The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today after hearing of the fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec:
“It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this evening’s tragic and fatal shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec.
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of all those who have died, and we wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.
“While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, it is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.
“Tonight, we grieve with the people of Ste-Foy and all Canadians.”
This cowardly attack on Canadian soil has generated outrage across the Canadian political spectrum, with even CPC leadership candidates Kellie Leitch and Jason Kenney speaking out against it.
Tonight there are candlight vigils across Canada. These are the few I know of:
But anywhere you have two or more people, you are likely to get two or more opinions. (Which is why Proportional Representation is a necessary part of good democracy.)
Clearly there are people here ~ and there ~ who agree with President Trump’s world view. And just as clearly there are political agendas feeding fear, Isalamaphobia, whatever. The controversial anti-niquab attack ad targeting the NDP the Bloc Québécois’ put up during the 2015 election was only taken down today.
As horrible as this tragedy was, I am heartened by the across the board outrage. But we can’t afford complacency; we need to encourage our Liberal majority government to get on with the necessary work that will make it possible for Canadians to welcome those seeking refuge from persecution, terror and war. Sign the Leadnow Petition: Tell Trudeau: Welcome Those Fleeing Violence and Deportation Under Trump
I am struck again and again by the strife engendered by winner-take-all political systems. When there can be only one winner, everyone needs to win, but most don’t. And we have seen, over and over again, that the easiest way to become the only winner is to play on fear and build up hatred. But that is a dangerous game. It isn’t as easy to turn hatred off.
No where is the us against them polarization more obvious than what we’re seeing south of the border. And frankly, I don’t think any of us want that. When Canada finally adopts some form of Proportional Representation, we won’t be an all or nothing world anymore. Instead of polarization, we’ll be able to work together, to be able to embrace our diversity and tap into our strengths. And then we’ll be able to roll up our sleeves and tackle 21st century problems.
But for now, we’re struggling with the messes of the last century polarization.
In Sainte-Foy, Québec, the victims have all been identified, and the alleged assailants, too. One man has been charged with 6 counts of 1st-degree murder. You can follow the link and find out his name if you like, but I’m not about to repeat his name here. Because here’s the thing… if I ran the zoo, the names of mass murderers would never be said. Instead they’d be assigned a number and locked away securely for the rest of their days. Writing the name would just help make him famous.
Instead, I will name the victims here. I’ll share the names of six innocent men killed by the cancer of hate. Men who didn’t deserve to die; who deserve to be remembered.
Not long ago I joined the local Liberal Party in hopes of making a difference for the 2015 federal election. Over the years I’ve got to know some LPC folks through events like the Electoral Reform debate local MP Candidate Bardish Chagger hosted a few years back.
I made a point of notifying the local Liberal Candidate Nominees and Candidates about last week’s National Day of Action. A week ago today a great many concerned citizens across Canada held more than 70 events to protest the fatally flawed Bill C-51 the Harper Government has been trying to sell as an “anti terrorism” measure.
I was aware of Justin Trudeau’s promised support of Bill C-51 but expected the Liberals to come anyway, maybe to hear the other side so they might make informed choices when the time came to vote, or at least to take the opportunity to explain the Liberal stance to an audience of people who will certainly vote in the next election. So you can imagine my surprise when not a single LPC Candidate showed up at the Kitchener rally. Worse, I heard a rumour that the Liberal Party had ordered its candidates to avoid the Day of Action. I was stunned. I was going to bring the matter up with the local Electoral District Association before making a decision about whether to remain a Party member.
And then I got another ridiculous email from the LPC inviting me to a “Day of Action.” I had previously explained the absurdity of calling a party fund raising or volunteer training or t-shirt designing gathering for the Liberal Youth Movement a “Day of Action” and yet here they are doing it again.
Particularly after ordering Party members to avoid a real Day of Action.
Since the local Liberal Candidates are not allowed to explain the LPC position on Bill C-51, I realized I had to find out just why Mr. Trudeau believes supporting it is a good thing.
Apparently, Justin Trudeau’s primary reasons for supporting C-51 are:
Expanded powers related to preventive arrest which make it easier for police to detain someone, and to hold them in custody without a charge or a warrant for longer
Strengthening of the no-fly list
Increased information sharing between government departments and agencies
“[These] are significant improvements that will keep Canadians safer,” he told the crowd.
That means Canadians would be liable for arrest because we might do something. Think about that, now. What does that mean, exactly? Not because you have done a criminal act, and not because you planned to engage in a criminal act. The laws we have now give law enforcement ample provision to prosecute anyone for crimes committed, and even for crimes that have only been planned, as we know from the prosecution of the VIA Terrorist Plot. Canadian law allows such prosecutions because, when there is a real crime, there is real evidence. Under Bill C-51 you could go to jail because someone thinks you might do something.
