laurel l. russwurm's political musings

STOP #CETA: Lessons from Canada

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Canadians are not clamouring for CETA.  My fingers are crossed; I’m one nice patient Canadian who hopes Belgium will hold fast and continue to refuse to sign the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement).

I really don’t get why our Government is pursuing this Trade Agreement sought by the Harper Conservative Government.  Because the fact is, Canada has indeed suffered from “free trade” agreements, as pointed out in the Council of Canadians video below. I cannot comprehend why Canadian Governments are so willing to sign these things. Investor State Dispute Settlements are not good for democracy.

The Economist says:

IF YOU wanted to convince the public that international trade agreements are a way to let multinational companies get rich at the expense of ordinary people, this is what you would do: give foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever a government passes a law to, say, discourage smoking, protect the environment or prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Yet that is precisely what thousands of trade and investment treaties over the past half century have done, through a process known as “investor-state dispute settlement”, or ISDS.

— The Economist Investor-state dispute settlement: The arbitration game

There is a lot more information about why CETA as it stands in a letter written by a group of Canadian academics”


“To the Parliament of Wallonia and Belgian voters:

“We are Canadian academics with extensive collective expertise in investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) and related issues under Canada’s trade and investment agreements. We are also among a small group of Canadian experts in this field who do not work in law firms or government as ISDS lawyers/ arbitrators.

img_5503“We write after reading news reports this past weekend about the scare tactics employed by Canadian politicians and business representatives in an effort to influence your legislative and government processes. We do not think that these voices represent accurately Canada’s experience under the foreign investor protection system that the CETA would expand. We are aware that many Canadians have expressed deep concern about this foreign investor protection system due to Canada’s experience with a similar system under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and in debates about the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), among other agreements.

“While we focus here on adverse consequences of the foreign investor protections in the CETA, we are also aware that the agreement will impose new constraints in many other areas of public policy beyond what we discuss. They include but are not limited to pharmaceutical regulation, public health, agriculture, government procurement, public services, labour rights, and market access. We note that other academics have raised significant concerns about the CETA in these areas.

“Since the NAFTA came into effect in 1994, Canada has been and remains the only Western developed country that has agreed to ISDS on a comprehensive basis while in the more vulnerable capital-importing position. In the case of NAFTA, Canada agreed to ISDS on this basis with the U.S. and Canada has since faced more foreign investor claims than all but a handful of countries, has paid compensation in response to numerous claims, and has altered government decisions or decision-making processes in order to accommodate foreign investor interests and to reduce risks of potentially massive liability.

“Business spokespersons who have defended these concessions of Canadian democracy and sovereignty often represent foreign companies in Canada or Canadian companies that may own companies abroad and be interested in bringing claims against Canada. It is perhaps understandable, though still very regrettable, that large businesses are keen to acquire special rights and special access to public money through ISDS.

“Reforms to ISDS in the CETA, relied on by Canadian officials to describe the CETA misleadingly as “progressive”, are inadequate to address major concerns about the CETA. The major concerns
include the undermining of democratic regulation, the special privileging of foreign investors, the lack of judicial independence and procedural fairness in the adjudicative process, and the lack of respect for domestic courts and domestic institutions. In particular, the “Investment Court System” (ICS) in the CETA does not remove the financial threat posed by foreign investor claims to democratic regulation, does not alter the unjustified and gross favouring of foreign investors over anyone else who has a conflicting right or interest, and does not establish a proper court with the usual safeguards of independence and fairness.

“These problems with the CETA’s foreign investor protections remain outstanding, despite the recent Joint Interpretive Declaration issued by Canada and the EU (in all of the various forms in which that Declaration became public).

“We are heartened that your democratic processes in Wallonia have allowed for close and careful consideration of the CETA’s flaws as part of a genuine and thoughtful debate. We wish Canadians had been permitted to have a similar debate based on a vote in Canada’s Parliament and provincial legislatures, but that has not been the case under the Harper government or the Trudeau government. In contrast to the views expressed undiplomatically by some Canadian politicians and business representatives, it appears to us that Belgian democracy has been exercised responsibly, as it should be, to allow parliamentary votes on the quasi-constitutional structures created by foreign investor protection agreements like the CETA.

“In Canada, our democracy has suffered because the federal government has insisted on pushing through agreements like the NAFTA and the CETA without legislative votes at the federal and provincial levels. As a result, and without the corresponding endorsements by our elected representatives, we have been left with a foreign investor protection system that binds all levels of government and that will bind all future elected governments in Canada for a very long time. Our experience hints at the dangers faced by European democracy in the case of the CETA. Whatever decisions you take, we urge you not to succumb to the same types of tactics used to mislead and scare Canadians into undermining our democracy on behalf of foreign investors. Canada and the European Commission have been aware for years that the CETA faced significant public and academic opposition due to its foreign investor protections. Yet they declined to remove these non-trade elements from the CETA.

“In a context where there is no credible justification for including ISDS or ICS in the CETA – given the greater reliability, independence, and fairness of Canadian and European democratic and judicial processes – it still surprises us how big business groups and governments acting on their behalf ferociously cling to such a deeply flawed and undemocratic model. In case they are of interest, we have noted below a few additional documents indicating concerns with the foreign investor protection system. We have also listed a larger sample of relevant publications by the signatories.

“From what we can see, you have shown great courage in opposing the CETA and, based on our observations of how the foreign investor protection system has been pushed on Canadians over the years, we wish to express our support for your democratic choices.”

The original letter including the complete list of signatories and links to supporting documents can be found in this PDF

Michael Geist talks about TPP at CIGIOn the European side you need look no further than the FFII blog, whose most recent article is, “A deceitful attempt to get CETA signed”

If all of this is too highbrow to grasp in one sitting, check out BUZZ FEED: The Court That Rules The World

The point is really that CETA is a bad deal for citizens on both sides of the pond.

Michael Geist has been talking about (and highlighting the flaws in) “trade deals” like CETA for years, so I’ll leave the last word to him: CETA Failure Reflects Public Rejection of Sweeping Trade Deals: Don’t blame EU unreasonableness for saying no to bad agreement with Canada.


Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 24, 2016 at 6:03 pm

The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRE

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back to #ERRE Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm

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

On the 1st anniversary of the Liberal Majority, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests Canadians have lost our “appetite” for electoral reform now that his party has won a majority government.

