Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category
Why Fair Vote Canada does not support “Alternative Vote”
~ “preferential ballot” in single member ridings,
also known as “IRV” (Instant RunOff Voting)
There are two major “families” of voting systems in the world: winner-take-all and Proportional Representation (PR). What we call “winner-take-all” is called “majoritiarian/plurality” by political scientists.
Alternative Vote (AV) is a close cousin of First Past the Post in the winner-take-all family. It is a ranked (preferential) ballot system in single member ridings, and that is the system we currently use in Canada.
If a candidate has 50% of the vote, he/she is elected — and the other 49% — or whatever percentage chose someone other than the “winner” — are wasted.
If no candidate has 50%, the candidate with the lowest percentage is dropped, and the second choices of voters for the least popular candidate are redistributed. This process is repeated until one of the front runners has achieved 50%.
AV can be a good system when the point is to elect a single person like a party leader. As a method of electing a representative body, it just a slight variation of First Past the Post.
AV is used at the national level in two countries in the world (formerly 3 countries, until Fiji replaced AV with PR).
Fair Vote Canada doesn’t endorse AV because even though it may sound a bit better that each individual MP would have to have 50% of the vote, studies over 90 years in Australia shows it changes the outcome less than 5% of the time. The overall results in Parliament when you look at how people voted and how many seats a party gets compared to the popular vote would be just as distorted as what we have now. The Independent Commission on the Voting System in the UK has actually shown that the results could be more distorted than First Past the Post.
Studies looking at second choices of voters and election results in hindsight have shown that historically AV would have handed the Liberal Party bigger phony majorities, as the second choice of left and right voters.
A 2011 study of AV in Ontario by researchers from McGill, Western and University of Montreal showed that with AV, the Liberals would get 4% fewer first choice votes than they do now, but the result would be they would win 1/3 more seats, for a big phony majority instead of a minority government. There are still many AV fans in the Liberal Party but thanks to the hard work of Liberal PR activists and some key Liberal MPs such as Stephane Dion and Joyce Murray, the good news is the federal Liberals have replaced their AV policy with endorsement of an evidence-based process to look at all options, including PR, after 2015.
We had AV in Canada in the Western provinces for 30 years. It was brought in not for reasons of better democracy (or out of any evidence-based process or citizen consultation) but for the partisan advantage of one party who enacted it to keep another party out. What happened was that it backfired. Eventually they got first-past-the-post back.
There have been 10 government sponsored commissions or assemblies in Canada now which have all looked at our voting system problems and electoral reform options objectively, bringing together citizens and experts. Every single one of them recommended adding some element of proportionality as necessary to fix the problems with first-past-the-post.
Nor is AV a stepping stone to PR. It tends to channel votes into the baskets of the big parties, bringing us closer to a two-party, left/right system (that is effectively what they have in Australia this year the conservative coalition in Australia won a majority of seats with 45% of the popular vote and is undoing the policies of the previous government). The Ontario study showed that although people vote differently (more honestly) with a AV, the seat result was that AV would actually reduce the number of effective parties in the legislature.
Sometimes people say that AV is better because it is “simpler to explain” to voters AV is so close to what we have now, whereas PR is “too complicated”. The UK the mother of First Past the Post had a referendum on AV in 2011. It failed miserably 32%. The major political parties (equivalent to our Liberals and Conservatives) refused to give voters a PR option on the ballot, despite the recommendations of their own Independent Commission for PR it was AV or nothing. AV was described as the “miserable little compromise.”
PR is a bit more complicated than either First Past the Post or Alternative Vote. But over 80 countries use PR, including about 85% of the other OECD (rich) countries. Canadian voters can figure it out. For example, with this proportional ballot, a voter checks two boxes. Voters learn quickly with practice.
Decades of research comparing winnertakeall to proportional systems shows that PR systems outperform winner-take-all systems on every measure of democracy, as well as a host of other things, such as lower income equality, better environmental outcomes, and even higher economic growth.
Nobody has ever recommended a “pure” PR system for Canada (think Israel) That is a straw man argument often brought up by opponents. Research shows we can obtain the benefits of PR with a moderately proportional, made-in-Canada, system that balances proportionality with geography, and in which all MPs are directly elected and accountable to local voters.
