Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category
Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s idea of “expenses” is a little different than mine.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s internal economy committee wants to have another look at Duffy’s expense claims amid growing questions about his conduct, including new revelations that he filed claims for Senate business while campaigning for the Conservatives in the last federal election.
“Documents revealed that Duffy billed taxpayers for being on official Senate business while he was campaigning for the Conservatives during the 2011 federal election. If it is confirmed that Duffy attended eight campaign events and submitted Senate expenses, he could be in trouble for double-billing.”
Wasn’t Prime Minister Stephen Harper going to reform the Senate?
One might think “Harvard-educated Bay Street lawyer and banker” Nigel Wright would know better than to write a cheque to cover Senator Mike Duffy’s exense irregularities.
“It goes without saying that a cheque for such a large amount is far from a customary standard of hospitality, nor a normal expression of courtesy,” [MP Charlie] Angus wrote in a letter.
“The NDP MP also suggested that Duffy, Wright, or both may have breached section 16 of the Parliament of Canada Act which prohibits a senator from receiving compensation for any services rendered.”
I’m always surprised when government tells us “throwing money at” education and health care are a bad idea. Properly funding social programs makes a lot more sense to me than covering up bad behaviour. I guess we just have different priorities.
[Pamela] Wallin, a former journalist who now represents Saskatchewan in the Senate, has claimed about $321,000 in travel expenses since September 2010 that are the subject of an audit by an outside firm.
Senators Duffy and Wallin both claim to have withdrawn from the Conservative caucus, but both plan to stay on as “independent” senators.
Uh huh… Does anyone actually believe they will suddenly stop supporting Conservative interests? Seriously?
Another Conservative Government appointee, Daniel Caron, the head of Library and Archives Canada has also resigned over $170,000 of dubious expenses.
Since LAC is the official government repository of Canadian heritage,this one bothers me in particular.
Coping with a $10-million federal budget cut, Caron oversaw major staff downsizing to the department, reduced funding to scores of tiny archives across Canada, halted most acquisitions of historical artifacts, closed the National Archival Development Program, and stopped a system of inter-library loans through which Canadians could access material from its vast collections.
When you consider that what Mr. Caron considers personal expenses would support as many as ten or fifteen families on social assistance for a year, it calls into question the word “conservative.”
The National Post gets this one right: Andrew Coyne: Fear of audits led Conservatives to cover for Mike Duffy
Canada badly needs meaningful electoral reform. If we had a democratic system that actually represented Canadians ~ Proportional Representation ~ our government representatives and appointees could be held accountable.
What a difference that would make.
In the National Post, Andrew Coyne asks:
“The economy is in good shape, so why is support for the Conservatives slumping?”
I’m making Mother’s Day cards right now so I don’t have time to read the article, but even having only read the blurb, I find myself disagreeing with Andrew Coyne’s conclusion.
The Tories have not gone out of their way to alienate anyone. They are simply doing the job they were elected to do.
The Harper governmenr is doing an excellent job of serving the only constituents they represent. Their party is legally empowered to govern in this way because our inequitable winner-take-all electoral system gives all of the power to the party that secures more seats than any other.
Ours is not a democratic system.
The problem with a winner-take-all system like ours is that a majority government is a dictatorship.
That is the reality built into Canada’s winner-take-all electoral system.
Only the elite whose votes elect the government secure representation in government.
The electoral reform Andrew Coyne supports is called “Alternative Vote” ~ although various spin doctors have rebranded it “Preferential Voting” (Liberal Party) or “IRV” (RaBIT). Some people like this alternate winner-take-all electoral system because they believe it will game the system so their party will get the dictatorial power currently enjoyed by the ruling party.
No matter how good the intentions, no matter how benevolent, a dictatorship is not democratic. Every time I hear people slamming Canadians for our low voter turnout it makes my blood boil. It isn’t that Canadians don’t care, it’s that each generation has learned that our elections are as meaningless as the elections in any banana republic.
When most votes don’t count, what you’re left with is really only democracy theatre.
I don’t think we can afford to pay the price demanded by anyone’s defacto dictatorship.
On this Mother’s Day, I reflect on why I write this blog: as a mother, I believe all of our kids deserve to live in a real democracy. But that will only happen with meaningful electoral reform to Proportional Representation.
All Canadians should be represented by our government.
Although I happen to live in Ontario, I am a Canadian. I care about all of Canada, including B.C. and wonder what will happen if the people who value oil profits above the environment get their way.
What those who seek to reap profits in the short term fail to realize is that the environment is our real capital.
If we squander it now, in the long term we will be left with nothing.
