Posts Tagged ‘Pirate Party of Canada’
Canadians don’t want a two party federal system — we’re far too diverse.
That’s why we’ve embraced the notion of being a “mosaic” nation, a stark contrast to the American “melting pot” culture, where everyone is expected to fit into the homogeneous mold. But my Canada has found unity in diversity — we are a confederation of different peoples and different cultures. It’s no surprise we have so many political parties.
Unfortunately our antiquated electoral system disadvantages both independent candidates and the smaller parties, making it very difficult for them to represent citizens in Parliament. For a long time the Green Party of Canada failed to achieve a single voice in parliament — even with the support of almost a million Canadians. But when governments in power have the ability to change rules and riding boundaries to their own advantage, its no wonder the more powerful parties are able to secure seats in parliament with a many fewer votes. But persistence can pay off, and we now have two GPC parliamentarians, and we’ve seen what a difference the addition has made.
But the Canadian tragedy is that there are still far too many of us without any representation at all. but in reality, any electoral system that fails to provide representation to three quarters of the eligible voters can hardly be called a “representative democracy.”
Too many citizens give up on our unfair political system in frustration. The reasoning goes: why waste our time voting if our votes don’t count? When almost half of the eligible voters don’t vote, support for the smaller parties waxes and wanes, and fewer votes determine our election outcomes.
But many Canadians are stubborn, too. That’s why many smaller parties continuously jump through the bureaucratic hoops necessary to retain their official “Registered Party” status. These small political parties may not be able to have official standing in the House of Commons, but they nonetheless represent a great many of our citizens and residents, many of whom are among the most politically active members of Canadian society. These Canadians work for significant programs, and fight for real solutions to the major problems facing Canadians, including proposals for democratic reform.
This is why so many Canadians keep on “wasting our votes” by voting for the candidates and parties we want to send to Ottawa. Even when we understand that supporting one of the smaller parties is unlikely to secure us representation in parliament, a great many Canadians continue our dogged support of a wide variety of diverse smaller political parties. Because we believe that Canada should truly be a democracy, most Canadians believe all Canadians deserve representation in Parliament.
Even though our badly outdated winner-take-all electoral system makes it nearly impossible for the smaller parties to install MPs in the House of Commons, they can still speak for us.
Add they do speak for us.
On Friday, April 11th, 2014, the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, the Canadian Action Party, the Christian Heritage Party, the Communist Party of Canada, the Libertarian Party of Canada, the Marijuana Party of Canada, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, the Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency, the Pirate Party of Canada, and the Progressive Canadian Party will be speaking up for the vast majority of Canadians who lack representation in Ottawa.
Press Conference on Parliament Hill
On Friday morning, Canada’s small Registered Political Parties will discuss Bill C-23, The Fair Elections Act, at a Press Conference on Parliament Hill.
This diverse group of political parties will come together to voice their particular concerns and objections and outline their commonly held reasons for opposing Bill C-23. All these parties are unanimous in their opposition to Bill C-23, and like the many Canadians they represent, they want to see this Unfair Elections Act withdrawn in its entirety.
Unrepresented Canadians and Small Parties without House of Commons seats share the challenge of being heard. This is why citizen journalists, bloggers and even mainstream media (and citizens, too) need to attend this press conference, and share their views on this vitally important topic.
Date: Friday, April 11, 2014
Time: 10:30 am Ottawa Time
Place: Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block, Parliament Hill
For further information contact the party of your choice:
- Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, 416-462-9541
- Canadian Action Party, 519-852-8279
- Christian Heritage Party, 819-281-6686, 1-888-868-3247
- Communist Party of Canada, 416-469-2446
- Libertarian Party of Canada, 613-288-9089
- Marijuana Party of Canada, 514-507-5188
- Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, 416-253-4475
- Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency, 416-567-6913
- Pirate Party of Canada, (877) 978-2023
- Progressive Canadian Party, 905-853-8949
Although these small parties have yet to overcome the artificial barriers inherent in our unfair First Past The Post electoral system, they do in fact speak for much of the effectively disenfranchised Canadian population. In a real democracy, all voices must be heard.
