My submission to Ontario’s municipal ranked ballot consultation
Q: What are your thoughts on using ranked ballots for Ontario municipal elections?
A: I disagree with even considering ranked ballots for municipal use unless they are used to introduce an element of proportionality to the electoral process. In order to achieve this there is a need for multi-member districts or offices so Ranked Ballots might be used in an STV (Single Transferable Vote) system.
Q: Should municipalities be able to use ranked ballots for certain offices and not others? For example, only for mayor?
A: I have never bought into the idea that instant runoff voting is somehow more democratic than any other winner-take-all system. This is why I don’t agree with any winner-take-all method to elect a mayor. Ranked ballots should only be used in multi-member races to ensure a proportional outcome (again, as in STV).
The proportionally elected municipal council could select the mayor. The idea of democracy is to make government accountable to the people, so investing a disproportionate amount of power in the office of leader seems more like re-establishing a non-hereditary monarchy via by election. That might have seemed reasonable when they signed the Magna Carta, but we ought to be able to do better than that in the 21st century.
Q: Should public consultation by a municipality be required before implementing ranked ballots or before changing from ranked ballots back to the current system?
A: Any major change to our electoral process should require both public education and consultation.
Q: What form should that consultation take?
A: Empanelling an independent citizen’s assembly to study the issue and make recommendations would be a good start. It is critical that enough time is allotted to do this work. After the recommendations are made, there should be should be public consultation meetings, ideally conducted both online and off before following up with a binding referendum requiring a simple majority. Once the new system is chosen there should be a set time or number of elections for the new system to be practiced, after which a second referendum to determine whether to keep it, try something else or return to the old way should be held.
Q: Unlike the current system, ranked ballots can involve multiple rounds of counting before all the seats to be elected have been won.
How much information would you want about election results? For example, where there have been multiple rounds of counting would you want to see the results of each round of counting or just the final results?
A: The details of all the results should be shared in the interest of open government. This can be done easily and cheaply in a digital world.
Q: Are there other ideas you wish to share on ranked ballots that you would like us to consider?
A: If ranked ballots are to be used in a non-proportional winner-take-all system, multiple rounds of counting wherein candidates are dropped from the race must require multiple votes, not instant runoff voting.
Someone needs to publish or post a good summary for the layman, with perhaps bullet points of what Bill C-51 entails. So many websites I have gone to are filled with opinion that just rambles on ad nauseam. I am more confused than ever!
Anyone who reads this blog knows how hard this assignment will be for someone as inclined to over-explain as I. But I’ve tried.
BILL C-51 in Bullet Points
- Bill C-51 is overly broad, so it can be made to mean anything the authorities want it to mean.
[Instead saying someone who bombs a government building commits a terrorist act punishable by 50 years in jail, it might say someone who commits a terrorist act can be punished by 50 years in jail. Defining endangering Canada’s economic stability is terrorism, it could be used to identify as terrorists: factory workers picketing their place of employment because their employer’s lack of safety standards endangers their lives might be sent to jail for terrorism.]
- Bill C-51 dispenses with the need to get evidence before targeting suspects.
[Instead of requiring evidence showing “probable cause,” law enforcement agents will be able to proceed against citizens based solely on suspicions.*]
- Bill C-51 introduces the “constitutional breach warrant” granting permission to breach civil rights in advance.
But now, for the first time, judges are being asked to bless in advance a violation of any or all our Charter rights, in a secret hearing, not subject to appeal, and with only the government side represented. What the government proposes now is a “constitutional breach warrant”. It is a radical, idea that contorts basic constitutional understandings and the role of the courts. It has correctly been compared to a stealth use of the notwithstanding clause, in which judges and not Parliament are being asked to do the dirty work of abrogating rights.”
— BILL C-51: ROACH AND FORCESE SUBMISSIONS TO THE SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE
- Bill C-51 dispenses with citizen privacy by allowing indiscriminate unsupervised information sharing.
