For those who don’t know, at the end of Second World War the victorious Allies governments imposed Mixed Member Proportional Representation on West Germany.
They did this specifically to prevent the rise of another Hitler. Although these powerful government leaders clearly understood this, they chose not to follow the same path for their own nations. Presumably they believed such limitation on their own power wasn’t necessary. Just as Canada’s current Prime Minister doesn’t feel his power needs limitation.
Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter if there is a good Prime Minister or a bad one. It doesn’t matter if there’s a bad government in place or not.
What matters in a representative democracy is that voters secure representation in Parliament. All Canadians need representation, period. Just as Canadians need the Charter, in times of good or bad. Like the Charter, representation provides citizens with security.
Had Harry Truman implemented such a change on the USA, the likelihood of a Trump presidency would be nil.
Winston Churchill knew Proportional Representation was a defence against fascism.
Here’s the thing: fear and dog whistle politics are a powerful tools used over and over again in winner-take-all systems because they work. One of the things so dreadfully wrong with winner-take-all politics is that the governments we elect are so unaccountable to voters, it isn’t a question of whether they will keep all their promises, it is a question of which promises they will keep. And, incredibly, we accept that. We have been conditioned to understand they won’t keep all their promises. No doubt this is a major reason the young and the idealistic don’t engage in politics: they see it for a sham, and choose to invest their energies elsewhere.
The Canadian MSM is now reminding us that all the MPs in Parliament — including those Conservative Leadership Candidates seeking to ride a wave of prejudice to 100% power in Parliament — voted in support of Mr. Mulcair’s October Petition. This was long before 6 Quebec Muslims were murdered at prayer.
Mr. Speaker, following discussions with all parties in the House, I hope you will find consent for the following motion. I move:
That the House join the 69,742 Canadian supporters of House of Commons e-petition (e-411) in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.
So what has happened? Do these Conservative Leadership Candidates feel a majority of their constituents approve of gunning down Muslims at prayer?
I don’t believe that for a minute.
But our winner-take-all political system allows for the distribution of a disproportional amount of power.
In a winner-take-all system like ours, Ms. Leitch doesn’t need a majority of Conservative Party Members to support Islamaphobia in order to win her party’s leadership crown. Nor does she even need to attract a majority of voters to become the Prime Minister of Canada.
So long as we continue to use this First Past the Post Electoral System, the right dog whistle can win a 39% (or less) majority.
It doesn’t matter if we have a few women or minority MPs in the House of Commons.
We are staring in the face of the polarization inherent in FPTP. This whole hullaballoo starkly contrasts what happens when a powerful old white male MP puts forward a Motion condemning Islamaphobia with what happens when a young ethnic woman MP does.
And it is a not pretty picture.
But it happens. And it will keep on happening so long as we retain an electoral system that rewards dog whistle politicians with more than their fair share of power.
Canada needs real Real Change.
It does not have to be this way. In spite of his totally specious arguments to the contrary, Prime Minister Trudeau’s disavowal of his electoral reform promise not only paves the way for institutional racism, it fuels Islamaphobia. If Ms. Khalid (and other Liberal MPs) want to change this dreadful FPTP side effect, it is time they told their leader he must restore the Electoral Reform process and show leadership to get Proportional Representation legislation through Parliament by October.
Because if Canada wants to be a healthy multicultural democracy, we must have Proportional Representation.
At this time of writing, Petition e-616 is up to 120,651 signatures. If everyone who has already signed it can convince 2 Canadians to sign it our chance of having Proportional Representation implemented by 2019 will be greatly improved.
Last year the Canadian Government passed a motion that condemned the BDS movement. This motion didn’t make it illegal for the United Church of Canada, Quakers, organizations, university students and human rights activists and ordinary people like your Aunt Mabel who boycott Israeli companies like SodaStream because they operate (or used to?) in illegal settlements on what is supposed to be Palestinian land.
When the Canadian Government passed that motion, it was just a document that said the Government deplores BDS and those who do it.
This year, Liberal back bencher Iqra Khalid’s Motion 103 has raised a ruckus.
Once again it becomes clear Canadians need to improve our civic literacy. Our politicians have entirely too easy a time manipulating us.
