Canadian Dog Whistle Politics or #ProportionalRepresentation?

 

quebec_conference_1943framed

For those who don’t know, at the end of Second World War the victorious Allies governments imposed Mixed Member Proportional Representation on West Germany.

They did this specifically to prevent the rise of another Hitler.   Although these powerful government leaders clearly understood this, they chose not to follow the same path for their own nations. Presumably they believed such limitation on their own power wasn’t necessary.   Just as Canada’s current Prime Minister doesn’t feel his power needs limitation.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter if there is a good Prime Minister or a bad one.  It doesn’t matter if there’s a bad government in place or not.

What matters in a representative democracy is that voters secure representation in Parliament.  All Canadians need representation, period.  Just as Canadians need the Charter, in times of good or bad.   Like the Charter, representation provides citizens with security.

Had Harry Truman implemented such a change on the USA, the likelihood of a Trump presidency would be nil.

Had Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King implemented some form of Proportional Representation in Canada, Canadians would not see be seeing a rise in dog whistle politics. My brother wrote about this phenomenon before either of us knew the term.

Winston Churchill knew Proportional Representation was a defence against fascism.

Here’s the thing: fear and dog whistle politics are a powerful tools used over and over again in winner-take-all systems because they work.  One of the things so dreadfully wrong with winner-take-all politics is that the governments we elect are so unaccountable to voters, it isn’t a question of whether they will keep all their promises, it is a question of which promises they will keep.  And, incredibly, we accept that.  We have been conditioned to understand they won’t keep all their promises.  No doubt this is a major reason the young and the idealistic don’t engage in politics: they see it for a sham, and choose to invest their energies elsewhere.

Dog Whistling Islamaphobia

MP Iqra Khalid’s Private Member’s Motion is not the first to reference House of Commons e-petition (e-411).

The Canadian MSM is now reminding us that all the MPs in Parliament — including those Conservative Leadership Candidates seeking to ride a wave of prejudice to 100% power in Parliament — voted in support of Mr. Mulcair’s October Petition.  This was long before 6 Quebec Muslims were murdered at prayer.

Mr. Speaker, following discussions with all parties in the House, I hope you will find consent for the following motion. I move:

That the House join the 69,742 Canadian supporters of House of Commons e-petition (e-411) in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.

The Honourable Thomas Mulcair, Hansard, House of Commons, October 26th, 2016

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's Islamaphobia motion received unanimous assent in the House of Commons on Oct. 26, 2016
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s Islamaphobia motion received unanimous assent in the House of Commons on Oct. 26, 2016

So what has happened?  Do these Conservative Leadership Candidates feel a majority of their constituents approve of gunning down Muslims at prayer?

I don’t believe that for a minute.

But our winner-take-all political system allows for the distribution of a disproportional amount of power.

In a winner-take-all system like ours, Ms. Leitch doesn’t need a majority of Conservative Party Members to support Islamaphobia in order to win her party’s leadership crown.  Nor does she even need to attract a majority of voters to become the Prime Minister of Canada.

So long as we continue to use this First Past the Post Electoral System, the right dog whistle can win a 39% (or less) majority.

It doesn’t matter if we have a few women or minority MPs in the House of Commons.

We are staring in the face of the polarization inherent in FPTP.  This whole hullaballoo starkly contrasts what happens when a powerful old white male MP puts forward a Motion condemning Islamaphobia with what happens when a young ethnic woman MP does.

And it is a not pretty picture.

But it happens. And it will keep on happening so long as we retain an electoral system that rewards dog whistle politicians with more than their fair share of power.

Canada needs real Real Change.

It does not have to be this way.  In spite of his totally specious arguments to the contrary, Prime Minister Trudeau’s disavowal of his electoral reform promise not only paves the way for institutional racism, it fuels Islamaphobia.  If Ms. Khalid (and other Liberal MPs) want to change this dreadful FPTP side effect, it is time they told their leader he must restore the Electoral Reform process and show leadership to get Proportional Representation legislation through Parliament by October.

Because if Canada wants to be a healthy multicultural democracy, we must have Proportional Representation.

Now.

Sign The Electoral Reform Petition

At this time of writing, Petition e-616 is up to 120,651 signatures. If everyone who has already signed it can convince 2 Canadians to sign it our chance of having Proportional Representation implemented by 2019 will be greatly improved.

