laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote

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

PR v AV posterGetting up to speed on electoral reform can be difficult, so I’d like to share Fair Vote Waterloo’s timely and informative video, Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote.

Waterloo City Councillor Diane Freeman moderates a discussion between two of Canada’s leading experts on electoral reform, Barry Kay, Associate Professor of Political Science at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, and Dennis Pilon, Associate Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto.

In the hands of anyone else, this discussion might have not have been suitable for a general audience, but these professors kept it clear and were careful to explain things that might have become too technical.

The question and answer session at the end of the talk was equally informative.

Dennis Pilon

Dennis Pilon (2012)

When I was just starting to learn about electoral reform back in 2012, I heard Dennis Pilon speak at a Fair Vote Waterloo event at Wilfred Laurier University’s Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work in Kitchener.  Hearing Mr. Pilon again this year,  I was reminded that electoral reform isn’t really as complicated as defenders of the status quo would have us believe.  It’s really only confusing because we are unfamiliar with the alternatives.

Mr. Pilon also explains that different voting systems (including multi-member ridings, Proportional Representation and Alternative Vote) have indeed been employed in parts of Canada throughout our history.

No matter which electoral system we choose, the mechanics of voting for will not change dramatically for voters.  We’ll still go to the polling station, get our ballot, then go behind a privacy screen to mark our choice.

The mechanics of voting will hardly chance under a Proportional System.

The mechanics of voting will hardly change under a Proportional System.

Defenders of the Status Quo often tell us that Canadians understand the system we have now because it is easy.  They say adopting any new system would be more difficult for Canadians than what we have now.  And yet the reality is that we don’t actually understand it.

Many Canadians think when we vote, we’re voting for the Prime Minister.
The reality is that we don’t have presidential elections like our American friends.  We don’t have a say in who the leader will be because we don’t hold Primaries.  In Canada, the members of political parties choose their own leader. And the only Canadians who can actually vote for the Prime Minister are those who live in the presumptive PM’s riding.  The only Canadians who voted for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015 live in the Quebec riding of Papineau.

Many think our votes are equal and effective.  But when 38,000 voters can elect a Liberal MP but it takes more than 600,000 voters to send a single Green MP to Ottawa, it is very clear that all our votes are not equal.

how many votes graph (sideways)

Some votes are worth more than others in Canada’s Winner-take-all electoral system.

An when 39% of the votes result in majority power, 61% of the voting electorate’s votes have not counted.

39% of the Vote = 100% of the power In 2011 and 2015 Canada

39% of the Vote = 100% of the power In 2011 and 2015 Canada

We don’t understand that our vote is supposed to result in our representation in Ottawa.

translating votes into seats

When some votes are worth more than others, and some don’t count at all, too many Canadians lack representation..

Sadly Canadian political parties have more control over Members of Parliament than voters do under our current system.

Waterloo voters picket ex-MP Peter Braid's Office

Canadian MPs frequently ignore the wishes of their constituents and vote the way the party dictates.

Many of us believe democracy is about winners and losers.  But it’s not.  It’s about representing us in Parliament.

“Democracy is NOT about picking winners and losers. You are thinking of sports, or perhaps capitalism. Democracy is about working together to accomplish more than we can do as individuals. It is about bringing all stakeholders to the table so everyone can get what they need. When democracy functions as it should, we are all winners. For that, you need a fair voting system” Wayne Smith, Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada

Proportional Representation For Canada 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
and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

Federal Funding: Enabling Accessibility Fund

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washrooms signIn trying to find suitable venues in which to hold events, I’ve discovered that many public places still fail to meet accessibility standards even in our supposedly inclusive world .

Because accessibility is built into the Waterloo Region building code now, one of the most popular meeting places in Waterloo Region recently underwent a renovation, upgrading its public washrooms to be fully accessible.  The only problem is there is no way for mobility challenged patrons to get to the basement washroom facility because there is no elevator, and since it’s a historic building there is no requirement to retrofit.

flag skinnyTransforming existing structures into accessible structures can be a challenge.  Some times the trouble is the lack of physical space in which to build a ramp or install an elevator.  But certainly cost is often the main impediment to accessibility, because redesigning existing structures for accessibility can be expensive.

