we slept in quite late (which wasn't bad), and then, at around 3 p.m., just as we were just about to go out, my computer crashed. Totally and utterly. So much so, I had to reformat the c:\ drive and reinstall Windows.

Now, a quick word of advice to you folks who are setting up your computer: partition the heck out of it. Nobody, but nobody should be operating with just a C:\ drive. Nobody. My computer system has the following drives within its single 20Gb harddrive:

C:\ - Operating System
D:\ - Most Programs
E:\ - My Documents
F:\ - Swap File
G:\ - Temp Directory
H:\ - Internet Cache

Drive H:\ is probably superfluous; you can put your Internet Cache with your temp directory without problem, but if you move your Internet Cache, your Temp directory and your virtual memory swap file off of the C:\ Drive, you make your C:\ drive more stable; it isn't constantly churning itself, saving and deleting files as your machine operates.

Better yet, by moving your programs and your documents onto separate drives, you can have a major computer crash, reformat your C:\ drive, reinstall Windows, and preserve your important data. Talk about taking the stress out of your computer crashes; it just makes me whoop with joy at the thought of it. The effect of this reinstall on the :Trenchcoat Farewell Project: was negligible. If I hadn't backed up my files two weeks ago onto CD, it could have been disastrous. And while I still had to reinstall Microsoft Office (most of your programs on your D:\ drive will have to be reinstalled; putting them there preserves your C:\ drive for your operating system), I was able to backup outlook.pst and archive.pst just before I reformatted, thus preserving my mailboxes and my contact lists.

I still spent seven hours reinstalling Windows, Microsoft Office, downloading and installing the 44 (!) critical security updates from the Microsoft website and installing and all the other programs I needed to operate the computer, however.

And, the strangest thing: my computer works faster now than it did before the crash. Much faster. Tech pundits recommend that you should reformat your C:\ Drive and reinstall Windows from scratch every six months in order to preserve its speed and efficiency, and it has been over a year since I did this (I was afraid to in case something happened with the :Trenchcoat Farewell Project: files). So, while I am happy with the sleek and faster system I now have, I still have to ask you: what do you call an operating system that bogs down so much over time that one has to periodically rip it out, tear it up, and plug it in all over again?

I'll tell you what you call it: crud. Or, more accurately, Microsoft.

When the Farewell Project is done, I will give serious consideration to installing Mandrake Linux.


On This Day

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