[Instead of requiring the various law enforcement agencies to share information cooperatively (which would be good), it will allow the sharing of information stored in 17 government departments “to any person, for any purpose”with no review for 14 of the 17 recipient departments, and no judicial review at all. The two scariest departments that would be required to give out our personal data so recklessly? Health and Canadian Revenue Agency. Yay.]
- Bill C-51 will put all Canadian citizens at risk of secret trials.
[At present, Canada’s “Security Certificate” regime has been used only against immigrants who have not yet become citizens. Bill C-51 would extend this to all citizens through secret procedures that fly in the face of human rights. You can see what this will be like in the documentary film The secret Trial 5. The trailer on the site will give you a good idea, but it is well worth downloading the very well done important documentary.]
- Bill C-51 will render our civil rights protections meaningless by allowing CSIS to breach law or the Charter.
Bill C-51: What Did We Learn About The Government’s Intentions From The Clause-By-Clause goes into this in much more detail.
- Bill C-51 expands the government’s ability to spy on Canadians without any oversight.
[The office of the Inspector General used to provide oversight (oversight=supervision) but it was quietly dissolved as part of the Bill C-38 omnibudget leadnow dubbed the “Black Mark Budget” in 2011. The Harper Government maintains the underfunded understaffed part-timers of SIRC provide oversight, but it can’t. SIRC provides limited review of only selected CSIS operations after the fact.]
- Bill C-51 makes the no-fly list (already an incursion in the Charter’s mobility rights) even worse.
- Bill C-51’s vagueness threatens free speech because it allows arbitrary censorship at the whim of government.
*The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials.
— Rule of Law, Wikipedia
A big part of the problem is that there is no time. But when the entire legal profession, information technology folks, the Government’s own Privacy Commissioner (and every other Canadian Privacy Commissioner past and present), civil rights organizations at home and abroad, along side a vast array of ordinary people from all walks of life and across the breadth of the Canadian political spectrum opposes a law, it should not pass.
The Canadian Senate will vote on Bill C-51 this week, and the Senators might yet prevent it from passing. Please contact as many Senators as you can to tell them not to undermine our civil rights.
Here’s a tool that makes contacting Senators easy:
P.S. The only way a law like Bill C-51 could have gotten this far is because our unfair outdated electoral system puts absolute power into the hands of any majority government. Bill C-51 would not have a hope if we had Proportional Representation. With the exception of the Conservative and Liberal Parties, every one else wants to adopt meaningful electoral reform. So no matter what, and no matter who for, every Canadian needs to vote in the fall election.
Professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese are the acknowledged experts on Bill C-51. As well as testifying before both the House of Commons and Senate Committees on Bill C-51 they have studied it as exhaustively as possible and published their findings as they go in the website Canada’s Proposed Antiterrorism Act: An Assessment
Among the vast amount of material already out there, I have covered Bill C-51 as extensively as possible here in Whoa!Canada, (just read back… you might like Our Kids Deserve to Have Civil Rights, but there are a lot more, just read on) and I’ve have shared copious links and articles like “What is a Disruption Warrant” on Visual Laurel.
Privacy is an incredibly important human right, necessary for the “security of the person.” Former Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart published a list of excellent movies that dealt with the Privacy issues we increasingly face. These films demonstrate the importance of privacy matters, and why Bill C-51 must not pass.
The Lives of Others
CORRECTION: My Numbers were Incorrect.
The premise of this article was my speculation that Bill C-51 might have been voted down at 3rd Reading in the House of Commons by the combined vote of all non-Conservative MPs (since so many Conservative MPs abstained from voting).
It has been brought to my attention (through the comments– thanks Sharon Best) that my count was indeed incorrect. Assuming I have the numbers right now, it seems that the Conservatives were 5 ahead on MPs.
Bill C-51 is being fast tracked by the Harper Government. Although the Conservative Party only got around 30% of the vote in the 2011 election, thanks to the screwy unfair electoral system we have, the walked away with 100% of the power.