 

 

 

 

Sign the Petition e-616

Petition e-616 can be found at
https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-616

This petition to the Canadian Government website has broken all records and continues to grow.  As of writing it is up to:

119,515 signatures

Sign the Petition: e-616

You can help make every vote count by signing the petition.

And after you’ve signed it (and sent the email confirmation)  you can help even more by encouraging your friends and family and co-workers and your kid’s teachers and your dentist and doctor and letter carrier and fellow religionists (including your minister, rabbi, imam or priest) … because *any* Canadian can and should sign this petition too.

If enough Canadians sign e-616, our Government might yet deliver on this oh so important promise.

Because when all Canadians are represented in Parliament, it will make our government much more accountable than it is today because no single party — no single party leader will have the power to impose an agenda against the public good.  We know Proportional Representation most often produces stable government capable of long term planning.  We also know Proportional Representation leads to co-operation between parties, not polarization like we have now.  First Past The Post elected Donald Trump in the USA, and FPTP could just as easily give us a Canadian version too.

First Past The Post gives the winner 100% of the power with only 39% (or less) of the votes.

Proportional Representation ensures 39% of the votes only deliver 39% of the power.

Right now the Liberal Government is rallying around Private Member’s Motion 103 because they hope it will makes them look like progressive multicultural heroes.  If the Conservative Party chooses an O’Leary or a Leitch as its leader, the Liberal Party hopes to ride a wave of lesser-evilism into a second majority term.  (Clever Canadians should recall how well such a plan worked out for Hillary Clinton.  Clever Conservatives won’t choose a leader the Liberals can use as a boogeyman.)

But here’s the thing: M-103 wouldn’t even be an issue if every vote counted. If the Liberal Government is truly committed to a healthy multicultural democracy it would be writing the promised electoral reform legislation as we speak.  If they are truly worried a referendum would prove too divisive or open to manipulation, the ERRE Committee’s referendum might be deferred to after 3 elections… by which time Canadians will understand Proportional Representation well enough to make an informed choice.

Canada is supposed to be a Representative Democracy.

But when a majority of Canadians aren’t represented in Parliament, it isn’t, really.

Canadians need to be able to elect the government we want by electing MPs that can actually represent us.  When the Liberal Government was elected with a majority, I hoped the fact the party was divided between Alternative Vote and Proportional Representation we would get a fair process.  Even knowing Justin Trudeau was an Alternative Vote supporter as far back as the Liberal Leadership race.  And for a while it really looked like we were.  Mr. Trudeau and senior Liberals assured us he would let the process go through.   My Liberal friends were positive that Proportional Representation couldn’t possibly fail with a fair process, because the evidence of over a century clearly supports Proportional Representation as the fairest way to achieve representative democracy.  And 14 Canadian Commissions, Assemblies & Reports recommended PR (with 0 recommending keeping First Past the post or adopting Mr. Trudeau’s favourite Alternative Vote (alias Preferential/Instant Runoff).

But so many people kept asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Proportional Representation he decided to pull the plug on it.  So much for a fair process.  So much for real change.  And nobody is angrier about this unfair outcome than my Liberal friends.

Sign The Electoral Reform Petition

Electoral Reform Hashtags

The easiest way to encourage your friends and family is to share on social media.

#CDNpoli
#EngagedinER
##ProportionalRepresentation
#ChaqueVoteCompte
##PerformOnReform
##NotFineWith39
#ERRE
#electoralreform
#CdnDemocracy
#TrudeaKeepYourPromise
#ERNow

Note:  #CDNpoli is possibly the most important hashtag because it reaches people interested in Canadian Politics whether or not they are informed about electoral reform.

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag backgroundThis is the twenty-ninth article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

 

Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation

Proportional Representation Series So Far:• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616

and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

A Motion is not a Law

Last year the Canadian Government passed a motion that condemned the BDS movement.  This motion didn’t make it illegal for the United Church of Canada, Quakers, organizations, university students and human rights activists and ordinary people like your Aunt Mabel who boycott  Israeli companies like SodaStream because they operate (or used to?) in illegal settlements on what is supposed to be Palestinian land.

When the Canadian Government passed that motion, it was just a document that said the Government deplores BDS and those who do it.