I expect most people have been misjudged at least once in our lives. Imagine if someone in law enforcement decided you were a potential terrorist because you attended a Day of Action.
Very few of us have been personally connected with criminal activity; even fewer have had any actual contact with terrorists. So let’s think about this one in more human terms.
Let’s say you are married, and you and your spouse go to a party. As often happens, the two of you end up in different corners socializing with different people. It’s a good party, you’ve had fun, but when you get home you discover your spouse is angry and wants a divorce — because you might have an affair with someone you had an animated conversation with at the party.
Or say you’re in your final year of university. It’s been a tough year, you’ve had to take on a part time job to make ends meet. So your studies have been extra difficult, and your work isn’t up to your usual standards. When it’s time to take the final exam, your professor doesn’t believe you are capable of passing the exam, so she refuses to allow you to take the exam since she thinks you might cheat.
Or maybe you’re going through a messy divorce. Imagine how you might feel if, instead of the shared custody you had been working toward, the judge awards sole custody of your children to the other parent and you are now limited to state supervised visitation twice a month. Because the judge thinks you might take off with the child.
This law won’t make Canadians safer, it will strip us of our Charter Rights. It is unconstitutional.
If you want an idea how these things might play out, you should watch the powerful documentary “The Secret Trial 5.”
The No Fly List
I have to wonder if the No Fly list is constitutional in and of itself. If all it takes is an allegation to abrogate our Charter rights, the Charter doesn’t offer us much protection at all. People used to be innocent until proven guilty.
Increased information sharing between government departments and agencies
Such irresponsible flagrant invasion of privacy is certainly unconstitutional.
I understand Mr. Trudeau might wish to get out from under his famous father’s shadow, but throwing the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms under the bus is not the way to do this.
Politically, Canada is a mess. Our 19th Century inequitable winner-take-all electoral system needs to be brought into the 21st Century. Canada needs Proportional Representation if we are to have a real democracy.
A leadership review vote could be triggered at any time on the receipt of written notice bearing the signatures of at least 15% of the members of caucus. A majority of caucus, voting by secret ballot, would be sufficient to remove the leader, and begin the process of selecting a new one.
membership in caucus would no longer simply be up to the leader to decide.
the riding association, and not the leader, would decide who its nominee was. There would be no leader’s veto.
If this bill does what it purports to do, it will make the Prime Minister accountable to the MPs of the Prime Minister’s Party. It will not make the PM or the party any more directly accountable to citizens (we need Proportional Representation for that) but it is a start.
It would be a first good step towards decentralizing power, Which is, incidentally, a feature of democracy.
MPs should not serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister must serve at the pleasure of our Members of Parliament. When MPs are made to vote the party line, they are representing the party, not their constituents.
Which is why every MP needs to vote for this private member’s bill.
Any MP who does not vote for this will be telling their constituents — and Canada — that they do not want a voice in parliament. The thing is, if they don’t have a voice in parliament for themselves, they certainly can’t speak for any of the people they are supposed to be there to represent.
Most of us don’t understand how our government actually works. Even after taking every history class going when I was in school, I was unaware of what they call “Whipping.” To understand why we need Mr. Chong’s Reform Act, every Canadian should watch Sean Holman‘s excellent documentary Whipped: the secret world of party discipline Documentary that explains how it all works. Although the film looks at the process at the provincial level, the same thing happens federally.
“In Canada, citizens exercise only one franchise, one vote at the federal level: A vote for their local Member of Parliament. And they rightfully expect that their local member be empowered to respond to their views and aspirations,” Chong said.
One of the first supporters of this bill that I heard was Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who likened it to CPR for democracy on a CBC interview last week. Ms. May will be withdrawing her own Private Member’s bill C-503 Democratic Local Nomination Act in favor of Mr. Chongs as it does not go as far as Mr. Chong’s.
But parties are entrenched in our current system and are unlikely to go away any time soon.
So why would I sign up as a Liberal Party of Canada supporter?
I’ve known good people across the spectrum of Canadian Political Parties. The very existence of so many political parties speaks to the fact that a mere two parties is woefully inadequate to the task of representing us.
Canadians are quite a diverse bunch ~ one size does not fit all.
Like many Canadians, I want to see Canada redefined into a real democracy that actually seeks to represent all of us. But the only way to achieve that is through meaningful electoral reform. I think we deserve democracy.
“Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.”
Canadians have been led to believe that the ability to vote our government out of office makes our electoral system democratic. We’re supposed to have a representative democracy, but our electoral system is so unfair our “representatives” are virtually unaccountable.
The majority have learned that casting votes is futile in a system where some votes count more than others, and some count not at all. Since voting is disheartening; it’s hard to get out and vote, knowing the chance of actually being represented is slim to none. In fact, it’s not very democratic at all.