Although the NDP forms the Official Opposition, the reality is that the Harper Government can vote down every other party on brute force alone, and we have seen numerous examples of it doing just that.
Since there are no real checks or balances left to us ~ will the Senate transcend it’s rubber stamp-hood and stop Bill C-51? We won’t know until next week. In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to start keeping track. I don’t know about you, but I will certainly never trust any politician who voted for Bill C-51. It doesn’t matter that voting against it would not have stopped it against a Conservative onslaught.
Looking at the numbers, I have to wonder. A striking number of MPs didn’t vote at all. Math is not my strong suit, but right now the House of Commons is down 4 seats, so there are 304 seats in total. But looking at the number, you can see just how smug the Harper Government was… a whopping 13 Conservatives didn’y bother to vote. In fact, there were a mere 146 Conservative votes cast that day. Which means Bill C-51 could have been voted down.
I understand young Justin Trudeau has done nothing but put his foot in it on this one. His decision to support Bill C-51 and the hollowness if his various justifications have led to a goodly amount of dismay out here in the world where citizens are worried about the masive loss of civil liberties coming our way.
But instead of reconsidering his position, Mr. T dug in his heels and presumably ordered his MPs to follow his lead in supporting the wworst legislation Canada has ever seen. Trudeau’s refusal to back track in the face of facts is reminiscent of Mr. Hudak going down with his own ship in the last Ontario election. Maybe Mr. Trudeau is worried he might be accused of shilly-shallying if he changed his mind. Or looking weak, or foolish, or whatever.
But the fact remains, the one thing Mr. Trudeau might have done to rehabilitate himself and his party’s chances would have been to quietly consolidate opposition to the terrifying legislation. If he has worked to ensure every single non-conservative MP voted against Bill C-51 he would have taken advantage of Mr. Harper’s hubris (the man himself didn’t even bother to show up and vote for his own Secret Police Bill) and voted Bill C-51 down.
Justin Trudeau lost out on a classic opportunity to get the egg off his face by getting Bill C-51 thrown out. If he keeps this up, he will be lucky if his party manages to hang on to fourth place status come October.
My numbers come from Open Parliament’s Vote #395 on May 6th, 2015
YES VOTES NO VOTES ABSTENTIONS
Louis Plamondon Claude Patry
YES VOTES NO VOTES ABSTENTIONS
Diane Ablonczy Chris Alexander
Mark Adler Keith Ashfield
Leona Aglukkaq John Baird
Dan Albas Joyce Bateman
Harold Albrecht Patrick Brown
Mike Allen Rod Bruinooge
Stella Ambler Rick Dykstra
Rona Ambrose Stephen Harper
Rob Anders Joe Oliver
David Anderson Devinder Shory
Dave Van Kesteren
Peter Van Loan
Forces et Démocratie
YES VOTES NO VOTES ABSTENTIONS
. Jean-François Larose Jean-François Fortin
YES VOTES NO VOTES ABSTENTIONS
. Bruce Hyer
. Elizabeth May
YES VOTES NO VOTES ABSTENTIONS
Scott Andrews Massimo Pacetti André Bellavance
Liberal Party of Canada
YES VOTES NO VOTES ABSTENTIONS
Eve Adams Gerry Byrne
Mauril Béanger Arnold Chan
Carolyn Bennett Lise St-Denis
YES VOTES NO VOTES ABSTENTIONS
. Malcolm Allen Tyrone Benskin
. Charlie Angus Pierre Jacob
. Niki Ashton Christine Moore
. Alex Atamanenko Marc-André Morin
. Robert Aubin Nycole Turmel
. Paulina Ayala
. Charmaine Borg
Ruth Ellen Brosseau
Pierre Dionne Labelle
Rosane Doré Lefebvre
. Alain Giguère
. Thomas Mulcair
Anne Minh-Thu Quach
Today there will be a Stop Bill C-51 march in Kitchener [here’s a map]
Concerned citizens will leave Montgomery Park at 5:00pm and march to Victoria Park.