A majority built on 39% of the votes cast.
Just as Mr. Harper had a majority built on 39% of the votes cast.

Our Electoral System Is Changing

Something unprecedented happened in the 42nd Canadian federal election of 2015.  Every party — except the one in power — campaigned on electoral reform.  This is something that would never happen without wide spread dissatisfaction with the electoral system we use now.

When most people feel they can’t vote for what they want, even if the person they vote for is elected, they don’t have the representation in Parliament they want.  When the system fails to serve us, we don’t feel engaged in or satisfied by the process.  When a majority of voters are routinely unrepresented, when some votes count more than others, but most votes don’t count at all, there is something wrong with an electoral system.

Even though we don’t understand the problem or know how to fix it, we know something isn’t working.  So when Mr. Trudeau said, “We will make every vote count,” it resonated with Canadians.

Justin Trudeau's Election Promise: "We will make every vote count."

erre-r-here-nuThe Liberal Party promise was itself an acknowledgement of the uncomfortable truth that every vote does not count in the voting system Canadians use now.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of Canadians were less than pleased to read the ipolitics report:  Trudeau taking heat for walking back electoral reform: Prime Minister tells Le Devoir Canadians’ motivation for change has weakened.

Our votes need to count as much today as they did last October.

The electoral reform process has barely begun.  Although the public consultation is over, the ERRE Committee hasn’t even finished hearing experts.

Your vote should count.  And so should mine.  All of our voices deserve to be heard, but they won’t be until we have a fair electoral system.  Canadians have been waiting for meaningful electoral reform for a hundred and fifty years. We can’t let them walk away from this election promise, this is our historic opportunity to create a stronger democracy and public policy that serves all Canadians.

Please phone or email your MP to let them know that we expect them to keep their election promise to make every vote count.

Tell your MP that backing off on electoral reform will lose your vote.

Here are the phone numbers and email addresses of our Waterloo Region Liberal MPs.

Bryan May – Cambridge
telephone: 519 624 7440
email: Bryan.May.P9@parl.gc.ca

MP Bryan May and the Honourable Maryam Monsef

Marwan Tabbara – Kitchener- South Hespeler
telephone: 519 571 5509
email: Marwan.Tabbara.P9@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, MP Raj Saini and MP Marwan Tabarra

Bardish Chagger – Waterloo
telephone: 519 746 1573
email: Bardish.Chagger.P9@parl.gc.ca

The Honourable Maryam Monsef and the Honourable Bardish Chagger

Raj Saini – Kitchener Centre
telephone: 519 741 2001
email: Raj.Saini.P9@parl.gc.ca

Read the article in Le Devoir
or the English Translation

If you aren’t in Waterloo Region, you should contact your Liberal MP too.  And if you don’t know who your MP is, you can find out here by Postal Code.  If you know who it is but need the contact info you can find it here by typing your MP’s name.

And no matter where you live, you can sign the Broadbent Institute’s
Petition: Justin Trudeau, keep your promise to bring in electoral reform


back to #ERRE Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm

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
• #ERRE #Q Committee
• #ERRE #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRE #Q
Proportionality #ERRE #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRE
• #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday) 
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRE Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm
• The Promise: “We will make every vote count” #ERRE

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


#ERRE Submission by John Filliter

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Submission to ERRE, the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform
by John Filliter, Private Citizen
Friday, October 7th, 2016
at Fredericton, New Brunswick

The following are my views alone. They generally should be regarded as arguments and opinions rather than assertions of fact.

To review a bit of legal context, political theory and the history of Canada’s electoral system:

Sections 40 and 41 of the Constitution Act, 1867 both begin “until the Parliament of Canada otherwise provides”. Section 40 deals with division of the original provinces joining Confederation into Electoral Districts. In the past, there were some multi-member ridings, for example. Section 41 continued existing election laws in the four provinces, including qualifications and disqualifications of candidates and voters, and proceedings at elections. The suffrage has been extended to include women, for instance. So it appears that Parliament (i.e., the Governor General, the Senate and the House of Commons under Section 17 of the Act) has the authority to reform proceedings at elections, etc. This is likely to be subject to court challenges, of course.

One provision which might prove problematic is Section 52, which states that Parliament may increase the number of MPs as long as this does not disturb the proportionate representation of provinces prescribed by the Act.

Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

Section 3 of the Charter describes the first of our Democratic Rights to be the right of every citizen of Canada to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons … . Section 15(1) of the Charter provides that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination
(My italics)

Equal benefit of the right to vote implies that the votes of all Canadians should carry equal weight, subject to Section 51A guaranteeing all provinces at least as many MPs as they have Senators.

One glaring problem that can be seen in the 2015 election results is the share of seats that was generated by the number of votes cast for parties, namely:
Liberals - 6,930,136 Votes - 39.466% 184 54.43% Conservatives - 5,600,496 Votes - 31.894% - 99 seats - 29.28% New Democrats 3,461,262 Votes - 19.711% - 44 seats -13.01% Bloc Quebecois 818,652 - Votes - 4.662% - 10 seats - 2.95% Green Party 605,864 Votes - 3.450% - 1 seat - .29%

First Past the Post (FPTP) clearly did not translate votes into seats accurately; rather it produced a False Majority.

When Canada inherited FPTP from Great Britain in 1867, it worked reasonably well because there were only two significant parties at the time. Before 1921, there were 13 Majorities, 11 True and 2 False. (A “true” majority means one where the victorious party won over 50% of the votes.)

In 1896, Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals won a majority of 118 seats with only 45.1% of the popular vote compared with Charles Tupper’s Conservatives and Liberal/Conservatives who took 46.3%. Tupper won 416,640 votes to Laurier’s 405,506! This was our first federal election “stolen by the system”.

Since 1921, Canada has had a Multi-Party System featuring at least three substantial parties contesting each election. During that 95-year period, we have elected 18 Majorities (4 True, 14 False) and 11 Minorities, and 4 more elections were stolen by the system (1926, 1957, 1962 and 1979). The only True Majorities since 1921 have been in 1940, 1949, 1958 and 1984.