For those who like a preferential (ranked) ballot, there are many ways a preferential ballot can be part of a more proportional system they can work together. A few examples are:
- STV (Single Transferable Vote): The system 58% of British Columbians voted yes to in the first referendum.
- P3 (Proportional-Preferential-Personalized): The moderately proportional preferential ballot system designed by Stephane Dion. Stephane has been speaking on this within and outside the Liberal Party for two years at Liberal Party meetings, public town halls, FVC events, even the Green Party convention. His particular system is unlikely to be adopted but it started a crucial conversation within the Liberal Party.
- AV+ (Alternative Vote Plus): This is the system recommended by the UK Independent Commission on the Voting system. It is very similar to the Mixed Member Proportional with open lists (the system recommended by our Law Commission of Canada in their extensive 2004 report “Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada) but with a preferential ballot on the constituency side. You can see a sample ballot here.
With the NDP and Greens committing to implement PR if elected, the Liberal Party replacing their AV only policy with a resolution endorsed by their whole caucus stating that they will bring together parties, citizens and experts to design a system, considering proportional representation as an option for the first time since 1919, we now have the beginnings of a common ground heading into 2015 and have a real shot at casting a vote that counts in 2019.
For 2015, Fair Vote Canada calls on the federal political parties of Canada to commit to:
- conducting a citizen-led consultation process immediately following the next federal election, to determine the best model of proportional representation for Canada whereby all MPs are elected by and accountable to voters, and
- implementing the model in time for the following election.
The flag and the Fair Vote Garbage Can photos are mine, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
and my Winston Churchill is CC0
Both The Globe and Mail and the National Post have come out and endorsed Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Both newspapers claim to be Canada’s newspaper, but you can see from this whose agenda they actually serve. (And it sure isn’t yours or mine, Gracie.)
I have to endorse the Green Party, because it is the only party with a sensible platform this time out. The mainstream media is pretending the Green Party doesn’t exist, but the fact is that there are Green Candidates running in EVERY Ontario riding. If you don’t know who yours is, you can find her/him here: http://www.gpo.ca/candidates
Kitchener-Conestoga is fortunate to have the excellent first time candidate David Weber running for the Green Party. You can see what a great MPP David would make by watching the 4 videos made from the Kitchener-Conestoga Chamber of Commerce debate at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira.
David Weber on Responsible Government ~ Kitchener Conestoga (2 minutes)
David Weber on Natural Resources (2 minutes)
Kitchener Conestoga Debate: Taxes, Jobs & CETA (10 minutes)
Kitchener Conestoga Debate – Closing Comments – VoteOn 2014 (7 minutes)
All reports indicate that the NDP is doing very well in Southern Ontario in spite of the incumbent Premier’s best efforts to frighten NDP supporters into voting her a Liberal majority. Even with this dirty pool, I expect the excellent NDP incumbent Catherine Fife to be handily re-elected in her Kitchener-Waterloo riding. Needless to say I would be equally happy to see the Green Party’s Stacey Danckert win the seat. Both women are eminently qualified, and if Ontario was lucky enough to have Proportional Representation, I have no doubt both would win seats in the legislature.
Don’t fall for strategic voting (have you ever noticed when somebody wants you to vote strategically they tell you to vote for their candidate? Funny how they never volunteer to vote for mine.
If you’re looking for political pictures you might find what you need among my political photo albums on Flickr. Some mini posters for this election can be found in my #voteON album. All my images are licensed to share; and I’ll waive attribution for any that you use during this election.
Although I hope you don’t vote Liberal or Conservative for this one (after all, these parties between them are on the hook for what ails Ontario today) but the decision of where you cast your voter is entirely up to you.
Vote for the candidate/party/policy that suits you on June 12th, 2014.
Leadership Debates are important because they are in essence a job interview. Just as employers are unlikely to hire someone without an interview, voters want to get a good look at the people in the running for the top job at Queen’s Park. Any leadership debate should include all the potential job applicants.
Anything less is a disservice to the citizens who will shortly be heading to the polls.