This year, Liberal back bencher Iqra Khalid’s Motion 103 has raised a ruckus.

Once again it becomes clear Canadians need to improve our civic literacy.  Our politicians have entirely too easy a time manipulating us.

A motion is not a law.   A government motion that condemns X simply says the government thinks X is bad.  It is not a law, but an attempt to lead by example.

Ms. Khalid’s Motion 103 will not make it illegal to criticise Islam.  It does not herald the coming of Sharia law to Canada.  Nor does it make racism illegal.  Canadians will still be able to be racists if they wish to be.  A motion is not a law: only a law can make something illegal.

As a writer, I am a firm believer in free speech.   If you are concerned about Canadian law interfering with our free speech, there is plenty to talk about with our hate speech laws and the law Canadians know as C-51.  But this motion does not do anything to inhibit free speech.  Even if it wanted to it couldn’t.  A motion is not a law.

Motion 103 just says the Government of Canada doesn’t approve of Islamophobia, systemic racism and religious discrimination, and tasks the government with studying it in hopes of finding a soluition.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  If you’re still worried, you can read it (like every motion or legislation considered by the Canadian Government) online.  But to make it even easier, I’ve reproduced it for you here:

Iqra Khalid – Private Members’ Motion

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members/Iqra-Khalid%2888849%29/Motions?sessionId=152&documentId=8661986

Motion 103

Systemic racism and religious discrimination

Text of the Motion

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should:

(a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear;

(b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and

(c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could

(i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making,

(ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This motion does not single out Islam for special consideration, it “condemns Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”

After a young man murdered half a dozen Muslim men at prayer in their Quebec City mosque, is it not reasonable to condemn discrimination and hatred toward the Muslim community?  Especially when such flames of extremism have been fanned by politicians?

All citizens are supposed to be protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Of course, in a democracy that relies on an electoral system that fails to represent its citizens proportionally, citizens can only hope we will get governments that will uphold our Charter protections.

Cross Cultures commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2016)
Cross Cultures commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Kitchener City Hall, 2016)

 

Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation

back to FVC: There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRE

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag background
This is the twenty-eighth article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

During the 2015 election, Mr. Trudeau unequivocally promised to make 2015 the last First Past The Post election.  If elected,

“We will make every vote count.”

It’s no secret Fair Vote Canada has been using the catchphrase “make every vote count” to describe Proportional Representation for years.  In fact, they launched their “Make Every Vote Count Campaign” in 2013.  If you follow the link you’ll see the Hon. Stéphane Dion on the podium for the announcement.  Another LPC cabinet minister, the Hon. Carolyn Bennett is on the Fair Vote Canada Board. Certainly my Liberals For Fair Voting friends were aware of this when I helped them make a little video we called “The Foundation” to help them sell Resolution 31 at their 2014 Policy Convention.  Resolution 31 was duly adopted by the Liberal Party and in fact formed the basis of Mr. Trudeau’s electoral reform campaign promise.

Mr. Trudeau confirmed his electoral reform promise in the Throne Speech, and (although it took a little nudging) an all party Electoral Reform Parliamentary Committee was formed. Because of the tight time frame, the committee worked through the summer, taking evidence from experts in Canada and around the world. And the Committee, like Minister Monsef, travelled across Canada in a whirlwind tour.

No doubt because the ERRE Consultation was woefully underfunded, the Committee only managed a single stop in Ontario. No money was spent on advertising, and there was little advance notice, but in spite of the main stream media’s absolute failure to cover it, all the Electoral Reform events were full of citizens. A preponderance of citizens and experts supported some form of Proportional Representation. Then the ERRE Committee submitted a consensus report calling for some form of Proportional Representation and a Referendum. But the government was not wildly happy to see such an impossible outcome.

And so mydemocracy.ca was born. Do you know, the government spent more money sending postcards telling people to participate in a seriously problematic survey that inspired more parody than response than it did on the entire #ERRE Consultation?   While the Honourable Ms. Gould’s talking points are intended to make us believe the postcard survey was a big success, the reality is that a return of 360,000 Canadians is a ridiculously low response rate for a country with upward of 15 million voters.