FPTP has produced some other serious distortions of the votes of Canadians. Consider 1993, for example, when Jean Chretien won 177 seats with 41.32% of the vote. The Bloc Quebecois formed the Official Opposition with 54 seats, but only 13.50% of the vote. The Reform Party came third with 52 seats based on 18.72% of the vote. The NDP won 9 seats with 6.87% and the PCs were last with only 2 seats but 15.99% of the popular vote!

The 1993 results demonstrate the danger of regional divisions that can be caused by FPTP, not to mention the undermining of national unity. It is not healthy for democracy to have parties shut out of provincial or regional seats because of FPTP.

Democracy is defined as “a system of government by the whole population, usually through elected representatives”. The first Canadian colony to be granted Representative Government was Nova Scotia in 1758, though in reality the ‘family compact’ continued to govern for another 90 years. In 1848 Nova Scotia became the first province to be granted Responsible Government.

What is the role of an electoral system? It should translate the votes cast across the country into seats that reflect the proportion of votes each party received, not distort the election results to produce a majority government. If the people vote for a minority government, that is what the system should give them. The current system is a broken one that has been antiquated for 95 years. It needs to be replaced. Now. FPTP often does not truly represent how the people voted. This is neither democratic nor fair.

Is there any way of correcting this problem?

There are basically two types of electoral systems – Majoritarian and Proportional Representation (PR) ones – plus combinations of the two.

Majoritarian Systems are winner-take-all systems designed to come up with a winner by fabricating a majority, if possible; they do not support majority rule per se, rather assist a party to attain a majority by such gimmicks as having seats solely determined at the local level, dropping candidates off the ballot and redistributing their votes, holding run-off elections, etc.

PR systems are designed to allocate seats to the parties based on their share of the votes cast in a general election.

Canada must adopt some form of PR if we are to enjoy real democracy in the one elected arm of Parliament.

There are many forms of PR systems in use around the world – a majority of democratic countries and over 80% of OECD countries use some form of PR, including Germany, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, most European and Latin American countries. Canada is one of only three major developed democracies that don’t use it.

This Committee is best qualified to choose the form and features of PR that would be most appropriate for Canada, which faces some unique geographical and demographic challenges.

My preferences include a Mixed Member Proportional system with:

(a) provinces divided into Regional seat groupings comprised of up to 12 or so existing seats; a province with 12 or fewer seats would comprise one Region;

(b) these seats being divided into Local MPs and Regional MPs almost equally;

(c) electors voting for a Local MP, party and/or up to the maximum number of Regional MPs to be elected;

(d) voting by Open List ballots under which electors could split their Regional MP votes among candidates from different parties if they wish, or simply vote for an entire “party ticket”;

(e) parties being awarded Regional MPs based on their share of the provincial popular vote, to the extent of under-representation in seats won by Local MPs;

(f) a party’s candidate(s) who received the highest number of votes but weren’t elected as Local MPs becoming its Regional MP(s);

(g) if after provincial PR was calculated, there remained some national dis-proportionate representation, parties still under-represented in seats would be awarded Nationally Guaranteed Seats provided that they garnered at least 4% of the valid votes cast nationally and they contested at least 95% of the ridings.

(h) Under-represented parties that qualify should be entitled to 3.38 seats for every full percentage point of the national vote that they win, minus any partial seat and any Elected MPs. They would have to select their MPs for Nationally Guaranteed Seats in a manner that would maintain proportional representation of provinces.

(i) candidates would continue to be elected by a plurality: plurality winners are as legitimate as those who might pass them as preferred second or third choice candidates.

(j) If the Committee or the House takes the view that Local MPs should be elected by a majority rather than a plurality, ranked or preferential ballots should be used. (Run-off systems take too long and cost too much.) However, rather than counting only second choice ballots of the lowest candidate, all ballots should be considered when second (third, fourth) choices are counted. Why should second choices of only voters who supported the least popular candidate be counted? Every ballot should be treated equally. Moreover, when second and succeeding choices are counted, they should be weighted by dividing by the number of the round. (Second choice ballots by 2, third by 3, and so on.) The original number for a majority should be maintained. (The same logic would apply if Single Transferable Vote were adopted: all second choice votes of a candidate who attains the quota should be counted, not just the votes remaining when the quota is achieved.)

(k) The ballot should give voters an option to vote for “None of the above candidates”, especially if mandatory voting is adopted. Voting is supposed to be secret and in our last provincial election, some voters were asked whether they intended to spoil their ballots when the voting machines indicated that they hadn’t voted for anybody.

To address the Guiding Principles that the House of Commons has identified for consideration:

PR would restore the Effectiveness and Legitimacy of voting because the system respects and reflects how electors actually voted. It would reduce the distortions between the percentage of popular vote a party receives and its share of the seats. The electoral result would closely mirror voter intention and should bolster public confidence in the system.

PR would promote greater Engagement and Participation in the democratic process because electors would see that their votes had a much greater chance of being effectual in electing MPs or party. Under-represented groups would be encouraged to participate in the process if they believed this would give them some influence. This would probably reduce some of the apathy, cynicism and alienation that results from a system which distorts how citizens voted. Studies have shown that PR tends to increase voter turn-out by 7 to 8%, improve civility and collaboration among opposing politicians, and reduce regional divisions.

Accessibility and Inclusiveness of all eligible voters: under PR a greater diversity of views and minority groups are usually represented. There should be simultaneous initiatives to make voting easier for electors who face accessibility challenges of any kind, including physical, visual, intellectual and regulatory ones. Elections Canada should work with ethnic groups across the country to produce videos explaining how to vote in every language and dialect, and these should be available online. Civics courses and kits should be provided by the government. Documentation requirements to establish identity and residence should be relaxed and optional Canadian Voting Cards considered. The more citizens participate, the stronger our democracy is.

Online and Electronic Voting may make voting easier and more accessible but I have serious reservations about them. This may be because of my ignor-ance of modern technology but I wouldn’t entrust elections to it. I have con-cerns that foreign hackers could alter the outcome of our elections and we might not even realize it. If foreign hackers can get into the databases of some of our largest government departments, how can the security of our elections be guaranteed? Within the last two months Australia’s online voting plan was derailed by a DDOS attack. A computer programmer testified before a U.S. Congressional Committee that he had coded computers to rig elections. There are also issues about establishing the identity of who cast a vote online, or whether undue influence was exercised over a voter, or a vote was “sold”.