Tanker Free B.C. is having a letter writing campaign in the run-up to the impending B.C. provincial election. If the citizens of B.C. elect a government that stands up for the environment, it could make an awfully big difference to the environmental outcome.
If you live in B.C. you can use this link to write to the candidates to let them know that you care.
When humans wreck the environment, it impacts on us all. So even though I can’t vote, I’ve thrown in my two cents. I’ve edited Tanker Free B.C.’s letter into something suitable for those of us who live in other parts of Canada to send. Because everything is connected, and, as Canada’s coat of arms points out, our great nation runs from sea to sea.
Dear Candidate for BC Premier,
As a Canadian who values the “Supernatural” province of BC (and the $13.4 Billion tourism economy it enables) I am gravely concerned about American pipeline giant Kinder Morgan’s plans to transform Vancouver into a Tar Sands shipping port.
History proves that all oil ports and pipelines experience spills –
no matter what safety measures are promised.
The estimated 35 long-term jobs from an expanded oil port pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of jobs dependent upon a clean coast. We cannot market ourselves as “The Best Place on Earth” while running one or more oil tankers every day through our harbour.
The pipeline and tankers risk harming BC’s coastal communities, marine ecosystems, and natural wealth, from the Fraser River Delta and productive farmland, to the Gulf Islands and Victoria. The pipeline would travel through the heartland of BC – through Kamloops, Merritt, Abbotsford and Surrey, over farms, forests, rivers and streams – exposing them to spills similar to the recent disasters in Arkansas and Michigan.
Such a large percentage of the world’s finite supply of fresh water lays within Canadian Borders, it is unconscionable to risk it for such short term gains. The pipeline threatens the future of Canada, as well as the planet. Allowing Kinder Morgan’s expansion means more Tar Sands development, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, driving global climate change. I worked hard raising my family; I want my descendents to live in a country they can be proud of.
The Coast Salish people understand all these risks better then anyone and have voiced their unequivocal opposition.
British Columbia deserves a leader with the vision and courage to chart a course for British Columbia based on clean technologies and a sustainable economy, a leader who can guide the transition of our society from fossil fuel dependence and resource extraction toward self-reliance, renewable energy, effective public transit, local food production, and value-added manufacturing.
B.C. deserves no less than a leader who recognizes the real value of British Columbia – a leader who will fight to keep BC “Supernatural”. Canada deserves no less. Please keep Canada clean and secure.
Laurel L. Russwurm
As always, you’re welcome to use any or all of my letter, please help yourself.
Once upon a time they thought the ocean fish in the maritimes were an inexhaustible resource. Endangering the natural beauty of our world is bad enough, but damaging the environment puts us all at risk.
Twenty percent of the world’s freshwater supply lays within Canadian borders, but only about 7% is considered renewable (available and usable). Tar sands, fracking and pipelines all endanger our water supply.
If we squander our environmental capital for the sake of short term profits we ravage the legacy we should be leaving for our children. How much is the destruction of Canada worth?
The next generations must be able to drink the water and breathe the air.
- Increased oil tanker traffic controversy spills into B.C. election campaign
- PR strategy proposed to compensate for federal cuts in climate-change spending
- Franke James: Dear Prime Minister
All photographs by Valerie Glendenning released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
To get a deeper understanding of why ratification of the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments [China-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA)] is such a bad deal for Canada, I recommend Christopher Majka’s series:
- Failing grades: The Canadian resource economy — Part 1
- Raw deal: The Canadian resource economy — Part 2
- Carbon attacks: The Harper Conservatives and the Canadian resource economy — Part 3
- Resource capitulation: FIPPA, fibs, and Canadian sellouts — Part 4
- Superpower or Supermarket? The folly of foreign investment – Part 5
- and for good measure, Dutch Disease denial: Inflation, politics and tar
Open letter to Stephen Harper: Fourteen reasons the Canada-China #FIPA needs a full public review
This trade treaty is often called the “Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement” (FIPA)
Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May suggested that:
All Liberal and Conservative MP’s should ask their party the following questions:
- Why does this treaty lock Canada in for 31 years, when NAFTA allows 6 month notice to exit, and even the investment treaty with Benin, tabled in the House after the China Treaty, allows exit in 16 years?
- Why does the China treaty give the State Owned Enterprises from China a six month window for diplomatic wrangling, within which Canadian governments and businesses can lose in behind-closed-doors pressure by China on the Canadian government? No other investment treaty includes a 6-month nation to nation diplomatic process.
- Why is this the first treaty in years that allows the entire arbitration process to remain secret, allowing Canada only the option of making it public?
- Why has Australia, with a 10-fold larger volume of two-way trade with China than Canada, refused to enter into investor-state agreements, including refusing to negotiate one with China. Why has Canada not conducted a study, as Australia did, to determine whether these treaties do more economic harm than good?