Yet the media Consortium formed to decide such things is considering excluding Ontario’s Green Party leader Mike Schreiner from participating in the televised Leadership Debate scheduled for June 3rd.
Although it doesn’t seem to be explicitly stated anywhere, the Consortium’s rule would appear to be that a party leader who has not been elected to the Legislature is prohibited from participating in the debate.
For previous leadership debates at the federal level we have seen Elizabeth May excluded on similar grounds. Yet the Green Party is known to field a full slate of Candidates across Canada. Meanwhile, recent federal leadership debates have included the leader of the Bloc Québécois. Gilles Duceppe actually stated the truth that he cound not become Prime Minister during one such televised debate. But just because the Bloc elects Members of Parliament, even if every Bloc candidate was elected unanimously, there is simply no way the leader of a regional party could become Prime Minister of Canada under our current electoral system. It certainly seems nonsensical for a leadership debate to exclude someone who might get the job while including one who can never get it.
The Green Party of Ontario isn’t just an an upstart fringe party that will be gone tomorrow, it is an established respected Provincial Party with a well thought out comprehensive political platform. Unlike the Bloc, the Green party could produce a Prime Minister or Premier. But the broadcast Consortium chooses to exclude a Party that has fielded enough MPP candidates that it could actually form a majority government.
There is no good reason not to include the Green’s Mike Schreiner in the Leadership Debate.
So I’ve written a letter:
Dear Mr. Weiers:
As you yourself pointed out in your article B.C. election proved campaigns matter more than ever, anything can happen in an election. The most important job for the news media is to ensure citizens have access to the best information. This is why any leadership debate must include any leader who might become Premier. This would certainly include the Green Party of Ontario leader, Mike Schreiner.
The argument that an unelected party leader should not be included simply doesn’t hold water. None of the party leaders thus far included in the debate have been elected to the 41st Ontario Parliament, nor is there any guarantee any of them will secure a seat. Perhaps you might want to think back to the last days of the Mike Harris or Mulroney governments. Anything can happen.
I believe maintaining TVO and CBC are important because impartial public broadcasters are an essential part of achieving balance in any modern democracy. If the consortium excludes the Green Party from the debate, Ontario citizens will not get the information we need to make informed choices. Such a decision would be anything but balanced, nor would it be good for democracy in Ontario.
We citizens need to hear from all the leaders. Now is the time for CBC to take a leadership position and ensure that Ontario gets a fair shake.
Laurel L. Russwurm
Even if the Ontario Green Party doesn’t form the next government, it certainly has enough support to deserve a voice in the debate. While wearing their broadcaster hats the members of the Consortium should remember that fresh minds bring new ideas and lead to lively discussion and good television.
Looking at the issue from a democratic standpoint, surely a consortium of corporate broadcasters have no business deciding which party leaders that citizens are allowed to hear during an election. Not very democratic, that.
It would only be fair for the Consortium to welcome Mike Schreiner, the Green party Leader, to the televised Leader’s Debate. Not just for Mike, but for all of us.
As they say on Twitter, #letmikespeak
To lend your voice to the effort to bring the Green Party to the Leadership debate, you can Tweet directly to the media consortium head, @bobweiers (CBC’s Bob Weiers, the senior producer of CBC News for Elections & Live Events), and/or email the consortium members:
As always, you are welcome to borrow any parts of my letter that may help you to write your own.
P.S. The Green Party has a “Let Mike Speak” Petition you can sign too..
The text of Ms. May’s Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23) speech in parliament Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23)
It makes me so sad to watch this happen to Canada.
Yesterday I saw a link to a new initiative intended to try to re-engage Canadians who have given up on our terribly undemocratic political system. It looked like an excellent idea — if course it did, I’ve been advocating the same thing myself for ages. The site was recommended to me by people and organizations whose work I respect and support, so I shared it widely without looking at it as closely as I usually would.
But I was wrong.
DO NOT SIGN UP with votepromise.ca!
When I made the recommendation yesterday, I had only looked at the first page of the site. Today, someone told me what happens when you click to make a “vote promise.” This web site is not only asking people for their own names and personal information, but also for the names and personal information of the people they would be trying to convince to vote.