But sometimes help is available.  The Government of Canada is currently accepting applications from organizations interested in receiving funding from the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF).

This is not available for private individuals (or the self employed!) but businesses and organizations that need help upgrading to be accessible. Knowing how hard it is to find accessible venues for meetings and events in Waterloo Region, I hope all the cash earmarked for this is used!

The Standard Grant Application for Funding can be submitted under either the Workplace Accessibility Stream or the Community Accessibility Stream of the EAF. For help determining the best stream for your application, please visit the Government’s Funding: Enabling Accessibility Fund page.

Deadline: July 26, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. PT

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

July 3, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Canada

Happy Canada Day

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Happy Canada Day (2016)

To help celebrate Canada Day, gather you family and friends around this excellent video debate: Alternative Vote vs Proportional Representation. And since my video is released with a Creative Commons license, it is perfectly legal to use for public screenings, so you can play it while you’re waiting for the fireworks tonight:)

I’m working on another video now, and I very much hope I’ll find time to resume writing the Proportional Representation series this week.

Happy Canada Day!

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

July 1, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Climate Change: A Letter To The Canadian Government

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Guest post by Louisette Lanteigne

Louisette Lanteigne participates in the Novemeber Climate March in Waterloo

Dear Hon. Prime Minister and Ministers

Want to stop Climate Change? We need to stop burning fossil fuels in Alberta because it is disrupting the jet streams that govern weather around the Arctic circle which influences weather around the world. It is disrupting the Rossby Waves.

During the Line 9 hearing I met a system’s engineering expert by the name of John Quarterly. He is a special advisory to the Canadian, UK and US government and has done international reviews on issues like Fukushima. He and I met at the Line 9B hearing because we were both delegates. He and I spoke about Alberta’s Heat Island impact on the jetstreams of the Arctic. I have a friend in Waterloo who specializes in that science and my father was a flight engineer for 47 years so I found discussion on heat thermals and impacts on climate and aviation was really fun. This is my kind of discussion.

If you remove trees and bogs from an area and replace it with exposed sandy sediment with lots of large black storage ponds and lots of fossil fuel burning factories and heavy machinery, it attracts and generates lots of solar heat. Particulates in the air capture it too. These heat islands generate thermals that rise up high into the atmosphere. Heat thermals expand more than cool air which is why Alberta’s heat thermals is pushing it’s way into the Arctic right now, concentrating very strong winds that then plunge deeply down towards the equator bringing Arctic air south. I live in Ontario so we get direct effects of this. I know why it’s colder than normal and why are storms and winds are growing stronger. The storms are forming vertically instead of horizontally now with quick bursts of severe storms rather than the long drawn out rainy weather we used to get. It’s a common sense issue. I’m witnessing it.

Visit this link to view a video on how the Rossby wave goes up over Alberta and how cold weather drops down into Ontario. The video was produced by NASA.

With the variables created by Alberta Oil Sands it is changing the jetstream, dramatically increasing dangers for aviation. University of Reading has excellent information on this.

The change of jet stream temperatures was also evident in the movements of fish along the Atlantic Coast. The fish are an excellent indicator species for this. Many moved north when warm waters came in as a result of augmented jet streams. Here’s data from one 30 year study.

The Innu noticed the changed of winds and the re-positioning of the Arctic as seen in this video.

NASA proved they were correct.

Rossby Waves influence weather.  Alberta is pushing hot air into the Arctic and this was a risk known for decades.

Meanders of the northern hemisphere's jet stream developing (a, b) and finally detaching a "drop" of cold air (c). Orange: warmer masses of air; pink: jet stream.

Meanders of the northern hemisphere’s jet stream developing (a, b) and finally detaching a “drop” of cold air (c).
Orange: warmer masses of air; pink: jet stream.

For those who are aware of aviation and atmospheric sciences this stuff is pretty obvious. In my view there is no way that the TSB Canada, the RCAF, Environment Canada and other government agencies have any plausible deniability on this matter— so why isn’t Canada telling the public and investors the truth?

Lack of disclosure of risk is fraud. Lack of fiscal prudence is also fraud.  Here is RBC’s position on stranded assets in Alberta. Read the conclusion.  RBC‘s stance mirrors wording used by EXXON, a company currently being sued for climate denial.