“Unless every Member of Parliament can get satisfactory responses to these questions, any vote in support of this treaty will be an abdication of our responsibility as Canadians to ensure we are not giving the Peoples’ Republic of China the right to challenge our laws – whether municipal, provincial or federal, or court judgments – claiming billions even for measures taken with no intent or evidence of trade discrimination,” said Ms. May.
Gerry James adds:
5. Why can we as a nation leave nation to nation dispute settlement mechanism to a three person arbitration board for final judgments of such magnitude and gravity. While I understand arbitrators can effectively resolve many international commercial differences, to leave the fate of nation to nation trade conflicts under this pact to a panel of 3 arbitrators with binding decisions is willful recklessness.
Stopping a Federal Government with a majority from doing exactly as it wants is problematic. Absent the real democracy Canada might have with a proportional electoral system, public opinion is one of the few checks we have on our government. Sometimes the most powerful dictator can be swayed from pursuing an ill advised path if faced with unified public opinion.
The various opposition parties have been fighting FIPA in their various ways all along, but at the end of the day, the Liberal Party chose not to stand with the NDP in voting against FIPA ratification. Instead, the Liberal Party chose to support FIPA.
The volume of partisan blaming online is deafening. NDP blame Liberals for not supporting their scrap FIPA motion, while Liberals argue that the NDP behaved just as badly as Liberals by refusing to support the Liberal motion to amend FIPA. Are the two motions equal? The NDP answers that its motion could have stood a chance had all opposition united behind it, but that the LPC motion merely repeated an NDP motion previously quashed by the government.
I sumbit that there is merit to the NDP side. If the LPC had voted with the NDP, there was a chance some CPC backbenchers would have voted for the NDP motion because it was so clearly in the public good. Had that happend, a majority vote against ratification would have killed the treaty. But there is no reason to expect any CPC MP will commit pointless party suicide by voting against party dictates without a real chance of accomplishing something — in this case protection of the public good.
Whether you buy into either partisan tale or none, the fact remains that partisan special interests trumped the public good. The inability of the opposition parties to work together is not good for Canada.
Trade deals can be good or bad, but it seems pretty clear that this incarnation of FIPA will be very good for China, and very bad for Canada – for am unprecedented 31 years.
The only thing now standing between Canada and the FIPA steamroller is that the Hupacasath First Nation Filed Notice of Application Against Canada – China FIPPA
Since our government has let us down, the only thing the rest of Canada can do is support the Hupacasath First Nation in standing up for Canada’s future. Leadnow is raising donations to help with the legal bills. If you can, please Donate to the First Nations legal challenge that could stop FIPA in its tracks
If the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (FIPPA) is ratified, Canada will be stuck with it for more than three decades. That is an awfully long time for an entire nation to suffer the consequences of an ill advised path that was negotiated in secret.
It may be too late for us to do anything that will work, but at this point, it is too important to let go. Anything is worth a try if there is any chance at all we can salvage our children’s future. The government has not yet ratified the Canada-Chinese Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (FIPPA).
Canadians must keep on letting them know we are not willing to accept this travesty.
Other things we can do:
Leadnow’s call-your MP form Although the vote has already transpired, you can continue to call your MP, and use the talking points on this Leadnow page. When speaking directly to your MP, an excellent strategy is to remain calm and firm, and repreat what you want to say until you get verbal acknowledgement that the person on the phone has heard you. They are most likely to respond with party “talking points” that don’t actually answer your questions or concerns. Stay focussed on your points… have notes written down in front of you if it will help. Under our antiquated and inequitable system, most MPs have very little more power than we do. But if they continue to receive calls telling them that their constituents are not willing accept this, it may encourage thekm to do the right thing.
Note: The Green Party digital petition is no longer online, but we can still download and sign – and get our community to sign – paper petitions we can then mail (postage free) to Ms. May and/or our own MPs, of whatever flavour.
Finally, you may want to read or re-read Elizabeth May’s article:
Trade with China should not mean handing over the keys to Canada.
I just tabled and tried to pass a motion in the House of Commons comdemning the attacks in Boston. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass.
Here’s the text of my motion: “That this House condemn the attacks perpetrated during the 2013 Boston Marathon and express its deepest sympathies to the victims of this senseless violence and their families.”
Je viens de soumettre une motion dans la Chambre des Communes qui condamne les attaques en Boston et exprime les condoléances des canadiens. Malheureusement, elle a été rejetée.
