Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Party of Canada’
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.
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.
Step #1: Sign Up
Remember when I encouraged you to sign up to vote for the Liberal leader? Well, if you did, now it’s time for the next part: Now you need to register. [I'll have "Why I’m a “Liberal Party of Canada” Supporter" online by tomorrow.]
Step #2: Register
If you haven’t registered by March 21st, you don’t get to vote. [The deadline to register was Thursday, March 15th but there has been a one time only extension to Thursday March 21st, 2013.] Good thing, too, considering I’m only writing this now.
If you’ve signed up, you should have received an email from the Liberal Party’s Matt Certosimo telling you how to register, and providing you with the specific link to the online registration form. It wouldn’t help for me to share my link I got, it was only good for me.
If you haven’t received an email, check your spam bucket. If your let your email provider decide what is spam for you, chances are the email has been blocked. What you can do instead is go to http://www.liberal.ca/leadership-2013/registration-help/ and ask for another one.
When you register you confirm:
- Your wish to participate in the vote for the new Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada;
- Your proper contact information so we can send you your ballot; and
- That you meet the requirements to participate, and that the information you provide is true.
I tried regiistering on March 15th, (the original deadline) but the online form didn’t work.
I filled in all the information, it got to “submit” but there was no confirmation.
I sent an email to the link provided but got no reply. I thought it might be a problem because I use free software, or perhaps something was hung up by AdBlock or NoScript. Perhaps their website was overwhelmed by the volume of last minute responses. Whatever the problem was, the submit swirlie kept swirling, but didn’t give any conformation that it went through or not.
I tried again and again but nothing worked, so I left my computer on and went to bed. When it was still trying to submit the next morning I was afraid I’d blown my opportunity to register to vote.
Then I got an email about the deadline extension, so I gave it another try. This time I used the Chromium browser instead of Firefox and it worked immediately. It would have been super annoying if it hadn’t.
Step #3: Vote
Once you’re registered, you will receive a voting PIN between March 25 and April 6, 2013. You will be able to vote online or by telephone starting at 12:01am ET on Sunday, April 7, 2013, until 3pm ET on Sunday April 14, 2013. Voting instructions will arrive with your PIN.
The Liberal Party Leader will be elected through a preferential ballot (meaning that you only vote once so you indicate all the candidates you support in order of preference on a single ballot) based on a points system that gives every riding in the country an equal voice.
Click here to watch their video on the preferential vote and points system.
You won’t be able to vote if you don’t register.
Today is the last day to sign up as a Liberal Party Supporter.
If you sign up, you can vote in the Liberal Party Leadership race next month — you can help select the new Liberal Leader.
You don’t have to pay anything. There are only two rules:
- You must be a Canadian.
- You can’t be a member of any other Political Party. [If you are, it is acceptable to temporarily resign your other Party membership in order to vote.]
If you’re new to the idea, and have no idea who you might want to vote for, here’s the thing: you don’t have to actually vote today, this is just the last day to register as a “supporter” so you can participate in the vote.
The actual voting will be held on April 14, 2013.
I am writing an article explaining why I — a proud life long member of NO party — think this is a good idea, but its taking longer than I thought, and I won’t be done until later tonight… in the meantime there is an:
It’s easy to do, and even if you aren’t likely to actually vote Liberal, wouldn’t it be better for you to have a say in who the new LPC leader is — especially if that leader becomes Canada’s next Prime Minister?
I know one dedicated member of another party who is suspending her membership to vote here, and another who can’t see his way clear to doing this. Beyond these considerations, the only downside I can see is a privacy consideration: you have to give up your email address. Still, if that is a concern, sign up for a disposable free Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail free email address.
Today is the last day to register, so if you decide you want to tomorrow, it will be too late. If you sign up today, you don’t actually have to vote when the time comes. So, why not?
Because Canada needs Proportional Representation, the Liberal Leadership Candidate I will probably vote for is Joyce Murray, the “Cooperate For Canada” candidate. Although I am not entirely sure about Cooperate, Joyce is the only candidate I know of who has come out in support of Proportional Representation, which I am sure about. Some of the others may yet rethink the issue between now and voting day.
Here are a few of her endorsements:
- Leadnow is running the Cooperate for Canada campaign
- Avaaz http://www.avaaz.org/en/join_the_liberals/?rc=fb&pv=91
- Andrew Coyne
- David Suzuki
- Sierra Club
- Project Democracy
- Liberals for Fair Voting
- Peter Russell
- Elizabeth May
- Bruce Hyer
- Sarah Polley
- The Leadnow Facebook page posted Naomi Klein’s statement there
- The Green Party of Ontario
And don’t miss Joyce Murray’s son’s rap video: Baba Brinkman’s rap video
What I don’t like is the idea of political parties in this land that is supposed to be a representative democracy. The way a representative democracy is supposed to work, is that we vote for and elect the candidate we think will best represent us. We elect the candidate we believe will vote for or against proposed laws as we would. So that our best interests will be represented within the halls of our democratic government.
The problem is, once elected, “our” elected representative is more likely to do the bidding of their party than they are to do what we want. Which rather makes a mockery of our “representatation.”
The inequity of our “winner take all” political system means any party holding a majority of seats in parliament has absolute power to enact any legislation it wants. For the entire term.