But the Liberal Party holds a majority in Parliament, and we all know a majority government can pass (or kill) any law it wants. No consensus is required, even when the “majority” is based on the votes of only 39%. That is, after all, how the system we currently use works.  (Part of why it so badly needs modernization.)

The Liberal Party hasn’t managed to articulate a single good reason for a Prime Minister elected on promises of transparency and more democratic governance to squash the promised democratic process this way.   Even if Prime Minister Trudeau decided he doesn’t want electoral reform, he could still have allowed the process to run its democratic course to the finish.   The same power that allows the plug to be pulled prematurely now could have been used to whip the vote the way he wanted at the eleventh hour.

The only reason for breaking this promise in such an odious way that I can imagine is that the Prime Minister (and the Liberal powers that be) have noticed the growing interest, support and commitment Canadians are developing in electoral reform, in spite of everything.

I understand the PM was grilled about electoral reform at every single stop on his recent cross country tour.  Were those in the Liberal power structure getting nervous that enough public backing might just get Proportional Representation legislation through Parliament and into Law?

For those Canadians who value fairness and democracy, now is not the time to give up on Electoral Reform.

With all the Liberal talk of values for electoral reform, the one value that never seemed to come up was fairness.

No system that assigns 100% of the power to a party winning 39% (or less) votes can be considered fair.

And in my experience, Canadians value fairness.  My Liberals for Fair Voting friends know know very well they benefit from the proportionality inherent in our existing winner-take-all system.  Yet they don’t think it’s fair that so many other Canadians get little or no democratic representation.

There is still time to draft electoral reform legislation (the ERRE Committee could surely manage it) and get it through with enough time for Elections Canada to implement a new system in 2019.  Canadians don’t need to understand the electoral math to know our First Past The Post system is not working for a majority of Canadians.  How can a nation that prides itself on fairness continue to cling to a winner-take-all system that’s inherently unfair?

What We Can Do?

EVENTS

Sunday February 5th, 2017
GUELPH Rally for Proportional Representation
Guelph City Hall   1PM

Rally organised by Fair Vote Guelph
https://www.facebook.com/events/1852627561618419/
MP Longfield acknowledges that recent poll results in Guelph in support of
Proportional Representation are valid.
We need visible support at the rally to show our government that we want PR.
Please come to the Rally for PR  on Sunday at Guelph City Hall at to support  a fair open and transparent Democratic process .

National Week of Action on Electoral Reform

https://www.facebook.com/events/885031191552272/

Sunday February 5th, 2017
Parliament Hill Protest and Photo-Stunt
12:00 – 1:00pm

  • Ottawa residents to gather on Parliament Hill for Rally
  • Canvassing Materials distributed, Photo-stunt for social media presence

Wednesday February 8th, 2017
Call-Blitz and Tweet-Storm
* All Day *

Contact:

  • your local MP,
  • the Prime Minister’s Office and
  • Karina Gould

Respectfully express your opinion, tell them we’ll #seeyousaturday


Saturday February 11, 2017
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION
Canada Wide Protest
Be LOUD ~ Be HEARD.

Cross Canada Protest Times

Atlantic           15:00
Eastern           14:00
Central           13:00
Mountain/SK 12:00
Pacific           11:00
@JustinTrudeau and the #LPC promised that 2015 would be our last #FPTP election. #PerformOnReform
https://www.facebook.com/events/885031191552272/



Sign Government of Canada Electoral Reform petitions

e-600 (Electoral system) 
Lower the voting age to 16
The Petition is open for signature until February 8, 2017, at 12:34 p.m. (EDT)

e-613 (Electoral system)
Achieving gender balance in Parliament
The Petition is open for signature until February 16, 2017, at 11:34 a.m. (EDT)

e-616 (Electoral system)
Encouraging the Liberal Government to get ERRE back on track (Nathan Cullen)
The Petition is open for signature until March 2, 2017, at 11:20 a.m. (EDT)

e-678 (Electoral system)
Implement Mixed Member Proportional Representation (Kennedy Stewart)
The Petition is open for signature until March 24, 2017, at 9:26 a.m. (EDT)

Use the Green Party of Canada tool to send a message:
A Broken Promise to Canada

Change.org: Open Letter to Liberal MPs Re: Electoral Reform


Read More:

STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY IN CANADA: PRINCIPLES, PROCESS AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT FOR ELECTORAL REFORM: Report of the Standing Committee on Electoral Reform
Read the ERRE Report online here, or download the PDF

Read the Liberal Electoral Reform Report from 1921:
SPECIAL COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO CONSIDER THE SUBJECT OF
Proportional Representation AND THE SUBJECT OF THE SINGLE TRANSFERABLE OR PREFERENTIAL VOTE (pdf)


Write Letters to:

your Member of Parliament
Mailing letters via postal mail to our MPs is free, and these days they are getting used to receiving email from us as well. You can find your representative:

Cabinet Ministers (members of the Privy Council)
Prime Minister Trudeau


Local & national newspapers, Magazines, MSM news websites

Get an idea of what you might right from perusing these published Letters

Independent Media

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Paul Beckwith …..climate
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back to There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRE

Proportional Representation Series So Far:• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRÉ #Q Committee
• #ERRÉ #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRÉ #Q
Proportionality #ERRÉ #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRÉ
• #ERRÉ today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday)
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRÉ submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRÉ Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRÉ
FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRÉ
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation

 and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

PM Trudeau: Sainte-Foy, Québec

Montreal Gazette:
6 dead, 8 injured in terrorist attack at Quebec City mosque
Globe and Mail:
‘Quebec City is in mourning’: Six dead, eight wounded in mass shooting at mosque

Canadian Coat of Arms

Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today after hearing of the fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec:

“It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this evening’s tragic and fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of all those who have died, and we wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.

“While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.

“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.

“Tonight, we grieve with the people of Ste-Foy and all Canadians.”

Tragedy strikes Sainte-Foy, QuébecThis cowardly attack on Canadian soil has generated outrage across the Canadian political spectrum, with even CPC leadership candidates Kellie Leitch and Jason Kenney speaking out against it.

Tonight there are candlight vigils across Canada.  These are the few I know of:

Québec
Vigile de solidarité avec les musulman-es de Québec #SalamQc
Gare Jean-Talon by the exit: métro Parc.
https://www.facebook.com/events/226743947787244/

Ontario
Prayer and Solidarity Vigil organised by @KitchenerMasjid
Kitchener City Hall in Waterloo Region
https://www.facebook.com/events/227134104414096/

Yukon
Vigil for our Muslim Brothers & Sisters – Whitehorse
The Wharf ~ Front St. and Main St. Yukon River, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
https://www.facebook.com/events/394668850883510/


The Trump Administration has gotten off to a bad start, and almost every step taken seems wrong.
One of the great powers of an American President is the ability to issue Executive Orders.

Protestors March in the Woman's March on Washington DC, January 21,2017

HEALTHCARE
Womens March On Washington ~ Public Domain photo by anonymous National Guard Member

TRADE

WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

REFUGEES+

I don’t think Mr. Trump realizes how much his election win benefited from tactical voting.  He’s barely begun and American citizens are pushing back, hard.  The chaos and protests at airports worldwide over the weekend was pretty heavy, prompting Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide

And Canadians are pushing back, too.  B.C. religious leaders call on Canada to act against U.S. immigration ban.    Even Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted:

To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada

But anywhere you have two or more people, you are likely to get two or more opinions. (Which is why Proportional Representation is a necessary part of good democracy.)

Clearly there are people here ~ and there ~ who agree with President Trump’s world view.  And just as clearly there are political agendas feeding fear, Isalamaphobia, whatever.   The controversial anti-niquab attack ad targeting the NDP the Bloc Québécois’ put up during the 2015 election was only taken down today.

As horrible as this tragedy was, I am heartened by the across the board outrage.  But we can’t afford complacency; we need to encourage our Liberal majority government to get on with the necessary work that will make it possible for Canadians to welcome those seeking refuge from persecution, terror and war.   Sign the Leadnow Petition:  Tell Trudeau: Welcome Those Fleeing Violence and Deportation Under Trump

I am struck again and again by the strife engendered by winner-take-all political systems.  When there can be only one winner, everyone needs to win, but most don’t.  And we have seen, over and over again, that the easiest way to become the only winner is to play on fear and build up hatred.  But that is a dangerous game.  It isn’t as easy to turn hatred off.

