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laurel l. russwurm's political musings

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

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back to PEI picks Proportional RepresentationProportional Representation: Accept No Substitute
This is the twenty-seventh article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

Too many things are happening at once, but it is critical to continue to press the Liberal Government for Proportional Representation.

It appears the Government will do what it can to avoid implementing electoral reform, so When the Liberal Government’s electoral reform postcards arrive, it is very important to discover where the ambiguity in the survey will be. I’ll try to post information here, but I caution Canadians to look around and see what is discussed online about the survey, and certainly listen to what Fair Vote has to say before filling it in.

We have just seen the government of PEI decide not to honour the vote so this is a critical juncture. We can’t afford not to have representation.

As well as personally calling your MP, this would be a good time to share any pro-PR graphics you see on whatever social media you use. Share, and share again. (Please note: both Facebook and Twitter don’t share everything we post with everyone in our network, so posting again later is a good practise.

Please feel free to share any of my original graphics available in my PR 4 Canada album on Flickr (and which I will continue adding to).  The more noise we make, the better!

(Think how much easier it will be when we have representatives who represent us!)

back to PEI picks Proportional Representation

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

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

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag background


Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

December 1, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Canada

Louis Riel Day

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Louis Riel (public domain: circa 1870)

“November 16 is a significant date for Métis people and all people in Ontario. On this date in 1885, Métis leader Louis Riel was executed for leading the Northwest Resistance in defence of Métis rights.

Today, Louis Riel is recognized as a statesman, having played a pivotal role in the history of Métis people, as well as the formation of Canada.  We commemorate Louis Riel Day annually to honour and celebrate Riel’s contributions, as well as the wide-ranging contributions the Métis people continue to make in Ontario.

Acknowledging Louis Riel’s contributions helps recognize and build respect for the history, culture and identity of Métis people. We will continue working with Métis partners to uphold Riel’s legacy and create new opportunities for Métis people as we continue on the journey of reconciliation together.”

David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

Louis Riel’s life was rather more interesting than that of the average Canadian statesmen.  Today is the anniversary of his execution on 16 November, 1885.

 Riel’s historical reputation has long been polarized between portrayals as a dangerous half-insane religious fanatic and rebel against the Canadian nation, or by contrast a heroic rebel who fought to protect his Francophone people from the unfair encroachments of an Anglophone national government. He is increasingly celebrated as a proponent of multiculturalism, although that downplays his primary commitment to Métis nationalism and political independence
Louis Riel, Wikipedia

Read the Metis Nation‘s more complete account of Louis Riel.

Follow @MetisNationON on Twitter

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

November 16, 2016 at 10:17 pm

System Change

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American flagOur American friends have an unashamedly two party system.  In spite of the fact third parties keep popping up.  The two parties relentlessly insist such parties have no chance of winning, a mantra that is repeated over and over in the media.   The main stream media helps make this a reality by excluding small parties and their presidential candidates from televised debates and news coverage, except in attack journalism.

So is it any wonder that almost half the eligible voters did not vote in the American election?

When the two parties put forth the two most reviled candidates in history, I imagine many voters had no motivation to vote for either of them.  No one has the right to order other people how to vote, and then blame them if they don’t vote as they’ve been told. Not in democracy.  And yet I saw that happen over and over on social media.   Is Trump as bad as they say?  We don’t *know* yet.   I can’t imagine anyone whose own water was being destroyed by fracking would vote Clinton. I can’t imagine people whose local economy skipped down to Mexico thanks to Free Trade voting for Mrs. Clinton either. Poor white voters (racist or not) are not the only people who voted for Mr. Trump. The status quo has not been working for much of the 99%, and I think it may be worse there than here.

Why would you vote if you are convinced you can’t vote for who you want?

If the only candidates you are allowed to vote for don’t represent you, why vote?  Especially if it meant standing in line for hours surrounded by belligerent voters.   (You know the ones I mean, the ones in either party who might end up in the streets afterwards burning the American Flag and chanting #notmypresident.)

Before the election, Democratic supporters were angry and offended by suggestions that Trump supporters wouldn’t accept the result if they lost.  But as it happened, their candidate was the one who lost, so now they are in the streets burning effigies of the President elect.