I have filed a formal complaint against RBC for failure to disclose fiscal risks and fiscal prudence through the Competition Bureau however it is my concern that this MOU may negate the jurisdictional ability to secure compliance seeing that they must disclose such concerns to the Market Surveillance Administrator of Alberta

I am also concerned that when issues are voiced to SEC about these issues that it is being monitored by Non Canadian regulators as well. Why is that? As a concerned citizen whistleblower I find that unsettling. We are not told these things when we make our complaints.

John Quarterly raised the concern of Rossby Waves during the Line 9B approval process on pages 14 & 15 in OH-002-2013 File OF-Fac-Oil-E101-2012-10 02 Response to John Quarterly Information Request No. 1.

The report clearly states:

Enbridge objects to the request as the information sought is not relevant to the issues in this proceeding.”

Any reasonably person can understand the logic that to facilitate the use of an East bound pipeline from Sarnia to Montreal would facilitate Alberta’s continued oil production and yet the NEB simply disregarded this concern as being not relevant. That in my view is outrageous.

I have included the full affidavit of Mr. Quarterly in the attachments and I encourage everyone to review his professional expertise. This isn’t the kind of guy one should ignore. Canada, NEB and Enbridge have no plausible deniability when it comes to the climate risks.

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.

Right now any child in Canada has the ability to sue this government for Climate inaction and if it happens I won’t hesitate to stand united with them. When it comes to the costs, ending production is cheaper than mitigating the damages, the suffering or the associated liability risks

I see how the children in Attawapiskat are getting colder as the icy Arctic winds bring cold air into their homes and around the area of the Ring of Fire. Those harsh conditions threaten their lives, food supplies and medicines of indigenous people and is contributing to their suicides. I see how these winds moved the cod away along the East Coast and how jobless fishermen are driven to work at Tar Sands to feed their families. When the young men move off, the oil companies start their exploratory drilling off our coasts. It’s all connected by design. I’m certain of it.

Louisette LanteigneMy demand is that our government STOP producing Alberta Tar Sands oil because it is contributing to scientifically measurable violations of environmental law, Indigenous Rights, and the rights to life liberty and security of person well beyond the scope of simply Alberta. It’s impacting our global weather patterns. Putting England at Risk and other areas beyond. This is already beyond reason.

Thank you kindly for your time.

Louisette Lanteigne
Waterloo, Ontario

Image Credit:
Jetstream Rossby Waves in the Northern Hemisphere by Fred The Oyster is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) License ~ I’ve added a NASA Public Domain starscape backdrop.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 29, 2016 at 8:00 am


with 3 comments

When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey

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

Canada’s current electoral system results in disproportional representation.  This is breathtakingly apparent when you look at the back to back “majority” governments we’ve had.  The thing that hits the eye with these two election result graphs is the almost identical consecutive wins achieved by different parties.  The 2011 Conservatives won a phony majority with 39% of the vote, just as the 2015 Liberals won a phony majority with 39% of the vote.  This is a winner take all system, so that’s the only part of the graph that matters.
Election Results: 2011 and 2015But looking at the details, you can see a clear picture of the unfairness in the system.

PopularVote-Seats-Bloc-Green 2011


In 2011 the Bloc Québécois won 4 seats with 6% of the vote.  In 2015 the Bloc Québécois won 10 seats with only 4.7% of the vote.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get my mind around the idea that fewer votes can more than double a party’s seats in Parliament.

In these two elections, the Green Party outcome was consistent, winning 1 seat with approximately 3 percent of the vote. 

While the Green Party’s 3-4% of the vote only won a single seat in Parliament, the Bloc’s 4-6% won four and ten seats respectively.   Such crazy math in the “easy to understand” First Past The Post is one of the reasons Canadians are likely to say “I don’t understand politics.”

There is a reason for the disparity between the two small parties.  While both parties suffer from the inequity in our Winner-Take-All system, the Green Party’s support is spread out across the Canada but Bloc voters are concentrated in the same geographic region.  With more Bloc voters in a riding, the party has a much better chance to win seats.