Our political system is older than Canada. Perhaps our flavour of representative democracy was good enough back in 1867, when communication and transportation were far from instantaneous, and governing a land mass the size of Canada was geographically challenging. But with today’s connectivity and access to information, our political system is sorely outdated and hugely inequitable. Worse, our “democracy” has few if any checks and balances to prevent abuse. When we are cursed with a majority government, what we effectively have is a time limited dictatorship.
(The Senate is supposed to provide “sober second thought,” but partisan Senate padding has resulted in the upper chamber being transformed into a rubber stamp for the party that stacks it the most.)
Because our electoral system is so terribly broken, when any such a majority government seeks to pass laws we don’t approve — the only recourse open to Canadians is to apply the pressure of public opinion. Citizens have to protest in any way we can. All we can do is hope that our government will take heed of our concerns and correct or drop legislation that is not in the public good.
Last summer a great many Canadians were upset by the Conservative “Black Mark Budget” Omnibus bill. Under our woefully antiquated “democracy,” any majority government has the power to pass any law, no matter how unpopular. And when many pieces of unrelated legislation are bundled together and called an “omnibus,” it means these laws are very nearly being passed in secret, because they receive only the most cursory public scrutiny and debate. In a democratic state, at minimum legislation deserves examination and dissent must be heard, even if the system allows for bad law to be passed anyway in the end. We deserve to know when bad law is made.
Because of the current Federal Conservative Majority, the only way to stop the Bill C-38 ominbudget from passing would have been for 13 Conservative MPs to vote against it. An awful lot of ordinary Canadians took to the streets in protest. People who had never lifted before lifted a picket sign in their lives waved them with gusto. Grandparemts, parents, children. A great deal of public pressure was in fact brought to bear. In Waterloo Region, Peter Braid pretended not to have seen the protest outside his office, while Stephen Woodworth magnanimously offered his protesters coffee. Still, in spite of the many protests made at Conservative MP constituency offices across Canada, not a single Conservative MP voted against Party dictates.
Not long afterward, I heard Stephen Woodworth defending his decision to vote against his constituents at the Kitchener Multicultural Festival. In the few minutes I was there, the Member of Parliament explained to two different constituents that he had been unable to vote against Bill C-38 as they wanted, because it would have meant opposing the directives of his political party. The orders issued by his party prevented him from representing the voters who elected him.
Money Makes the World Go Around
Things are pretty bad when a supposedly democratic government ignores the voters. Our system wasn’t entirely fair back in 1867, but it has been gamed and fiddled with by succeeding governments in attempts to give the ruling party an unfair advantage ever since. Is it any wonder that almost half of our eligible voters don’t even bother anymore? Canadians know all too well that all votes don’t count, nor are all votes equal. The system is so badly broken that strategic voting is considered a legitimate option. Something’s got to give.
The Canada that my child will inherit is much worse than the Canada I inherited. We no longer have the option of leaving politics to the politicians. Canadians need to start talking and thinking about politics. We have to stand up for change now or things will keep getting worse.
Today’s political parties seem to spend more time fund raising than campaigning. Why do they need so much cash? Seems they all need oodles of money to pay the costs of television advertising, which gets more expensive all the time. Of course, print advertising and robocalls don’t come cheap either…
With the phasing out of the per vote subsidy, money becomes a much bigger issue, particularly for the smaller political parties.
It is always easier for the rich to bankroll their political party (and get the laws that benefit them passed) but the rest of us need some political representation too. If you feel any political party has stood up for you, or the issues you feel are important maybe you ought to send them a donation.
Perhaps the Pirate Party stood up for privacy and Internet Freedom… or the Green Party fought for the environment… or the Liberal Party is changing the way a political party works… or the NDP is standing up for First Nations… or the Conservative Party put the abortion debate back to sleep.
If you happen to have any cash left on hand after the holidays and want to encourage the party of your choice to keep up the good work, now is the time to make a donation. A $10.00 donation actually only costs you $2.50 after you get $7.50 back in tax credit.
This is how it works:
Canadian Political Donation Facts
Maximum political contribution limit: $1,200
Donations between 0 and $400 ~ a 75% tax credit
Donations between $400 and $750 ~ $300 tax credit plus 50% of any amount over $400;
Donations over $750 ~ $475 + 33.3% of amount over $750 (max $650 per year tax credit)
Any contributions must be made by Monday, December 31st to be eligible for 2012 tax credits.
Another thing to do is get involved. Find out when and where the local political parties meet, and go sit in. Look for your local Fair Vote chapter or Co-Operate for Canada. Read the news. Follow #CDNpoli on Twitter. Listen. Learn.
Canadians need to start talking about politics, and get involved to effect change in one way or another. We can’t afford not to anymore.
Going into the election yesterday we had a Conservative minority government based on 5,209,069 votes, and today we have a Conservative majority government with 5,832,401 votes. That’s a difference of 623,332 votes. It is also a difference of 24 seats.
The 41st Canadian Federal Election has resulted in a Conservative Party of Canada majority government.
My son, who cast his first vote last night, asked me how it could have happened? Even with the tame “news” media [the watchdog press is indeed dead] he was under the impression that there was strong opposition to the Conservative government.
And of course the polls conducted throughout the term of the 40th Parliament always seemed to hover in the mid 30% range.
[No, I don't believe in polls... that's for all the people who tried to convince me of the accuracy of public opinion polls.]