With near half the electorate abstaining, the reality is approximately 25% of voters voted for Mrs. Clinton— who lost— and approximately 25% of voters voted for Mr. Trump— who won.  In what appears to be the final tally, Mrs. Clinton — appears to have won 668,483 more votes than President-elect Trump.   When you have a winner take all system, the losers are never happy with the result.  Particularly when only a few thousand votes separated the two.  Especially if the loser failed to win the popular vote.

Incredibly, the thing isn’t actually over yet.  A few states might still challenge the vote count, and something on the order of 4 million Americans are petitioning the Electoral College to overturn the election result in December.

But this is how the American system works.

I think there are plenty of things wrong with the American system, just as I think there are plenty of things wrong with ours here in Canada.  No electoral system is perfect, but one of the worst things about winner take all politics is the polarization that is bound to occur when you divide citizens into winners and losers.

Haves and have nots.

Us and them.

Although it is hard on the candidates and parties that lose, the real tragedy of First Past The Post is that too many citizens end up without representation in government.  Without representation in government, there is no one to speak for the issues that matter to you.  I find it hard to believe in any democracy that results in so many second class citizens. Although there is no perfect system, more representative systems are better than winner-take-all systems because they provide representation to more of the population.

And the fact is, far too many voters are disfranchised as a matter of course.  Those who’ve been on the outside looking in are now on the inside looking out.

But no matter how undemocratic the system is, no matter how unfair the election result, democracy derives its authority from its citizens.  Citizens must accept the election result, even if it doesn’t go your way.  You don’t get to call “do-over” when you don’t get the result you want.

If you don’t accept the result when the other guy wins, how can you expect the other guy to respect the result when yours does?

Polarization drives people apart

Ad Hominem is the name of the logical fallacy in debate; it describes an attack on a person instead of making a valid argument.  [Almost always because there isn’t one.]   Throughout the election, Ad Hominem attacks weren’t limited to candidates, supporters levelled such attacks at each other throughout the campaign.   People were (and still are) being characterized as racist for supporting Mr. Trump; people were (and still are) characterized as corporate pawns or “cry babies” for supporting Mrs. Clinton.  But when an election is less about issues and more about personality and character, what else can you expect.

It seems the idea that citizens have the power to have a say in their government — the idea that each citizen has the inviolable right to choose for themselves how they will cast their vote — has been swallowed up in the polarizing hysteria.  When the political platforms of big tent parties cover the whole gamut of public policy, there are many reasons people vote for someone they might not like.

I read somewhere that exit polls showed a majority of voters had not actually cast a vote for someone they wanted to elect.

So is it any wonder that almost half the eligible voters did not vote in the American election?

When the two parties put forth the two most reviled candidates in history, I imagine many voters had no motivation to vote for either of them.

No one has the right to order other people how to vote, and then blame them if they don’t vote as they’ve been told. Not in democracy.  And yet I saw that happen over and over on social media.   Is Trump as bad as they say?  We don’t *know* yet.   I can’t imagine anyone whose own water was being destroyed by fracking would vote Clinton. I can’t imagine people whose local economy skipped down to Mexico thanks to Free Trade voting for Mrs. Clinton either. Poor white voters (racist or not) are not the only people who voted for Mr. Trump. The status quo has not been working for much of the 99%, and I think it may be worse there than here.

What Canadians call “strategic voting” and Americans call “lesser evilism” is what happens when most people feel they can’t vote for what they actually want.  If you are voting against instead of for something, how can they possibly achieve democratic representation?

Dissent

The freedom to dissent is an important element of any healthy democracy.

Many of us think of the constitutionally protected right to dissent as the right to speak our minds and write and publish what we think. But free speech is only one of three related rights protected by the First Amendment. Not only is Congress prohibited from passing a law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” the amendment also protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” and their right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Taken together, the right to free speech, the right of assembly, and the explicit right to express grievances to the government add up to an expansive right to “dissent” enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Beyond written or spoken words, the right to dissent is the right of citizens to organize themselves, to associate, to make themselves heard in order to achieve political and social change and oppose government policies without fear of impediment or reprisal.