PopularVote-Seats-Bloc-Green 2011

With our single member plurality electoral system, the party that wins a majority of seats wins a disproportional amount of power.  This gives the candidate (and party) with the most votes the win.

Not just any win, THE win.

For a candidate, that means s/he is elected to be the only representative — and the only voice — for the electoral district where s/he was elected.  For a political party, that means a majority of seats, even though that party failed to win a majority of the votes cast.  And whenever anyone talks about electoral reform, that’s pretty much what everyone looks at: how our system works for political parties.

Too often forgotten in discussions of electoral reform is how our system works — or doesn’t — for the Canadian people.

Politics isn’t a job creation program for politicians, it is supposed to provide citizens with representation in Parliament so our laws and policy reflects what citizens want and need.

Our representatives are elected in single member electoral districts: that means each district elects only a single Member of Parliament who is expected to represent everyone in the electoral district.  That’s what Canadians are used to, and I (like most of us, I suspect) have long thought this is how it has to be because this is how it’s always been.  And yet I’ve learned Canada has used a variety of different voting methods in different parts of Canada over the years.   Although our MP can help us all equally if we bring them an administrative problem that requires cutting through bureaucratic red tape, or sometimes find a compromise that will satisfy most citizens, when it comes to policy, none of us can realistically expect an MP who campaigns in favour of one issue to fight against it after they have been elected.

As you can imagine, it isn’t often we’ll hear any sitting MP talking about this problem in public; so it was pretty impressive to hear former Guelph MP, Frank Valeriote admit this publicly during his last term of office.

What ordinary people expect from democracy — what we are told to expect — is that our MP will represent us. But the reality is that one person can’t possibly represent the opposing views of a hundred thousand constituents.

This is why multi-member districts — larger electoral districts which elect multiple MPs — are a great idea.  When more than one MP is elected in a district, more than one view from the district can be represented in Parliament. And after all, isn’t that the point of democracy?

Electoral Reform for Greens

How many votes does it take to get a seat in Parliament?

How many votes does it take to get a seat in Parliament?

Small parties almost always favour Proportional Representation because small parties and independent candidates are the most disadvantaged by winner-take-all systems.  The graph shows us just how badly the Green Party of Canada fared in 2015.  We all know that it was even worse in 2008 when almost a million votes failed to elect any Green candidates at all.  From the outside it looks as though the Green Party is doing badly… worse, in fact, than 2008.  Although I haven’t done a scientific study, or even conducted a public opinion poll, I don’t believe that for a minute.

Green supporters don’t often stop thinking green thoughts or wanting a sustainable future or believing green policy.  But in the face of an electoral system that makes it nearly impossible to get candidates elected, intelligent people very often switch to other parties in desperation.  Although we are all very much aware of the bigger parties appropriating Green policies, we don’t often realize this is often because Green supporters have brought them.

This is not just a Canadian problem; this is a feature of the First Past the Post electoral system.  If we look across the pond we can see the UK has the same problems with FPTP as we do.  In some ways even worse, as it took four million votes to elect a single UKIP MP in their most recent election.

Politics is not simply a numbers game.  Even though most Canadians haven’t really understood why our political system fails to work the way we think it should (by providing us with representation), most of us have known the system is badly broken for a very long time.  And since the system has not been working for us, so many Canadians have fallen under the spell of strategic voting in vain hopes of gaming the system to make it work for us.

I can’t tell you how many times during the campaign that people told Bob how much they wanted to vote for him but felt they couldn’t.  One of the very worst things about all this strategic voting is that because so many Canadians are not voting for who/what they want, the reality is there is no way to tell what most Canadians actually do want.  It’s kind of like not having accurate census data: in the absence of fact, the government is free to do whatever it likes.  Especially when a single party holds a majority.   And it is worse still when it’s a phony majority, as most of ours are.   Since 1945 there have only been 2 majority governments a majority of Canadians voted for, and before that, only 4 Canadian “majority” governments in Canada were actually elected by more than 50% of the vote.  And defenders of the status quo try to paint coalition government as undemocratic!

Proportional Representation for Canada will mean larger electoral districts which have more than a single MP, and they will almost always result in coalition governments. Far from being undemocratic, majority coalition governments are elected by an actual majority of voters!