Worse, when we elect a majority government it’s effectively a dictatorship for the length of the term. And like any Winner-Take-All electoral system, ours is adversarial by nature, which guarantees that competition will trump consensus every time.
So candidates win or lose.
And parties win or lose.
But worst of all, citizens win or lose.
That may be a fine way to run a dictatorship, but a democracy? Not at all.
“The idea that someone whom you didn’t vote for, who does not agree with you on the issue you are concerned about can be an effective representative for you is ludicrous. “Representation” is not about removing uncertainty about which phone number to call to report potholes; it is about being connected to someone who shares your politics who can advocate for things you believe in in a legislative context.”
Political parties are the chief beneficiaries of the unfairness in the electoral system that put them in power. It’s no wonder they are unlikely to make a change. As more Canadians have come to understand the unfairness inherent in our electoral system, the support for Proportional Representation has grown. Even though growing numbers of Canadians want to see a change to a more democratic system of Proportional Representation, it hasn’t happened.
If we’re to have any chance of Proportional Representation, it’s important for Canadians to convince Political Parties (and Party Leaders) to support Proportional Representation while they still struggle at a disadvantage.
where will we find electoral reform
The New Democratic Party has long included electoral reform as an important policy plank. Yet there has been no move toward electoral reform since forming a majority government in Nova Scotia, or in Manitoba, where the NDP has formed four consecutive Provincial Governments.
Federally, in 2011 the New Democratic Party became Canada’s Official Opposition Party for the first time in history. While you might think this means adoption of Proportional Representation will naturally follow in the event of a federal win next time, I’m not so sure.
You can see from the party’s recent choice of Party Leader that now it’s all about winning. After reading about the autocratic way Mulcair muzzled NDP MPs, I’m wondering if he was not chosen as the candidate most like Jack Layton, but rather as the one most like Stephen Harper.
Because our adversarial electoral system is all about choosing a boss, the perception is that we need an autocrat, someone capable of running the show, someone comfortable bossing everyone else around. Like a king.
And of course, Winner-Take-All electoral systems favors the ruthless. The man who would be king. Dictator. Führer. Bully. We’ve been sold the idea that Candidates who can work cooperatively are not “leadership material.”
What is the right kind of leader for a democracy?
Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals were returned to power for the third consecutive term in 2011. But for the first time, their mandate was one seat shy of a majority. Heads turned a few months into the term when the Premier gave a plum position Conservative Elizabeth Witmer, enticing her to vacate the seat she’d held in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario since 1990. In the ensuing by-election, NDP candidate Catharine Fife won Witmer’s vacant seat by asking citizens to deny Mr. McGuinty a majority.
After two previous majority wins, Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned, apparently unequal to the task of governing democratically.
feudalism vs. democracy
Although ostensibly democratic, our political system has actually been slipping further into a kind of nouveau feudalism, as the checks and balances we may have had have been eroded and stripped away over time, and power centralized into fewer and fewer hands.
The difference between Winner-Take-All and an electoral system with an outcome of Proportional Representation is apparent in the resulting style of governance. Where Winner-Take-All produces bosses who tell citizens what to do, Proportional Representation encourages consensus, and a government that doesn’t just give the appearance of listening to constituents but actually governs for the public good. But this requires leaders capable of listening and working well with others, rather than simply issuing commands and bullying citizens.
The closest Canada has ever come to this ideal has been with minority governments, without which we would never have produced one of the policies Canadians value most, universal health care.
Today, of course, Canadians are struggling under the majority Conservative government produced by our Winner-Take-All electoral system. More than ever before, backbench MPs themselves have little if any say, and are often effectively prevented from actually representing constituents.
reinventing the Liberal party
Although both Parties have undergone great upheavals, Canada has been alternately governed by two parties over the course of our history. Yet for the first time since the founding of Canada, the federal Liberal Party has fallen to third place, and so is trying to reinvent itself.
Political parties do that kind of thing when they lose power; some people think Parties exist for ideological reasons, but ideology is simply the “product.” The real reason political parties exist is to get and hold power. If the product doesn’t sell, the party can’t get or hold power, and so it must change.
The most dramatic change the Liberal Party did was to open up voting in their leadership race to anyone who is not a supporter of another political party.
Although I am still unconvinced that Cooperate for Canada is the right way for Canada to go, I decided to sign up as a Liberal Party supporter after meeting and talking to one of the original Cooperate Liberal Leadership candidates, B.C.’s David Merner. David impressed me as an intelligent and grounded individual concerned with actually solving Canada’s problems, but devoid of the self importance Canadians are used to from traditional FPTP Party Leaders. The purpose behind Cooperate is a one time strategic cooperation for the express purpose of implementing electoral reform to a multiple winner system that will have an outcome of Proportional Representation, so I was sorry to see David drop out. Even so, I have continued to follow the leaderdhip race. Because so long as Canada has political parties, the public interest will be best served if those parties have the best leaders.