Voici la texte de mon motion : « Que cette Chambre condamne les attaques perpétrées durant le Marathon 2013 de Boston et exprime sa profonde sympathie envers les victimes de cette violence insensée ainsi que leur famille. »
— Nathan Cullen, April 15, 2013
Because the Conservative Party holds a majority of seats in the House of Commons, it has absolute control of what motions or legislation can be passed.
The Harper Government chose not to pass this motion.
Why wouldn’t the Harper Government “condemn the attacks perpetrated during the 2013 Boston Marathon?”
How could the Harper Government refuse to “express its deepest sympathies to the victims of this senseless violence and their families?”
Does the Harper government approve of these attacks?
Expressing concern for our friends, allies, and neighbors in time of tragedy is a human thing to do. It apalls me that the Harper Conservatives would be so petty as to block this merely human motion, a purely non-partisan statement of compassion and support, simply because it was tabled by a member of the Official Opposition.
Such shameful partisan posturing has no place in the House of Commons.
Canada is supposed to be a Representative Democracy. When I was in High school, I wrote a couple letters to my MP, Perrin Beatty. And he actually called me and answered my questions. I felt heard, and I wasn’t even a voter.
Since then, I’ve been voting for over 30 years, and yet I’ve never elected an MP.
I’ve spent the last several days blogging, denting, pinning, tweeting and talking about Proportional Representation with people online. I was actively supporting Joyce Murray’s campaign for leadership of the Liberal Party. Joyce Murray was the only candidate to support Proportional Representation. Joyce did amazingly well, but not enough to be able to counter the power that the name “Trudeau” can still engender in the Liberal Party.
I’d like to congratulate Joyce on a candidacy race well run. I voted for her as a supporter, and if she had won, I probably would have voted Liberal for the first time in my life in the next election.
I want to tell her, “Thank you for trying.”
If all Canadians had a voice in government, if we actually had a representative democracy, think of the wonders that this once great nation could achieve.
Canada is being governed by the Harper Government “Majority,” in a manner I find deeply disturbing. Yet since this government I did not vote for and do not like was elected, for the first time in my life I know what it is like to have representation in government.
Because even though I didn’t vote for her, even though I couldn’t vote for her, Elizabeth May speaks for me.
This is why I know Proportional Representation could work. Working out Canada’s riding size difficulties is a mere detail; having a voice is all.
I’m writing this today as a thank you to Ms. Elizabeth May, who is doing an incredible job against all odds. I want to tell her how much that it means to me.
“I am frequently asked how I maintain a positive attitude when confronted by Stephen Harper’s destructive agenda—dismembering our environmental laws and policies. Honestly, I can respond that most days I am encouraged by the ability of one MP to make a difference. That was not the case last week as, sitting late in the House for votes, news came over my Blackberry that the Cabinet had decided to withdraw from the United Nations Convention to Combat Drought and Desertification (UNCCD). It had the effect of a swift kick in the gut. I had to fight back tears for a day or so … just like when I read Bill C-38. I felt devastated.”
— Elizabeth May Canada Goes Rogue
Some Canadians support the political party they’ve chosen with the fervour of a hockey fan supporting their favorite team ~ no matter what. Others try to support the party that seems to best reflect the voter’s own ideology. Others, like me, don’t support any one party, but vote for the individual candidate that we hope will best represent our interests on an election by election basis.
As a small Ontario school child I was taught Canada is a democracy. It seemed the only fair way to govern a free country, so I was pretty pleased to be a Canadian. As I grew up and learned more about how our political system actually works, I discovered that what we here in Canada call democracy isn’t what I thought it was. Representation in government is a privilege only enjoyed by a few, denying most citizens an equal say in the decisions that affect our lives.
The disproportionate outcome of our Winner-Take-All electoral system infects our entire political system with inequity. Here in Canada 30% of the vote can deliver a majority, because all our votes are not created equal. Some votes count more than others, but most votes don’t count at all. Besides polarizing Canadians into “winners” and “losers”, this deprives us of democracy, a sad situation that can only be corrected through Proportional Representation.
Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) platform has supported Proportional Representation for a long time. But how strong is the NDP’s commitment to PR?
Julien Lamarche, President of the NCR chapter of Fair Vote Canada writes:
As parties approach power, they have a natural tendency to drop the commitment to Proportional Represemtation.
It is important that we show to NDP leadership that the membership still cares about this issue.
If you are an NDP member, please:
0. Call Craig Scott at 613-992-9381 or 416-405-8914, tell them you’re an NDP member and you support resolution 5-40-13, 5-42-13, and 5-37-13 for proportional representation.