As my friend Sheila said,
“Majority? Well, 24.1% of Canadians have spoken.”
Because Canadian voter turnout was less than stellar. Only 61.4% of registered voters voted yesterday, up slightly from 2008′s all time low of 59.1%.
My Bahamian friend Drew forwarded me this Voter turnout data for Bahamas. Can you imagine? They have a 92.13% voter turnout! I guess it really is better in the Bahamas.
comparing the results
So, lets look at what happened in Canada, eh? Possibly the easiest way to see what happened is to compare the results of the 41st election with the results of the 40th in 2008.
2008: Minority Government
The Conservative Party of Canada
5,209,069 votes, which was 37.65% of the popular vote and gave them 143 seats
The Liberal Party of Canada
3,633,185 votes, which was 26.26% of the popular vote and gave them 77 seats
The Bloc Québécois
1,379,991 votes, which was 9.98% of the popular vote and gave them 49 seats
The New Democratic Party of Canada
2,515,288 votes, which was 18.18% of the popular vote and gave them 37 seats
The Green Party of Canada
937,613 votes, which was 6.78% of the popular vote and gave them 0 seats
Voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian election history, as only 59.1% of the electorate cast a ballot.
Wikipedia: Canadian federal election, 2008
2011 Majority government
The Conservative Party of Canada
5,832,401 votes, which was 39.6% of the popular vote and gave them 167 seats (54%)
The New Democratic Party of Canada
4,508,474 votes, which was 30.6% of the popular vote and gave them 102 seats (33.1%)
The Liberal Party of Canada
2,783,175 votes, which was 18.9% of the popular vote and gave them 34 seats (11.0%)
The Bloc Québécois
889,788 votes, which was 6% of the popular vote and gave them 4 seats (1.3%)
Green Party of Canada
576,221 votes, which was 3.9% of the popular vote and gave them 1 seat (0.3%)
Voter turnout: 14,720,580 of 23,971,740 registered electors (61.4%)
source: Elections Canada: 2011 General Election: Preliminary Results
all votes are not created equal
I’m no math genius, but even I can see that the numbers don’t add up.
In the last election the Green Party had 937,613 votes and zero seats. After yesterday’s election, the Green Party has 576,221 votes and no seats. So now they’ve lost a few hundred thousand votes they have a seat. Although the Green Party lost votes, they probably haven’t lost any support. Because people concerned for the environment don’t suddenly going to stop caring. It isn’t as though there were any scandals in the Green Party. The only way the Green Party let their supporters down was in not getting elected.
Without an elected representative, the people who vote have no voice in parliament. We also saw the consortium’s exclusion of Elizabeth May from the televised Leadership debates.
The upshot is that the near million voters who voted Green across Canada had no representation in government. It is reasonable to assume that the lost votes went somewhere “strategic.” It can be hard voting for a party that can’t seem to win, no matter how much you believe in them.
The single biggest problem in a first past the post electoral system is that you only get parliamentary representation if the candidate you vote for is elected. And even then, if the candidate’s party doesn’t form the government, your representation is second class.
The main business of government is making laws. This is the other place where the numbers really count.
A majority government controls more than half the available seats in the House of Commons.
Which means a majority government can pass any law they want.
The Conservative Party of Canada got 5,832,401 votes, or 39.6%.
All the other parties together received 8,888,179 votes, or 60.4%
Because of the way our system weights votes, less than 40% of the votes cast means a majority government.
More than 60% of the votes cast don’t count. This is what they mean when they talk about wasted votes.
Add to that another 9,251,160 registered voters who didn’t vote at all.
This majority government actually represents a minority of voters. The 5,832,401 votes cast for the Conservative Party of Canada count.
The other 18,139,339 votes do not. Is it any wonder why people get frustrated? In a democracy, every vote should count.
Canada needs electoral reform. I have been learning a lot about the different types of government that are possible from the non-partisan electoral reform group Fairvote Canada. Everyone who is concerned with this extraordinary inequity should get involved.
Because Canada deserves electoral reform.
Photographs released by laurelrusswurm under a Creative Commons Attribution Only License.
The overwhelming response from the vast majority of Copyright Consultation respondents indicated Canadians were opposed to TPM/DRM (Technical Protection Measures/Digital Rights Management) or “digitial locks”. Digital locks prevent users from using the media and devices the way they want to.
In spite of that, when Bill C-32 was tabled, TPM or “digital locks” was the most over-riding element, and made circumventing digital locks illegal. Even of we are legally entitled to access the content, under C-32 we would be breaking the law to bypass the digital lock.
This is the part that most upset me, as a writer, because this could remove my right as an author to distribute my creative work as I see fit. TPM/DRM places control of digital distribution in the hands of corporations. This law would have allowed manufacturers to use TPM to prevent consumers from accessing free material we are legally entitled to access on our laptops, dvds, cell phones and ipads etc.
If Bill C-32 had passed as is, Canada would most certainly have seen digital locks added to all digital devices, allowing corporate control of our culture.
WikiLeaks Cables Released
At last, WikiLeaks has released a batch of cablegate cables revealing the truth behind the conditions of so-called Canadian “copyright reform” saga.