No where is the us against them polarization more obvious than what we’re seeing south of the border.  And frankly, I don’t think any of us want that.  When Canada finally adopts some form of Proportional Representation, we won’t be an all or nothing world anymore.  Instead of polarization, we’ll be able to work together, to be able to embrace our diversity and tap into our strengths. And then we’ll be able to roll up our sleeves and tackle 21st century problems.

But for now, we’re struggling with the messes of the last century polarization.

In Sainte-Foy, Québec, the victims have all been identified, and the alleged assailants, too.  One man has been charged with 6 counts of 1st-degree murder.  You can follow the link and find out his name if you like, but I’m not about to repeat his name here.   Because here’s the thing… if I ran the zoo, the names of mass murderers would never be said.  Instead they’d be assigned a number and locked away securely for the rest of their days.  Writing the name would just help make him famous.

Instead, I will name the victims here.  I’ll share the names of six innocent men killed by the cancer of hate.  Men who didn’t deserve to die; who deserve to be remembered.

Lives lost at Sainte-Foy, Québec

Ibrahima Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Aboubaker Thabti, Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image Credits

Womens March On Washington (with Capitol Dome) ~ Public Domain photo by anonymous National Guard Member

Protestors March in the Woman’s March on Washington DC, January 21,2017 ~ Public Domain photo by anonymous National Guard Member

The Don Dunphy Inquiry is important to all Canadians

Watching the live stream of the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy is, well, disconcerting.

Check the Whoa!Canada calendar for the Don Dunphy Inquiry schedule https://whoacanada.wordpress.com/calendar/
Check the Whoa!Canada calendar for the Don Dunphy Inquiry schedule
https://whoacanada.wordpress.com/calendar/

Today RNC Constable Smyth told the Inquiry he spent an hour scanning a years worth of Don Dunphy’s twitter stream before going to see Don Dunphy.  Of course we can’t actually see Don Dunphy’s twitter stream because it’s been taken down.  But the tweets still exist (there was a time when Twitter said all tweets would eventually end up in the Libary of Congress).  We are talking about *thousands* of tweets, here, tweets that law enforcement and lawyers have access to.

The Inquiry is told Don Dunphy tweeted an a wide variety of subjects across many issues, including human rights and social justice. Don Dunphy routinely tweeted or retweeted inspirational quotations from the likes of the Dali Lama and Albert Einstein.  Mr. Dunphy also talked about issues that directly concerned him.  An injured worker who felt ill served by government, with particular grievances with the Workplace Health, Safety & Compensation Commission of Newfoundland and Labradorhe talked about government failure.

Dunphy, 59, was a former truck driver who battled for years with workers’ compensation after being crushed at 28 by a backhoe on a construction site. The frequent Twitter user called himself “a crucified injured worker from NL Canada where employers treat (the) injured like criminals.”
Inquiry to ask: Why did Newfoundland police officer shoot Don Dunphy?

When apprised of a “disconcerting” tweet, Constable Joe Smyth, a member of the RNC protective detail for then Premier Davis, today told the Inquiry he made an assumption  Don Dunphy would react badly if he had he had gone to Mr. Dunphy’s house accompanied by a uniformed RNC officer.  Instead Constable Smyth went alone, driving an unmarked vehicle, dressed in plainclothes.  And when he got there, it seems he was deliberately cagey about why he was there.  And Don Dunphy ended up dead.

Today, Dunphy family lawyer, Bob Simmonds tried to find out the basis for the officer’s assumption, since Smyth agreed Don Dunphy had neither advocated or promoted violence in his tweets. In answer, Constable Smyth characterized Don Dunphy’s stated belief — that death of his wife and others were due to institutional failure — as “ideation”

One Wikipedia definition is:

“Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be either visual, concrete, or abstract.[1] Ideation comprises all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualization.[2] As such, it is an essential part of the design process, both in education and practice.[3]

But clearly that is not the definition Constable Smyth intended.  “Ideation” is his reason for believing Don Dunphy needed “threat assessment” ASAP.  Which indicates his meaning is more likely “Paranoid Ideation.”

As Mr. Simmonds questions the officer about the urgency or appropriateness of interrupting Don Dunphy in his home, unannounced, at meal time on Easter Sunday:

“There is a duty and an expectation when you identify certain behaviours and follow up on those behaviors… an unresolved grievance that may or may not be grounded in reality.”