Some people think the political parties advocating for electoral reform to Proportional Representation are doing it because it will give them an advantage.  This is simply not true.  Proportional Representation would most certainly improve the lot of the smaller parties, but not by giving them an unfair advantage, but by removing the unfair advantage the winning party gets under our winner-take-all system.  Proportional Representation is intended to ensure the votes each candidate and/or party earns is reflected in the power they get in Parliament.

Institutional Discrimination

Small parties suffer systemic discrimination in the Canadian system.  Even with sitting MPs, the Green Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois are treated as equal.

The argument is that neither party has enough seats in the House of Commons to be counted as an official party.

But political parties are required to jump through bureaucratic government hoops to get registered by the government before any candidate is allowed to compete in an election under the party banner.  Federal Registration is how a political party gets on the ballot and becomes a real party.   Why isn’t a “Registered Party” an “Official Party”?

So where did this crazy idea that a party with a sitting MP is not a real party until X number of candidates have been elected come from?  If there was ever any doubt about the fact “X” is a purely arbitrary construct designed to privilege the two largest parties, it was dispelled in the aftermath of the 1993 Canadian election when the Progressive Conservative Party was reduced to two seats.  At that point an exception was made to allow the Progressive Conservative Party to retain the special perks of “official party” status even though it had only 2 seats.  In spite of the fact the Canadian electorate had just unambiguously indicated that party should no longer be so entitled.

So while the Progressive Conservative Party whose governance angered an overwhelming number of Canadians was allowed to retain its privilege, a Green Party with 2 sitting MPs was not an “Official Party,” any more than the Bloc Québécois is today with 10 sitting MPs.

The Parliament Buildings

If the number of votes needed to elect a Member of Parliament was consistent, the Green Party would have earned enough votes to elect 16 MPs in 2015.  Which ought to be more than enough to achieve official party status even in our Winner-Take-All world.  But the system we have in place is not about fairness for Canadians, it’s about keeping the real power in the right hands.

The idea that any candidate who wins an election and goes to Ottawa to sit as a Member of Parliament should be denied the same rights and respect as any other MP is not only ludicrous, it is undemocratic.  

The problem is not so much that the candidate or the party is discriminated against, although that certainly isn’t fair.  The real trouble is that the citizens who elected these MPs are being discriminated against.  Our winner-take-all system has allowed the deck to be stacked against small parties and independent candidates, but worst of all, against citizens.

A million and a half Canadian voters who ought to be entitled to representation — even in our terribly unrepresentative representative democracy — have been relegated to second class status.

The Committee Has Landed

Nathan Cullen's proposed committeeNow the Liberals have finally announced the electoral reform committee, and I am rather put out at its announced composition.  The pessimist part of me (worried the Liberal Party is merely going through the motions with a pre-determined outcome ahead) was kind of expecting something like this.  Particularly after the NDP’s Nathan Cullen’s made a public proposal for a proportional committee.  That the Government chose to ignore Mr. Cullen’s proposal undermines Liberal talk of overcoming partisanship.  Winner-take-all voting systems inherently discourage parties from working together, even when they are in full agreement because working together might help the other party to be the single winner and lock your party out.  If the Liberal plan is to come out of this with Alternative Vote (another winner-take-all voting system) this would make a lot of sense.

Although the Greens and the Bloc have been invited to the supposed “all party committee,” their participation has been limited to second class status as they are not allowed to make motions or vote.  But that’s okay… they’re not “official.”


Those calling for a referendum on whether we should have electoral reform have said there is no mandate for any such a change since the Liberal Party was only elected with 39% of the votes cast.   I have argued that even though the Liberal Party was not elected by a majority of citizens, a clear majority of citizens voted for parties supporting electoral reform.  This broad base of support for electoral reform does indeed provide a mandate for change.  But any way you slice it, the election we just had did not deliver deliver a broad base of support for unilateral electoral reform imposed by the Liberal Party.  Referenda are not now (nor have ever been) a part of Canada’s political framework.   This means first that no Canadian government has any constitutional requirement to have one for any reason.  But what it also means that any government that chooses to have a referendum has absolute freedom to do it any way they like.  Which makes it inordinately easy for our referendums to be designed to fail.

