Analysis of the Canadian political system has suffered from a relative paucity of competing interpretations of the same phenomena. Too many interpretations of our polity have gone unchallenged, probably on the assumption that our scarce academic resources should not be wasted on internecine controversy while virgin fields remain untapped. Professor Lovink's article is a hopeful indication that this stage of disciplinary immaturity is ending. His sophisticated dissection of my previous article is a helpful contribution to the discussion of the effects of the electoral system on the party system. These comments, by concentrating on some of the problems raised by Lovink, are designed to contribute to a further clarification.
Initially, it can be noted, that the disagreement between us is not over the data dealing with votes and seats, but with the interpretation to be given the data. It was perhaps in the very nature of a somewhat polemical article attacking the “conventional wisdom” that I stressed the effects as I saw, or deduced, them, and in the nature of Lovink's rejoinder that the possible effects are minimized.
This difference is noteworthy in our respective treatment of the electoral system's systematic bias against Conservative Quebec voters. The data indicate that the ratio of 5.6 Liberals to 1 Conservative mp resulted from a ratio of 1.9 Liberals to 1 Conservative voter. This struck me as pregnant with consequences for the party system, some of which I tried to suggest.