A cable originating in the office of the U.S. Secretary of State is a blueprint for the copyright legislation the Canadian Government was expected to pass:
Prohibition of manufacturing and trafficking in technological
protection measure (TPM) circumvention devices as an offense
separate from copyright infringement;
Prohibition of circumvention of TPMs that control access to
works (quote access controls unquote);
Deterrent penalties against unauthorized circumvention –
both civil and criminal;
If there are any exceptions to TPM or rights management
information (RMI) liability, the exceptions should be clearly
enumerated and narrow in scope;
A system of protections and obligations for ISPs that
shelters them from certain liability, reduces and prevents
copyright infringement on the Internet and provides
incentives for ISPs to work cooperatively with copyright
Well, would you look at that. The most contentious issues — the issues objected to by Canadians — all come from the United States. And all the while, our government insisted that Bill C-32 was a “made-in-Canada” solution.
So, what would be Canada’s reward for making copyright law beneficial to the US at the expense of the Canadian public interest?
– (If needed) As Ambassador Kirk indicated in April, USTR is
prepared to reopen the USG interagency process to reassess
Canada,s placement on the Special 301 list if Canada enacts
selling out Canada
The “prize” Canada might receive for suborning Canadian Sovereignty in favor of American demands is that if we enact “adequate” legislation – legislation that suits American needs over our own – the “USTR is prepared to reopen the USG interagency process to reassess Canada,s placement on the Special 301 list.”
Or, in other words, all Canada has to do is make the laws the United States tells us to make, and then the USTR might stop lying about Canada, by placing Canada on the spurious USTR Watch List.
(And where was the “watchdog press”?)
Other cables recently released by WikiLeaks have clearly shown that Canada was only placed on the USTR Watch List in order to bully us into passing copyright law favorable to US special interests.
Ironically, Canada’s specious inclusion on the USTR Watch List has been a huge contributing factor in exposing the USTR Watch List for the fraud it is. Since the American record of copyright infringement is worse than ours, the United States should be listed there before Canada. The WatchList has been used against other countries around the world in just this way.
Clearly, Canada don’t need no stinkin’ DMCA.
As we approach the 41st Canadian Election, Canadians should reflect on the fact that
both Conservative and LiberalGovernments have proven
their willingness to make copyright law harmful to Canadian interests
to appease our American neighbors.
Oh! Canada, indeed.
Please vote on Monday in the Federal Election.
Don’t vote strategically if there is a candidate you believe in. If we don’t start voting for what we want, we will never get it.
The only Canadian political parties opposed to electoral reform are the Conservative and Liberal parties. Canada has other choices. Visit the Elections Canada site to see what choices are available in your riding.
Canadians are often admonished by the media for “voter apathy.”
In every election, the media complains about the high percentage of Canadians who don’t vote.
So why don’t Canadians vote?
Independent Canadian Journalist/Blogger Jason Koblovsky pointed to this excellent Parliament of Canada article:
Youth Voter Turnout in Canada – 2. Reasons for the Decline and Efforts to Increase Participation which provides both background and basic understanding of the “voter apathy” problem.
Voter apathy is not confined to the young.
This problem has spread through all of Canada. One powerful reason many Canadians, both young and old, feel disenfranchised by the system, is that:
“…many voters doubt that voting every four years
can truly influence the decision-making process …”
Why don’t Canadians think we can make a difference?
It begins with our First-Past-the-Post electoral system. We have electoral ridings where a mere 29% of the vote garners a plurality win. So although 29% has never been a passing grade at school, it is apparently enough to promote candidates into lawmakers. Inequities in the system leave too far many citizens without any voice at all in government. To learn more about electoral reform, visit the Fairvote Canada site and give their Fairvote Calculator a spin.
Because left to themselves, neither Liberal or Conservative parties are likely to enact electoral reform.
Why would they wish to alter the system that has, until now, allowed them to take turns ruling Canada?
Our Members of Parliament are supposed to represent us – and look out for our best interests – in Parliament.
Currently, there are enough citizens in each riding that if the elected Member of Parliament did nothing but meet constituents 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, they would only be able to give each a few minutes of their time.
But they don’t. Our elected Members of Parliament are in Ottawa for some of the year, making the laws that govern our lives. And most people never seek out their MP unless they have a problem. Which is a good thing, because there really is not enough time in a year for an MP to talk to every voter.
That’s why it is so important for constituents to have an opportunity to see the candidates who seek to represent them.
41st Election Campaign
Now that we are in the midst of an election, candidates are canvassing door-to-door. It’s one of those folksy things designed to make politicians appear more accessible.
I know they’re canvassing because many of them are “tweeting” about canvassing on Twitter. In fact, former Conservative Minster of Industry, Tony Clement, recently tweeted that he was engaged in friendly rivalry with the NDP candidate who was canvassing the very same street.
Which got me thinking. I mean, seriously, if there isn’t enough time to speak to everyone they represent in the course of a year, how can they possibly manage it during the few weeks of an election? If most Canadians never get a candidate at their door during a campaign, why would a Conservative and NDP candidate end up canvassing the same street at the same time in the same election?
Clearly, candidates have to decide where to canvass. Are they are targeting the same areas? And where are politicians going door to door? In nice neighborhoods, of course.
In my entire life, I’ve actually only had candidates at my door twice, once for a municipal election and once federal.
Can it be that they only canvass the “better” neighborhoods? A friend of mine was surprised to learn there is any door-to-door canvassing at all. He lives in the densely populated urban setting of my riding, in what is a residential mix ranging from single family dwellings to townhouses, low rises and high rises, with some subsidized housing on the side. You couldn’t ask for a better cross section of society. Talk about the electorate in microcosm.