Most importantly, just as justice must be seen to be done, so too ballots need to be seen by scrutineers of the parties to verify that they aren’t spoiled, fake, awarded to the wrong candidates, or counted incorrectly. In short, these proposed innovations are at best premature.

With regard to Mandatory Voting: forcing citizens to vote against their will is a bad idea. Some may object for religious reasons; some may not feel informed enough on the issues or candidates; some may face serious access-ibility, time, literacy or financial challenges. Those who do vote under duress may just vote for the first candidate(s) on the list, which could skewer results.

Lowering the Voting Age to 16 might lead to higher voting by a younger cohort in the future, especially if accompanied by classroom civics training on how to vote and discussion of issues. However, lowering the voting age in the past did not lead to a spike in voter turn-out.

With regard to avoiding undue complexity in the voting process, while PR presents voters with more choices, I don’t think it involves “undue complexity”. Choosing a party in addition to a Local MP candidate is hardly a daunting task; in fact, many if not most MPs are probably already elected on the basis of their party affiliation. Choosing among candidates from other parts of a Region would present more difficulty because voters would be more familiar with closer candidates; for those not comfortable with investigating candidates from distant communities, there should be the option to simply vote the “party ticket”. If citizens of over 90 countries have learned to use PR, I am confident that Canadians can do so too.

With regard to Safeguarding the Integrity of the voting process, PR would ensure that the will of the people, as reflected by their votes, is respected. If online or electronic voting were implemented in conjunction with PR, however, the integrity of the voting process might not be secure.

PR would preserve the Accountability of Local Representation similarly to under FPTP: if a Local MP does not serve up to voters’ expectations, he or she can be defeated at the next election. Moreover, if a party’s Regional MPs do not perform well, the party too may pay the price at the ensuing election. 7
Regional MPs provide a choice of representatives for voters too, which would provide Local MPs with some “competition” which might improve their performance. It is true that Local MPs would be expected to serve an area double their old riding, which would probably result in more communication by technological means, but this would not likely lessen accountability. Local MPs would also have about twice the number of constituents to serve; how- ever there would be Regional MPs to share the workload. Some Regional MPs might develop expertise in dealing with particular problems and referrals from Local MPs could be made to those specializing in a field of service.

Summary of Recommendations

I recommend replacing FPTP with a Mixed Member PR system featuring:

(a) Regional seat groupings comprised of up to 12 or so existing seats;

(b) these seats being divided equally between Local MPs and Regional MPs;

(c) electors voting for a Local MP, party and/or up to the maximum number of
Regional MPs to be elected;

(d) voting by Open List ballots under which electors could split their Regional
MP votes among candidates from different parties if they wish, or simply
vote for an entire “party ticket”;

(e) awarding parties Regional MPs based on their share of the provincial
popular vote, if under-represented in seats won by their Local MPs;

(f) a party’s candidates who received the highest number of votes but weren’t
elected as Local MPs becoming its Regional MPs;

(g) if after provincial PR was calculated, there remained some national dis-
proportionate representation, parties still under-represented in seats being
awarded Nationally Guaranteed Seats provided that they garnered at least
4% of the valid votes cast nationally and they contested at least 95% of the
national ridings;

(h) under-represented parties that qualify being entitled to 3.38 seats for each
full percentage point of the national vote that they win, minus any partial
seat and any Elected MPs. Also, they would have to select their MPs for
Nationally Guaranteed Seats in a manner that would maintain proportional
representation of provinces;

(i) candidates continuing to be elected by a plurality;

(j) If the Committee or the House takes the view that Local MPs should be
elected by a majority rather than a plurality, ranked or preferential ballots
should be used. However, rather than counting only second choice ballots
of a lowest candidate, all ballots should be considered when second (third,
fourth) choices are counted. Moreover, when second and succeeding
choices are counted, they should be weighted by dividing by the number
of the round. (Second choice ballots by 2, third by 3, and so on.) The
same number for a majority should be maintained in subsequent rounds.

(k) Ballots should provide a “None of the above candidates” option.

Elections Canada should produce videos on how to vote in every language and dialect and make them available online.

The federal government should provide civics courses and kits for citizens.

Elections Canada should relax the documentation requirements to prove identity and residency, and possibly issue optional Voter ID Cards.

Lowering the voting age to 16 might get cohorts of younger voters engaged in voting in the future but probably wouldn’t create any spike in voter turn-out.


To butcher a famous quote from JFK, “Ask not what electoral reform can do for your party; ask instead what electoral reform can do for your country.”

We Canadians have a glorious opportunity to move our electoral system from the 19th century into the 21st and to achieve a far more democratic, egalitarian, equitable, sensible and honest one. Let’s make the most possible votes count, and give electors what they voted for.

Respectfully submitted,

John Filliter


Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 9, 2016 at 2:28 pm

#ERRE Submission Links

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ERRE BannerCanadians deserve Proportional Representation.

Just because the #ERRE Consultation Process is over, it doesn’t mean it’s over.  The Electoral Reform Process is really just getting started, as the ERRE Special Committee for Electoral Reform will now study the question so they can make their report to Parliament.

We need to continue making noise about Proportional Representation. One way to do that is to publish our submissions outside the ERRE site (they still have hardly published any).  If you have a website or blog, please publish your submission there, then send me the link, so I can add it to this list of links.

If you don’t have your own blog or website (or even if you do) I will be happy to publish your #ERRE submission here.  We need to be sure the ERRE Committee, Minister Monsef, and all of Parliament understands that we are serious about electoral reform.

Canadians deserve Proportional Representation.  Because we’re worth it.  

Note: The content of this post will continue to grow as I receive more #ERRE submissions submissions and links to #ERRE submissions.  If you wish to have your submission published here email me at laurel.l@russwurm.org

Links to ERRE submission Briefs are published on the official website, but slowly, and Expert Witness briefs and private citizen’s briefs are intermingled.

Erre Submissions

NOTE: I have refrained from including this List in my Proportional Representation for Canada series, because it is an aggregation of submissions which mat or may not support Proportional Representation.