Canadians have been trying to get electoral reform for a long time.  We are at a point now where we no longer have the luxury of sitting on our hands and waiting for some benevolent government to give it to us.  That is simply not going to happen.  I suspect the real reason electoral reform is on the table at all is due to the growing frustration Canadians have felt with a “representative government” that doesn’t function as advertised.  Although Canadian governments have no qualms about ignoring what Canadians want  in the regular scheme of things, but they are clever enough to listen to public opinion that is loud enough.

What we can do

Still, most Canadians are not aware of the importance of electoral reform, in large part due to the absolutely stellar job the mainstream media has done to in ignoring the issue or publishing misinformation about it.  There is no doubt in my mind that New Zealand’s success in adopting Proportional Representation had a lot to do with the fact some of the mainstream media supported it, and so the public actually got enough public education to be able to make an informed choice.

While we do not have that luxury, what we do have is the Internet, alternate media and social media.  We need to keep talking about this publicly, online and in person.  The beauty of social media is that it means we can share links to articles with our family and friends without having to get into arguments at the family picnic.

Even though we don’t control the mainstream media, we have the Internet.

If we want Proportional Representation, if we want to make the world a better place for our kids, we have to do what we can now, before the window of opportunity closes.

What this really boils down to is that all Canadians are entitled to representation in Parliament.  There are many ways to do that, but they *all* involve some form of Proportional Representation. Elizabeth May cropped cc 4311sm

Sign and Share Elizabeth May’s
Proportional Representation Petition

The Broadbent Institute has an electoral reform petition too:

as does Leadnow:


a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image Credits:

Nathan Cullen in Montreal by Jonathan Allard was released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)  license
Parliament Buildings by Roger Duhamel is in the Public Domain
All other images by Laurel L. Russwurm are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License of the blog or dedicated to the Public Domain via CC0

back to When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey

Proportional Representation For Canada 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
and don’t forget to check out the PR4Canada Resources page!

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 13, 2016 at 11:27 pm

2 minutes on the TPP

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This is a guest post by Verna Brunet, an ordinary Canadian with serious concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

TPP Rally in Ottawa cc by SumOfUs
Yesterday I went to Windsor, Ontario to join the protest against the TPP outside the hotel where the Trudeau Liberal government was holding consultations on this treasonous trade agreement.

My sign read:

TPP is Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a corruption of Democracy

I was told that we could speak to the government for maximum 2 minutes between 2pm and 3pm, if we signed up.

The problem with me has never been how to get me to shoot off my mouth. The usual issue is how in the world to shut me up once I get started.

Didn’t have anything prepared. Had to scramble some notes.

Here’s what I said:

The people of Canada elected your party to administer our DEMOCRACY.
The TPP destroys our democracy, replacing it with OLIGARCHY.
We the people have never given you the authority to do that.
The TPP makes the Trudeau Liberals, like the Harper Conservatives before them, a rogue government.

Secret ISDS courts are a swift kick I’m the face of
and a sucker punch to the gut of

The only right protected by this sickening trade agreement is the insane, irrational right of millionaires to make a profit.

We elected you to govern in a manner that protects our economic rights.
Instead you have sold our economic rights to the elite 1%.
You are a rogue government.

The TPP allows the pathologically greedy millionaires to erase the last shreds of our cherished and democratic environmental protection laws.

These are the same environmental laws we elected you to protect and enforce.

With these toxic trade agreements you have become a rogue government like the Harper Conservative government before you.

The TPP allows pathologically greedy millionaires to erase the last frail shreds of our civil rights — the same rights we elected you to restore.

You have betrayed us.
You are a rogue government.

You campaigned on CHANGE
You have failed to change:
the TPP
the ISDS courts.

As a Democratic government you are a failure.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves
Image Credit
TPP rally. Ottawa, Canada, June 10 2014 by SumOfUs was released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 13, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Special Committee on electoral reform

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The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic InstitutionsDuring the 2015 Federal Election, the Liberal Party promised to convene an All Party Committee to consider electoral reform so that 2015 would be our last election using First Past The Post.