Apparently former Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion suggested electoral reform would be a good start, and to that end, he floated an idea for a system the Liberal Party has since adopted as “Preferential Ballot” to reform our electoral system.
But as it turns out, what the Liberal Party calls “Preferential Ballot” is more accurately known as “Alternative Vote.” At first blush this might seem to be a reasonable interim step toward proportional representation, especially because AV is thought advantageous to centrist parties like the Liberals.
Whether you call the system “Preferential Ballot” or “Alternative Vote,” a closer look reveals it to be another Winner-Take-All system very much like the First Past the Post we’re presemtly saddled with.
Switching to “Liberal Style Preferential Ballot” wouldn’t really change anything much for Canadians, since AV isn’t much different from what we have. Some Liberals have latched onto this system because of the perception that it could return their party to the catbird seat. Yet electoral system scholars paint a very different picture, harking back to the near destruction of the Provincial Liberal Party following adoption of AV out west.
Incredibly, since the Liberal adoption of Preferential Voting, Stéphane Dion has proven himself to be of that rare breed who would rather get it right than pretend infallability. His own genuine concern for the public good led him to continue to investigate electoral reform, and his research brought him to the realization that Proportional Representation would be much better for Canada. He’s since been promoting his own plan for Proportional Representation he calls P3.
voting for a Liberal Leader
The Liberal Leadership Race voting began yesterday. Liberal Party Members and registered Liberal Party Supporters (like myself) can now cast our votes for the next Liberal Party Leader.
The candidates are down to a handful: Deborah Coyne, Martha Hall Findlay, Martin Cauchon, Karen McCrimmon, Justin Trudeau and Joyce Murray.
Joyce Murray is the only remaining Cooperate for Canada candidate.
Justin Trudeau’s famous name catapulted the young geography-drama-teacher-cum-MP into the lead the moment he threw his hat into the ring. He’s personable, good looking, well spoken and the son of a legendary Liberal leader.
Still, It’s hard to know what, if anything, he actually stands for, beyond riding his father’s coat tails. Of all the candidates he’s said the least, presumably so as not to put his foot in it.
The one subject Trudeau has taken a firm stand on is electoral reform. On his website he states in no uncertain terms that:
“I do not support proportional representation because I believe deeply that every Member of Parliament should represent actual Canadians and Canadian communities, not just political parties.”
Trudeau is doggedly hanging onto the Liberal version of AV as the way back to Liberal Glory. He says he’s “listening” but when asked why he brushed off the Canadians asking for Proportional Representation, he said he knew better. Clearly, Justin has inhereited his father’s arrogance along with his mother’s looks. It seems Justin expects Liberals to blindly place their trust in him, policy unseen, not because he’s has a stellar record in the House of Commons… or anywhere else… because he hasn’t. His only real claim to fame is his parentage. But wouldn’t someone planning a career in politics study law, or at the very least, history… but drama?
If the Party chooses the young Trudeau as their leader, it could very well spell the end of the Liberal party as we know it. Although we Canadians try not to speak ill of the dead, and Pierre Trudeau was a Liberal icon, he was not revered by all Canadians.
Our electoral system was just as inequitable in his father’s time, so I’m guessing the advantage his name confers in Liberal circles will become a disavantage out in the wider world. It might be different if he had done something, or stood for something, but he hasn’t.
Further, Justin’s decision to slag Proportional Representation using nonsensical arguments doesn’t win him any points with me.
Liberal leadership candidates do their party no favours by trying to fool their membership into thinking Alternate Vote would provide meaningful reform, since it is simply another flavour of Winner-Take-All. Fortunately for the Liberals, those seeking to reclaim power at all costs are just one faction. There are principled Liberal Party members who are eager to restore their party to greatness, but through honesty and fair voting. Liberals For Fair Voting queried all the candidates about Proportional Representation, and even made up a nice little chart that shows clearly where the candidates stand.
my only choice
Since a majority of Canadians support Proportional Representation, the only reasonable Liberal Leadership contender is Joyce Murray. Whether or not she decides to cooperate, she is the only candidate solidly committed to Proportional Representation.
“I’m talking about winning the next election for a purpose. To reform Canada’s ailing electoral system to create a more representative and more collaborative Parliament; to harness all our talents for a sustainable society for the next seven generations.”
— Joyce Murray
As a Liberal Supporter, I will be casting my vote for Joyce Murray today.
With Ms. Murray at the helm pushing for Proportional Representation, I may very well end up casting my first vote for the LPC in 2015.