But he assumed that they didn’t do that anymore since he has never had a politician at his door.
Can it really be that door-to-door canvassing only happens in rich neighborhoods? If that is true, is it any wonder that citizens who do not live in expensive neighborhoods feel disenfranchised?
How the 41st Election is being run: close to home
More than 115,00 citizens reside in the geographically huge Kitchener-Conestoga riding which combines three far flung rural townships with the densely populated southwestern part of the city of Kitchener. What that means is this riding includes many of the very poorest citizens of Waterloo Region, including the unemployed, immigrants, students and the disabled, alongside young families starting out as inexpensively as possible. At the same time the riding includes some of the region’s very richest citizens who reside in multi-million dollar homes situated in the surrounding townships.
This calendar provides information about 41st election events in Waterloo region. The first Kitchener-Conestoga all-candidates meeting took place in the tiny town of St. Agatha, a geographic location not served by public transit. And of course, this event happened at the start of the campaign so the newly minted Green Party candidate, Albert Ashley, wasn’t able to attend. In other words it wasn’t really an “all candidates” meeting.
A second all-candidates meeting was scheduled for in Elmira, another venue not served by public transit.
Well, if you wanted to arrive well before the meeting began, you could have attended, but Grand River Transit daily service concluded before the meeting actually began at 7pm, so you wouldn’t have been able to get home.
So. The ONLY “all candidates” meetings in this riding were held in out of the way venues inaccessible to public transit.
Only citizens with cars are included in the electoral process. #FAIL
If Canadians were to vote for the candidates we want to elect instead of the candidates that strategic voting advocates convince us we have to vote for (and who are, in fact, the candidates the advocates support) we would see real change.
Canadians have long been told that majority government is a good thing. Yet, in practice majority government has the power to ignore citizens, so in reality majority government is only good for the winner (and their friends).
We are told elections are expensive, yet even if we held elections annually it would be far cheaper than the patronage that always happens with a majority government.
We are told that votes for the Green Party of Canada or the New Democratic Party are wasted, ineffectual because they can’t form a national government. Yet these two parties are fielding candidates across the entire country. This means Canada has four parties able to send enough candidates to Ottawa to form a majority government for #elxn41.
We are told that votes for small new parties or independent candidates are also wasted votes. Any party incapable of forming a national government is supposed to be a waste. Tell that to the Bloc Québécois. Ostensibly formed to lead Quebec separation from Canada, the BQ party has championed the rights of Quebec’s citizens at the federal level.
When we elect any candidates they are capable of giving citizens a voice in Ottawa (and even more so should there be a coalition government.) The Universal Health Care that Canadians value so much would never have come about but for just such a “fringe” party.
It is implied that only the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada are capable of governing because of their experience, taking turns. They have taken turns governing this country all along. Yet if we look closely, we can see that they are not the same. John Diefenbaker’s Conservative Party (the party that pulled the plug on the AVRO Arrow, and incidentally Canada’s aerospace industry) was very different from Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative Party (the party that gave us the GST, with the bulk of tax funds collected going into bureaucracy needed to administer it) and is in turn very different from Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party (itself a coalition made up from the merger of the Reform Party with the remnants of the PC Party).
Supporting the alternating Liberal and Conservative parties has put Canada in the position we occupy today. We’ve gone from a nation of early adopters of digital innovation to a nation barely treading water in a digital world. Past Liberal and Conservative governments are equally culpable in allowing the erosion of Canada’s digital economy through favoring corporate special interests at the expense of Canadians. Governments the world over have shown a woeful inability to understand crucial digital issues, and ours is no different. That’s why the Pirate Party of Canada came into existence – to fight to safeguard Canada’s digital future.
Polls are treated as though their results are factual, and they tell us who will be elected before a single vote is cast. If polls were 100% accurate why do we need to hold an election? A small sampling, polls are far from a foregone conclusion. At worst, a poll can be slanted to misrepresent the situation, but even at best a poll is akin to an educated guess. A poll is not fact, but a survey.
All of these misconceptions are promoted vigorously by the mainstream media. It is very important to realize that mainstream media is anything but unbiased. The mainstream media has its own agenda, which does not reflect the best interests of citizens, but rather the needs of the corporations. (TV tax, Fox News North, Canadian DMCA, UBB… )
The mainstream media berating Canadians for low voter turnout has contributed directly to it through its propagation of misinformation.
While we worry about two tier health care we suffer from two tier democracy. Certainly the two problems are connected.
And a great many Canadians do not usually vote.
Instead of reaching out to voters who don’t ordinarily vote, it appears that today’s political parties only bother with the usual suspects.
Instead of reaching out to the disenfranchised, they attempt to change minds that are already made up for the most part.
As far as the Conservative and Liberal parties are concerned, they have only each other to beat. That’s why they like our seriously broken political system, and will certainly never enact electoral reform. After all, as Charlie Sheen says, they are #winning.
But are they really? I don’t think so.
Canadians are increasingly disgruntled.
We are generally becoming more politically aware than we have been for a long time because of the failures of our government. Participation in Politics looks at the way technology is giving citizens the means to have our voices heard. Canadian politics are in such disarray that the disenfranchised aren’t waiting anymore to be invited to participate in democracy.