AND / OR
1. phone someone on your EDA (local riding) executive,
EDA info can be found here:
2. find out who is going to the convention from your electoral district (riding),
3. call the delegates, see if one of them is willing to go to Panel 5 (Governing in an Inclusive and Fair Canada) on Friday morning,
4. ask that delegate to support the three resolutions making PR a fundamental plank of the next NDP election platform.
When I originally posted this I misquoted Julien as saying:
“tell your NDP member you support resolution”
when it should have said:
… “tell them you’re an NDP member and you support resolution” …
My error has now been corrected in the above text. ~ Laurel L. Russwurm
If you’ve read this blog before, you may know I’ve never belonged to a political party.
My own preference would be the eventual elimination of political parties altogether.
But parties are entrenched in our current system and are unlikely to go away any time soon.
So why would I sign up as a Liberal Party of Canada supporter?
I’ve known good people across the spectrum of Canadian Political Parties. The very existence of so many political parties speaks to the fact that a mere two parties is woefully inadequate to the task of representing us.
Canadians are quite a diverse bunch ~ one size does not fit all.
Like many Canadians, I want to see Canada redefined into a real democracy that actually seeks to represent all of us. But the only way to achieve that is through meaningful electoral reform. I think we deserve democracy.
“Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.”
Canadians have been led to believe that the ability to vote our government out of office makes our electoral system democratic. We’re supposed to have a representative democracy, but our electoral system is so unfair our “representatives” are virtually unaccountable.
The majority have learned that casting votes is futile in a system where some votes count more than others, and some count not at all. Since voting is disheartening; it’s hard to get out and vote, knowing the chance of actually being represented is slim to none. In fact, it’s not very democratic at all.
Worse, when we elect a majority government it’s effectively a dictatorship for the length of the term. And like any Winner-Take-All electoral system, ours is adversarial by nature, which guarantees that competition will trump consensus every time.
So candidates win or lose.
And parties win or lose.
But worst of all, citizens win or lose.
That may be a fine way to run a dictatorship, but a democracy? Not at all.
“The idea that someone whom you didn’t vote for, who does not agree with you on the issue you are concerned about can be an effective representative for you is ludicrous. “Representation” is not about removing uncertainty about which phone number to call to report potholes; it is about being connected to someone who shares your politics who can advocate for things you believe in in a legislative context.”
Political parties are the chief beneficiaries of the unfairness in the electoral system that put them in power. It’s no wonder they are unlikely to make a change. As more Canadians have come to understand the unfairness inherent in our electoral system, the support for Proportional Representation has grown. Even though growing numbers of Canadians want to see a change to a more democratic system of Proportional Representation, it hasn’t happened.
If we’re to have any chance of Proportional Representation, it’s important for Canadians to convince Political Parties (and Party Leaders) to support Proportional Representation while they still struggle at a disadvantage.
where will we find electoral reform
The New Democratic Party has long included electoral reform as an important policy plank. Yet there has been no move toward electoral reform since forming a majority government in Nova Scotia, or in Manitoba, where the NDP has formed four consecutive Provincial Governments.
Federally, in 2011 the New Democratic Party became Canada’s Official Opposition Party for the first time in history. While you might think this means adoption of Proportional Representation will naturally follow in the event of a federal win next time, I’m not so sure.
You can see from the party’s recent choice of Party Leader that now it’s all about winning. After reading about the autocratic way Mulcair muzzled NDP MPs, I’m wondering if he was not chosen as the candidate most like Jack Layton, but rather as the one most like Stephen Harper.
Because our adversarial electoral system is all about choosing a boss, the perception is that we need an autocrat, someone capable of running the show, someone comfortable bossing everyone else around. Like a king.
And of course, Winner-Take-All electoral systems favors the ruthless. The man who would be king. Dictator. Führer. Bully. We’ve been sold the idea that Candidates who can work cooperatively are not “leadership material.”
What is the right kind of leader for a democracy?
Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals were returned to power for the third consecutive term in 2011. But for the first time, their mandate was one seat shy of a majority. Heads turned a few months into the term when the Premier gave a plum position Conservative Elizabeth Witmer, enticing her to vacate the seat she’d held in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario since 1990. In the ensuing by-election, NDP candidate Catharine Fife won Witmer’s vacant seat by asking citizens to deny Mr. McGuinty a majority.
After two previous majority wins, Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned, apparently unequal to the task of governing democratically.
feudalism vs. democracy
Although ostensibly democratic, our political system has actually been slipping further into a kind of nouveau feudalism, as the checks and balances we may have had have been eroded and stripped away over time, and power centralized into fewer and fewer hands.
The difference between Winner-Take-All and an electoral system with an outcome of Proportional Representation is apparent in the resulting style of governance. Where Winner-Take-All produces bosses who tell citizens what to do, Proportional Representation encourages consensus, and a government that doesn’t just give the appearance of listening to constituents but actually governs for the public good. But this requires leaders capable of listening and working well with others, rather than simply issuing commands and bullying citizens.