Keep track of the progress of Bill C-23 here.
And call or write your Member of Parliament to tell them just what you think of this mis-named legislation.
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.
I have written something similar to this letter more than once, which made me think I should post it publicly. I understand that even activist organizations need operating expenses. I don’t have the slightest qualms about whether an organization I support accepts “dirty money.” If a person, corporation or gun runner wants to support good causes out of guilt or whatever, great. It won’t improve my opinion of the donor, nor will it make me think less of the recipient.
But that is a different thing than using PayPal, or worse, than
using *only* PayPal. If you have a PayPal account you agree to allow PayPal control over your finances. Where I might accept a Nobel Prize I would not give gun runners or terrorists access to my bank account. See the difference?
Doing business with PayPal actively supports this American Corporation which has shown willingness to mess with Canadian sovereignty, and worse, Canadian democracy.
Here’s the body of my letter:
I understand and support what you are trying to do. What I can’t understand is why you deal with PayPal.
Just prior to the beginning of his trial, G20 activist Byron Sonne‘s defense account was summarily cut off by PayPal.
Previously, PayPal arbitrarily froze Pirate Party of Canada funds when they were gearing up for an election.
PayPal has also cut off Wikileaks, an international organization that not only has not broken a single law anywhere in the world, but also has not been charged with anything in any jurisdiction in the world. [Should the United States alter any of their laws in future solely to muzzle Wikileaks, well, that won't count.]
And that doesn’t say anything about all the people around the world who have set up a PayPal account for some reason or other only to have PayPal arbitrarily decide to freeze their funds.
Aside from the fact that it is dangerous for any person or group involved in any type of political reform to trust any part of their income to this corporation which has a track record of selectively discriminating against same, the ethics of many citizens like myself will not allow us to deal with PayPal under any circumstances.
I understand why a new organization would sign up with Paypal – everyone knows the name and they make it easy to sign up – but you should understand that dealing with PayPal says that your organization is willing to deal with a corporate entity with a track record of bullying customers and assisting government repression.
Personally, like many people, I will not use Paypal no matter how good the cause. Nor would I feel comfortable forwarding your email to anyone else so long as you request donations that can only be made through PayPal.
If your organization wants the support of people with conscience, it needs to respect our choices.
I am sure there are more alternatives to PayPal but the only ones I am currently aware of are WePay, and Ogone allows for straight credit card payments in Europe [I don't know if they operate in North America].
Just thought you should be aware of this important issue.
Laurel L. Russwurm
Which reminds me… I need to cut a cheque so I can post my small contribution for Byron Sonne’s defense.
Every bit helps. #freebyron
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
was #copycon futile?
Last year the Canadian Government held a Copyright Consultation to ask Canadians what we thought was important for Canadian copyright law. More than 8,000 Canadians from all across Canada made #copycon submissions. We have yet to see if we were heard, although rumour has it that the legislature will be seeing a new Canadian Copyright bill soon… possibly for June 2010. Many of us have serious concerns about whether it was an exercise in futility or not.
From my perspective, even if the government does not listen and learn from the #copycon, I know I have learned an enormous amount about copyright and how we think from other Canadians who made submissions. From things I’ve read and learned from the #copycon, if I were to make a copyright submission today it would be very different. But that’s another post.
Canadians are talking about copyright, and understanding the forces at play much better. The conversation is far from over, and we need to get a handle on things and come to a consensus about before law is made.
What was said by Canadians in the formal Copyright Consultation submissions has laid the foundation of a valuable resource for all Canadians. A reference primer of “What Canadians Want”.
we don’t want bad law
But the law may be made anyway. Rumours that the government will try to push through a Canadian DMCA (a Bill C61 clone) have many citizens worried. But sometimes that happens, bad laws get passed.