Democracy Needs A SECRET BALLOT
The *only* way to have a democratic electoral system is by having a secret ballot and protecting the privacy of eligible voters.
Just because political parties ask us who we are going to vote for, does not mean they have a right to know.
How we vote is private information for a very good reason. It is one of the most important protections afforded citizens in a democracy. In fact, it is positively DANGEROUS for citizens to tell elected Representatives who we are going to vote for. Especially when the political party in power is known to have an enemies list!
Citizens known to have voted against it can find themselves suffering serious consequences in their daily lives. The consequences having our privacy breached in this way may put citizens in danger of (but not limited to):
- losing promotions, or
- even their job,
- Political affiliation might cost someone admission to the university of their choice
- or prevent them from getting the apartment
- research grant
- building permit
- or job that you want.
- It might even result in direct harassment.
- Even families could suffer repercussions.
Citizens need civil rights to prevent the state from abusing the considerable power at its disposal. The government of the day might not provide you with the assistance or services to which all citizens are supposed to be entitled, or even go out of its way to harass you more directly..
But it isn’t only that. You can just as easily suffer discrimination from employers, teachers, or anyone holding power over any part of your life if that person is devoted to a different political party than the one you voted for. One of the most difficult parts of discrimination, is that it can be so skilfully done you might not even notice it has happened, let alone prove it did.
This is why NO ONE has the right to know who you actually vote for. If they do, you can be coerced into voting they way they want.
The secret ballot is a cornerstone of democracy.
And just as no one has the right to know who you vote for, whether or not you choose to vote is also personally private information. It is no one else’s business.
People Need Personal Privacy
Every time we sign a petition with our real name and identifying information, every time we register on Facebook (or *any* of the other social networks,) or buy anything online, we pay for the convenience with our privacy. Adults have the right to decide for themselves if they are willing to give up their own privacy, and how much. Many people have bought onto the absurd argument that we don’t need privacy if we have nothing to hide. And that is their right.
I know people who will not willingly give up their privacy. I know people who only use the Internet anonymously, away from know, using serious encryption and proxy servers. I also know people who don’t want to be photographed, people who don’t use computers, and people who will never use Facebook, Google or Twitter &tc. because they are simply not willing to sacrifice their privacy.
Most people used to dismiss these people as conspiracy theorists, at least until a brave and honorable young man named Ed Snowden risked everything to inform the world that every thing we say and do on the Internet (and the telephone) is being monitored and/or stored in perpetuity by our government in concert with the NSA.
While every adult should be entitled to make their own decisions about how or if they wish to safeguard their own privacy, no one has the right to decide this for anyone else. It doesn’t matter whether you do or don’t care about your own privacy. The privacy of every Canadian is supposed to be safeguarded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
The Internet is a public place. Posting an identifiable photographs of a private people on the Internet without their permission is an invasion of their right to privacy. “Tagging” a photo of a private person is an invasion of privacy.
Giving anyone’s personal information to anyone else is an egregious invasion of privacy.
EFF warns all it takes is three pieces of personal information to identify anyone.
If you give votepromise.ca the name, email address and postal code of anyone else, you have not only positively identified them, you have broadcast their voting decision.
Even if you trust votepromise.ca to protect your own personal information, even though it is not even a secure website, all of this personal information it gathers will certainly be harvested by government to do what it will.
Democracy Requires Privacy
One of the reasons we need democracy is to safeguard personal privacy; there is no way I can ever support throwing privacy under the bus. That is not acceptable.
It is an excellent idea to discuss politics with your friends and neighbors. Just try to convince anyone you think might not vote to go out and cast their ballot the way they want to, in any and all elections.
Just don’t be telling votepromise.ca or anyone else about it.
If you have any passwords on the Internet, whether for email, social media, or buying and selling, you must change them now to protect yourself.