The amount of anger on display in the streets at last year’s at last year’s no-prorogation rallies was palpable. And a great many of these citizens had never even marked an x on a ballot. But social media and the Internet have given us ways to communicate and mobilize as never before.
The fact that the “all candidates” meetings are drawing bigger crowds than expected is telling.
In an effort to attract students to voting, Elections Canada have been allowing campus polling stations to make it easier for students to vote. The Conservative Party attempted to have the votes cast at the University of Guelph polling station discounted but failed.
Anything is possible.
The results of the last election is old news… history. What happened in the last election has no bearing on this one, unless we choose to learn from it.
No one has been elected for the 41st Parliament.
Every job position sits vacant, and it’s up to Canadians to decide who will fill them.
Canadian voices *can* be heard. Go Canada!
Original photographs by laurelrusswurm released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License
Canada don’t need no stinkin’ DMCA
Title amendment at June 1st, 2010
Michael Geist says that they are planning to call the new “copyright” law
the Digital Copyright Modernization Act or Canadian DCMA
I guess that ways they can say it isn’t a “Canadian DMCA” with a straight face…. llr
Yesterday morning I was just taking a quick peek at Twitter before getting back to revisions when I saw a tweet from The Electronic Frontier Foundation:
RT@BoingBoing Canadian Prime Minister promises to enact a Canadian DMCA in six weeks http://bit.ly/c8Re4h
That did not sound promising. In fact it sounded downright scary. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is widely known to be a deeply flawed draconian copyright law. And that isn’t just a Canadian perception, that’s an opinion shared by many people around the world. It is reasonable to assume that a good part of the citizen resistance to A.C.T.A. is a direct result of seeing the DMCA in action.
You might wonder why I am so concerned. After all, this is just the announcement of a bill that won’t even be available for First Reading before June. This bill is so new it doesn’t have a number yet. But previous drafts of so called Canadian “copyright reforms” have been bad. And the fact that representatives of this government are involved in the fast tracked secret A.C.T.A. negotiations does not instill confidence.
It seems that increasingly our elected representatives choose to ignore Canadians. After all, more than eight thousand concerned Canadians made submissions to the copyright consultation. What we said appears not to have been heard by our government.
As a mother, I have a powerful stake in the future. As a creator and a consumer, copyright is also very important to me. But I am only a private citizen. One person. So it takes a lot to make my voice heard.
When my government demonstrates its willingness to ignore not just my voice, but the voices of thousands of my fellow citizens, then I need to do my best to encourage even more citizens to speak up. That means starting now, before the new bill is released to public scrutiny because there must be time to inform many more Canadians of the issue.
In 2007, the architect of the DMCA and the WIPO Internet Treaties admitted:
“…our attempts at copyright control have not been successful…”
—Chairman Bruce Lehman, International Intellectual Property Institute March 24, 2007
boingboing: DMCA’s author says the DMCA is a failure, blames record industry
Like most Canadians, back then I was so busy with my life that I wasn’t paying much attention. I was leaving politics and lawmaking to the professionals. After all, that’s what they’re paid for, right?
It seems that the politicians want Canada to ratify the WIPO treaties. But that can’t happen until we have enacted domestic laws to back them up. This is why first the Liberals, and now the Conservatives, are trying to put through copyright reform.
The thing of it is, according to Howard Knopf Canada has strong copyright Laws, maybe too strong. In many ways stronger than American Copyright Law.
Now, in 2010, the EFF has made this assessment of the DMCA:
- The DMCA Chills Free Expression and Scientific Research.
Experience with section 1201 demonstrates that it is being used to stifle free speech and scientific research. The lawsuit against 2600 magazine, threats against Princeton Professor Edward Felten’s team of researchers, and prosecution of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov have chilled the legitimate activities of journalists, publishers, scientists, students, programmers, and members of the public.
- The DMCA Jeopardizes Fair Use.
By banning all acts of circumvention, and all technologies and tools that can be used for circumvention, the DMCA grants to copyright owners the power to unilaterally eliminate the public’s fair use rights. Already, the movie industry’s use of encryption on DVDs has curtailed consumers’ ability to make legitimate, personal-use copies of movies they have purchased.
- The DMCA Impedes Competition and Innovation.
Rather than focusing on pirates, some have wielded the DMCA to hinder legitimate competitors. For example, the DMCA has been used to block aftermarket competition in laser printer toner cartridges, garage door openers, and computer maintenance services. Similarly, Apple has used the DMCA to tie its iPhone and iPod devices to Apple’s own software and services.
- The DMCA Interferes with Computer Intrusion Laws.
Further, the DMCA has been misused as a general-purpose prohibition on computer network access, a task for which it was not designed and to which it is ill-suited. For example, a disgruntled employer used the DMCA against a former contractor for simply connecting to the company’s computer system through a virtual private network (“VPN”).”
— Electronic Frontier Foundation, Unintended Consequences: Twelve Years under the DMCA
Canada has been under heavy pressure from the United States to follow their legislative lead and create our own DMCA.
First, the Liberal Party of Canada gave it a try with Bill C-60. Fortunately for Canada, the Liberal Party had a minority government at the time and a non-confidence vote killed their Bill C-60. I have no doubt that this law would have passed had there been a Liberal majority.
