Democracy #fail

In my experience, every time anyone suggests “Strategic Voting” a closer look shows that the real reason someone is telling me to vote strategically is because I will be voting in their candidate, not mine.

graphic logo depicting parliament suspended by a noose from a gibbet

I haven’t had time to look into this exhaustively   (after all I’m supposed to be revising my first draft not blogging)   but this morning I just heard about something that sounded like strategic voting being suggested in the UK — where the ill advised Digital Economy bill was rushed through the legislative procedure without anything resembling proper scrutiny — on the eve of an election.   Since there’s a Fair Vote Canada debate on the topic of Strategic Voting scheduled this month I thought I’d take a quick peek at Hang ’em

It looks like the UK’s “Hung Parliament” idea is a bit different than Canadian strategic voting.   The idea of this seems to be prevention a majority government.

Once installed, majority governments have a nasty tendency to rule dictatorially.

Because they can.

The reasons for promoting a “Hung Parliament” seem much the same as mine for opposing majority government here in Canada.   We need to achieve something a lot closer to democracy, and so long as Canada has alternating ruling parties we are unlikely to get the electoral reform we so desperately need.

This is definitely something to look into further, and watch very carefully, since all the pundits seem to be fortelling a 2010 Canadian Federal Election.   This is a crucial issue, particularly at a time when the entire world is undergoing such revolutionary changes courtesy of the Internet.   Clearly a great majority of the UK Members of Parliament who rushed to implement their Digital Economy Bill did not understand it.

Minority governments, elections and prorogations have thus far saved Canada from being been victimized by bad copyright reforms.   Last year’s Canada wide copyright consultation process seemed very positive.   Yet there have been indications that the magnificent outpouring that the copycon prompted from informed citizens may well have been a sham, and there are very real fears that this government intends to ignore this democratic input.   The fact that Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore’s recent behaviour has prompted Michael Geist to dub him the iPadlock minister seems to indicate that bad laws similar to the DEBill may well be coming down on Canada.

Canadian politicians, like politicians the world over, are being mercilessly pressured by foreign interests.   American tools like the USTR Watch List exist simply to try to intimidate other countries into legislating against their own sovereign interest and in favor of American corporate interests.   Adding secret copyright treaties like Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (A.C.T.A.) to the mix only makes it worse.

Not so Secret A.C.T.A. Treaty negotiations

Oh, yes, they did make one draft public, but only because of continuous advocacy by concerned people like:

along with organizations like

These three organizations are all American based, which seems a clear indication that one of the worst things about this American driven Intellectual Property or Copyright Reform is that it’s a case of the American government effectively working against American citizens in favor of American corporate interests.

The point is, that most of the people promoting and passing the legislation don’t understand the issues.   It is bad enough to be saddled with bad laws because the government thinks they are good. It is inexcusable to be saddled with bad laws because of government ignorance.   If it’s worth making the laws, its worth understanding them. But the bottom line is that all of this concern for IP is an excuse to attempt to impose government control over the Internet.   Rushing to push through laws to control the internet — without understanding the Internet– is simply madness.

This type of lawmaking is clearly a failure of democracy. Many citizens are unhappy with the democratic erosion that seems to be increasing exponentially. Democracy is important to us.

I think this “Hang ‘Em” idea may have potential.

4 thoughts on “Democracy #fail

  1. Keep in mind most ideas to distort a system from its express purpose may have undesirable outcomes. A ‘hung’ parliament, or weak coalition government, can result in exceptionally slow legislative responsiveness, especially in dynamic situations requiring alacrity and/or flexibility.

    Like most things, no one answer will be best in all situations. Consider the benefits and drawbacks based on what is currently known, then make your choices. I’d love to have the Green Party in charge, but that’s because I don’t have young children, am not a senior citizen, and don’t have a lot of money in stocks or funds (all of which would be slighted under a conservation ideology.) Having a near-perfect split among the big four parties would mean no movement on tar sands, environmental policy, pharmaceutical reforms, or improving foreign relations and progressive foreign policy, and lord help us if there were a massive earthquake in BC or a mega-disaster anywhere in the northern territories or western provinces.

    Copyright in Canada is a joke. This is a dramatically better position than in the USA, where it is an insult and injury. No party is on-side with intelligent copyright reform other than PPCA, but only one party is actively seeking negative copyright changes – the Conservatives. Promoting dysfunction of the Parliament is not a way to change copyright legislation for the better, but maybe educating the public, and being visibly supportive of the PPCA, may do some good.

  2. It is our alternating political parties who have distorted our political systems for their own ends. Electoral reform is long overdue, and ordinary Canadians need to examine all options.

    I must disagree with your assertion that Canadian copyright law is a joke. Canadian copyright law is far tougher than American copyright law in many ways, and that is very bad for Canada. I’m not an authority, but Howard Knopf is:
    21 Reasons why Canadian Copyright Law is Already Stronger than USA’s

    Canada is riddled with copyright collectives that exist to serve themselves not the artists. In practice these collectives interfere with and and diminish Canadian art and culture through arbitrary rulings and guesswork.

    I’ve read of Canadian buskers being forced to make royalty payments — even buskers who present only original material — just in case they might infringe copyright. This is hardly conducive to cultural expression. Schools and public libraries pay a fortune in royalties just in case they might be infringing copyright since Canada has far weaker “fair use” elements in our existing laws.

    In the same way these supposed royalty assessments are arrived at through “formulas” which in reality amount to guesswork, if any payments are ever actually made to artists, what and how much is paid is also decided based on guesswork. This does not help Canadian arts or artists, just the collectives and the media giants.

    There may appear to be “only one party actively seeking negative copyright changes” but that is because the Conservatives are the current Canadian ruling party. The last time it was the Liberals turn to hold ruling party status they tried to put an even worse “copyright reform” bill through.

    Canadian Liberal Party Wants to ‘Combat’ Piracy In Canada, Ratify WIPO

    The reason for this seems quite simply that both Liberal and Conservative parties support corporations over citizens, probably because that that is where they get most of their funding. Should the next election go to the Liberals, they will no doubt put through their new and improved Bill C60, which will be just as detrimental to Canada.

  3. When I said Canada’s copyright law is a joke, I was referring to the ostensive purpose of copyright: to create an artificial shortage of a desired intellectual property (which is, otherwise, intrinsically valueless) for the purpose of financial incentive to the IP originator. The current copyright system in fact discourages creativity as it is more lucrative and lower risk to trade in copyright licensing than it is to create new IP.

    As we both know, it is better to be a publisher than a performer.

    I guess I stand by what I wrote. I don’t see the Liberals or the Bloc or anyone else actively submitting members bills as alternatives to C60. Maybe they’re cynically waiting until they are in a position to force their will on the nation, or avoiding upsetting people like you and I by suggesting ratification of WIPO. But I’ll take passively hostile over actively harmful any day of the week.

    I also stand by the opinion that deliberately working to maximize legislative gridlock is likely more harmful than flip-flopping winner-take-all parliaments. Remember the evolution of the parliament has been two dominant parties for centuries, and has developed systems and traditions for bureaucratic inertia to keep the country going through such sudden ideological whiplash events. What it doesn’t have – yet – are systems to carry on while decision-making is delayed indefinitely.

    A well-known leader of an international non-profit took me aside to point out that the committee I was serving on was having problems because I was insisting the members come to meetings prepared to make decisions. Instead, I was informed, all agenda items I wanted to have passed should be worked through back channels to get consensus, so individuals would not be put on the spot to make a public vote. This is why I no longer work with non-profits, and why I’m very sympathetic with politicians while hating every damn thing I ever see them do.

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