NOTE: Heartbleed is not a virus or a hack, it was a mistake. Of course, the NSA wasn’t above exploiting it, nor did NSA see fit to share the information with its Five Eyes allies, so the Government of Canada was forced to shut down its web presence to make its websites secure. With “allies like this…”
[reblogged from techDITZ]
My favourite spring flowers are called “bleeding hearts,” but this spring the online world is reeling with the discovery of something completely different — an Internet problem that’s been named “Heartbleed.“
This is is not a computer virus, it is a mistake someone made in the SSL software code. When such a mistake is made in a novel it would be called a typo, but on the Internet, Heartbleed is a serious security flaw.
For years watchdog organizations like the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) have been advocating the adoption of internet security feature called SSL/TLS encryption.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), more properly called Transport Layer Security (TLS), has become the default approach for protecting sensitive data flowing over the Internet. SSL uses encryption to provide data confidentiality for connections between users and websites and the web-based services they provide. The vast majority of sensitive web traffic, such as user login screens, e-commerce checkout pages, and online banking, is encrypted using SSL.
Over time more and more websites have adopted this security measure as a way to make the Internet a safer place for you and me. That’s why something like three quarters of the Internet uses SSL/TLS encryption today. This is a good thing.
What is Heartbleed?
The security vulnerability known as Heartbleed is a programming error in the SSL code, and it’s a bad thing because it has made every site that uses SSL vulnerable. Although we are only hearing about it now, it has existed since 2011 or 2012.
I first heard about it on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014. Today (April 11th) the Toronto Star reports the Government of Canada is disabling federal government public websites — at taxtime — in a move to protect users. I don’t understand why they didn’t do this the moment the Heartbleed story broke.
This vulnerability went undetected for something like five months (and apparently NSA knew, but didn’t bother to mention it to its Five Eyes allies, like, say, The Government of Canada, because NSA was too busy exploiting the vulnerability for its own purposes.)
Heartbleed vs Websites
A real world comparison might be that using SSL is like a having double lock deadbolts on the door, and “Heartbleed” is what happens when you forget to lock the back door. Ordinary people can’t fix the Heartbleed problem. It can only be repaired (or patched) by the people running SSL websites & servers.
The Internet giants (Facebook, Twitter, Google etc.) were warned first, so they fixed the problem before the vulnerability was announced publicly. Most of them are trying to allay the fears the media has been whipping up about this all week.
But the Internet is also crowded with many smaller sites that smaller organizations and even ordinary people host themselves. The EFF has kindly explained how our SysAdmins can effect the Heartbleed fix:
Correcting the code is not an immediate fix, because each SSL secure website also must have its Security Certificate updated, which will take time with so many websites doing this.
Heartbleed vs People
For you and me, the biggest problem is that our passwords may be compromised.
This is such a big glitch, most of us won’t be attacked today. Our passwords probably won’t be used to crack our accounts right now because so much of the web is affected.
But we can no longer trust that our passwords are secure.
The Apartment Analogy
If the superintendent of an apartment building replaces flimsy locks on the doors of all the rental units with good strong deadbolts, it makes it harder for bad guys to break in.
If someone secretly copies the master key, they can break into apartments.
When clever crooks use the duplicate master key to break into apartments, they are very careful in what they steal. So long as the thefts aren’t noticed, the thieves can keep coming back for more.
No one can tell there is a problem until something is discovered to be missing..
The only defense that the tenants have is to change the locks on the door.
If a website or email platform adopts SSL/TLS security, the website security becomes much more powerful, because it adds encryption which prevents most security breaches.
A bad guy exploits Heartbleed by using it to download passwords etc.
When Internet criminals exploit the Heartbleed error, their intrusion is invisible. There is no way to see how much security information has been downloded, or whose security has been breached.
No one can actually tell who or what is at risk until there is an actual attack.
The only defense that the users have is to change the passwords on their data.
Like the NSA, black hat hackers (or crackers) may have already filled databases of passwords they’ve found the Heartbleed system. . Even if the System Administrator has fixed the Heartbleed problem for their website, it doesn’t change the fact that any bad guy who cracked the website before the fix still has your password. Or passwords.
If three quarters of the people in Toronto left their doors unlocked, only some of those homes would be broken into right away. Because so much of the Internet has been at risk, they might not get you today, but they might tomorrow, or next week.
