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
The Dominion
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
CBC
CTV
Globe and Mail
The Hill Times
National Post
Toronto Star

News Directories
enewspaper Canada list
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!

PEI picks Proportional Representation

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

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

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

Eligible Electors 102,464

Voter Turnout 36.46%

Elections Prince Edward Island Plebiscite Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Image Credit:

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

 

FVC: Consultations Provide Strong Mandate for Proportional Representation #ERRE

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!

#ERRE Submission by John Filliter

canadians-have-their-say

Submission to ERRE, the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform
by John Filliter, Private Citizen
Friday, October 7th, 2016
at Fredericton, New Brunswick

The following are my views alone. They generally should be regarded as arguments and opinions rather than assertions of fact.

To review a bit of legal context, political theory and the history of Canada’s electoral system:

Sections 40 and 41 of the Constitution Act, 1867 both begin “until the Parliament of Canada otherwise provides”. Section 40 deals with division of the original provinces joining Confederation into Electoral Districts. In the past, there were some multi-member ridings, for example. Section 41 continued existing election laws in the four provinces, including qualifications and disqualifications of candidates and voters, and proceedings at elections. The suffrage has been extended to include women, for instance. So it appears that Parliament (i.e., the Governor General, the Senate and the House of Commons under Section 17 of the Act) has the authority to reform proceedings at elections, etc. This is likely to be subject to court challenges, of course.

One provision which might prove problematic is Section 52, which states that Parliament may increase the number of MPs as long as this does not disturb the proportionate representation of provinces prescribed by the Act.

Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

Section 3 of the Charter describes the first of our Democratic Rights to be the right of every citizen of Canada to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons … . Section 15(1) of the Charter provides that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination
(My italics)

Equal benefit of the right to vote implies that the votes of all Canadians should carry equal weight, subject to Section 51A guaranteeing all provinces at least as many MPs as they have Senators.

One glaring problem that can be seen in the 2015 election results is the share of seats that was generated by the number of votes cast for parties, namely:
Liberals - 6,930,136 Votes - 39.466% 184 54.43% Conservatives - 5,600,496 Votes - 31.894% - 99 seats - 29.28% New Democrats 3,461,262 Votes - 19.711% - 44 seats -13.01% Bloc Quebecois 818,652 - Votes - 4.662% - 10 seats - 2.95% Green Party 605,864 Votes - 3.450% - 1 seat - .29%

First Past the Post (FPTP) clearly did not translate votes into seats accurately; rather it produced a False Majority.

When Canada inherited FPTP from Great Britain in 1867, it worked reasonably well because there were only two significant parties at the time. Before 1921, there were 13 Majorities, 11 True and 2 False. (A “true” majority means one where the victorious party won over 50% of the votes.)

In 1896, Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals won a majority of 118 seats with only 45.1% of the popular vote compared with Charles Tupper’s Conservatives and Liberal/Conservatives who took 46.3%. Tupper won 416,640 votes to Laurier’s 405,506! This was our first federal election “stolen by the system”.

Since 1921, Canada has had a Multi-Party System featuring at least three substantial parties contesting each election. During that 95-year period, we have elected 18 Majorities (4 True, 14 False) and 11 Minorities, and 4 more elections were stolen by the system (1926, 1957, 1962 and 1979). The only True Majorities since 1921 have been in 1940, 1949, 1958 and 1984.

FPTP has produced some other serious distortions of the votes of Canadians. Consider 1993, for example, when Jean Chretien won 177 seats with 41.32% of the vote. The Bloc Quebecois formed the Official Opposition with 54 seats, but only 13.50% of the vote. The Reform Party came third with 52 seats based on 18.72% of the vote. The NDP won 9 seats with 6.87% and the PCs were last with only 2 seats but 15.99% of the popular vote!

The 1993 results demonstrate the danger of regional divisions that can be caused by FPTP, not to mention the undermining of national unity. It is not healthy for democracy to have parties shut out of provincial or regional seats because of FPTP.

Democracy is defined as “a system of government by the whole population, usually through elected representatives”. The first Canadian colony to be granted Representative Government was Nova Scotia in 1758, though in reality the ‘family compact’ continued to govern for another 90 years. In 1848 Nova Scotia became the first province to be granted Responsible Government.

What is the role of an electoral system? It should translate the votes cast across the country into seats that reflect the proportion of votes each party received, not distort the election results to produce a majority government. If the people vote for a minority government, that is what the system should give them. The current system is a broken one that has been antiquated for 95 years. It needs to be replaced. Now. FPTP often does not truly represent how the people voted. This is neither democratic nor fair.

Is there any way of correcting this problem?

There are basically two types of electoral systems – Majoritarian and Proportional Representation (PR) ones – plus combinations of the two.

