International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD

Women in Politics

In 2015 twelve members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet (approximately 30%) were women.

The Harper Government: 77 female MPs ~ 25%.

The Trudeau Government: 88 female MPs ~ 26%.

More women in Cabinet is undoubtedly better for women than under-representation.  Government Ministers are more influential than back bench MPs, which is why these figures are tracked by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

But we need to remember the reason Prime Minister Trudeau’s gender balanced cabinet was newsworthy —  it did not happen naturally.  Although Canadian women make up about half the population, electing 25% women to the House of Commons was a record when Mr. Harper’s government managed it, just as electing 26% was a record for Mr. Trudeau’s government.

Whoop de doo.

That’s not exactly fair representation, but that is what you get with a First Past The Post electoral system.

That’s why Canada is way down the list “at 63rd internationally when it comes to women’s political representation.

While Mr. Trudeau is to be commended for attempting to redress that wrong, implementing a gender quota is an artificial fix.  One side effect is that such a policy severely limits the pool of cabinet choices when half the cabinet must be chosen from a quarter of the MPs.  Whether true or not, whenever a quota system is used, there are always mutterings asking if those who are chosen may not in fact be qualified for the job.

Cabinet Ministers are chosen entirely at the discretion of the Prime Minister.  Any MP can be quickly scooped up for a Cabinet position, and just as easily turfed out again, all at the discretion of one man: the Prime Minister.

In Mr. Trudeau’s Cabinet, however, the male members are being chosen from three quarters of the MPs, so there will be no doubt they are worthy of the power and authority they’ve been given.   But female members are being chosen from a mere quarter of the MPs.   This certainly can be easily used to undermine the public perception of the value of female Cabinet Ministers.  The optics of this combined with a quota certainly undermines the idea that Ministers are chosen purely on merit.

The very existence of this quota is entirely at the Prime Minister’s discretion.  Which means it us not a permanent fix: it can be discarded at any time.  This Prime Minister could easily change his mind about gender parity (just as he did with his Electoral Reform promise).  Or the next Prime Minister may as easily choose to exclude female MPs from his Cabinet altogether.  Like any policy developed under First Past The Post, this could become a pendulum issue swinging back and forth between Liberals and Conservatives.

Women chosen to serve as Ministers are well aware they owe the PM a debt of gratitude for bestowing this honour on them.  When the man with the power tells the Minister of Democratic Institutions that Proportional Representation is not an option, what can she do but go along.   Because female Cabinet Ministers surely know the prize can be peremptorily withdrawn at his discretion for any reason.  Or none.  Such context will most certainly guarantee that some (if not all) women Ministers will be very careful to do as they are told.  Will they fight for what they know is right or will they toe the party line to protect their status and position?

On the other hand, if Canada elected women in more proportional numbers in a more natural way, such a quota would hardly be necessary.  There would be a reasonably large pool of women MPs from which Ministers can be chosen on merit.  If they share a level playing field, women and men could assert themselves with confidence (and hopefully do what’s right). Wouldn’t that be something!

Diversity

It also seems the claims that Prime Minister Trudeau’s Cabinet is “the country’s most diverse” need also be taken with a grain of salt.

AS Rachel Décoste points out, “The previous Harper cabinet included women, Aboriginals, South Asians, East Asians, Quebecers and a person with a disability. If that’s not diversity, I don’t know what is.”  Ms. Décoste goes on to explain:

“For visible minorities, PM Trudeau’s inaugural cabinet is decidedly less diverse than PM Harper’s. The absence of East Asians (Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) is jarring.

“The presence of black Canadians, the third largest racial demographic, is also deficient. Despite a record four Afro-Canadian MPs elected from a voter base blindly loyal to the Liberals, PM Trudeau shut them out of cabinet.

“Harper did not name any African-Canadians to cabinet. He had no black MPs to choose from. Despite a record four Afro-Canadian MPs elected, Trudeau shut them out of cabinet.”

Trudeau’s Cabinet Isn’t As Diverse As You Think

Kathleen Wynn, Elizabeth May, Andrea Horwath, Catherine Fife, Bardish Chagger, Lorraine Rekmans
Canadian Politicians:  Kathleen Wynne, Elizabeth May, Andrea Horwath, Catherine Fife, Bardish Chagger, Lorraine Rekmans

Electoral Reform

Instead of relying on the temporary fix of patchwork quotas, the Canadian Government’s continuing failure to reflect the diversity of Canadians in the House of Commons could be addressed in a more stable and balanced manner through adoption of some form of Proportional Representation. As demonstrated in my graph, as a rule it is the countries using Proportional Representation that outperform Canada in both gender parity and overall citizen representation.