HTTPS WEBSITES ARE VULNERABLE
You can tell a website uses SSL by looking at the URL (or the website address). SSL website URLs don’t start with http:// (like this one). SSL URLs all begin with https://. You used to be able to tell with a glance at your browser bar, but today’s fashion is to hide this part of the URL in the browser bar. Some browsers show you are at an SSL site with a padlock symbol, others display SSL URLs in different coloured text, but if you aren’t sure, you should be able to see which it is by cutting and pasting the URL it into whatever text editor you use.
Not all HTTPS websites were vulnerable to Heartbleed because there are different versions and configurations, but there is no easy way for you and I to tell which SSL sites were vulnerable.
As well as SSL websites, any secure site where you use passwords — email, instant messengers or IRC services may have been compromised.
Nobody Knows For Sure
Google, Amazon, Facebook and Paypal claim their customers are not at risk because they have fixed any Heartbleed problems they had.
But because the Heartbleed vulnerability is invisible, until someone actually breaks into our accounts, we can’t even tell if they have been compromised. Even if the Internet giants have fixed their problems, the only way we users can be sure we are safe is by changing our passwords.
Someone has put together a Heartbleed Test so we can discover which SSL sites we use are vulnerable or fixed. Once we know the website is no longer vulnerable to Heartbleed, we can only be sure of our security after our password is changed.
Tumblr just told me to change my password, which means Tumbler has fixed their Heartbleed problem, and wants to be sure its users accounts are secure. Bravo.
I am in the process of typing the URLs of sites where I have passwords (Facebook, Twitter etc.) into the Heartbleed Test to find out they are secure before I change my passwords.
Heartbleed isn’t a threat to websites like Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/), techDITZ (http://techditz.russwurm.org/blogs/) or deviantART (http://www.deviantart.com/) that have not yet made the transition to HTTPS
- Never use the same password more than once.
- Never use passwords like “Password” or “1234”
- Never use your mother’s maiden name, the name of a loved one, or a birthday… especially these days when all of our personal data is being harvested by corporations and governments alike. If your parent, partner, child, co-worker, next door neighbor or best friend can guess your password, it isn’t secure.
Good Password Practices
I have plenty of passwords, so I keep them filed in a safe place on my desktop computer. But I learned the importance of having a backup copy somewhere else this past summer when I had a major disk failure and I lost something like a terabyte of data — mostly photos —and my password list!
The only time you have to change your password is when:
- it has been breached (or when there is a good probability it has been breached
- when the website owner tells you you must. or
- when you’ve foolishly shared you password with someone you shouldn’t have.
- Use a different password on every site or application for which you need a password. That way if one site is compromised it doesn’t affect every other site. Of course, Heartbleed affects every [https] site, so that’s not always true.
- Make it long. Long passwords are good passwords. 20 characters is good. 16 is probably adequate. 10 is marginal.
- Choose a phrase that is easy to remember, but difficult to guess. As an example, something like “Itookthebustoworkthismorning” — it’s sufficiently long, easy to type, easy to remember.
- Don’t bother with $p3c14l characters or numbers; the bad guys have software that makes those substitutions too. Special characters make the password difficult to type and difficult to remember. If you need to type slowly because of special characters then it’s easy for a bad guy to shoulder-surf and see what you’re typing. According to KeepassX the passphrase “Itookthebustoworkthismorning” has 28 characters for 224 bits of entropy; on the other hand, passwords with 28 random characters with upper-case, lower-case, numbers and special characters (created by KeepassX’s password generator) have only 182 bits of entropy.
- If the site does not offer a password reset option then write down your password, and keep it where you keep your money. If the passphrase is protecting $10 worth of data then keep it in your wallet; if the passphrase is protecting $10,000 worth of data then keep it in a safe. Don’t forget to write down the site or application name, the user ID, and any other credentials you need.
— Bob Jonkman, [kwlug-disc] Heartbleed affected sites
Although Heartbleed is a problem, it is being resolved all over the Internet… all over the world… as you read this.
And SSL encryption is still a good idea, just as house keys are, because personal security is important.
And privacy matters.
XKCD “Heartbleed” by Randall Munroe is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
Canadians don’t want a two party federal system — we’re far too diverse.