The closest Canada has ever come to this ideal has been with minority governments, without which we would never have produced one of the policies Canadians value most, universal health care.
Today, of course, Canadians are struggling under the majority Conservative government produced by our Winner-Take-All electoral system. More than ever before, backbench MPs themselves have little if any say, and are often effectively prevented from actually representing constituents.
reinventing the Liberal party
Although both Parties have undergone great upheavals, Canada has been alternately governed by two parties over the course of our history. Yet for the first time since the founding of Canada, the federal Liberal Party has fallen to third place, and so is trying to reinvent itself.
Political parties do that kind of thing when they lose power; some people think Parties exist for ideological reasons, but ideology is simply the “product.” The real reason political parties exist is to get and hold power. If the product doesn’t sell, the party can’t get or hold power, and so it must change.
The most dramatic change the Liberal Party did was to open up voting in their leadership race to anyone who is not a supporter of another political party.
Although I am still unconvinced that Cooperate for Canada is the right way for Canada to go, I decided to sign up as a Liberal Party supporter after meeting and talking to one of the original Cooperate Liberal Leadership candidates, B.C.’s David Merner. David impressed me as an intelligent and grounded individual concerned with actually solving Canada’s problems, but devoid of the self importance Canadians are used to from traditional FPTP Party Leaders. The purpose behind Cooperate is a one time strategic cooperation for the express purpose of implementing electoral reform to a multiple winner system that will have an outcome of Proportional Representation, so I was sorry to see David drop out. Even so, I have continued to follow the leaderdhip race. Because so long as Canada has political parties, the public interest will be best served if those parties have the best leaders.
Apparently former Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion suggested electoral reform would be a good start, and to that end, he floated an idea for a system the Liberal Party has since adopted as “Preferential Ballot” to reform our electoral system.
But as it turns out, what the Liberal Party calls “Preferential Ballot” is more accurately known as “Alternative Vote.” At first blush this might seem to be a reasonable interim step toward proprtional representation, especially because AV is thought advantageous to centrist parties like the Liberals.
Whether you call the system “Preferential Ballot” or “Alternative Vote,” a closer look reveals it to be another Winner-Take-All system very much like the First Past the Post we’re presemtly saddled with.
Switching to “Liberal Style Preferential Ballot” wouldn’t really change anything much for Canadians, since AV isn’t much different from what we have. Some Liberals have latched onto this system because of the perception that it could return their party to the catbird seat. Yet electoral system scholars paint a very different picture, harking back to the near destruction of the Provincial Liberal Party following adoption of AV out west.
Incredibly, since the Liberal adoption of Preferential Voting, Stéphane Dion has proven himself to be of that rare breed who would rather get it right than pretend infallability. His own genuine concern for the public good led him to continue to investigate electoral reform, and his research brought him to the realization that Proportional Representation would be much better for Canada. He’s since been promoting his own plan for Proportional Representation he calls P3.
voting for a Liberal Leader
The Liberal Leadership Race voting began yesterday. Liberal Party Members and registered Liberal Party Supporters (like myself) can now cast our votes for the next Liberal Party Leader.
The candidates are down to a handful: Deborah Coyne, Martha Hall Findlay, Martin Cauchon, Karen McCrimmon, Justin Trudeau and Joyce Murray.
Joyce Murray is the only remaining Cooperate for Canada candidate.
Justin Trudeau’s famous name catapulted the young geography-drama-teacher-cum-MP into the lead the moment he threw his hat into the ring. He’s personable, good looking, well spoken and the son of a legendary Liberal leader.
Still, It’s hard to know what, if anything, he actually stands for, beyond riding his father’s coat tails. Of all the candidates he’s said the least, presumably so as not to put his foot in it.
The one subject Trudeau has taken a firm stand on is electoral reform. On his website he states in no uncertain terms that:
“I do not support proportional representation because I believe deeply that every Member of Parliament should represent actual Canadians and Canadian communities, not just political parties.”
Trudeau is doggedly hanging onto the Liberal version of AV as the way back to Liberal Glory. He says he’s “listening” but when asked why he brushed off the Canadians asking for Proportional Representation, he said he knew better. Clearly, Justin has inhereited his father’s arrogance along with his mother’s looks and brains. It seems Justin expects Liberals to blindly place their trust in him, policy unseen, not because he’s has a stellar record in the House of Commons… or anywhere else… because he hasn’t. His only real claim to fame is his parentage. But wouldn’t someone planning a career in politics study law, or at the very least, history… but drama?