Probably one of the biggest exercises in lawmaking futility was the American 1919 Volstead Act which we know more familiarly as Prohibition. God fearing law abiding solid citizens— people who wouldn’t have so much as dreamt of jay walking before Prohibition— instantly transformed into criminals frequenting speakeasies when the American law outlawing alcoholic beverages went into effect. The roaring twenties came and went before Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
Because prohibition favored the goals of a special interest group over society’s mores it just couldn’t work. Aside from fostering near universal flagrant contempt for the law among citizens, a serious byproduct was the support this bad law gave to the growth of organized crime. Before American Prohibition, the mafia was just some petty disorganized criminals. After Prohibition gangsters became rock stars. How many books, articles, movies and even musicals have grown up out of the gangster mystique. Canada’s own gangster wannabes in The Boyd Gang seem to have hatched out of the gangster mythology. Folk heroes even.
What I know of history has shown that when bad laws are passed the populace initially chafes and suffers. Although the government passing the bad law hopes that people will put up with it, one thing that they never seem to expect is that bad laws provide their opponents with points of commonality.
Often people who are ideologically incapable of co-operating are galvanized into finding a way to work together when a bad law is passed. The bad law itself becomes a visible rallying point, a specific dragon to slay.
One of the most compelling things that any bad law provides to its detractors are the martyrs.
Although I talked about this story as an example of what to expect if the secret A.C.T.A. treaty is passed, it is a real life demonstration of what is happening right now in the US under the existing American DMCA. A young woman went to jail for the crime of recording her sister’s birthday party.
And although history shows that bad laws tend to be overturned in time, I still think it’s better not to have bad laws in the first place.
In the case of copyright, the people who will be most harmed by bad copyright law are the younger generation, many of whom have not attained voting age. As a mother, this special interest group is important to me, because I don’t want to see bad things happen to our best and brightest.
As a student of history I do know that there will very soon be a time when this generation will not only be able to vote but, may well be able to form a government. When I was a teenager we thought running for student council was a big deal. Today Canada’s newest political party has been formed largely by people barely old enough to vote.
Digital Economy Consultation
In the meantime the Canadian government has again asked us for our input.
This time it is for a Digital Economy Consultation. How the Canadian Government reacts to the changes caused by the digital world will have a huge impact on our future. Our economy.
A long time ago Canada had climbed to the forefront of the world of technology with the Avro Arrow. Yet an incredibly short sighted government pulled the plug on that and well and truly killed the project. Naturally it triggered a “brain drain”, as many of Canada’s best and brightest migrated to the United States to work at NASA. Surely we don’t want to go that route again.
We certainly don’t want to end up in a legislative shambles the way the United Kingdom has. Their ill advised Digital Economy Bill (know to Twitterati as #DEBill) which was rushed through the legislative procedure without proper scrutiny resulted in a hung parliament and the fall of a Prime Minister. Surely Canada doesn’t want to go that route either.
All Canadians should try to participate…
…even if we say what we think and what we want, and they choose not to hear, the ideas will still be out there floating in the ether.
Judging by the quantity and passion of the comments I’ve been reading in online articles to do with weighty issues like UBB and copyright, many of us have thought about this and have a lot of good ideas. This is a good place to put them. And what better time to be heard than when we are lucky enough to have a minority government. At times like this, governments at least try to give the appearance of listening.
Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but as a mom I can tell you, when you ask your kid to pretend to go to sleep, before long he really is asleep. Maybe if our government starts out by appearing to listen to our submissions they will accidentally find themselves actually listening.
It’s worth a shot.
I think that the #digicon will be just as valuable for Canadians as the #copycon was. The process isn’t quite the same as the earlier consultation. As I understand it, off topic comments (such as talking about copyright reform) are likely to be moderated out of the forums.
Read the #digicon Consultation Paper
Participate in the digicon forums – see what other people have to say
DENT about #digicon
tweet about #digicon.
Talk about it on your wall.
Then write your own submission.
**Note: They want a 250 – 500 word summary of the submission as well. I assume to make it easier to sort the piles.
text-only format or as a document upload (e.g., Word, RTF or WordPerfect formats”
Sounds like they’d rather not get stuck in the PDF morass they had for copycon. Deconstructing all the PDF submissions is probably the chief reason why it took so long for all the submissions to be posted online.
(I hate PDFs!)