Next, the Conservative Party of Canada put forth their own Bill C-61 in an attempt to create a Canadian DMCA. Canada was again lucky to have a minority government. There was an even greater outcry from the citizenry. Embarrassing articles in ars technica: “Canadian DMCA” brings “balanced” copyright to Canada and boingboing: Canadian DMCA is worse than the American one seem to have been prevalent. I have no doubt that this law would have passed had there been a Conservative majority.
Luckily for us, Bill C-61 was scrapped by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first premature prorogation. The Conservatives promised to re-introduce Bill C-61 if they were re-elected. But although they were re-elected, it was without the majority they expected.
but we can’t bank on being lucky
With a minority government, the Conservative government took the reasonable path of addressing one of the chief complaints about the previous attempts — lack of meaningful public consultation. The Ministry of Industry mounted a Canada wide Copyright Consultation. They held “Town Hall” meetings across the country. Unfortunately complaints of “stacking” the speakers, incidents of interested parties being prevented from disseminating literature, or citizens being denied access to the “town hall” venues of these “public” meetings were leveled throughout this part of the process.
But this is the 21st Century. They don’t call this the Information Age for nothing. And to their credit, Industry Canada’s web site hosted an online consultation that would accept submissions from any and all Canadians who cared to speak up. As a citizen, I thought this a good use of technology. This is a prime example of just how democracy can be fine tuned to accurately reflect the will of the people in the 21st Century.
Isn’t the point of a democracy the creation of laws that reflect society’s mores?
How better than to assess the wants and needs of Canadian society than by soliciting the input of concerned Canadians?
More than 8,000 Canadians made written copyright consultation submissions answering the handful of questions posed by the Ministry. Michael Geist provided a nice breakdown and this rebuttal of Robert Owen’s analysis is a good too.
The Canadian government asked for citizen input and they got it. Instead of the few hundred submissions that I gather are a more common response, they received thousands of submissions. Many Canadians assumed that our government might actually consider what we told them. After all, they asked us what we thought.
Was the copyright consultation all smoke and mirrors?
Apparently the phrase “Canadian DMCA” got so much play yesterday that it actually became a Twitter trending topic. Hmmmm, sure sounds as though Canadians actually care about this issue.
the boingboing comment that got to me was
CG • #9said:
“…they didn’t listen to the consultation; why would they listen this time?”
If we look at it that way, and throw up our hands in disgust, THEY WILL HAVE WON.
How is the government looking at this? This is a protest by a “special interest group”. A mere handful of Canadians… less than 9,000… made submissions. Come on, out of 33 million? That’s only a tiny fraction. Do the math.
Prime Minister Harper doesn’t think it is enough opposition to make a difference. After all, it is ONLY some lowly radical tech people who are against it. And maybe a few of the musicians who have begun establishing recording careers without having to give record companies their copyright. [Did you know that 30% of the Canadian recording industry has gone independent? Is THAT the real reason the music biz wants to stop p2p?]
The problem is that the Government is correct. Most Canadians don’t understand what is happening or what this will mean.
Perhaps our government is counting on us getting angry at being ignored, and then frustrated beyond endurance, until we come to the point we have to give up and get on with our real lives, leaving them free to do whatever they want.
In this instance pandering to the American Government– who are in turn pandering to their own giant media corporations. Make no mistake– the American DMCA does not serve American citizens, it serves American corporations. You know the ones I mean. Corporations like Disney, who want copyright to never end. Corporations like the big music companies who used to control the entire recording industry of the entire world. In Canada, that’s the CRIA, the “Big Four” American branch plants that used to control 100% of the Canadian recording Industry.
Since the advent of the Internet, and p2p filesharing, Canadian musicians are going independent. Leaving the four CRIA record companies in control of only 70% of the Canadian recording industry.
That is probably the real reason Canada makes it onto the USTR watch list every year. That USTR list is one of the main reasons why Canada is perceived to be a haven of piracy when in fact there is far less infringement here than most places. Certainly less than the United States. On April 14th of this year, Michael Geist reported American government findings: U.S. Government Study: Counterfeiting and Piracy Data Unreliable, and on April 30th USTR’s Bully Report Unfairly Blames Canada Again. Yet the Canadian government didn’t even make an issue of this or make a submission to the USTR.
So the United States keeps putting Canada on their “watch list”. Our friendly neighbor to the south is accusing us — in the absence of credible facts — of being a pirate nation.
First they call us names, and malign our international reputation, but then they promise to stop if we give them what they want. Isn’t there a word for that?
All they want is our sovereignty.
This is why it so important to NOT GIVE UP.
Canadians can’t afford to give up in frustration. And there are things to do. If enough of us do them, we may be heard.
- 1. First: TELL everybody that you know. The mainstream news media isn’t talking about it, so we need to.
- 2. EXPLAIN the issues to everybody who will listen. If you can’t explain it, (after all, how many of us are IP lawyers?) send them to any of the links above, send them to Michael Geist, Howard Knopf, BoingBoing, p2pnet, zeropaid, wikipedia… wherever, whatever it takes.
- 3. Write letters to politicians.
- 4. Submit letters to the Editor to your local newspaper, or one of the national ones, or magazines like MacLeans. Comment online (where appropriate). Talk to your local radio station– great interview topic, make for a good phone in show… Or find a local Indie band. Chances are they will know exactly how important this fight is. Maybe they’ll play a free concert in the park to raise awareness.