Equal Voice thinks it could take the Canadian Government 90 years to achieve gender parity naturally if we continue on as we are.  Frankly, if we keep First Past The Post I think that’s wildly optimistic.  Any way you slice it, this is simply unacceptable in a representative democracy.

It’s great that the suffragettes fought for our right to vote; but it’s too bad they didn’t win effective votes for Canadian women.  On this International Women’s Day, it is important for all Canadian women to understand:  if the Canadian Government is serious about gender parity it must begin with Proportional Representation.

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

#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #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
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD

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

Sign the Petition e-616

Petition e-616 can be found at
https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-616

This petition to the Canadian Government website has broken all records and continues to grow.  As of writing it is up to:

119,515 signatures

Sign the Petition: e-616

You can help make every vote count by signing the petition.

And after you’ve signed it (and sent the email confirmation)  you can help even more by encouraging your friends and family and co-workers and your kid’s teachers and your dentist and doctor and letter carrier and fellow religionists (including your minister, rabbi, imam or priest) … because *any* Canadian can and should sign this petition too.

If enough Canadians sign e-616, our Government might yet deliver on this oh so important promise.

Because when all Canadians are represented in Parliament, it will make our government much more accountable than it is today because no single party — no single party leader will have the power to impose an agenda against the public good.  We know Proportional Representation most often produces stable government capable of long term planning.  We also know Proportional Representation leads to co-operation between parties, not polarization like we have now.  First Past The Post elected Donald Trump in the USA, and FPTP could just as easily give us a Canadian version too.

First Past The Post gives the winner 100% of the power with only 39% (or less) of the votes.

Proportional Representation ensures 39% of the votes only deliver 39% of the power.

Right now the Liberal Government is rallying around Private Member’s Motion 103 because they hope it will makes them look like progressive multicultural heroes.  If the Conservative Party chooses an O’Leary or a Leitch as its leader, the Liberal Party hopes to ride a wave of lesser-evilism into a second majority term.  (Clever Canadians should recall how well such a plan worked out for Hillary Clinton.  Clever Conservatives won’t choose a leader the Liberals can use as a boogeyman.)

But here’s the thing: M-103 wouldn’t even be an issue if every vote counted. If the Liberal Government is truly committed to a healthy multicultural democracy it would be writing the promised electoral reform legislation as we speak.  If they are truly worried a referendum would prove too divisive or open to manipulation, the ERRE Committee’s referendum might be deferred to after 3 elections… by which time Canadians will understand Proportional Representation well enough to make an informed choice.

Canada is supposed to be a Representative Democracy.

But when a majority of Canadians aren’t represented in Parliament, it isn’t, really.

Canadians need to be able to elect the government we want by electing MPs that can actually represent us.  When the Liberal Government was elected with a majority, I hoped the fact the party was divided between Alternative Vote and Proportional Representation we would get a fair process.  Even knowing Justin Trudeau was an Alternative Vote supporter as far back as the Liberal Leadership race.  And for a while it really looked like we were.  Mr. Trudeau and senior Liberals assured us he would let the process go through.   My Liberal friends were positive that Proportional Representation couldn’t possibly fail with a fair process, because the evidence of over a century clearly supports Proportional Representation as the fairest way to achieve representative democracy.  And 14 Canadian Commissions, Assemblies & Reports recommended PR (with 0 recommending keeping First Past the post or adopting Mr. Trudeau’s favourite Alternative Vote (alias Preferential/Instant Runoff).

But so many people kept asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Proportional Representation he decided to pull the plug on it.  So much for a fair process.  So much for real change.  And nobody is angrier about this unfair outcome than my Liberal friends.

Sign The Electoral Reform Petition

Electoral Reform Hashtags

The easiest way to encourage your friends and family is to share on social media.

#CDNpoli
#EngagedinER
##ProportionalRepresentation
#ChaqueVoteCompte
##PerformOnReform
##NotFineWith39
#ERRE
#electoralreform
#CdnDemocracy
#TrudeaKeepYourPromise
#ERNow

Note:  #CDNpoli is possibly the most important hashtag because it reaches people interested in Canadian Politics whether or not they are informed about electoral reform.

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

 

Canada is Ready 4 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
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation
Sign the Petition e-616

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

Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation

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

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

During the 2015 election, Mr. Trudeau unequivocally promised to make 2015 the last First Past The Post election.  If elected,

“We will make every vote count.”