That’s why we’ve embraced the notion of being a “mosaic” nation, a stark contrast to the American “melting pot” culture, where everyone is expected to fit into the homogeneous mold. But my Canada has found unity in diversity — we are a confederation of different peoples and different cultures. It’s no surprise we have so many political parties.
Unfortunately our antiquated electoral system disadvantages both independent candidates and the smaller parties, making it very difficult for them to represent citizens in Parliament. For a long time the Green Party of Canada failed to achieve a single voice in parliament — even with the support of almost a million Canadians. But when governments in power have the ability to change rules and riding boundaries to their own advantage, its no wonder the more powerful parties are able to secure seats in parliament with a many fewer votes. But persistence can pay off, and we now have two GPC parliamentarians, and we’ve seen what a difference the addition has made.
But the Canadian tragedy is that there are still far too many of us without any representation at all. but in reality, any electoral system that fails to provide representation to three quarters of the eligible voters can hardly be called a “representative democracy.”
Too many citizens give up on our unfair political system in frustration. The reasoning goes: why waste our time voting if our votes don’t count? When almost half of the eligible voters don’t vote, support for the smaller parties waxes and wanes, and fewer votes determine our election outcomes.
But many Canadians are stubborn, too. That’s why many smaller parties continuously jump through the bureaucratic hoops necessary to retain their official “Registered Party” status. These small political parties may not be able to have official standing in the House of Commons, but they nonetheless represent a great many of our citizens and residents, many of whom are among the most politically active members of Canadian society. These Canadians work for significant programs, and fight for real solutions to the major problems facing Canadians, including proposals for democratic reform.
This is why so many Canadians keep on “wasting our votes” by voting for the candidates and parties we want to send to Ottawa. Even when we understand that supporting one of the smaller parties is unlikely to secure us representation in parliament, a great many Canadians continue our dogged support of a wide variety of diverse smaller political parties. Because we believe that Canada should truly be a democracy, most Canadians believe all Canadians deserve representation in Parliament.
Even though our badly outdated winner-take-all electoral system makes it nearly impossible for the smaller parties to install MPs in the House of Commons, they can still speak for us.
Add they do speak for us.
On Friday, April 11th, 2014, the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, the Canadian Action Party, the Christian Heritage Party, the Communist Party of Canada, the Libertarian Party of Canada, the Marijuana Party of Canada, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, the Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency, the Pirate Party of Canada, and the Progressive Canadian Party will be speaking up for the vast majority of Canadians who lack representation in Ottawa.
Press Conference on Parliament Hill
On Friday morning, Canada’s small Registered Political Parties will discuss Bill C-23, The Fair Elections Act, at a Press Conference on Parliament Hill.
This diverse group of political parties will come together to voice their particular concerns and objections and outline their commonly held reasons for opposing Bill C-23. All these parties are unanimous in their opposition to Bill C-23, and like the many Canadians they represent, they want to see this Unfair Elections Act withdrawn in its entirety.
Unrepresented Canadians and Small Parties without House of Commons seats share the challenge of being heard. This is why citizen journalists, bloggers and even mainstream media (and citizens, too) need to attend this press conference, and share their views on this vitally important topic.
Date: Friday, April 11, 2014
Time: 10:30 am Ottawa Time
Place: Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block, Parliament Hill
For further information contact the party of your choice:
- Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, 416-462-9541
- Canadian Action Party, 519-852-8279
- Christian Heritage Party, 819-281-6686, 1-888-868-3247
- Communist Party of Canada, 416-469-2446
- Libertarian Party of Canada, 613-288-9089
- Marijuana Party of Canada, 514-507-5188
- Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, 416-253-4475
- Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency, 416-567-6913
- Pirate Party of Canada, (877) 978-2023
- Progressive Canadian Party, 905-853-8949
Although these small parties have yet to overcome the artificial barriers inherent in our unfair First Past The Post electoral system, they do in fact speak for much of the effectively disenfranchised Canadian population. In a real democracy, all voices must be heard.
Keep track of the progress of Bill C-23 here.
And call or write your Member of Parliament to tell them just what you think of this mis-named legislation.