The Meaning and Importance of Dissent

But what is happening in the United States is less dissent than the rejection of an unpopular election result.   As odious as many people may think Mr. Trump has shown himself to be, at this time he is still only the President-Elect.  He has not actually done anything yet.  Mr. Trump has made no policy, so this doesn’t constitute opposing government policies.  So far his only presidential crime has been winning a contentious and polarizing election.

History has shown over and over that when government is overthrown by force the result is rarely (never?) effective democracy.  Even in the best of democracies, the duly constituted authorities are not going to look kindly on mobs of citizens rioting in the streets against the Government.

Even if what is happening now is just masses of citizens letting off steam after two years of never ending messaging as potent as any war time propaganda, it would behoove them to be careful in a world without privacy.  Security cameras record much that happens on the streets, and Americans would do to remember they (like we) are living in a surveillance state where eveything done online is monitored and recorded.  Facial recognition and lip reading software is not only out there, it is being used.

Privacy and Personal Security

All the folks who didn’t mind such erosions of privacy and civil rights on Mr. Obama’s watch might want to reconsider their complacency.  In the weeks leading up to the election, the NODAPL water protestors went largely ignored by the mainstream media.  Even when journalists and documentarians started getting arrested for the crime of committing journalism there was barely a whimper.  If Mr. Trump proves to the the autocrat many of his opponents predict, it should be recalled that previous administrations have amply provisioned the American government with the tools to suppress dissent.  I can’t speak to the quality of the commercial services recommended in The Intercept’s handy guide to SURVEILLANCE SELF-DEFENSE AGAINST THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.  What I can recommend is sticking with Free Software wherever possible. Distributed networks aren’t owned (and controlled by 3rd parties, Free Software has open source code which makes it harder to hide malware, and if you can manage to self host, no one has the keys to your data

Free Software.

Friendica can replace Facebook http://friendica.com/

Quitter can replace Twitter https://quitter.se/main/public

as does GNU Social if you want to host your own https://www.gnu.org/software/social/

Encrypting your email is a really good idea: How to encrypt your email

As is using TOR (The Onion Router) when using the Internet https://www.torproject.org/

Michael Nabert writes:

The most complex surveillance net in history, and its most expensive military, are only two of the tools that will soon be in the hands of Donald Trump, but perhaps the most troubling is the way that America’s last two presidents have persistently stripped away the rights of citizens to the extent that the U.S. claims the power to disappear people without charge or trial. Dissidents, here it comes.

Under the National Defence Authorization Act of 2012, the U.S. government claimed the power to snatch you off the street, hurl you into a military prison, and throw away the key. In 2014 the supreme court refused to hear a lawsuit brought by citizens including Pulitzer prize winning journalist Chris Hedges that tried to challenge the idea that a government can simply decide that it’s perfectly okay to disappear their own citizens illegally without habeas corpus rights or due process of law merely by claiming you’ll be safer if they do it without any oversight.

https://www.rt.com/usa/156172-scotus-ndaa-hedges-obama/

This was, of course, only a part of the complete dismantling of protections and rights for US citizens which began under George W Bush after 9/11, although this particular indignity was heaped on by Barack Obama, who also pursued whistleblowers far more aggressively than any president before him while continuing down the same path.

http://truthinmedia.com/obama-has-sentenced-whistleblowers-to-10x-the-jail-time-of-all-prior-u-s-presidents-combined/

American citizens are already the most monitored, photographed, and eavesdropped on population in all of human history. The fact that the U.S. government has provided itself with all of the personal data, militarized police, and illegal powers necessary to create the largest most domineering police state in human history on a whole new level seems likely to make the next few years particularly challenging.

http://www.theglobalist.com/trump-inherits-the-surveillance-state/

Let’s remember as well that it has become normal for America to hurl death from above fairly indiscriminately using drone bombings under Obama as well. In targeting 41 different individuals, drones killed 1,147 people.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/24/-sp-us-drone-strikes-kill-1147

Weaponized drones are already being used on U.S. soil as well.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregoryferenstein/2015/08/26/weaponized-drones-now-legal-inside-the-u-s-lawmaker-says-crimefighting-will-become-a-video-game/

So I ask you, America, after spending $574 per taxpayer to take away your own privacy,

http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/nsa-cost-spying-taxpayer/

Do you feel safer?