If the Party chooses the young Trudeau as their leader, it could very well spell the end of the Liberal party as we know it. Although we Canadians try not to speak ill of the dead, and Pierre Trudeau was a Liberal icon, he was not revered by all Canadians.
Our electoral system was just as inequitable in his father’s time, so I’m guessing the advantage his name confers in Liberal circles will become a disavantage out in the wider world. It might be different if he had done something, or stood for something, but he hasn’t.
Further, Justin’s decision to slag Proportional Representation using nonsensical arguments don’t win him any points with me.
Liberal leadership candidates do their party no favours by trying to fool their membership into thinking Alternate Vote would provide meaningful reform, since it is simply another flavour of Winner-Take-All. Fortunately for the Liberals, those seeking to reclaim power at all costs are just one faction. There are principled Liberal Party members who are eager to restore their party to greatness, but through honesty and fair voting. Liberals For Fair Voting queried all the candidates about Proportional Representation, and even made up a nice little chart that shows clearly where the candidates stand.
my only choice
Since a majority of Canadians support Proportional Representation, the only reasonable Liberal Leadership contender is Joyce Murray. Whether or not she decides to cooperate, she is the only candidate solidly committed to Proportional Representation.
“I’m talking about winning the next election for a purpose. To reform Canada’s ailing electoral system to create a more representative and more collaborative Parliament; to harness all our talents for a sustainable society for the next seven generations.”
— Joyce Murray
As a Liberal Supporter, I will be casting my vote for Joyce Murray today.
With Ms. Murray at the helm pushing for Proportional Representation, I may very well end up casting my first vote for the LPC in 2015.
All photographs by laurelrusswurm licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
People around the world are flabbergasted by the Canadian Government’s emphatic rejection of a parliamentary motion calling for “evidence-based policy-making” on March 20th this year.
Vote No. 631
41st Parliament, 1st Session
Sitting No. 225 – Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Sponsor: Mr. Stewart (Burnaby—Douglas)
“That, in the opinion of the House: (a) public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making; (b) federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; and (c) the federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to pursue its unique research program.”
All 137 NDP, Liberal, Bloc Québécois, Green and the one Independent MPs voted in favour of the motion.
All 156 Conservative and the one Conservative Independent MP Voted Against it.
Science impacts on everyone, regardless of party affiliation. But facts are immutable; they don’t change based on party lines. Facts aren’t opinions; they are still true even if we don’t choose to believe in them.
Policy not based on evidence is very likely to be against the public interest.
Q: Why would the Conservative party of Canada unanimously vote against “evidence-based policy-making”?
A: Because they can.
The Conservative party has won 100% of the power with 24.3% of eligible Canadian votes.
Under Canada’s winner-take-all First Past The Post electoral system, 39% of those Canadians who voted have elected a majority Conservative Government, effectively a dictatorship with a time limit.
Our electoral system grants a Majority Government absolute power to legally pass or veto any law it wants. Evidence need not enter into it.
Maybe I missed something.
Maybe there is something bad buried in the text of the motion. Lets look at it bit by bit.
(a) public science, basic research and the free and open exchange of scientific information are essential to evidence-based policy-making;
This seems pretty straight forward. The Harper Conservatives don’t want to be tied to evidence-based policy making. Which is like saying the news needn’t be based on facts. Oh, wait…
(b) If federal government scientists must be enabled to discuss openly their findings with their colleagues and the public; and…
What possible reason could there to prevent federal government scientists from discussing their findings? Sharing information with other scientists is how innovation and scientific advancements are achieved. The public foots the bill for such research, why shouldn’t the public have the right to know?
Does our government want the right to prevent scientists from telling us our water supply has been compromised by
Have federal employees been stripped of their right to free speech?
Will this put our federal scientists at personal risk of becoming whistle blowers if they decide to inform the public of public hazards? Don’t federal employees, even scientists — enjoy the fundamental protections guaranteed under The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
(c) the federal government should maintain support for its basic scientific capacity across Canada, including immediately extending funding, until a new operator is found, to the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility to pursue its unique research program.
Maybe it’s just about this. Maybe they just don’t want to spend the money.
The Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility only cost at most $2 million a year. The Canadian Government spent more money ~ $28 million ~ advertising the anniversary of the War of 1812 to the mystification of all of Canada.
Our government didn’t just close the Experimental Lakes Area Research Facility, but they are actively preventing fully funded experiments from finishing up. This is throwing away research that has already been done and paid for with taxpayer dollars.
Why would the Harper Conservatives do this?
Is science or free speech a left/right thing?
It shouldn’t be.
Is it a religious thing?