— Constable Smyth

When the officer says “may or may not be grounded in reality,” he implies Mr. Dunphy may suffer an inability to differentiate between reality and unreality.

This sounds to me as though the entire series of events culminating in this tragic death of Don Dunphy was built on the RNC Officer’s mistaken belief he was somehow competent to render a medical diagnosis of Mr. Dunphy based entirely on a superficial reading of the dead man’s Twitter feed.  What a frightening assumption for a law officer to make.  While I imagine there are folks at Workplace NL or elected officials in the government of Newfoundland and Labrador who might have disliked or disagreed with him, it seems the only person insinuating Don Dunphy was imagining things is the RNC Officer who shot and killed him on that Easter Sunday afternoon.

Constable Smyth’s subsequent ill advised email takes this hubris even further, as he wrote about being “too late” to “help” Mr Dunphy, or that the tragedy is “an opportunity to educate” the public about proactive “Intelligence based policing,” Constable Smyth even drew an outrageous comparison to the Ottawa shooting, explaining public officials need protection from “individuals and groups who will be disgruntled, and when desperation and instability is added to the mix you will have security concerns.”  Perhaps the worst of it was in the closing paragraph:

“Although I cannot regret my actions last Sunday, I unequivocally wish I could have visited Mr. Dunphy at a point in his life where another level of intervention may have been possible. Our lives can change or end in the blink of an eye. Please seize any opportunity to help those who need it.”

CBC: RNC officer who shot Don Dunphy wishes better intervention possible

Mr. Dunphy’s “behavior” had been exclusively verbal.  And the only evidence of”escalation” seems to be in Constable Smyth’s perceptions.  Yet even he admits that, before he himself went out to Mitchells Brook, N.L., there was no foundation to suggest Don Dunphy posed an imminent threat.   Constable Smyth says he went to Don Dunphy’s home as part of his “threat assessment” process, to afford Mr. Dunphy an opportunity to explain his Twitter comments.

As Mr. Simmonds points out, Mr. Dunphy was simply exercising his right to free speech.  His right to express his dissatisfaction with government.  Why should Mr. Dunphy have to account to law enforcement for free speech in a free country?

And yet Constable Smyth goes on to describe Don Dunphy’s Twitter feed as “following a pathway to violence.”

As it happens, Constable Smyth is not a psychiatrist or even a psychologist, but a police officer who has taken some courses.  A police officer who continues to believe himself competent to unilaterally make such assessments of citizens.  This is seriously problematic.

Bob Simmonds
Bob Simmonds, lawyer for Meghan Dunphy, cross examines RNC Constable Smyth

After establishing Constable Smyth had no legal right to be in Don Dunphy’s home without Mr. Dunphy’s permission, Mr. Simmonds asked the constable why, when it became clear Don Dunphy no longer wanted him there — when Mr. Dunphy was, according to Constable Smyth’s words, “frothing at the mouth” — why didn’t the officer just leave?

Constable Smyth explained he didn’t leave because Don Dunphy didn’t explicitly tell him to leave.  And Don Dunphy died.

Even if you are willing to assume everything Constable Smyth believes everything he has testified to be true, how can any officer incapable of recognizing when an interview subject wants him to leave possibly be competent to make mental assessments of citizens?

Civil Rights Exist To Protect Citizens

The Don Dunphy Inquiry is bigger than Newfoundland and Labrador; this tragedy shines a light on a danger facing all of Canada.

When people are afraid someone is listening, free speech is no longer a right, but a dangerous practice.  When law enforcement monitors innocent law abiding citizens on social media platforms like Twitter, citizens whose only “crime” is the exercise our Charter rights to free speech, our Charter rights are under attack.

Constable Joe Smyth answers questions at the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy
Constable Joe Smyth answers questions at the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy today.

Tom Mahoney, Executive Director, WorkplaceNL told police Constable Smyth said:

The worst thing about these situations is these guys you know tend to be in their house, they tend to feel free to say what they like, but they don’t realize there are consequences.

Mr. Simmonds questioned Constable Smyth as to the “consequences for free speech.”  He also wanted to know why, absent any other evidence, did he decide Don Dunphy was a person of interest requiring ASAP investigation based solely on the fact he spoke his mind about politics and politicians online.  But Constable Smyth repeatedly denied infringing Don Dunphy’s right to free speech.  But what else can you call it when an agent of law enforcement takes what you say on social media and uses it to unilaterally judge you?