As of today, there are 49 days to make a submission. But there’s a lot to think about, so don’t leave it until the last minute (as so many of us did with #copycon)
Things you might say today may help someone else develop a brilliant strategy that would benefit us all. (Hint: that’s why re:mixing is such a good idea)
I read a comment yesterday from someone who was concerned that the comment or link they’d posted to the #digicon page had been subsequently removed (or moved somewhere else).
If you’re concerned that may happen to your comments or links, or if you’ve something you want to say about the Canadian Digital Economy Consultation that you feel may not survive their moderation, feel free to put it in the #digicon links & comments
My only rules: no spam, no personal attacks/hate mongering.
Similarly, if you have pertinent links you think may help answer questions or examine the issues, feel free to include them. If they start to pile up, when I have a minute I’ll list them under #digicon links in the sidebar.
Because some Canadians are a bit cynical, we not only submitted our formal #copycon submission to the government, we also posted it on our blogs or websites as (ahem) insurance.
As any emerging artist knows, the wider you can disseminate your art the more people will have the opportunity to become a fan. Or in this case, the more people who can see and read the argument, the more can understand the argument.
to blog or not to blog
If you don’t have one, you can get a free blog from various sources; personally I’d recommend WordPress.
If you don’t want a blog, but want to be heard, I’m willing to post submissions on the Oh! Canada blog as a guest post.
Innovation Using Digital Technologies
- Should Canada focus on increasing innovation in some key sectors or focus on providing the foundation for innovation across the economy?
- Which conditions best incent and promote adoption of ICT by Canadian business?
- What would a successful digital strategy look like for your firm or sector? What are the barriers to implementation?
- Once copyright, anti-spam and data breach/privacy amendments are in place, are their other legislative or policy changes needed to deal with emerging issues?
- How can Canada use its regulatory and policy regime to promote Canada as a favourable environment for e-commerce?
- What speeds and other service characteristics are needed by users (e.g., consumers, businesses, public sector bodies) and how should Canada set goals for next generation networks?
- What steps must be taken to meet these goals? Are the current regulatory and legislative frameworks conducive to incenting investment and competition? What are the appropriate roles of stakeholders in the public and private sectors?
- What steps should be taken to ensure there is sufficient radio spectrum available to support advanced infrastructure development?
- How best can we ensure that rural and remote communities are not left behind in terms of access to advanced networks and what are the priority areas for attention in these regions?
Growing the ICT Industry
- Do our current investments in R&D effectively lead to innovation, and the creation of new businesses, products and services? Should we promote investments in small start-ups to expand our innovation capacity?
- What is needed to innovate and grow the size of the ICT industry including the number of large ICT firms headquartered in Canada?
- What would best position Canada as a destination of choice for venture capital and investments in global research and development mandates?
- What efforts are needed to address the talent needs in the coming years?
Canada’s Digital Content
- What does creating Canada’s digital content advantage mean to you?
- What elements do you want to see in Canada’s marketplace framework for digital media and content?
- How do you see digital content contributing to Canada’s prosperity?
- What kinds of infrastructure investments do you foresee making in the future? What kinds of infrastructure will you need in the future to be successful at home and abroad?
- How can stakeholders encourage investment, particularly early stage investment, in the development of innovative digital media and content?
Building Digital Skills
- What do you see as the most critical challenges in skills development for a digital economy?
- What is the best way to address these challenges?
- What can we do to ensure that labour market entrants have digital skills?
- What is the best way to ensure the current workforce gets the continuous upskilling required to remain competitive in the digital economy? Are different tactics required for SMEs versus large enterprises?
- How will the digital economy impact the learning system in Canada? How we teach? How we learn?
- What strategies could be employed to address the digital divide?
Improving Canada’s Digital Advantage
- Should we set targets for our made-in-Canada digital strategy? And if so, what should those targets be?
- What should the timelines be to reach these targets?
There are a lot of questions. After reading the material, listening and/or participating in the forum discussions, chatting with co-workers around the water cooler or the oil rig, or the kids in your youth group, or with your e-friends on Identi,ca, Twitter or Facebook…
Say what you think.
Our government is asking us for input. Let’s give it to them.
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:
This is terribly important information for all Canadians.
Wikipedia: Double speak language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.”