Erre Submissions submitted for publication in Whoa!Canada will be formatted, not edited.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 9, 2016 at 9:06 am

#ERRE Submission by Patricia McGrail

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Submission to the Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform,
October 7, 2016 
By Patricia McGrail


During the 2015 election, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau told Canadians that FPTP was broken and that the Liberal Party would “Make Every Vote Count.” This pledge echoed a promise made in 1921 by PM Mackenzie King, a proposal made by PM Pierre Trudeau in 1981 and numerous studies undertaken since then.

Canadians believed Mr. Trudeau and have been lining up, by the hundreds, at microphones all over the country to say that they want proportional representation. The Electoral Reform Parliamentary Committee (“ERRE”), as it currently operates, is the best of what the Liberals have offered us to date.

ERRE demonstrates how Canadians expect their Parliament to operate. We also appreciate Minister Monsef’s consultations and the over 150 electoral reform town halls that have been held to date.

Canadians are daring to hope that the promise of ERRE will be realized to bring all Canadians together in a new era of revitalized democracy and collaboration for our common good. To that end, here are my expectations:

  • Canada must have a well-designed proportional system to provide all citizens with equal and effective votes. Canadians deserve a Parliament that looks like them and is accountable to them. No winner-take-all voting system (FPTP, Alternative Vote, or Two-Round) can provide this.
  •  It is the role of our Parliament to ensure that Canadians can enjoy this civic right in time for the next federal election in 2019.
  •  If further public consultation is required, a citizens’ assembly may be the best vehicle. However, since there have already been 13 Canadians studies on this issue, all recommending an element of proportionality, further consultations and discussions should focus only on the particular proportional voting system that suits Canada best. It appears that either MMP or STV, or some variation thereof, would be best suited for Canada.
  • I do not support either mandatory voting or online voting. Both are insignificant to what is needed now and serve as red herrings to derail proportional representation.
  • Sufficient resources must be provided to ensure that Canadians understand how to use their new voting system now, and in the future.
  • I do not support referenda, in general. However, it may be prudent to have citizens approve continued use of the new proportional system after it has been in place for at least three elections.
  • The Guiding Principles of the Electoral Reform Committee are fulfilled by Proportional Representation. In brief:
    o 1. Effectiveness and legitimacy,
    o 2. Voter engagement,
    o 3. Accessibility and inclusiveness,
    o 4. Integrity, and
    o 5. Local representation.


Although I have voted at every election my entire life and followed political issues in the news, I stepped into a MP’s office for the first time about 3 years ago to discuss electoral reform. Once retired, I had time to contemplate the full extent of the divergence between our governance and the needs and aspirations of Canadians – and the possible reasons for it.

I visited Parliament for the first time and attended a meeting of the Government Operations and Estimates Committee. I heard newly-installed Auditor General, Michael Ferguson, explain that he had no way to confirm that what had been spent by the government had been approved by Parliament. Budgets and accounting records were prepared on a different basis with no means of reconciliation. The subsequent discussion around the table made it clear that our then-government saw no problem with this grave failing of accountability to Canadians. Reports of dysfunctional Parliamentary committees clearly had substance.

My former Conservative MP was planning a Democratic Reform Town Hall to discuss Michael Chong’s Reform Bill. He shared his dismay with the way Parliamentary committees operated saying that he had been scolded by his colleagues for some insignificant support to an opposition member. My MP was very receptive to including Professor Dennis Pilon in his planned town hall to discuss Proportional Representation (PR). It was a very successful event with over 100 attendees. After Dr. Pilon’s presentation, my MP told me he hoped to include PR in his next private members’ bill. And so began my interest in electoral reform.

I have since become acquainted with all eleven current MPs in Mississauga and Brampton, co-hosted a few electoral reform town-halls and a Community Dialogue. I have viewed or listened to 39 ERRE hearings and live-tweeted most of them. I am not an “elite” or “special interest.” I am simply a citizen who became thoroughly disillusioned with our governance and had time to do something about it. I have voted for all parties at one time or another and now shun party partisanship.

I was a single parent and now have grandchildren. I became a Chartered Accountant and entered public accounting when it was rare for women to do so. Being a tax specialist kept me closer to home. I learned to appreciate collaboration, cooperation and focusing on what is important – attributes that have served most Canadians very well.

Making Votes Count

In the last election, 51% of all votes cast elected no-one. Boards of Directors answer only to those who hold enough shares to out-vote everyone else. Not sure why we expect governments to be accountable to most Canadians who elect no-one.

Locking votes up in silos so that they elect no-one is a masterful way of effectively disenfranchising many. Subject to manipulation by gerrymandering and robocalls, single-member ridings are a great vehicle for “dividing and conquering” citizens. It is not fanciful to say that many votes don’t “count” under winner-take-all voting systems. It is simply arithmetic.

No voting system ensures that everyone casts a successful vote for a candidate or party, nor should it. But proportional voting systems ensure that a much higher proportion of citizenry elects a representative or party of their own choosing. We can do much better. We are greatly diminished by not doing so.

Democracy is about representation for all. I cannot remember casting anything, other than a strategic vote to keep the most threatening candidate out, unless I was in a “safe” riding and my vote did not count anyway. I certainly do not feel represented if my MP consistently votes for policies that I oppose and do not meet my own needs and aspirations.

Changing the Culture of Government

I know something about the culture of large institutions from working in Big Four accounting firms and servicing multinationals. Institutions become permeated with their own unique culture. In my experience, both leadership and the foundational objectives of an institution shape culture.

Small changes can reverberate to change the culture of an organization. But the institutional memory of large organizations, based on how things have been done before, can make change slow, even with the most determined leadership. Lasting change, real change happens at the foundation – where incentives and motivations are created.

How MPs are elected greatly impacts how they behave once in Parliament. The voting system is the foundation that provides the incentives and motivations for certain behaviours. Winner-take-over voting systems require lock-step military precision to corner the handful of swing voters who will determine whether a party wins the golden ring – a majority government that gives them 100% control. Hence, we get strict party discipline and an overbearing PMO.

It is trite, but true, that absolute power breeds corruption. Canadians know this well. How often have we booted out one corrupt government, only to do so again, and again. Proportional voting systems change the incentives for candidates and parties. Candidates and parties can present more creative platforms because they are not all seeking votes from the same swing riders. They can seek their own constituencies and know that they will get seats according to the strength of their support.