It’s no secret Fair Vote Canada has been using the catchphrase “make every vote count” to describe Proportional Representation for years.  In fact, they launched their “Make Every Vote Count Campaign” in 2013.  If you follow the link you’ll see the Hon. Stéphane Dion on the podium for the announcement.  Another LPC cabinet minister, the Hon. Carolyn Bennett is on the Fair Vote Canada Board. Certainly my Liberals For Fair Voting friends were aware of this when I helped them make a little video we called “The Foundation” to help them sell Resolution 31 at their 2014 Policy Convention.  Resolution 31 was duly adopted by the Liberal Party and in fact formed the basis of Mr. Trudeau’s electoral reform campaign promise.

Mr. Trudeau confirmed his electoral reform promise in the Throne Speech, and (although it took a little nudging) an all party Electoral Reform Parliamentary Committee was formed. Because of the tight time frame, the committee worked through the summer, taking evidence from experts in Canada and around the world. And the Committee, like Minister Monsef, travelled across Canada in a whirlwind tour.

No doubt because the ERRE Consultation was woefully underfunded, the Committee only managed a single stop in Ontario. No money was spent on advertising, and there was little advance notice, but in spite of the main stream media’s absolute failure to cover it, all the Electoral Reform events were full of citizens. A preponderance of citizens and experts supported some form of Proportional Representation. Then the ERRE Committee submitted a consensus report calling for some form of Proportional Representation and a Referendum. But the government was not wildly happy to see such an impossible outcome.

And so mydemocracy.ca was born. Do you know, the government spent more money sending postcards telling people to participate in a seriously problematic survey that inspired more parody than response than it did on the entire #ERRE Consultation?   While the Honourable Ms. Gould’s talking points are intended to make us believe the postcard survey was a big success, the reality is that a return of 360,000 Canadians is a ridiculously low response rate for a country with upward of 15 million voters.

But the Liberal Party holds a majority in Parliament, and we all know a majority government can pass (or kill) any law it wants. No consensus is required, even when the “majority” is based on the votes of only 39%. That is, after all, how the system we currently use works.  (Part of why it so badly needs modernization.)

The Liberal Party hasn’t managed to articulate a single good reason for a Prime Minister elected on promises of transparency and more democratic governance to squash the promised democratic process this way.   Even if Prime Minister Trudeau decided he doesn’t want electoral reform, he could still have allowed the process to run its democratic course to the finish.   The same power that allows the plug to be pulled prematurely now could have been used to whip the vote the way he wanted at the eleventh hour.

The only reason for breaking this promise in such an odious way that I can imagine is that the Prime Minister (and the Liberal powers that be) have noticed the growing interest, support and commitment Canadians are developing in electoral reform, in spite of everything.

I understand the PM was grilled about electoral reform at every single stop on his recent cross country tour.  Were those in the Liberal power structure getting nervous that enough public backing might just get Proportional Representation legislation through Parliament and into Law?

For those Canadians who value fairness and democracy, now is not the time to give up on Electoral Reform.

With all the Liberal talk of values for electoral reform, the one value that never seemed to come up was fairness.

No system that assigns 100% of the power to a party winning 39% (or less) votes can be considered fair.

And in my experience, Canadians value fairness.  My Liberals for Fair Voting friends know know very well they benefit from the proportionality inherent in our existing winner-take-all system.  Yet they don’t think it’s fair that so many other Canadians get little or no democratic representation.

There is still time to draft electoral reform legislation (the ERRE Committee could surely manage it) and get it through with enough time for Elections Canada to implement a new system in 2019.  Canadians don’t need to understand the electoral math to know our First Past The Post system is not working for a majority of Canadians.  How can a nation that prides itself on fairness continue to cling to a winner-take-all system that’s inherently unfair?

What We Can Do?

EVENTS

Sunday February 5th, 2017
GUELPH Rally for Proportional Representation
Guelph City Hall   1PM

Rally organised by Fair Vote Guelph
https://www.facebook.com/events/1852627561618419/
MP Longfield acknowledges that recent poll results in Guelph in support of
Proportional Representation are valid.
We need visible support at the rally to show our government that we want PR.
Please come to the Rally for PR  on Sunday at Guelph City Hall at to support  a fair open and transparent Democratic process .

National Week of Action on Electoral Reform

https://www.facebook.com/events/885031191552272/

Sunday February 5th, 2017
Parliament Hill Protest and Photo-Stunt
12:00 – 1:00pm

  • Ottawa residents to gather on Parliament Hill for Rally
  • Canvassing Materials distributed, Photo-stunt for social media presence

Wednesday February 8th, 2017
Call-Blitz and Tweet-Storm
* All Day *

Contact:

  • your local MP,
  • the Prime Minister’s Office and
  • Karina Gould

Respectfully express your opinion, tell them we’ll #seeyousaturday


Saturday February 11, 2017
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION
Canada Wide Protest
Be LOUD ~ Be HEARD.

Cross Canada Protest Times

Atlantic           15:00
Eastern           14:00
Central           13:00
Mountain/SK 12:00
Pacific           11:00
@JustinTrudeau and the #LPC promised that 2015 would be our last #FPTP election. #PerformOnReform
https://www.facebook.com/events/885031191552272/



Sign Government of Canada Electoral Reform petitions

e-600 (Electoral system) 
Lower the voting age to 16
The Petition is open for signature until February 8, 2017, at 12:34 p.m. (EDT)

e-613 (Electoral system)
Achieving gender balance in Parliament
The Petition is open for signature until February 16, 2017, at 11:34 a.m. (EDT)

e-616 (Electoral system)
Encouraging the Liberal Government to get ERRE back on track (Nathan Cullen)
The Petition is open for signature until March 2, 2017, at 11:20 a.m. (EDT)

e-678 (Electoral system)
Implement Mixed Member Proportional Representation (Kennedy Stewart)
The Petition is open for signature until March 24, 2017, at 9:26 a.m. (EDT)

Use the Green Party of Canada tool to send a message:
A Broken Promise to Canada

Change.org: Open Letter to Liberal MPs Re: Electoral Reform


Read More:

STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY IN CANADA: PRINCIPLES, PROCESS AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT FOR ELECTORAL REFORM: Report of the Standing Committee on Electoral Reform
Read the ERRE Report online here, or download the PDF

Read the Liberal Electoral Reform Report from 1921:
SPECIAL COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO CONSIDER THE SUBJECT OF
Proportional Representation AND THE SUBJECT OF THE SINGLE TRANSFERABLE OR PREFERENTIAL VOTE (pdf)


Write Letters to:

your Member of Parliament
Mailing letters via postal mail to our MPs is free, and these days they are getting used to receiving email from us as well. You can find your representative:

Cabinet Ministers (members of the Privy Council)
Prime Minister Trudeau


Local & national newspapers, Magazines, MSM news websites

Get an idea of what you might right from perusing these published Letters

Independent Media

404 System Error
APTN
Behind The Numbers
Canadaland
Canadian Civil Liberties Assoc
Canadian Privacy Blog
Canadian SIGINT Summaries
Canadian Tribune
Christopher Parsons
Council of Canadians
Desmog Canada
Digital Copyright Canada
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Dr. Dawg’s Blawg
The Elmira Advocate ….Woolwich Enviro-News
Excess Copyright
Huffington Post
The Independent
iPolitics
Island Tides
Jason Koblovsky ….. Digital Policy
Knet
The Media Co-op
Michael Geist  …..Law & Technology
Michael Harris …..Canadian Politics
Narrative Resistence
National Security Law
Nunatsiaq Online
Paul Beckwith …..climate
Press Progress
The Public Record …..Joey Coleman – Hamilton
rabble
The Georgia Straight
This Magazine
The Tyee
Vancouver Observer
Wilf Day …..electoral reform
ZeroPaid

Mainstream (MSM)
Canadian Press
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CTV
Globe and Mail
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National Post
Toronto Star

News Directories
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independent media.ca
Online Newspapers: Canada

Press Release & Media Distribution Service
Wire Service Media

back to There is only one way to 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
PEI picks Proportional Representation
There is only one way to make every vote count #ERRÉ
Canada is Ready 4 Proportional Representation

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

FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRE

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!

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

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!

 

#ERRE Submission Links

ERRE BannerCanadians deserve Proportional Representation.

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

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

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

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



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

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

Erre Submissions

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

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

#ERRE Submission by Patricia McGrail

canadians-have-their-say

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

Background

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

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

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

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

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

Making Votes Count

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

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

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

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

Changing the Culture of Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alternative Vote (winner-take-all ranked ballots)

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

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

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

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

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

Fragmentation and “Extremist” Parties

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

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

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

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

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

Political Will and CynicismErre Submissions

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

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

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

ilmstrip-parliament