Right now, it may be that the problem the United States of America faces has less to do with government and more to do with a polarized population unable to look past the rhetoric and set aside the hatred.   Glenn Beck wrote:  Don’t Move to Canada. Talk to the Other Side. but neither side seems to be listening.   There is no quick fix, but reforming the political system to one less divisive, something more democratic and accountable for all Americans all the time would certainly be a big help.

I very much hope our American friends can put aside their team allegiances and decide to work together for the good of all the people.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

November 14, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Posted in International, Politics

PEI picks Proportional Representation

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back to FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRE

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

Electoral System with Majority Support
Mixed Member Proportional Representation
# of Votes 19,418
% of Votes 52.42
Total Valid Votes 37,040
Total number of votes required to achieve threshold 18,521

Eligible Electors 102,464

Voter Turnout 36.46%

Elections Prince Edward Island Plebiscite Results

PEI picks PR (Brigitte Werner's photo dedicated to the Public Domain with CC0)

I have no doubt that good media coverage helped the process along. The PEI Guardian endorsed Dual Member Proportional, the made in Canada system proposed by Sean Graham. I was able to include Sean’s system in my Electoral System Roundup, and  I know Sean made a presentation to the federal ERRE Committee.  His system may be a real solution for the wide open spaces problem faced when looking at Federal Electoral Reform.

Unlike previous electoral reform referenda in Canada, the PEI process did a pretty good job of informing voters. If you watch the video below and those that follow, you’ll see the array of very nice explainer videos put out by Elections PEI

The tiny province of Prince Edward Island has taken the first step in leading Canada toward better democracy.  Bravo!

back to FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRE

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

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


Image Credit:

iconic Public Domain Prince Edward Island Lighthouse photo by Brigitte Werner has been dedicated to the Public Domain via CC0

 

FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRE

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

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

[Guest Post by Fair Vote Canada]

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogues #1The all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRÉ) has just finished four months of expert and public consultations. They will make their recommendation to Government by December 1st.

Of the ERRÉ witnesses with a position on voting systems, 88% recommended Proportional Representation. This reinforces the findings from decades of research from around the world and of 13 previous electoral reform processes in Canada, including two thorough and impartial citizens assemblies.

When the Government launched the process without a mechanism for collecting empirical data, Fair Vote Canada, a multi-partisan advocacy group, started tracking the process very closely. We are releasing the results of our work to the media because we believe the process needs to be transparent and accountable.

(You can find key a list of results below with links our spreadsheets.)

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogues #@Despite a strong call for proportional representation across all of the consultative platforms, we believe reforming the electoral system could be in serious trouble based on recent comments from Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Monsef.

President Réal Lavergne expressed Fair Vote Canada’s concerns “We are worried that the Minister and the Prime Minister are saying that we cannot count on the government keeping its promise to make every vote count. Yet experts and Canadians have clearly expressed themselves in favour of proportional representation, which is what it really means to “make every vote count.”.

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada , 2015 LPC candidate

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and former LPC candidate (2015)

David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and a Liberal candidate in last year’s federal election adds “This is not the time for back-tracking. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Democratic Institutions have personally created a sense of hope in Canadians, building on the 2015 Liberal campaign promise of Real Change. Millions of voters believed that the government intended to keep its promises. We believed the political cynicism of the Harper years was behind us, and thousands of us participated in the government’s consultations in good faith.”

Merner says “Now is the time for the government to deliver on its promises.

Fair Vote Waterloo Community Dialogue ERRÉ in CambridgeHighly regarded Conservative strategist and spokesperson for the Every Voter Counts Alliance, Guy Giorno, adds that “committee members must endorse what’s right for Canadians, not what benefits any particular party. Given the weight of the evidence before the committee, the only legitimate option is a recommendation for proportional representation. Let’s also remember that electoral reform was a major issue at the last election, and voters overwhelmingly supported parties promising change.”