Multi-party coalitions and minority governments require the collaboration of other parties in order to pass legislation in behalf of a true majority of citizens. On the whole, PR governments are just as, or more stable, than winner-take-all governments with less policy lurch. PR governments have greater continuity and can better solve the problems that need long-term planning.

Can we undertake reforms that will improve the operation of Parliament without proportional
representation? In my opinion, any lasting, significant improvement requires a well-designed
proportional voting system. We certainly need many other Parliamentary and party reforms. I see PR as the foundation and catalyst for those needed reforms.

As for expecting real reform under a winner-take-all voting system, can a leopard change its spots?  The whole premise of winner-take-all voting systems is an affront to fairness and equality in our modern age.

As a society, we are leaving many serious challenges for our children to deal with. We also need to leave them a solid foundation and the ability to govern for their greater good.

Alternative Vote (winner-take-all ranked ballots)

Westminster parliamentary systems are susceptible to one-party rule due to their poor separation of executive from legislature. Single-party majorities are an easy target for global forces that threaten to supplant our sovereign governments. A primary motivation for seeking proportional representation is the elimination of single-party majority governments.

Alternative Vote (AV) generally results in more single-party majority governments. Even with both mandatory voting and AV, Australia has false majority governments, with six wrong winners since 1940.

AV does not even guarantee a majority winner in individual ridings when optional preferences are used. Many exhausted ballots leave too few votes to transfer to achieve a majority winner.

AV offers little benefit for voters but often empowers major parties at the expense of smaller parties. After almost a century of AV, Australia is a duopoly. It’s powerful, elected proportional Senate is needed to moderate the AV majorities in the House of Representatives. Gridlock often results.

Proportional representation is needed where government policy is generated – in the lower house.

Fragmentation and “Extremist” Parties

Fear has become a tool employed in elections because it is effective under winner-take-all voting systems. I live in a community where, as a Caucasian, I am a minority. My community is peaceful but I am keenly aware that there is a delicate balance that is easily disturbed. Islamophobic material posted online during recent elections was shocking. Winner-take-all elections fuel the “us versus them” mentality.

FPTP has meant that Canada seldom has a government that is represented in every region. Geographic concentration gives some parties too many seats while denying representation to many others. National concerns such as climate change remain unaddressed while provinces bicker. Regional resentments build up and are acted out in counterproductive ways. FPTP allowed a separatist party to become the Official Opposition when it did not even have a majority of the popular vote in Quebec.

Given this, it is frankly preposterous to say that a proportional voting system will exacerbate extremism. What is often called “extremism” is merely another legitimate point of view. Parties that acquire sufficient popular support, that exceeds a minimum threshold, deserve expression. More diverse views may be expressed under PR but, in order, to have any impact, they must find common ground with the majority. The tail does not wag the dog.

Extremism, to the extent it exists, is more easily moderated when expressed, than subverted. PR does not promote extremism, although it may make it more visible. We will deal with it appropriately. Fear-mongers should not be allowed to dictate our voting system.

Much of this fear-mongering comes from a privileged minority that has a vested interest in maintaining a winner-take-all voting system. We cannot call ourselves a democracy if the few rule the many.

Political Will and CynicismErre Submissions

Due to its natural wealth, Canada has prospered despite a winner-take-all voting system. But that prosperity is increasingly distributed inequitably. Climate change threatens all. There are tough choices to be made by future generations. Civil unrest will grow if citizens are denied the representative and accountable governance provided by effective proportional representation.

For decades, political actors have denied many Canadians full participation in their governance throug  myth-making and obfuscations. Frankly, a government that truly believes in evidence-based decision-making has no choice but to deliver a proportional voting system based upon the evidence presented in least 39 ERRE hearings, numerous town halls and the 13 previous Canadian studies. The Liberal government has a historic opportunity to give Canadians what they have been denied so long.

Focus and leadership is needed now to get the job done.



#ERRE Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm

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back to #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!

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

After more than thirty years of casting votes that have never elected an MP, I am a Canadian who can’t wait for our First Past The Post electoral system to be replaced with some form of Proportional Representation.


• First Past The Post is not working

• Single MP ridings are virtual monopolies that fail to represent too many voters

• Don’t replace it with another winner-take-all system like Alternative Vote

• I want Proportional Representation for more representative Representative Democracy

• I want Proportional Representation so we can vote for what we want and maybe get it

• My preferred type of proportional system is Single Transferable Vote

• Any form of Proportional Representation will be an improvement

• Lower the voting age to 16

• Mandatory voting with rewards not punishments

• Voting Holiday

• No voting machines

• No online voting

• No referendum

• Permanent constituency offices

Note: In discussion of possible Proportional Electoral Systems I have completely ignored List PR because I have accepted the notions that

(a) it wouldn’t work very well within Canadian Geography, and

(b) Canadians tend to value our local representation.

I have completely ignored Fair Vote Canada’s Rural-Urban system because

(a) I don’t believe it will function as promised,

(b) local representation for rural voters will continue to be an effective monoply, and

(c) I think it would manufacture an unnecessary polarizing divide between rural and urban communities.


The problem is that we are voting in an inherently unfair electoral system, a system that was adopted because it was unfair.

Effectiveness and legitimacy

I have no confidence at all that our First Past The Post system will ever translate my vote intention into representation in Parliament because it never has.

The Alternative Vote system would be even worse, because it would raise the bar and make it even more difficult to elect women and minorities than it is now. Such winner-take-all systems almost always leave a majority of voters under represented in multiparty politics.

How effective can votes be in any winner-take-all system when some votes are worth more than others, but most votes don’t count at all?

How legitimate is a system where more voters didn’t vote than voted for a “majority” government?

Representative Democracy is supposed to allow voters to secure representation in Parliament. When only 39% of the votes cast elect a “majority” government, far too many voters are left unrepresented.

Systems that produce Proportional Representation seek to represent as many voters as possible. For this reason, only a proportional system will provide voter equality, effectiveness and legitimacy.


After decades of voting without electing anyone, I was starting to think the whole thing might be futile, and there was a time not so long ago that I was considering giving it up as a lost cause. The discovery that more than 90 other countries use Proportional Representation systems (some for more than a century!) was a real eye opener. But I know how close I came to disengaging.