Since 2007 Canada, Australia, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and Switzerland have been participating in secret negotiations initiated by the United States for a supposed “Trade Treaty” called A.C.T.A., an acronym for the misleading “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”
The American copyright lobby, made up of media corporations, trade associations and copyright collectives representing the Movie and Music recording industries have somehow convinced the American government that this would be a good thing for the United States. On the American side, the treaty is being pursued under an executive order, which means that the American president has the authority to ratify it on behalf of the United States without first subjecting it to congressional scrutiny or vote. A.C.T.A. negotiations are continuing at break neck speed under heavy non-disclosure agreements which mean that most of the elected representatives of the countries involved in the negotiations are not privy to the terms under negotiation.
President Obama has denied Freedom Of Information inquiries on the basis of National Security. This type of treaty negotiation is not only wholly unprecedented, but possibly illegal as well under 19 U.S.C. 2902(b)(2). Although it purports to be primarily about counterfeiting, the ACTA secret treaty negotiation seeks to regulate the Internet on a global scale.
I have spent a great deal of time attempting to make sense of this, since it will have serious consequences not only on Internet users but also huge impacts will be made on culture and economies around the world. The intent appears to be to legislating anti-progress by imposing strict control over the Internet.
A.C.T.A. “ stands to fatally wound all user-generated content sites from mailing lists to YouTube; which stands to criminalize kids for noncommercial file-sharing; which stands to put your internet connection in jeopardy if anyone in your house is accused of infringement, and much, much more.”
The media isn’t talking about A.C.T.A. which is possibly the most important and under-reported news story in the world so it is left to us to spread the word. Contact your elected reprentatives and tell them that A.C.T.A. is bad.
For more information on ACTA:
I have been blogging about A.C.T.A. in an effort to help other non-technical people understand what the issues are.
As well as some of the underlying issues: Nutshell Net Neutrality
I’ve blogged a great deal more about copyright in the wind
This might explain why my novel “Inconstant Moon” is not finished yet.
Weightier A.C.T.A. Sources
Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Law Professor and Copyright Reform Proponent has laid it out in detail.
The quantity of leaked material seems to be increasing, so the latest info can usually be found in Michael Geist’s blog
Other excellent sources of information about A.C.T.A. include the digital liberty proponents:
- Public Knowledge: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
- Electronic Frontier Foundation,
- La Quadrature Du Net,
- Knowledge Ecology International and
- Movimento ScambioEtico
To connect with other people or groups you can join the A.C.T.A. group on Identi.ca, or the Facebook: ACTA site, search for #ACTA on Twitter or start your own. Another good source of information is the Pirate Party of Canada. There seems to be a Pirate Party in nearly every country in the world. The primary motivation for each Pirate Party is to keep the internet free and reform copyright for the good of society.
You don’t have to read all the links at once. Understanding is important.
Tell someone. The only way to ratify treaties or laws that are against the public interest is to keep them dark.
[This article is a summary of A.C.T.A. source material that can be found online, reprinted from my personal website, The Russwurm Family Bulletin Board.]
Not because I’m made of money; certainly not. But once you pay, you have a vested interest in shopping there. But you remain a customer without any influence on what products the store will carry. If the retailer I patronize stops carrying the brand I find essential, I want the freedom to go somewhere else. I don’t want to have to weigh that against how much money I’ll lose by walking away from my “membership”. For myself, I much prefer freedom of choice.
I do not now, nor have I ever, belonged to a political party for much the same reason. Even if political parties had established ideologies I don’t think it would make sense to belong to one.
If anything I am prejudiced against both Conservatives and Liberals, because the one thing both parties have done pretty consistently is pander to big business– which helps line their war chests with enough cash to run ridiculous media campaigns. However, if either of these parties start actually looking out for the rights of citizens instead of corporations I might be inclined to swing their way.
The actions of a political party don’t always reflect their stated ideology. Sometimes a political party doesn’t have an ideology beyond wanting to be in charge. Like the Conservatives. Or the Liberals.
And you can’t really tell if the one you vote for will really do what they say until they actually get the brass ring. Or if the party leader actually believes the party ideology. Say what you want about Adolph Hitler, at least he honestly laid out exactly what he wanted to do in his political platform Mein Kampf.