Minister Monsef and House Leader LeBlanc are scheduled to Make an Announcement on Electoral Reform at 9:00am today ~ Wednesday, May 11, 2016

From the Order Paper we learn the Canadian Government has announced the electoral reform committee:

Government Business

No. 5
— May 10, 2016
— The Minister of Democratic Institutions —
That a Special Committee on electoral reform be appointed to identify and conduct a study of viable alternate voting systems, such as preferential ballots and proportional representation, to replace the first-past-the-post system, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting, and to assess the extent to which the options identified could advance the following principles for electoral reform:

(a) Effectiveness and legitimacy: that the proposed measure would increase public confidence among Canadians that their democratic will, as expressed by their votes, will be fairly translated and that the proposed measure reduces distortion and strengthens the link between voter intention and the election of representatives;

(b) Engagement: that the proposed measure would encourage voting and participation in the democratic process, foster greater civility and collaboration in politics, enhance social cohesion and offer opportunities for inclusion of underrepresented groups in the political process;

(c) Accessibility and inclusiveness: that the proposed measure would avoid undue complexity in the voting process, while respecting the other principles, and that it would support access by all eligible voters regardless of physical or social condition;

(d) 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;

(e) Local representation: that the proposed measure would ensure accountability and recognize the value that Canadians attach to community, to Members of Parliament understanding local conditions and advancing local needs at the national level, and to having access to Members of Parliament to facilitate resolution of their concerns and participation in the democratic process;

that the Committee be directed to issue an invitation to each Member of Parliament to conduct a town hall in their respective constituencies and provide the Committee with a written report of the input from their constituents to be filed with the Clerk of the Committee no later than October 1, 2016;

that the Committee be directed to take into account the applicable constitutional, legal and implementation parameters in the development of its recommendations; accordingly, the Committee should seek out expert testimony on these matters;

that the Committee be directed to consult broadly with relevant experts and organizations, take into consideration consultations that have been undertaken on the issue, examine relevant research studies and literature, and review models being used or developed in other jurisdictions;

that the Committee be directed to develop its consultation agenda, working methods, and recommendations on electoral reform with the goal of strengthening the inclusion of all Canadians in our diverse society, including women, Indigenous Peoples, youth, seniors, Canadians with disabilities, new Canadians and residents of rural and remote communities;

that the Committee be directed to conduct a national engagement process that includes a comprehensive and inclusive consultation with Canadians through written submissions and online engagement tools;

that the Committee be composed of ten (10) members of which six (6) shall be government members, three (3) shall be from the Official Opposition, and one (1) shall be from the New Democratic Party; and that one (1) member from the Bloc Québécois, and the Member for Saanich-Gulf Islands also be members of the Committee but without the right to vote or move any motion;

that changes in the membership of the Committee be effective immediately after notification by the Whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;

that membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2);

that, with the exception of the Member for Saanich-Gulf Islands, all other members shall be named by their respective Whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the Committee no later than ten (10) sitting days following the adoption of this motion;

that the Committee be chaired by a member of the government party; that, in addition to the Chair, there be one (1) Vice-Chair from the Official Opposition and one (1) Vice-Chair from the New Democratic Party, and that, notwithstanding Standing Order 106(3), all candidates for the position of Chair or Vice-Chair from the Official Opposition shall be elected by secret ballot, and that each candidate be permitted to address the Committee for not more than three (3) minutes;

that the quorum of the Committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118, provided that at least four members are present and provided that one (1) member from the government party and one (1) member from an opposition party are present;

that the Committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada;

that the Committee have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings; and

that the Committee present its final report no later than December 1, 2016.

Notice Paper | No. 53 | Wednesday, May 11, 2016 |2:00 p.m.

Of concern to me is the composition of the 10 members of the Committee:

  • 6 Liberals
  • 3 Conservatives
  • 1 NDP
  • 1 Bloc
  • 1 Green

Which is 12 seats on the committee of ten… which seems confusing until you read the part that says the Bloc and Green MPs are unequal members of the Committee,


…without the right to vote or move any motion;”

So it seems that the promised “all party committee” is more optical illusion than a reflection of reality.

This does not bode well.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image Credit:

“The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions” by Laurel Russwurm is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License


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