My son tells me his friends don’t care at all about voting. And I’ve talked to young people willing to carry signs and demonstrate for issues they are passionate about, but don’t vote because they believe it’s futile. And I can’t say I blame them.

Adopting Proportional Representation would go a long way to remove the feeling of futility so many Canadians have. Proportional Representation will give candidates in small parties a fair chance to get elected. Once running for office stops being an exercise in futility, I have no doubt we will see even more good potential candidates (particularly women) willing to throw their hats in the ring.

Any form of Proportional Representation would certainly foster greater civility and collaboration in politics because cross party co-operation would become necessary to get things done in the more consensus style of government that will result.

The very best way to increase voter turnout would be to lower the voting age to 16. If our young people establish the habit of voting early, they are more likely to keep it up.

Mandatory Voting

I used to disagree with the idea of mandatory voting because the very idea of compelling people to vote has an undemocratic feel, but lately I’ve been wondering if it might not be such a bad idea after all.

Many people don’t vote because they don’t feel qualified, informed or even entitled to vote. If voting was mandatory, those eligible voters would understand they are expected to vote, and I am inclined to think most would do their best to make an informed choice.

Others don’t vote because they don’t like the choices. And if voting becomes mandatory, it would be essential to institute a “none of the above” choice with teeth (if a majority choose it, a new election must ensue.

The part I don’t like is the idea of punishing voters who choose not to vote with a fine. I would be happier providing a nominal reward. Just as most Canadians are willing to conform to privacy law without any teeth, it many not even be necessary to have a fine or a reward, simply passing a Parliamentary motion that voting is mandatory would encourage many non-voters to vote.

I also like the idea of making voting day a statutory holiday. Maybe the mandatory voting reward could be a “get out of work free” card that voters get in exchange for voting.

Accessibility and Inclusiveness

People keep telling me that our First Past the Post electoral system is simple.

Mechanics of Voting

If we look at the mechanics of voting from the user perspective, First Past The Post is easy to use because marking a single “x” is simple.

But the same is true in the Dual Member Proportional (DMP) system being offered in the upcoming PEI referendum: it needs only a single “x”.

Mixed Member Proportional is only a little more complicated; voters must mark two “x”es.

Single Transferable Vote (STV) and Alternative Vote (AV) are considered the most difficult to use. Instead of a simple “x,” voters need to rank their preferences. Now I am inclined to think the way to gauge voting difficulty would be to look at how many ballots are spoiled. And since there are fewer spoiled ballots in Ireland with STV than here in Canada with our “simple” FPTP ballots, I can’t imagine it is all that difficult.

All of this suggests the mechanics of how voters will mark ballots are not much of an issue. But how we mark the ballot isn’t the only measure of difficulty.

Quality of Representation

In Canada there are an awful lot of people like me who know we have a Representative Democracy but couldn’t quite understand why we never actually got the representative we asked for. There are also too many voters who feel obliged to work the odds so they can vote strategically in hopes of gaming the system that doesn’t otherwise work for them. Perhaps the worst part of this is that “strategic voting” invariably involves being told how to vote.

I’ve heard people suggest Alternative Vote would do away with strategic voting, but the evidence from Australia, the only country in the world that has used that winner-take-all system for any length of time, is that strategic voting has become institutionalized, with political parties distributing “how to vote” cards.

The best thing about Proportional Representation is that voters can vote for the candidate that will best represent them — with a reasonable expectation of getting representation they want. When most voters stand a reasonable chance of electing an MP who will represent them in Parliament, our democracy will truly be representative.


This is my assessment of the electoral systems elements Any electoral system can be implemented, Integrity: that the proposed measure can be implemented while safeguarding public trust in the election process, by ensuring reliable and verifiable results obtained through an effective and objective process that is secure and preserves vote secrecy for individual Canadians;

This is my assessment of the elements of the potential electoral systems that might be implemented would impact on the public’s trust in the election process.

First Past The Post

• What you see is not what you get: % votes ≠ % seats

• Single member ridings result in a monopoly government voice, often leaving a majority of voters without representation in Parliament.

Alternative Vote

• “Majorities” manufactured out of 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc preferences

•.Increased voter inequality: first preference ≠ third preference

• Votes for any but the top parties are futile

• Has been known to install 3rd place plurality candidates in office

• Single member ridings result in a monopoly government voice, often leaving a majority of voters without representation in Parliament.

Single Transferable Vote

• Proportionality is achieved naturally with no fiddly math.

• Most voters secure representation

• Multi-member ridings allow different local opinions to be heard and represented in Parliament

Mixed member Proportional

• Fiddly Math

• Parties have an edge over Independents

• Most voters secure representation

• Local MPs

• Multi-member ridings allow different opinions to be heard and represented in Parliament

• The role of the top-up MPs seem to cause confusion in the Multi-member regional ridings


• Simple one “x” ballot

• Fiddly Math required to achieve moderate proportionality

• Independents have an edge

• More voters secure representation

• Multi-member ridings allow different opinions to be heard and represented in Parliament

Voting Machines

I’m digitally literate enough to know the only ballots I will trust are paper ballots.

Digital technology might be employed in the process of counting paper ballots; but I would only trust such machines that run on open source (and verifiable) software.

Online Voting

I categorically oppose online voting. My most important reason is that convenience can possibly counteract the loss of the Secret Ballot.

Even if it was possible to devise a secure system, (so far, not) it would again need to use open source software to be verifiable.

But a very serious integrity issue can arise when votes are cast in private, because there is no way to prevent voter coercion, or sold votes.

Perhaps most interesting is that the young people I’ve spoken with don’t like the idea.

I can’t imagine how the ERRE Committee could even consider such a thing without talking to system security experts.

Local Representation

Proportional Representation ensures accountability because votes that count require much more respect than those that don’t. I believe local representation is important. What I disagree with is the idea that the only way to achieve this is by keeping electoral districts geographically small.

The first geographic riding I voted in was geographically massive, and over the decades I’ve been voting, ridings have been subdivided into smaller and smaller chunks. This leads me to believe the geographic size of the ridings served by Canada’s earliest Parliament would have tended to be quite large too.