- 5. Blog if you’ve got a blog. If you don’t, it’s really easy to start one. (most blogs are much shorter than this. Really.) If you really don’t want to start a blog, but you’ve got something to say, contact me (or another blogger of your choice) about doing a guest blog post.
- 6. Use Twitter, Identi.ca, Facebook, IRC channel chat rooms– or any other internet information sharing thing you are part of– to spread the word. (Michael Geist has a Fair Copyright for Canada group on Facebook, and the Facebook CAPP group is still out there.
- 7. There is also Fairvote Canada a grass roots non-partisan electoral reform movement which is growing local chapters across the country. On Wednesday May 12th the Waterloo, Chapter is hosting a debate Debate: Strategic Voting – What’s a voter to do?.
Michael Geist recommends sending an actual paper mail letter via snail mail postal mail. Right or wrong, politicians attach far more weight to paper letters than email. After all, anyone could say they were anyone on an email. (Like that doesn’t hold true for a paper letter.) But email is EASY. It takes so little effort for us to send that maybe it doesn’t mean we’re really serious. We haven’t showed our commitment to the issue by writing on actual paper and giving Canada Post something to do. Last year when I emailed politicians about an issue, some of them weren’t tech savvy enough to turn off the email confirmations. Of those, about half confirmed that my email was deleted without being read. So look at it this way, if you send them a paper letter, someone in the office has to at least open it before throwing it out.
If you don’t know who your representative is in your riding, this is a link to the MP postal code look-up. Find your MP and the first letter should go to your own MP, but don’t stop there. Send letters to:
The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
House of Commons
Minister of Industry
The Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B.
House of Commons
Minister of Heritage
The Hon. James Moore, P.C., B.A.
House of Commons
Michael Ignatieff, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
House of Commons
[*M. Duceppe would prefer communication in French, but I've heard that he's classy enough to respond to mono-lingual English speakers in English
(in other words, English would be better than a bad Google translation]
The Hon. Jack Layton, P.C., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
NDP Technology Critic
House of Commons
Unelected leader of the Green Party
[The green party of canada only makes phone and web contact information available on their site. I guess that's a reasonable stance for an environmental party.
(Maybe I just couldn't find it since I'm tired, being up way past my bedtime to finish this.) You could call during business hours, but my guess is that emailing would be fine here.]
The Unelected Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada
Pirate Party of Canada
43 Samson Blvd #165
Laval QC H7X 3R8
[Since the Pirate Party exists to promote copyright reform, it's reasonable to assume they oppose any DMCA like legislation, but it wouldn't hurt to discuss the issues with them. One reason I plug them is because they legally distribute music from some great Canadian bands free online through their p2p Pirate Tracker. Great for Canadian heritage, eh? Last I heard the PPOC was expecting the official party status notification which will make them eligible to field candidates for the next Federal Election.]
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ferret out any smaller political parties that may exist in your riding. Wikipedia of course has a list of canadian political parties which would be an excellent starting point. The more people we have talking about copyright, the better
It has taken so long to get this article done that it’s Thursday… and I’m just about to post this monstrosity but I thought I’d include a link to Michael Geist’s latest on the subject Covering the Return of the Canadian DMCA as he’s included many links to articles I haven’t had time to look at yet both online and (ahem) in the mainstream news media.
(If there’s enough buzz, the mainstream HAS to follow.)
Get involved. There are many ways to participate. It’s for our future.
Update May 9th, 2010
It wouldn’t hurt to add two more to the list of letter recipients:
Liberal Industry critic
House of Commons
Liberal Heritage critic
House of Commons
These late additions are courtesy of Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights. This group has a nice form letter on offer so you can Send A Letter To Ottawa To Stop The Canadian DMCA. You can customize the letter in their online form, and when you submit it, they will electronically submit your letter to an array of politicians (a less extensive list than mine, which is a kitchen sink approach) and then the CCER also undertakes to forward a hard copy to these same politicians.
Certainly it is less work to allow someone else to do the mailing for you, but that’s always a bit dangerous. One of the simplest ways to protect yourself online–a simple internet security safeguard– is to not give out any more personal info than you absolutely have to online. There are times when we haven’t a choice. When dealing with my bank, I HAVE to identify myself to them if I want to be able to access my cash. But then, I only access my bank through their secure (read encrypted) web page.
I wouldn’t use a form myself, partly because I’m a writer, and partly because, like email, politicians assign less weight to a form letter. On the other hand, a form letter is much better than no response at all. Of course, I might cut and past their form letter into Open Office to use as a road map for writing my own.
This is not to malign the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights. They are just trying to make it as easy as possible for concerned citizens to put their two cents worth in, because the CCER understands the importance of speaking out. But ANY time you fill in a form like this and send your unencrypted personal information over the Internet it can easily go astray or be harvested by spammers. Especially in Canada where the CRTC has given Bell Canada permission to use Deep Packet Inspection on Canadian Internet traffic. DPI makes it possible for Bell to see anything unencrypted that we put online. Bell Canada assured the CRTC that it would not abuse this process, but there is no oversight or any meaningful complaint procedure in place should your personal information be compromised in any way.
I’ll opt for caution.
P.S. The bill is scheduled to be tabled (introduced into the legislature, I think that means first reading but I may be wrong) this afternoon.
For breaking news check Michael Geist’s blog. Curerently this is the latest: