Proportional Representation vs Alternative Vote Debate in Kitchener

PR v AV poster

What’s the difference between a Proportional Representation voting system and Alternative Vote?

If you’re in or near enough to Waterloo Region and can make it out to Kitchener City Hall tonight (that’s Thursday night), you’ll have a chance to find out from the experts when Waterloo city councillor (and former NDP candidate) Diane Freeman moderates a panel discussion between WLU’s Associate Professor of Political Science, Barry Kay and York University’s Associate Professor of Political Science, Dennis Pilon.

Barry Kay and Dennis Pilon will be talking about representative democracy and electoral reform, with special emphasis on the winner-take-all electoral system Alternative Vote (known variously as Instant Runoff Voting/Preferential Voting/ranked voting) and the many different ways in which Proportional Representation will be achieved.

Alternative Vote is the electoral system the Liberal Party of Canada voted to support at the party’s 2012 Convention.  But the issue was revisited at the party’s next convention, when Liberal Policy Resolution 31 was passed.  This formed the basis ~ almost word for word ~ for the Liberal campaign promise.

In resolution 31, Alternative Vote was referred to as “a preferential ballot,” and as “ranked ballots” in the campaign promise.   And we know that this is the electoral system Prime Minister Justin Trudeau favours, and has been championed by his advisor Robert Asselin of the Liberal think-tank Canada 2020.

But Alternative Vote isn’t a system the results in Proportional Representation.  It’s another winner-take-all voting system, very much like the First Past The Post winner-take-all system we use now.  I see no value in switching from one winner-take-all system to another.

But maybe I’m wrong.  Perhaps Mr. Kay will enlighten me tonight.

After the talk there will be an audience Q & A, and who better to answer you questions than experts of this calibre.

I hope to see you there!

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Robocalls: The Movie

The movie trailer you have just seen ^ is for what looks to be a stunning Canadian documentary:

Election Day In Canada: The Rise of Voter Suppression

Documentary film maker Peter Smoczynski is on a road trip to promote and incidentally raise funds to complete this film in time for it to bee seen by as many Canadians as possible before the 2015 election.

Are you concerned about Canada’s democratic deficit?  if so, come to the Boardroom in the city of Waterloo’s historic Huether Hotel
come on out and meet the filmmaker:
TONIGHT
May 21st, 2015
at 7:00pm

Fair Vote Canada WRC asks: Is Voter Suppression Here To Stay?  

Jim Harris at the Duke of Wellington
Jim Harris spoke about the Robocalls scandal to a Fair Vote Canada WRC gathering at the Duke of Wellington, on January 14th, 2013
Jim Harris
Jim Harris in Waterloo

Fair Vote Canada WRC hosted a Robocalls talk with Jim Harris in January 2013.

This year Fair Vote Canada Guelph hosted a Robocalls Town Hall where people reported on the “resolution” of this issue.

And yet the Federal Government response has been to pass the unfair “Fair Elections Act” which ultimately makes it easier to commit electoral fraud with impunity.

What is amazing to me is the deafening silence about this topic in the mainstream media.

I wonder how much that has to do with the vast sums of advertising dollars pouring in their coffers in an election year.

If not for the internet, in the form of blogs like the one in which Jim Harris helped break the Robocalls Scandal, alongside alternate media and social media that have helped inform Canadians, most of us would have no clue this had even happened.

Robocalls Town Hall in Guelph
FVC Guelph Robocalls Town Hall

And those who did know something about this egregious case of voter suppression would suffer under the mistaken belief that it only happened in Guelph and that Michael Sona was the only one involved

If you care about the future of democracy in Canada, please start talking about politics with your friends and neighbors.

Especially if you are reasonably sure they don’t vote.

Or even worse, if they do vote, but make all their decisions based on the information fed to them by the “mainstream.”

And if you’ve a few bucks to spare, perhaps you’ll kick in to support this very important documentary.  And help share this message on your social media.

Follow @EDayFilm on Twitter.

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A Party of One

"Party of One" by Michael Harris on the table with penelists Jason Blokhuis and Susan Watson at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall, 2015
“Party of One” by Michael Harris rests on the table with panelists Jason Blokhuis and Susan Watson at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall, 2015

Fair Vote Canada’s Waterloo Region Chapter and Wordsworth Books welcome maverick political journalist Michael Harris to Waterloo Region on April 18th, 2015.

Mr. Harris will be speaking to what will certainly be a sold out crowd at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener.  There weren’t many tickets left when I took a peek at the Eventbright site yesterday, so if you want to go, you’d best book yours before they are all gone.  Tickets are free but required to keep attendance within the seating limitation of the venue.

I have not yet read the book, but it came highly recommended by the panel at the Guelph Robocalls Town Hall.   I’ll be picking up my copy from one of the event sponsors, Wordsworth Books next time I’m uptown.

Michael Harris Party of One
Fair Vote Canada and WordsWorth Books
Saturday, 18 April 2015
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM (EDT)

How Voting Systems Work

Elections Canada Ballot Box at EDSS

I plan to attend this lecture today even though I’m something of a mathphobe, since the point of the Bridges Lectures is to demystify math to make it accessible to arts folks like myself.

[reblogged from Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter]

Hi Waterloo Fair Voters: This coming Friday, 27 February 2015 there’s an interesting lecture on “Mathematics and Democracy” at the University of Waterloo that may interest some of you.

Sometimes I get carried away, and pay more attention to the mechanics of voting systems than the political change we’re trying to effect. I think this lecture will satisfy that craving!

Please note that this is NOT a Fair Vote event.

Here’s the blurb from the University of Waterloo website:

Bridges Lecture – Mathematics and Democracy

Friday, February 27, 2015 – 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Bridges lectures aim to overcome the gap between Mathematics and the Arts. Join Steven J. Brams (Politics) and D. Marc Kilgour (Math) for “Mathematics and Democracy.”

A multitude of election systems have been proposed for choosing both single winners (for mayor, governor, or president) or multiple winners (to a council or committee). Those based on approval voting, which allows voters to vote for more than one candidate or party, are especially appealing. We look at the mathematics behind these systems, and how well they satisfy properties considered important in a democracy. We also analyze the usage of approval voting in electing, among other officials, Catholic popes and UN secretaries general. More recently, approval voting has been adopted by several major professional societies to elect their presidents and advisory councils. Based on this experience, we offer several recommendations for the use of approval voting in public elections.

Steven J. Brams is Professor of Politics at New York University and the author, co-author, or co-editor of 18 books and about 300 articles. His most recent book is Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds (MIT, 2011).

Brams has applied game theory and social-choice theory to voting and elections, bargaining and fairness, international relations, and the Bible, theology, and literature. He is a former president of the Peace Science Society (1990-91) and of the Public Choice Society (2004-2006). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1986), a Guggenheim Fellow (1986-87), and was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (1998-99).

Affiliation: Department of Politics, NYU

D. Marc Kilgour is Professor of Mathematics at Wilfrid Laurier University, Research Director: Conflict Analysis for the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, and Adjunct Professor of Systems Design Engineering at University of Waterloo. His publications include 6 books and nearly 400 articles in journals, conference proceedings, and edited books.

Kilgour’s research lies at the intersection of mathematics, engineering, and social science. He has contributed in arms control, environmental management, negotiation, arbitration, voting, fair division, and coalition formation, and pioneered decision support systems for strategic conflict. President of the Peace Science Society in 2012-13, he is now President of the INFORMS Section on Group Decision and Negotiation.

Affiliation: Department of Mathematics, Wilfrid Laurier

Everyone is welcome to this free public lecture, followed by a reception. Free parking will be available at St. Paul’s. Host

St. Jerome’s University Event website Bridges Lecture- Mathematics and Democracy Cost

Free Location

STJ – St. Jerome’s University Siegfried Hall 290 Westmount Road North Waterloo, ON N2L 3G3 Canada

More info: Bridges Lecture – Mathematics and Democracy: http://sju.ca/news-events/public-events/bridges-lecture-series/mathematics-and-democracy

Ballot Box and Voting Booths at EDSS
High Schools employ props like these official Elections Canada voting booths and ballot box in mock elections to teach our young people about our electoral system.  As it turns out, young people aren’t the only ones who need to learn more about the way politics work in Canada. This photograph was taken in a history classroom at Elmira District Secondary School’s 75th Anniversary reunion last year.

Conservative MP presents Proportional Representation petition

Fair Vote Canada LogoThe Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter presented the Proportional Representation Petition to Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth last month.

Yesterday, on December 9th, 2013, the Conservative MP raised eyebrows on Parliament Hill when he presented the Proportional Representation petition to Parliament.

Fair Electoral Representation: Petition to the House of Commons

A petition to ensure Canadians have a fair electoral system

Whereas:

  • Our winner-take-all voting system results in a House of Commons where the number of MPs a party’s supporters elect does not reflect the number of voters who cast ballots for that party;
  • Fair voting systems better reflect the will of voters, let them vote for the candidate or party they prefer, and give each community fair and accountable representation.

We, the undersigned residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to immediately undertake public onsultations across Canada to amend the
Canada Elections Act to ensure voters:

  • Can cast an equal and effective vote to be represented fairly in parliament, regardless of political belief or place of residence;
  • Are governed by a fairly elected parliament where the share of seats held by each political party closely reflects the popular vote;
  • Live under legitimate laws approved by a majority of elected parliamentarians, representing a majority of voters;

And to introduce a suitable form of proportional representation after these public consultations.

Fair Vote Canada printable petition PDF

MP Stephen Woodworth
Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth

When the Fair Vote chapter presented the petition to the Conservative MP, Stephen Woodworth spent the better part of an hour discussing the issue with them. During that conversation, he made a commitment to look into it further and to present it to Parliament. And so he did.

YouTube: Proportional Representation
MP Stephen Woodworth meets FVC Waterloo #1

YouTube: Proportional Representation
MP Stephen Woodworth meets FVC Waterloo #2

If you believe the votes of all Canadians should count, you can find out more about meaningful electoral reform from your local Fair Vote Canada chapter or action group. If there isn’t one nearby, you can start your own, or simply print your own petition to present to your own MP.

If you do, don’t forget to let me know so I can blog about it 🙂

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Democracy Week 2013 Continues

25,000 signatures!

Fair Vote Canada Executive Director Anita Nickerson addresses the crowd in Waterloo Public Square on Monday
Fair Vote Canada Executive Director Anita Nickerson addresses the crowd in Waterloo Public Square on Monday

On September 16th 2013, Fair Vote Canada‘s “Declaration of Voter’s Rights” reached 25,000 signatures!

Fair Vote Canada will be holding a press conference and campaign launch event on Parliament Hill on Thursday, where Executive Director Anita Nickerson will proudly display a giant copy of the Declaration this Thursday ~ September 19th, 2013 ~ on Parliament Hill. Standing alongside FVC will be NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, Stephane Dion (former Liberal Leader), Georges Laraque, Joyce Murray, Paul Dewar, Leadnow, Greenpeace and more! They hope to reach 100,000 signatures by 2015!

Watch the video at Craig Scott on the Principle of Electoral Reform

(editor’s note: I originally had the video embedded, but it was doing weird things so I removed it after the fact,)

My parents were born and raised in Canada, yet they couldn't vote till after WWII because they were of Japanese extraction, so I value the right to vote. I have voted in every federal election since I reached adulthood and have never voted for the party that formed the government. We desperately need Proportional Representation so that a diversity of values and perspectives may be elected." ~David Suzuki
“We desperately need Proportional Representation so that a diversity of values and perspectives may be elected.” ~ David Suzuki

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals for Fair Vote Canada Members

Anita Nickerson
Anita Nickerson

Yesterday long-time advocate of political participation Anita Nickerson was presented with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at the Cooperate for Canada concert in Waterloo. Anita was recognized for her work with Fair Vote Canada locally and nationally to achieve proportional representation. The medal was presented by Narine Sookram, a well-known community activist and Caribbean community leader, himself a recipient of Waterloo’s top civic honour, the Waterloo Award in 2012.

If anyone deserves such recognition, it is Anita.

Anita has been the driving force behind Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter initiatives like ParticipateNuclear Energy Debate, The People’s Summit on Democracy, Democracy Week, Movie Nights, and many other events I’ve attended over the last few years.

I’m certainly not the only Canadian to have learned a thing or two from Anita’s unflagging efforts to educate and inform Canadians about electoral reform. In addition to the debates, discussions and film and information nights she’s helped present to the public to further the cause of democracy and proportional representation in Canada, Anita developed and presents an information program on democracy for students in Ontario schools. The amount and the calibre of Anita’s work never ceases to amaze me.

Fair Voting elects more women naturally Button

One wasn’t enough . . .

A second Fair Vote National Council member, Margaret Hoff, has also been honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal  medal for her work on women’s issues and electoral reform in London, Ontario.

Such awards are a tangible governmental acknowledgement of the importance and legitimacy of the issue of electoral reform.  Awarding two awards to FVC National Council members confers a measure of “establishment” credibility on the grassroots Fair Vote Canada organization.  Bravo!

So many people labor long and hard to make the world a better place, neither expecting nor receiving kudos or even acknowledgement for their efforts.   Which makes it especially nice when good people like Anita Nickerson and Margaret Hoff are recognized for the good work they do to benefit the rest of us.

Congratulations to them both.