The Harper Conservatives have made no secret they are predominantly a conservative Christian Party. How many people say their belief in religion is grounded in the wonders of the natural world. Shouldn’t a Christian Party be working to protect the environment that God gave mankind stewardship over?
Perhaps they think if they don’t know the facts, if the environment should be damaged beyond repair, perhaps they’re hoping for plausible deniability when they meet their maker.
It’s pretty basic: if they don’t collect the facts, there will be no evidence to prevent policy based on guesswork and beliefs. Not collecting scientific data about the environment makes it easier to pass “business friendly” laws harmful to the environment.
If the government allows the collection of facts that give scientists ammunition to say we’re damaging the environment beyond repair, the public may get upset about government policy… they might not be able to do what they want. And the people making policy decisions in the Harper Government reportedly don’t believe in climate change.
from sea to sea
We all need to breathe the air, drink the water, walk on the land. Why would sane people wilfully, deliberately, damage our environment beyond repair? That I can’t answer.
Unless they just don’t believe in it.
Franke James pictorial essay: What is Harper Afraid Of? and sign her petition.
Please ask the Government of Canada to reverse its decision to terminate Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area by signing the Public Petition to Save ELA
Get informed about electoral reform; find your local Fair Vote Canada chapter and sign the Declaration of Voter’s Rights. We need to tell all our elected officials, and all our political parties, that Canada needs electoral reform to Proportional Representation NOW.
Canada has a form of “Representative Democracy” known as “Single Member Plurality.” Each geographic electoral district (that we call ridings) elects a single candidate to send to parliament.
Canada’s First Past The Post electoral system, the basis of our Representative Democracy, was progressive in 1867. Before automobiles, telephones, airplanes, space travel, computers or the Internet. Our antiquated electoral system is totally inadequate for Canada in 2013.
Our winner take all system is inequitable. Some votes count more than others, and some don’t count at all.
It has long been considered impolite, if not downright rude, for Canadians to talk about politics. Most Canadians are proud we are not “flag wavers” like Americans are. But although there is plenty wrong with the American electoral system, they understand the mechanics of how their government works. Americans learn about politics in school, and talk about it ever after. Any Canadians who feel the urge to talk about politics tend to talk about American politics.
After all, we know more about how the American system works than we understand our own. We can no longer afford not to talk about politics. We need to learn how our system works.
We think Canada is governed democratically. But it’s not.
When an election produces a majority government, as is often the case, our government is effectively a time limited dictatorship. And if you take a look at Canadian History, you’ll see that our majoritan electoral system has traditionally produced serial dictatorships.
The only element of democracy in the current system is that Canadians get to vote periodically.
While most of us think we have “majority rule,” the reality is that a minority of voters elect our government. The majority of Canadians are not actually represented in Parliament.
The system is so bady broken, almost half of our eligible voters don’t vote. After all, what incentive is there to vote when your vote doesn’t count?
Since the system is stacked against us, as things have steadily worsened, Canadians have been trying to outsmart the system by voting strategically.
But the point of representative democracy is to allow citizens to vote for the candidate who will best represent our interests in parliament. Yet if we’re voting strategically, we aren’t voting for who we want, we’re voting against someone else.
The fact Canadians have come to accept strategic voting as legitimate demonstrates just how broken our supposed democracy actually is.
Our civil liberties, human rights, guaranteed Canadians by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are being steadily eroded. The public good is ignored in favour of special interest lobbyists.
checks and balances
Canada’s Upper House, The Senate, was supposed to catch ill advised government policy. The reality is succeeding governments stack the senate with partisan senators, robbing Canadians of the protection of “sober second thought,” and now all we can expect from the Senate is a rubber stamp.
There are no effective checks and balances available to Canadians. Our system grants majority governments absolute authority for the term; our only recourse is public opinion, the same as in any monarchy or dictatorship.
Most modern democracies have chosen proportional representation. England, Canada and the United States are the only hold outs clinging to our outdated First-Past-The-Post systems.
we want democracy
If two thirds of Canadians want proportional representation, why don’t we have it already?
The people with the authority to change the system, are the same people who got into power with this system. If they change the system, they will lose the unfair advantages that put them in power. One of the loudest advocates for electoral reform to proportional representation was Stephen Harper… before he became Prime Minister. NDP Party policy supports electoral reform to Proportional Representation, yet they have done nothing to implement it in the two provinces where the currently NDP holds a majority, which begs the question: can we trust the NDP to implement electoral reform?
to be continued . . .
I started out to write “Why I’m a “Liberal Party of Canada” Supporter” but as it turned out, I had to first write this necessary prequel. I will be unable to finish the next article tomorrow, but I hope to have it posted by Saturday night.