The whole “party” system produced the idea of “strategic voting”. Therein lays madness. Under First Past the Post our votes mean so little already we should never even think about voting the way someone else wants us to vote.
Take for example the NDP accidental majority government in Ontario a few years back. It was a clear case of voters “voting against”, and no one was more surprised than the NDP to find themselves with a majority. They spent pretty much their whole term trying to appease business interests at the expense of ordinary people. Certainly they did real damage to Ontario’s health care system. Even so, they did not go far enough to make Corporate Ontario happy. In essence, the Ontario NDP government ended up annoying everyone and pleasing no one, effectively ensuring that it will be a very long time before the NDP will be able to come to power in Ontario again.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper certainly brings home the realization that a party leader can make a huge difference in how a political party behaves. And isn’t it interesting that after the NDP’s resounding ouster it quickly became apparent that the NDP provincial Premier Bob Rae was in actuality a Liberal in NDP clothing.
Certainly Mr. Rae is now thoroughly ensconced in the upper echelons of the federal Liberal Party of Canada. Personally, I don’t think it was a Liberal plot, I think Bob Rae just took the easy way to establishing “a name” in politics. Because although the NDP is considered one of the three main Ontario parties, it is not one of the ruling parties. Everyone acknowledges that the Bob Rae majority was totally unexpected from all quarters.
But Bob Rae got himself a “name” on the NDP nickel, saving himself from obscurity he may have had in the Federal pond he swims in now. It is much easier to rise in the ranks of a party that almost never wins than it is to rise in the hierarchy of one of the alternating ruling parties. I would expect that there is a lot of attrition due to burnout among the non-ruling political parties. It has to take a lot of stamina to run an election campaign knowing your chances of winning are slim to none. I know how depressing it is to go out and vote every time for candidates of parties who aren’t likely to get elected.
I had mixed feelings about Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for example. (OMG: he was YOUNGER than my Dad! No way!) As a mom I was furious our Prime Minster would punch out a protestor. Not exactly my idea of a leader responsive to the people he is supposed to represent.
Let’s teach our kids that even a bully can become the Prime Minister. The BS about the GST didn’t particularly thrill me either: adding an entirely new tax requiring a bloated bureaucracy which eats up the bulk of the generated income was not even close to a good deal for Canadians.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Chrétien was the only politician with the chutzpa to keep Canada out of an ill advised war. Had he chosen to stay on as the Liberal leader I might well have ignored all the patronage scandals etc. and voted for him forever just to keep our Canadian soldiers safe from being killed off in an uncalled for foreign war being waged solely to prop up a bad American president.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if that same war might bring down our Prime Minister because of the torture scandal. It isn’t as though Prime Minister Stephen Harper is doing anything to bring our troops home.
In my own riding a local politician I very much respect (because of what he does) is Andrew Telegdi. He made quite a rousing speech at the Waterloo NoProrogue Rally, explaining that he lost the last election by 17 votes. Too bad… first past the post. But I won’t vote for him because my biggest fear right now is that we will end up with a backlash Liberal majority government. Should that happen I am not remotely confident that the Liberals won’t end up giving up sovereign Canadian right to craft our own domestic laws on incredibly important issues like copyright and the Internet.
With minority governments there is a possibility that the government will at least consult with the citizenry.
What it boils down to is that the party system does not work in the way that we think it does.
When we think we are electing candidates we are really electing a party.
Write to your Member of Parliament and tell them what you think about premature prorogation or anything else! You can find your MP with this lovely link – it will also help you find out who your MP is if you don’t know. It’s time that Canadians started letting them know what we think about how they represent us.
Find your Member of Parliament
Write to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and tell him too!
Prime Minister/Premier Ministre Stephen Harper <email@example.com>
The government gives more weight to postal mail: you can mail your comments without a stamp!!:
The Right Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
1600 90th Avenue Southwest, suite A-203
Canada badly needs electoral reform. Take a peek at the Non-Partisan Fair Vote Canada site to get information some ideas of electoral reform. All Canadians need to join in these non-partisan discussions.