The weight of expert testimony in favour of PR was echoed across the country in hundreds of town halls and public dialogues.

ERRE Info Session at Ayr Branch Library

Over the next few days the ERRÉ will negotiate a recommendation for a new electoral system for Canada. The final report is due on December 1.

Fair Vote Canada’s President Réal Lavergne explains that “Once that recommendation has been made, it will be incumbent on the minister to carry it forward and for the government to act on it. Leadership will be required to educate both the public and parliamentarians, and to champion the proposed reform.”

“Based on all the results of the expert and citizen consultations, the committee’s only legitimate option is to recommend in favour of proportional representation.”

Key indicators from ERRÉ hearings

Canadian Electoral System expert Dennis Pilon testified before the ERRE Committee.

Canadian Electoral System expert Dennis Pilon testified before the ERRE Committee.

88% of expert witnesses who expressed a preference called for proportional representation

4% supported the Alternative Vote
(majoritarian ranked ballot systems tend to evolve towards a two-party system, often favour centrist parties and could further entrench the distortions brought about by our existing majoritarian system. )

67% thought a referendum was undesirable or unnecessary.

Detailed analysis can be found here in our Synthesis of witness statements and views.

Open Mic-sessions

From coast to coast, Canadians lined up at the ERRÉ open-mic sessions asking that the committee keep the promise and deliver PR.

According to data released this week by the NDP, out of 428 participants who spoke up, 374 (87.38%) called for proportional representation.

MP town halls

PR in the Back YardTotal number of town halls reporting: 174

The following indicates the level of support observed for proportional representation in MP town halls.

69.5% (121 town halls) – Majority of speakers calling for proportional representation.

8.6%% (15 town halls) – Majority for electoral reform, but no clear majority specifically for proportional representation

Brantford-Brant Community Dialogue

5.2%  (9 town halls) – Support divided between majoritarian system and proportional representation

5.7%   (10 town halls) – Majority for the status quo

8.0% (14 town halls) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified

2.9%   (5 town halls) – Majority support for the Alternative Vote

Detailed analysis can be found here in our
Synthesis of witness statements and views.

New Hamburg Branch info sessions

Citizen Community Dialogues & EventsWaterloo Region Greens Community Dialogue

Here are basic indicators from the 27 dialogues or town halls hosted by citizens and community groups posted on the ERRÉ site or for which we have directly obtained the information so far:

Total number of participants: 1,058

88% (22 events) – A majority of speakers calling for proportional representation

8% (2 events ) – A majority for change but no majority for any one option

12% (3 events) – Report does not allow any majority view to be identified.

We are aware of at least 15-20 other community dialogues that are not yet posted on the ERRÉ site.

Detailed analysis can be found here.

Minister Monsef’s Townhalls

Minister Monsef organized two types of town hall consultations: ones in her own riding, and others as part of a cross-country tour. Here is an extract from the report submitted to the ERRÉ on town halls held by Minister Monsef in her Riding of Peterborough:

“It is clear that there is an appetite for thoughtful change to the electoral system. While opinions on the various electoral systems did vary, most participants indicated their support for a more proportional electoral process that still respected the need for local representation and simplicity of the ballot.”

Although Minister Monsef routinely conducted straw polls on issues such as mandatory voting and online voting in town halls on the road, she did not do the same regarding support for proportional representation. FVC volunteers attended these events across the country and shared their opinions. Here are a few quotes from participants:

Toronto:
 “PR was clearly the main issue for most. With respect to PR, many attendees spoke passionately and eloquently in favour, and if anyone present opposed it, he or she was not bold enough to express that view.”

Vancouver: “It seemed that 90% of the audience… did want some form of PR.”

Edmonton: “ It seemed most people were in support of some sort of proportional representation.”

Yellowknife: “She asked whether the participants liked FPTP to remain, or Ranked system or STV or MMP or Proportional Representation implemented. One voted for FPTP. Many voted for MMP and a few voted for PR.”

Yukon: “Some Yukoners came in support of our current electoral system (First Past the Post); more were on the side of moving towards proportional representation.”

Halifax: “The feedback from the groups certainly favoured PR.”