The march will be followed by discussion and a barbeque in Victoria Park.
On Saturday there will be a STOP BILL C-51 CONVERGENCE at Parliament Hill, fittingly at the Human Rights Monument, where concerned citizens will protest this dreadful proposed legislation (currently before the Senate) that will render Canadian civil rights protections meaningless. Protests will again be held in a Canada Wide DAY OF ACTION. There are buses being arranged to take concerned citizens from Toronto to Ottawa.
Canadian civil rights are supposed to be protected by the Canadian Bill of Rights introduced by Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the Canadian Constitution repatriated by Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. These rights we have are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This is NOT a partisan issue, this is a Canadian issue: we ALL need civil rights.
It is legally unconstitutional to breach these rights, and yet Mr. Harper plans to do it anyway (and has been so far been shamefully supported by the Liberal Party.) Kind of tells you what the Harper Government thinks of our Constitution.
The Senators are indeed partisan which has been proven time and again as Prime Ministers from Brian Mulroney to Jean Chrétien to Stephen Harper have proven by stacking the Senate again and again and again as the Senate provides its rubber stamp to increasingly bad legislation.
Stripping Canadians of civil and human rights protections will not make us safe; that is the Big Lie.
Civil rights protect us.
If the Senate follows along like sheep on an issue of this magnitude, an issue that strikes at the heart of every Canadian, it would resoundingly prove that there is no hope for this body to ever provide Canadians with sober second thought, and I will finally come to agree with Mr. Mulcair’s intention to remove it from the Canadian political landscape when his NDP forms government this fall.
The movie trailer you have just seen ^ is for what looks to be a stunning Canadian documentary:
Documentary film maker Peter Smoczynski is on a road trip to promote and incidentally raise funds to complete this film in time for it to bee seen by as many Canadians as possible before the 2015 election.
Are you concerned about Canada’s democratic deficit? if so, come to the Boardroom in the city of Waterloo’s historic Huether Hotel
come on out and meet the filmmaker:
May 21st, 2015
Fair Vote Canada WRC asks: Is Voter Suppression Here To Stay?
This year Fair Vote Canada Guelph hosted a Robocalls Town Hall where people reported on the “resolution” of this issue.
And yet the Federal Government response has been to pass the unfair “Fair Elections Act” which ultimately makes it easier to commit electoral fraud with impunity.
What is amazing to me is the deafening silence about this topic in the mainstream media.
I wonder how much that has to do with the vast sums of advertising dollars pouring in their coffers in an election year.
If not for the internet, in the form of blogs like the one in which Jim Harris helped break the Robocalls Scandal, alongside alternate media and social media that have helped inform Canadians, most of us would have no clue this had even happened.
And those who did know something about this egregious case of voter suppression would suffer under the mistaken belief that it only happened in Guelph and that Michael Sona was the only one involved
If you care about the future of democracy in Canada, please start talking about politics with your friends and neighbors.
Especially if you are reasonably sure they don’t vote.
Or even worse, if they do vote, but make all their decisions based on the information fed to them by the “mainstream.”
And if you’ve a few bucks to spare, perhaps you’ll kick in to support this very important documentary. And help share this message on your social media.
Follow @EDayFilm on Twitter.
Currently the law that will effectively remove our civil rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is before the Senate, where it seems to be getting better presented than it was in the House of Commons Parliamentary committee.
It appears that Liberal Senators are planning to vote against it, so there may yet be hope for Canadian Civil Rights. You can follow the progress of the bill (as you can any Canadian legislation) at LegisInfo.
Leadnow has a nifty online tool to make it easy to write to your senator to let them know where you stand on Bill C-51.
The Senate has served as a rubber stamp for the house of Commons for so long that it’s hard to even imagine that it might provide sober second thought. But maybe it will.