Majoritarian Systems are winner-take-all systems designed to come up with a winner by fabricating a majority, if possible; they do not support majority rule per se, rather assist a party to attain a majority by such gimmicks as having seats solely determined at the local level, dropping candidates off the ballot and redistributing their votes, holding run-off elections, etc.

PR systems are designed to allocate seats to the parties based on their share of the votes cast in a general election.

Canada must adopt some form of PR if we are to enjoy real democracy in the one elected arm of Parliament.

There are many forms of PR systems in use around the world – a majority of democratic countries and over 80% of OECD countries use some form of PR, including Germany, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, most European and Latin American countries. Canada is one of only three major developed democracies that don’t use it.

This Committee is best qualified to choose the form and features of PR that would be most appropriate for Canada, which faces some unique geographical and demographic challenges.

My preferences include a Mixed Member Proportional system with:

(a) provinces divided into Regional seat groupings comprised of up to 12 or so existing seats; a province with 12 or fewer seats would comprise one Region;

(b) these seats being divided into Local MPs and Regional MPs almost equally;

(c) electors voting for a Local MP, party and/or up to the maximum number of Regional MPs to be elected;

(d) voting by Open List ballots under which electors could split their Regional MP votes among candidates from different parties if they wish, or simply vote for an entire “party ticket”;

(e) parties being awarded Regional MPs based on their share of the provincial popular vote, to the extent of under-representation in seats won by Local MPs;

(f) a party’s candidate(s) who received the highest number of votes but weren’t elected as Local MPs becoming its Regional MP(s);

(g) if after provincial PR was calculated, there remained some national dis-proportionate representation, parties still under-represented in seats would be awarded Nationally Guaranteed Seats provided that they garnered at least 4% of the valid votes cast nationally and they contested at least 95% of the ridings.

(h) Under-represented parties that qualify should be entitled to 3.38 seats for every full percentage point of the national vote that they win, minus any partial seat and any Elected MPs. They would have to select their MPs for Nationally Guaranteed Seats in a manner that would maintain proportional representation of provinces.

(i) candidates would continue to be elected by a plurality: plurality winners are as legitimate as those who might pass them as preferred second or third choice candidates.

(j) If the Committee or the House takes the view that Local MPs should be elected by a majority rather than a plurality, ranked or preferential ballots should be used. (Run-off systems take too long and cost too much.) However, rather than counting only second choice ballots of the lowest candidate, all ballots should be considered when second (third, fourth) choices are counted. Why should second choices of only voters who supported the least popular candidate be counted? Every ballot should be treated equally. Moreover, when second and succeeding choices are counted, they should be weighted by dividing by the number of the round. (Second choice ballots by 2, third by 3, and so on.) The original number for a majority should be maintained. (The same logic would apply if Single Transferable Vote were adopted: all second choice votes of a candidate who attains the quota should be counted, not just the votes remaining when the quota is achieved.)

(k) The ballot should give voters an option to vote for “None of the above candidates”, especially if mandatory voting is adopted. Voting is supposed to be secret and in our last provincial election, some voters were asked whether they intended to spoil their ballots when the voting machines indicated that they hadn’t voted for anybody.

To address the Guiding Principles that the House of Commons has identified for consideration:

PR would restore the Effectiveness and Legitimacy of voting because the system respects and reflects how electors actually voted. It would reduce the distortions between the percentage of popular vote a party receives and its share of the seats. The electoral result would closely mirror voter intention and should bolster public confidence in the system.

PR would promote greater Engagement and Participation in the democratic process because electors would see that their votes had a much greater chance of being effectual in electing MPs or party. Under-represented groups would be encouraged to participate in the process if they believed this would give them some influence. This would probably reduce some of the apathy, cynicism and alienation that results from a system which distorts how citizens voted. Studies have shown that PR tends to increase voter turn-out by 7 to 8%, improve civility and collaboration among opposing politicians, and reduce regional divisions.

Accessibility and Inclusiveness of all eligible voters: under PR a greater diversity of views and minority groups are usually represented. There should be simultaneous initiatives to make voting easier for electors who face accessibility challenges of any kind, including physical, visual, intellectual and regulatory ones. Elections Canada should work with ethnic groups across the country to produce videos explaining how to vote in every language and dialect, and these should be available online. Civics courses and kits should be provided by the government. Documentation requirements to establish identity and residence should be relaxed and optional Canadian Voting Cards considered. The more citizens participate, the stronger our democracy is.

Online and Electronic Voting may make voting easier and more accessible but I have serious reservations about them. This may be because of my ignor-ance of modern technology but I wouldn’t entrust elections to it. I have con-cerns that foreign hackers could alter the outcome of our elections and we might not even realize it. If foreign hackers can get into the databases of some of our largest government departments, how can the security of our elections be guaranteed? Within the last two months Australia’s online voting plan was derailed by a DDOS attack. A computer programmer testified before a U.S. Congressional Committee that he had coded computers to rig elections. There are also issues about establishing the identity of who cast a vote online, or whether undue influence was exercised over a voter, or a vote was “sold”.