Privacy– freedom from having to worry that the government is not watching and listening to us without good reason (what the law calls probable cause) is an important part of how citizens stay safe from government over reach and injustice in a democracy.  That’s why an Injured workers group asks why WorkplaceNL gave Don Dunphy information to police. Injured citizens are among society’s most vulnerable, so when injured workers are obliged to turn over personal information to government agencies that are supposed to help them, they don’t expect that information to be handed over to police at the drop of a hat.  And they are right to be concerned, as the Don Dunphy tragedy clearly illustrates.  Surely Don Dunphy isn’t the only injured worker venting about their frustrations on social media.  Social media networks exist because human beings create community, not to make it easier for police to judge our every word.  Apparently Constable Smyth failed to learn that in his social media course.

If Canadians are not free to say what we like in our house, even if we are talking online, where do we have free speech?  Canadian democracy is Built on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Now I’m not a lawyer, but it certainly seems to me as if Don Dunphy’s Charter rights were breached twice:

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

… (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

~ and ~

Legal Rights
Life, liberty and security of person

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

On the national front, the Federal Government’s failure to amend or repeal the law that gives federal law enforcement “lawful access” to monitor innocent Canadians online (formerly known as Bill C-51) is a virtual guarantee that such miscarriages of justice, and indeed similar tragedies, will undoubtedly happen again as a matter of course.  Is this acceptable to you? It isn’t to me.

Don Dunphy spoke up for what he believed is right, but the man was silenced forever.  Perhaps even worse, to me, as both a writer and a believer in free speech, is that the words he wrote on Twitter have been silenced as well.

All Canadians need the full protection of the Charter.  Otherwise the Charter isn’t worth the paper its written on.

 


The Inquiry continues tomorrow ~ January 24th, 2017 ~ with what will probably be the final cross-examination of Constable Smyth.   

Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy Livestream:
http://www.ciddd.ca/
Watch Live:
http://video.isilive.ca/nfld/remote.html

Basic Income

Kitchener City Hall

Andrea Kauppinen and John Green of Basic Income Waterloo Region
Andrea Kauppinen and John Green of Basic Income Waterloo Region

Today is the Provincial Basic Income Pilot Consultation at Kitchener City Hall.

Done right, universal basic income would be awesome.

The provincial government is looking for 3 places in Ontario in which to conduct the pilot program.  Waterloo Region be one would be excellent, as Andrea Kauppinen and John Green of Basic Income Waterloo Region will tell you.  The more people who come out to support this, the better. Basic income would replace other social subsidies, it should improve your circumstances. Done well it can take the stigma out of the social safety net and even eliminate poverty.

If you haven’t, you should consider attending.  Register here:
https://www.ontario.ca/form/register-attend-session-basic-income-pilot-consultation

You can make an online submission until January 31, 2017

“Basic income is an idea which provides a different approach to income security and reducing poverty,” the statement said. “It’s important we hear as many views as possible to ensure we get this right.”

The ministry says it’s particularly interested in thoughts about how the pilot program is designed, including who should be eligible, which communities to include, and how it will be evaluated.

“What they’re doing is trying to collect information in order to build a position. It’s very difficult (for us) to take a firm position at this point because we don’t actually know what the province is going to end up doing,” Bartholomew-Saunders said. “They’re collecting information to determine what they’re going to be doing.”

— Kitchener Post: Public invited to have say on basic guaranteed income

Find out more on the province’s page:
https://www.ontario.ca/page/basic-income-pilot-consultation

And Basic Income Waterloo is a good resource:
http://biwr.ca/what-is-basic-income/


PS: I almost forgot the details (in Whoa!Canada’s shiny new calendar)
Basic Income Consultation

When:  Fri, 13 January, 6:30 – 9:00pm
Where:  Kitchener City Hall,
200 King St W, Kitchener,
            ON N2G 4G7, Canada (map)
June 2016 Basic Income Waterloo Region discussion at Queen Street Commons, Kitchener
June 2016 Basic Income Waterloo Region discussion at Queen Street Commons, Kitchener