Today’s Members of Parliament could serve enormous ridings much more easily than any could have in 1867. I don’t believe there were constituency offices in those day, because the work MPs did was pretty much confined to Ottawa as transportation was by horse or train, and written communication travelled by postal mail. Both transportation and communication technology has improved dramatically since then.

With planes, trains and automobiles, today’s MPs can travel far and wide to meet with constituents. They can converse with far flung constituents through email and social media to help them understand local conditions. But with only a single MP per riding, it means only one view of local needs can be properly advanced at the national level.

By combining several already large sparsely settled ridings with similar characteristics into really large electoral districts, the same amount of representation would be available, but bring more points of view to the table. People who live in large rural ridings understand the realities of scale. Applying the idea if “local representation” to a larger area would have the net result of providing better local representation for more citizens.

Constituency Offices

Since MP constituency offices are paid for by the Federal Government, wouldn’t it be a lovely idea to establish permanent offices for each riding? I think it would be of benefit to new MPs, who wouldn’t need to spend the early months of their service scrambling to find a place to rent, and it would offer continuity to riding residents.


It has been suggested that there is something democratically wrong with a consultation process that fails to engage the entire population.

The fact is that most Canadians have no idea a consultation is under way.

That isn’t at all unusual, it’s normal. Canadian Consultations always attract a self-selected group of participants who have opinions to express. We tell them what we want, what we think, how we feel, and the Committee puts it all together and presents its findings to Parliament. Isn’t that how the Parliamentary consultation process is meant to work?

I must say one of the most surprising things I’ve learned in my own voyage of discovery is that Canadians have been clamouring for electoral reform since before Confederation, and waves of discontent have followed ever since. Even when championed by Canadians like Sir Sandford Fleming who offered a prize of 1,000 1892 dollars to anyone who devised an antidote to FPTP.

Is it any wonder Canadians as a whole are uninformed about electoral alternatives? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as most of us have little or no experience or exposure to anything but First Past The Post.

Even though serious concerns about democratic deficits inherent in FPTP have been repeatedly raised federally and provincially with increasing frequency in recent decades, not a single change has occurred.

The extraordinary absence of our main stream news media from ERRE proceedings across Canada is not unexpected from an industry that has clearly signalled its attachment to the status quo.

Canadians know something is wrong with our system, even if most of us don’t know how to fix it.

Decreasing citizen engagement reflected in low voter turnout was is a sign something wasn’t working.

Strategic voting become a reasonable mainstream option for voters, to the point where so many voters find it imperative not to vote for the candidate who will best represent them. In a situation like this, voter intention can hardly be gleaned from how voters vote.

The urgent need to modernize our voting system could not have become any more clear than it did when four of the five parties that won seats in the 2016 election campaigned for some form of electoral reform. That was extraordinary.

It concerns me that some of the expert witnesses have suggested Canada needs more time to learn about electoral reform before we can proceed with actually making change.

Choosing another electoral system is a complex subject, which is why the citizen’s assemblies in BC and Ontario had 6 months or a year to study the alternatives before making their recommendations. It isn’t surprising most Canadians lack the time or inclination to becoming electoral reform experts, or to even to participate in the Consultation process. But it isn’t our jobit’s yours as our elected representatives. We elect you to help make policy choices on our behalf.

But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Study after study has recommended variations of Single Transferable Vote or Mixed Member Proportional Representation.

One of the worst consequences of the winner-take-all electoral system we stuggle with is the four year electoral cycle. As a consequence, anything that can’t be accomplished in four years just doesn’t get done. Adopting any form of Proportional Representation would help change that with more stable long standing governance built on a much wider base of support.

Electoral System

The only way to make every vote count is with Proportional Representation.

Ranked ballots are wonderful when used in a Proportional Representation system like Single Transferable Vote. No doubt that’s why almost 58% of BC voters voted to adopt BC-STV in their first electoral reform referendum. STV is my own favourite proportional system, in part because big parties don’t get an advantage over small parties and independent candidates, and partly because voters needn’t worry about the math because the proportionality comes naturally.

But although STV is my personal favourite, I will be pleased to see Canada adopt any form of Proportional Representation. Even those I like least would provide an enormous improvement over the level of representation we have now.


Canadians have been waiting for meaningful electoral reform for 150 years.

Please don’t let us down.


back to #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!

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
• #ERRE #Q Committee
• #ERRE #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRE #Q
Proportionality #ERRE #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRE
• #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday) 
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRE Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm

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


#ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!

leave a comment »

back to Redistricting Roulette

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

Submissions to the ERRE Consultation *must* be in before midnight tonight.

Participate in electoral reform consultations

Even if I didn’t have a lot to say, I’ve had a look at the questionaire, and I don’t like it much because the instructions about the electoral system questions are unclear. (If you “disagree” with the correct discription of an electoral system, does it mean you don’t approve of that system or does it mean you don’t want that system?)  The worst part is that people can’t just skip those; everything on every page must be answered in order to submit.  Not good.

A “brief” may sound daunting, what it really is is a way for Canadians to tell them what we think.  It can be a scholarly essay if you like, or it can just be a single line that says you want Proportional Representation.  I can tell you just saying “I want Canada to adopt Proportional Representation” will be incredibly  important; they will be crunching numbers.  If 90% of the submissions say they want PR, we might just get it.

If you wish to say a little bit more, the actual election promise was,

We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.

— We will make every vote count

You can also offer opinions on other things, like lowering the voting age to increase voter engagement, restoring the per vote subsidy and limiting election spending.

The committee mandate is to find out what Canadians want, starting with the five principles:

  1. Effectiveness and legitimacy
  2. Engagement
  3. Accessibility and inclusiveness
  4. Integrity
  5. Local representation

We don’t need to choose a specific electoral system; in fact, the best possible outcome would be for the committee to recommend a type of Proportional Representation, Mixed Member Proportional or Single Transferable Vote, and then direct Elections Canada to convene a panel of experts to work out details to best conform to the mandate.

You can check out my PR4Canada resources page (listed in the sidebar):
Fair Vote Waterloo’s
for more information.

This is our chance to be heard.  Speak up!

back to Redistricting Roulette

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
• #ERRE #Q Committee
• #ERRE #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRE #Q
Proportionality #ERRE #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRE
• #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday) 
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!
#ERRE Submission by Laurel L. Russwurm

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