Most importantly, just as justice must be seen to be done, so too ballots need to be seen by scrutineers of the parties to verify that they aren’t spoiled, fake, awarded to the wrong candidates, or counted incorrectly. In short, these proposed innovations are at best premature.

With regard to Mandatory Voting: forcing citizens to vote against their will is a bad idea. Some may object for religious reasons; some may not feel informed enough on the issues or candidates; some may face serious access-ibility, time, literacy or financial challenges. Those who do vote under duress may just vote for the first candidate(s) on the list, which could skewer results.

Lowering the Voting Age to 16 might lead to higher voting by a younger cohort in the future, especially if accompanied by classroom civics training on how to vote and discussion of issues. However, lowering the voting age in the past did not lead to a spike in voter turn-out.

With regard to avoiding undue complexity in the voting process, while PR presents voters with more choices, I don’t think it involves “undue complexity”. Choosing a party in addition to a Local MP candidate is hardly a daunting task; in fact, many if not most MPs are probably already elected on the basis of their party affiliation. Choosing among candidates from other parts of a Region would present more difficulty because voters would be more familiar with closer candidates; for those not comfortable with investigating candidates from distant communities, there should be the option to simply vote the “party ticket”. If citizens of over 90 countries have learned to use PR, I am confident that Canadians can do so too.

With regard to Safeguarding the Integrity of the voting process, PR would ensure that the will of the people, as reflected by their votes, is respected. If online or electronic voting were implemented in conjunction with PR, however, the integrity of the voting process might not be secure.

PR would preserve the Accountability of Local Representation similarly to under FPTP: if a Local MP does not serve up to voters’ expectations, he or she can be defeated at the next election. Moreover, if a party’s Regional MPs do not perform well, the party too may pay the price at the ensuing election. 7
Regional MPs provide a choice of representatives for voters too, which would provide Local MPs with some “competition” which might improve their performance. It is true that Local MPs would be expected to serve an area double their old riding, which would probably result in more communication by technological means, but this would not likely lessen accountability. Local MPs would also have about twice the number of constituents to serve; how- ever there would be Regional MPs to share the workload. Some Regional MPs might develop expertise in dealing with particular problems and referrals from Local MPs could be made to those specializing in a field of service.

Summary of Recommendations

I recommend replacing FPTP with a Mixed Member PR system featuring:

(a) Regional seat groupings comprised of up to 12 or so existing seats;

(b) these seats being divided equally between Local MPs and Regional MPs;

(c) electors voting for a Local MP, party and/or up to the maximum number of
Regional MPs to be elected;

(d) voting by Open List ballots under which electors could split their Regional
MP votes among candidates from different parties if they wish, or simply
vote for an entire “party ticket”;

(e) awarding parties Regional MPs based on their share of the provincial
popular vote, if under-represented in seats won by their Local MPs;

(f) a party’s candidates who received the highest number of votes but weren’t
elected as Local MPs becoming its Regional MPs;

(g) if after provincial PR was calculated, there remained some national dis-
proportionate representation, parties still under-represented in seats being
awarded Nationally Guaranteed Seats provided that they garnered at least
4% of the valid votes cast nationally and they contested at least 95% of the
national ridings;

(h) under-represented parties that qualify being entitled to 3.38 seats for each
full percentage point of the national vote that they win, minus any partial
seat and any Elected MPs. Also, they would have to select their MPs for
Nationally Guaranteed Seats in a manner that would maintain proportional
representation of provinces;

(i) candidates continuing to be elected by a plurality;

(j) If the Committee or the House takes the view that Local MPs should be
elected by a majority rather than a plurality, ranked or preferential ballots
should be used. However, rather than counting only second choice ballots
of a lowest candidate, all ballots should be considered when second (third,
fourth) choices are counted. Moreover, when second and succeeding
choices are counted, they should be weighted by dividing by the number
of the round. (Second choice ballots by 2, third by 3, and so on.) The
same number for a majority should be maintained in subsequent rounds.

(k) Ballots should provide a “None of the above candidates” option.

Elections Canada should produce videos on how to vote in every language and dialect and make them available online.

The federal government should provide civics courses and kits for citizens.

Elections Canada should relax the documentation requirements to prove identity and residency, and possibly issue optional Voter ID Cards.

Lowering the voting age to 16 might get cohorts of younger voters engaged in voting in the future but probably wouldn’t create any spike in voter turn-out.

Conclusion

To butcher a famous quote from JFK, “Ask not what electoral reform can do for your party; ask instead what electoral reform can do for your country.”

We Canadians have a glorious opportunity to move our electoral system from the 19th century into the 21st and to achieve a far more democratic, egalitarian, equitable, sensible and honest one. Let’s make the most possible votes count, and give electors what they voted for.

Respectfully submitted,

John Filliter

ilmstrip-parliament

#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