A motion is not a law. A government motion that condemns X simply says the government thinks X is bad. It is not a law, but an attempt to lead by example.
As a writer, I am a firm believer in free speech. If you are concerned about Canadian law interfering with our free speech, there is plenty to talk about with our hate speech laws and the law Canadians know as C-51. But this motion does not do anything to inhibit free speech. Even if it wanted to it couldn’t. A motion is not a law.
Motion 103 just says the Government of Canada doesn’t approve of Islamophobia, systemic racism and religious discrimination, and tasks the government with studying it in hopes of finding a soluition. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you’re still worried, you can read it (like every motion or legislation considered by the Canadian Government) online. But to make it even easier, I’ve reproduced it for you here:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should:
(a) recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear;
(b) condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and
(c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on how the government could
(i) develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a holistic response through evidence-based policy-making,
(ii) collect data to contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This motion does not single out Islam for special consideration, it “condemns Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
All citizens are supposed to be protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Of course, in a democracy that relies on an electoral system that fails to represent its citizens proportionally, citizens can only hope we will get governments that will uphold our Charter protections.
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?
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 .
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
Canada recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination and supports the creation of a sovereign, independent, viable, democratic and territorially contiguous Palestinian state, as part of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement.
Canada recognizes the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the governmental entity in the West Bank and Gaza. Canada also recognizes the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the principal representative of the Palestinian people Canada continues to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and is working with the government led by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in terms of much needed reform.
Working with its partners and through the United Nations, its agencies and other organizations, Canada continues to support and respond to the humanitarian and development needs of the Palestinian people. At the Paris Donors Conference in December 2007, Canada announced a commitment of $300 million over 5 years towards improving Palestinian security, governance and prosperity.
At the UnitedNations on Monday, Canada voted against "The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" In Favour: 170 Against: 7 pic.twitter.com/1Ub1opMTHb
Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip). The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, in particular with respect to the humane treatment of the inhabitants of the occupied territories. As referred to in UN Security Council Resolutions 446 and 465, Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
Canada believes that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law which is key to ensuring the protection of civilians, and can contribute to the creation of a climate conducive to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement.
On Nov. 8 at the @UN, Canada was one of just 6 countries to vote against "Cessation of Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Territory". pic.twitter.com/qX0Gk6PWIV
The Canadian Government speaks for Canada. As a part of the International Community, a member of the UN, as a high contracting signatory of the Geneva Conventions, Canada has the duty to stay within International Law, but to hold other nations to account when they fail to do so.
When Canada fails to live up to its obligations, it falls to Canada’s opposition parties to hold the government of the day to account. And yet, in spite of Canada’s published policy on Isreal and Palestine, we have Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government policy to be indistinguishable from Mr. Harper’s Conservative Government. Compounding matters, the NDP under Tom Mulcair seems to have the very same policy objectives.
Unlike these three parties, the Green Party of Canada has taken a different view. A view in tune with Canada’s published policy and with International Law.
The Green Party of Canada adopted the Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution at its August 2016 Policy Convention. In December a more comprehensive consensus resolution was put forward by the GPC Shadow Cabinet and adopted by a strong majority (85%) at a Special General meeting in Calgary. Assuming this resolution is ratified, it will replace the August resolution; if not, the original will stand as GPC policy.
President elect Donald Trump was less than pleased; perhaps he expects to be able to overturn the resolution after his inauguration. (It doesn’t work that way.) And it seems former Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to oppose the established Canadian policy of conforming to International Law, and actually tweeted in support of the American President Elect.
My hope for the new year is a proper peace between Israel and Palestine.
The resolution adopted this afternoon is pro-Israel in the deepest sense of the term, supporting Israel’s existence and security, and standing against those who would sacrifice both at the altar of settlements, for an ideological, expansionist agenda.
This resolution reiterates international consensus, grounded in previous Security Council resolutions and international law, dating back nearly five decades, regarding the illegitimacy of settlements and rejecting settlement-related policies of successive Israeli governments.
APN commends the Obama Administration’s decision to stand with all past U.S. president since 1967 in maintaining U.S. opposition to settlements, and to reaffirm longstanding U.S. positioning and language in the Security Council on this issue.
“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.”
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
Our 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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.)
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 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.”
Highly 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.“
“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: