Whoa!Canada

laurel l. russwurm's political musings

Posts Tagged ‘Canada

#ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!

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

Submissions to the ERRE Consultation *must* be in before midnight tonight.

Participate in electoral reform consultations

Even if I didn’t have a lot to say, I’ve had a look at the questionaire, and I don’t like it much because the instructions about the electoral system questions are unclear. (If you “disagree” with the correct discription of an electoral system, does it mean you don’t approve of that system or does it mean you don’t want that system?)  The worst part is that people can’t just skip those; everything on every page must be answered in order to submit.  Not good.

A “brief” may sound daunting, what it really is is a way for Canadians to tell them what we think.  It can be a scholarly essay if you like, or it can just be a single line that says you want Proportional Representation.  I can tell you just saying “I want Canada to adopt Proportional Representation” will be incredibly  important; they will be crunching numbers.  If 90% of the submissions say they want PR, we might just get it.

If you wish to say a little bit more, the actual election promise was,

We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.

— We will make every vote count

You can also offer opinions on other things, like lowering the voting age to increase voter engagement, restoring the per vote subsidy and limiting election spending.

The committee mandate is to find out what Canadians want, starting with the five principles:

  1. Effectiveness and legitimacy
  2. Engagement
  3. Accessibility and inclusiveness
  4. Integrity
  5. Local representation

We don’t need to choose a specific electoral system; in fact, the best possible outcome would be for the committee to recommend a type of Proportional Representation, Mixed Member Proportional or Single Transferable Vote, and then direct Elections Canada to convene a panel of experts to work out details to best conform to the mandate.

You can check out my PR4Canada resources page (listed in the sidebar):
https://whoacanada.wordpress.com/pr-4-canada-resources/
or
Fair Vote Waterloo’s
http://www.fairvotewrc.ca/resources/
for more information.

This is our chance to be heard.  Speak up!

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

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

Take The Poll ~ #ERRE #Q

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back to #ERRE #Q Meetings & TranscriptsAhead to laurel l. russwurm's political musings PROPORTIONALITY #ERRE #QCanadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag backgroundThis is the fifteenth article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

Twitter Poll

Although I don’t think public opinion polls should decide elections, public opinion polls can be a useful way of gathering information.

My public opinion poll is not scientific.  One of the biggest drawbacks of public opinion polls is that there is no obligation to answer truthfully.  And for self-selecting public opinion polls like this one, the people who answer are probably the ones who follow me on twitter because they agree with me.

Still, I am curious about what the people I talk to in social media actually think about this.  And I am curious what the people they talk to on social media might think.  That’s why I have launched the above twitter poll.  Maybe my friends in the twitterverse will vote in my poll, and share with their friends to bring the question to a wider pool of voters.  If you are not on Twitter but have friends who are, if you send them a link to this article or the twitter post, maybe they will vote too.

Electoral reform shouldn’t be for the benefit of parties, it should be for the benefit of citizens.

I have set my public opinion poll to run for a week, and pinned it to the top of my twitter feed.  If this gets traction, I will publish the results here after my public opinion poll concludes.

side by side 2011 and 2015 election results showing 39% seats = 100% of the power

Should 39% of the Vote = 100% of the power?

back to #ERRE #Q Meetings & Transcripts

Ahead to PROPORTIONALITY #ERRE #QProportional Representation Series So Far:

• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRE #Q Committee
• #ERRE #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRE #Q
Proportionality #ERRE #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRE
• #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday) 
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!

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

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

August 18, 2016 at 11:00 am

2 minutes on the TPP

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This is a guest post by Verna Brunet, an ordinary Canadian with serious concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


TPP Rally in Ottawa cc by SumOfUs
Yesterday I went to Windsor, Ontario to join the protest against the TPP outside the hotel where the Trudeau Liberal government was holding consultations on this treasonous trade agreement.

My sign read:

TPP is Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a corruption of Democracy

I was told that we could speak to the government for maximum 2 minutes between 2pm and 3pm, if we signed up.

The problem with me has never been how to get me to shoot off my mouth. The usual issue is how in the world to shut me up once I get started.

Didn’t have anything prepared. Had to scramble some notes.

Here’s what I said:

The people of Canada elected your party to administer our DEMOCRACY.
The TPP destroys our democracy, replacing it with OLIGARCHY.
We the people have never given you the authority to do that.
The TPP makes the Trudeau Liberals, like the Harper Conservatives before them, a rogue government.

Secret ISDS courts are a swift kick I’m the face of
Democracy
and a sucker punch to the gut of
Justice

The only right protected by this sickening trade agreement is the insane, irrational right of millionaires to make a profit.

We elected you to govern in a manner that protects our economic rights.
Instead you have sold our economic rights to the elite 1%.
You are a rogue government.

The TPP allows the pathologically greedy millionaires to erase the last shreds of our cherished and democratic environmental protection laws.

These are the same environmental laws we elected you to protect and enforce.

With these toxic trade agreements you have become a rogue government like the Harper Conservative government before you.

The TPP allows pathologically greedy millionaires to erase the last frail shreds of our civil rights — the same rights we elected you to restore.

You have betrayed us.
You are a rogue government.

You campaigned on CHANGE
You have failed to change:
the TPP
the ISDS courts.

As a Democratic government you are a failure.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves
Image Credit
TPP rally. Ottawa, Canada, June 10 2014 by SumOfUs was released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 13, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Stability

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Why Don’t We Have PR Already?Why No Referendum?Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag backgroundThis is the seventh in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

First Past The Post (FPTP)

Although democracy seems like the best form of political system for citizens, there are different ways to go about it, and as with most things, some are more effective than others. England bestowed our single member plurality winner-take-all electoral system on our young nation in our very first Canadian federal election in 1867, and we’ve been using this First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system ever since.  Canada has seen a lot of innovation since then — from automobiles through air travel to space exploration.  Our lives have changed and improved in a wide variety of ways: indoor plumbing, universal health care, the internet — most things have improved and modernized… but not our electoral system.

Like many Canadians I have come to understand the serious democratic deficit inherent in our 18th century voting system, but I’ve had an opportunity to learn about the alternatives over the past few years. As I’ve mentioned before, I hear many of the same arguments against Proportional Representation used over and over again. One of the most pervasive arguments is the one that insists if we switch to a Proportional system it will necessarily be unstable and have to suffer many more elections than we do now.

So let’s compare the Canadian record of elections with countries that use some form of Proportional Representation.

List PR (Proportional Representation)

Spain adopted List PR in 1977. Between then and now, Spain has had 12 elections, in 1977, 1979, 1982, 1986, 1989, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2015. During the same time period, Canada also had 12 elections: in 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006,2008, 2011, 2015.

Canada v Spain - electoral stability

That doesn’t sound any more unstable than FPTP.  How can that be?  Maybe we need a larger sample… so let’s look at countries that have been using Proportional Representation longer.

Italy started using List PR in 1945, and since that time they have had 18 general elections, in 1946, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2008, and 2013

Israel also adopted Proportional Representation in 1945, and since then they’ve had 20 elections in 1949, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1965, 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2015

That’s a lot of elections! We wouldn’t want to be running to the polls that often here in Canada, right?

Except… in that same period of time, with our “stable” First Past The Post system, Canada has had even more elections — a whopping 23 since 1945, in 1945, 1949, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2015

The reason I decided to look at Israel, Italy and Spain are because these countries are the ones most often trotted out to “prove” just how bad Proportional Representation is.

But I was still interested in finding a Proportional Representation system that had actually had more elections than Canada.  So next I looked Denmark, a country many Canadians admire because of its’ excellent social safety net. Denmark has used List PR since 1953 (but I’m not sure what they used before that). Since 1945, they have had 25 elections in 1945, 1947, 1950, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2015

Canada-Israel-Italy-Denmark - stability graph

Something else to keep in mind is that all three of these countries use List PR, which I’m pretty sure is the oldest form of Proportional Representation– and certainly the most commonly used. The thing that is important to understand is that List PR is one form of Proportional system that nobody is recommending for Canada.

So maybe we ought to  take a peek at the proportional systems that are recommended for Canada, in countries that have a little more in common with us.

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)

After List PR, Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) is the most common form of Proportional Representation used at the national level around the world, so it’s not surprising to learn that MMP is the system most often recommended for Canada.

New Zealand replaced their First Past The Post electoral system with Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) in 1996, and since then they have had just 7 elections, in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 — the same as Canada.

Canada v New Zealand - electoral stability

Using the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system since 1945, Germany has had only 18 elections, in 1949, 1951, 1953, 1957, 1965, 1969, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1990 (reunited), 1994, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2013.

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

The other form of Proportional Representation that has been considered for Canada is the Single Transferable Vote (STV). This system is not as widely used as the others, but it found a lot of favour here in the BC referendum, where more than 58% of BC voters voted to adopt it. As often happens, the government holding the provincial referendum didn’t actually want to change the electoral system that had given it a disproportional amount of power. Their referendum was designed to fail by requiring a super majority of 60% before BC-STV would be adopted. Last night Dennis Pilon remarked on the irony of BC referendum requiring a higher threshold of support to change its provincial electoral system than had been required by the Quebec secession referendum.

Another country considered more politically fractious than Canada is the Republic of Ireland, where they have been using Single Transferable Vote (STV) since 1945. And yet they have had only 20 elections (to Canada’s 22) in 1948, 1951, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1965, 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2011 and 2016

Canada-Germany-Ireland stability graph

Admittedly, I have not made a comprehensive study, but it seems clear Canada’s First Past The Post system is less stable than many Proportional Representation systems.

National Stability with Alternative Vote (AV)

While Canada’s Liberal government has promised to replace our existing electoral system, it has not ruled out adoption of the winner-take-all  Alternative Vote (AV), a voting system also known as “Preferential Voting” (PV), “Instant Runoff Voting” (IRV) and lately “ranked ballot.”

Since 1945 Australia has had 27 elections, in 1945, 1946, 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961, 1963, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2013.

FPTP-AV-stability graph

Overall Election Stability

As we can see, Canada’s winner-take-all First Past The Post system has resulted in more elections than many of the least appealing Proportional Representation systems.

The evidence from Australia — the only country in the world to have used Alternative Vote for any length of time — shows the Alternative Vote system is much more unstable than Canada’s FPTP and indeed every  Proportional Representation voting system I’ve looked at here.

This evidence demonstrates the “instability” argument against Proportional Representation is simply not true, and suggests

stability graph-FPTP-LPR-MMP-STV-AV

any electoral system that provides Proportional Representation is likely to result in *fewer* elections than we are used to with First Past The Post.

 

And if stability is an issue, adopting Australia’s Alternative Vote is far more likely to dramatically increase the number of elections we have.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Why No Referendum?

Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
Proportional Representation For Canada series so far:

• Proportional Representation for Canada
• What’s so bad about First Past The Post
• Democracy Primer
• Working for Democracy
• The Popular Vote
• Why Don’t We Have PR Already?
• Stability
• Why No Referendum?
• Electoral System Roundup
• When Canadians Learn about PR with CGP Grey
• Entitlement
• Proportional Representation vs. Alternative Vote
• #ERRE #Q Committee
• #ERRE #Q Meetings & Transcripts
• Take The Poll ~ #ERRE #Q
Proportionality #ERRE #Q 
• The Poll’s The Thing 
• DIY Electoral Reform Info Sessions
• What WE Can Do for ERRE
• #ERRE today and Gone Tomorrow (…er, Friday) 
• Redistricting Roulette 
• #ERRE submission Deadline TONIGHT!

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

Tom Mulcair on the BDS Motion

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"Let's be clear, the Conservatives are proposing to limit what topics Canadians are allowed to debate. That's not the role of government. This goes against our fundamental freedoms and the NDP will be voting against it." — Tom Mulcair “Let’s be clear, the Conservatives are proposing to limit what topics Canadians are allowed to debate. That’s not the role of government. This goes against our fundamental freedoms and the NDP will be voting against it.”
— Tom Mulcair

Sounds like CBC is waking up ~ read the article Liberals denounce and agree with Tory motion condemning Israel boycotters

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

February 23, 2016 at 10:36 pm

Happy National Flag of Canada Day!

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Canada Flag Banner

Today is Canada’s annual National Flag of Canada Day, first established in 1996.

 

The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion,”

Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate

Our very own Canadian Flag was first adopted in 1966, making it 51 years old this year (2016).
Watch it being raised for the very first time:

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

February 15, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Perspective on the Syrian refugees

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Refugee Perspective Map by Kyle D. Hastings[Guest Post by Kyle D. Hastings, Okanagan College business student]

I made this map to give people perspective on the Syrian refugees.

The purple country is Turkey.
They took in over 2,000,000 Syrian refugees and spent as estimated 4.5 billion USD.

The green country is Jordan.
They took in an estimated 1,400,000 Syrian refugees.

Last but not least, that tiny red dot, that’s Lebanon. Lebanon is the smallest country in continental Asia.
Lebanon took in over 1,100,000 Syrian refugees.

People want to ban Syrian refugees from Canada, saying, 10,500,000 dollars is too much and 25,000 people is too much.

We have a population of 35,160,000 people, in 2014-2015 we had a surplus of 1,900,000,000 dollars.
Our government has yearly expenditures in the 270,000,000,000 range.

Keep telling yourself we can’t help.

People are letting fear of ISIS try to stop us from helping people.

In this world you can never be 100% safe, but the moment we stop looking after each other is the moment we give up on humanity.

Let’s continue to be a diverse country that accepts and helps people.



The foregoing is a reprint of Kyle’s Facebook post, which has received wide circulation as well as being featured on Huffington Post Canada, and the following is Kyle’s response to questions and concerns that have been raised in response to his thoughtful article..

To anyone wondering, I am aware that large parts of Canada are uninhabited, I posted a population density map in my original facebook post.

“Our government spent over 270 billion dollars in 2014-2015.
The entire government plan to help these refugees is pegged at 1.2 billion dollars over six years.
1,200,000,000/6 years= 200,000,000 a year.

“200,000,000/270,000,000,000=.00074.
That’s 0.074% of the governments yearly federal expenditures.

“That’s much less than a tenth of one percent of their yearly expenditures to help victims of war.  I understand that 1.2 billion is a lot but we must keep perspective on the size of our government. I strongly believe we can help less fortunate Canadians and Syrian refugees at the same time, it shouldn’t be one or the other.

“Aside from just economics and space I think it’s the only humane and Canadian thing to do.

“Turning these people away would go against our values.

“Before anyone freaks out about government debt please keep in mind how government debt works and that it is mainly internal debt.
In case anyone is wondering, government debt is money borrowed from the government through issuing securities, generally to the banks of the people.  The banks work on a fractional reserve system which allows them to essentially hold a fraction of their deposits while utilizing the rest to make loans and gain interest. So the government uses these securities to stimulate the economy at lower interest rates and that’s how our economy works as far as I know. Government debt isn’t a totally bad thing and I can’t see the costs of this plan causing any major economical problems. We also have to remember these people are going to assimilate and they might have a lot to contribute to our country.   If I said anything wrong about economics let me know, it wasn’t my major but that’s my understanding of it!

“Also I know that bringing them here is more expensive than sending more money but they’re having a problem of being severely overcrowded, so we should help out!

“The government of Canada has also issued a Syrian Emergency Relief Fund in which they match donations made by Canadians before Dec 31, to a maximum of 100 Million.
I suggest donating to UNCHR, you can get some great tax credits, 15% of your first 200 dollars to eligible charities, 29% of amount over 200 dollars.
If you or your spouse haven’t claimed donations after 2007 you can get the first time donor credit that is an additional flat 25% of your whole donation.
If I messed up on any of those tax credits let me know.

“There are a lot of people saying let’s look after our own before we help anyone else, but who decides when Canadians are looked after properly though? I don’t think with an attitude like its us or them that it would ever happen. The government spends money on many less wise policies than helping the victims of war.”

— Kyle D. Hastings




I agree with Kyle: there is no reason Canada can’t look after our own AND help these victims of war.  

Personally, I think that the Canadian budget for helping Syrian Refugees ought to correspond to the Canadian budget for waging war in the Middle East.  That would only be fair.  — Laurel Russwurm

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

November 28, 2015 at 3:45 pm