Montreal: “There was an overwhelming support for PR in the room.”

Thunder Bay: “Of the dozens who rose to spoke, everyone spoke in favour of PR.”

Gatineau: “ Participants spoke to PR at every opportunity they had… However, the format made this difficult… Taking into consideration those interventions that spoke to the issue of PR vs FPTP or AV, the overwhelming majority of interventions – in the order of 70% or more – were in favour of PR.”

Waterloo: From the report of 4 MPs: “Every group discussed the need for our new electoral system to feature some degree of proportionality.”

Charlottetown: “ About 90% of the people there were pro-PR.”

Winnipeg: After noting that three people were for FPTP because they feared losing local representation. The rest of the comments I heard were mostly just preferences for the different PR systems.”

Happy Valley-Goose Bay: “What we said was that we wanted PR  BUT, it had to be a hybrid type that considered the lack of population and massive land mass of not only Labrador but 60 % of Canada, i.e. the North.”

Calgary: “There was overwhelming support for getting rid of the current system, with different groups mentioning STV or MMP as their top choice.”

The Hon. Maryam Monsef addresses the crowd in Waterloo Region.A concluding note

And, to conclude, this eloquent quote from a Fair Vote Canada volunteer at the Victoria town hall where the Minister said she “can’t promise you that I’ll be advocating for PR because I haven’t heard that from an overwhelming majority across the country.“

Victoria:

“The wheels were skidding out of control as we tried to combat the spin we received at last night’s town hall on Electoral Reform. Maryam Monsef, the Minister of Democratic Institutions hosted the gathering in Victoria billed as “the last chance” to give your input. But the tone of the meeting was quite acrimonious. They were clearly managing the message while backpedaling from an election commitment about changing the electoral system. Not only did she defend Trudeau’s recent comments about no longer needing this reform because we voted for HIM.”

“After months of hearing expert witness by the proportionally cross-partisan panel, and while MPs held public consultations with thousands of Canadians across the country, are we now to believe there is no appetite for Proportional Representation? Monsef said that she has not yet made up her mind but the implication of her words was troubling. Will the government diminish the committee’s well-researched, democratic report in December by championing their predetermined preference? For many of us who attended last night the so-called consultation felt like a sham.”



PS from Laurel:

I’ve chosen to used my own photographs, here, not only because they are free culture photos (licensed to share under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License) but because the number of electoral reform events in and around Waterloo Region has been staggering, and I wanted to share some of them with you, but there were so many local ERRÉ events that I attended (and I didn’t attend them all)  that there isn’t enough room here to use photos from them all!

There was a time not long ago when I knew nothing about electoral reform.  It was only when I was asked to take photos at local Fair Vote Waterloo events that I found myself listening to what the Fair Vote folks had to say, and after a while I even started understanding it.   This was not an easy process, nor was it fast.  It can take a while to really gain an understanding of something completely different from what we’re used to.  

That’s why every electoral reform event must incorporate an education piece.  The thing that I have seen over and over again is that even though Canadians may not know the words for it, or how to fix it, we know something is wrong with our voting system that needs to be fixed.

That is why Mr. Trudeau’s “We will make every vote count” resonated with so many people.  

And what I have learned from every discussion and every ERRÉ event I’ve attended is that when Canadians have a chance to understand the difference between winner-take-all and Proportional Representation, we almost always want some form of PR.    I think that’s because most Canadians value fairness, and the only way to get to a point where the votes of most Canadians actually count will require some form of Proportional Representation.  

Fair Vote Canada suggests Canadians who want to see the implementation of some form of Proportional Representation would do well to let the ERRÉ Committee know about it, and to make it easier for us, they have an automated tool to help us send a letter urging the committee to recommend PR here:

http://fairvotecanada.good.do/thankyou/keepthepromise

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

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

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

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”

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PARLIAMENT OF WALLONIA AND BELGIAN VOTERS ON THE PROPOSED CETA AND ITS FOREIGN INVESTOR PROTECTION SYSTEM

“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


Image Credits:
Justin Trudeau by A.k.fung has been dedicated to the Public Domain, which made it possible for me to dedicate my mini-poster  to the Public Domain as well.

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!