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!

What happened to Canada’s #TPP Consultation?

 
The Trudeau government won’t be pressured by the Conservatives or business lobbies into ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal until the public has been consulted about it, says Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland.

She told Conservative trade critic Gerry Ritz in the Commons that the deal is not even open yet for ratification or a signature. A tentative agreement was reached among 12 countries during the Oct. 19 election campaign.

Trade experts have said the TPP deal, which hinges on U.S. congressional approval, likely won’t have to be approved until 2017.

The Liberal government supports free trade, Freeland said. “We understand that on a deal this big, it is essential to consult Canadians and have a full parliamentary debate.” The Liberals have yet to indicate how they plan to consult the public.

Conservatives call on Liberals to move forward on TPP

Did I miss something? Because suddenly Ms. Freeland is saying:

   
Canada Will Sign TPP Deal, But That Doesn’t Mean It’ll Ratify It: Freeland

“It is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns,” Freeland wrote.”Many Canadians still have not made up their minds and many more still have questions.”

Um. Well, of course Canadians have concerns and questions… although it’s been in negotiation for 5 years, it’s been in secret– well, at least to most Canadians, citizens and parliamentarians alike. But while we are all scrambling to catch up with this, big industry has been not only involved but fully informed from the start. They’ve had years to study and influence the content of the TPP. But for the rest of Canada? We’ve been given no opportunity at all to influence the thing, it’s thousands of pages long, it’s only just been made public and we have been presented with an ultimatum. Either Canada can sign on to the TPP as is, or we can pass.

While it’s true the new Liberal government did not negotiate this deal, the Conservative Party that did continues to support it, its current leader claims:

  
 “The Trans-Pacific Partnership offers huge opportunities.” —Rona Ambrose

The reality is that it doesn’t actually matter which government negotiated the TPP, if Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government signs the TPP, it will bear the brunt of the responsibility for the thing. And I have yet to hear any evidence that this agreement will be beneficial to Canada.  Oh, sure, I have no doubt Ms. Ambrose is correct–there will be enormous opportunities to be had by signing the TPP. Just none of them will benefit the public good. If Canada signs the TPP, we will be on the hook.  The government that signs it will effectively abdicating our sovereign power to unaccountable corporate tribunals (via ISDS)

Michael Geist talks about TPP at CIGIBut Michael Geist disagrees.  Michael is the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University, and he’ so concerned about the TPP that he’s been blogging a daily series about its many pitfalls:

The Trouble With the TPP

If that’s not enough, we know Jim Balsillie fears TPP could cost Canada billions and become worst-ever policy move

And then there’s the just released Tufts’ Global Development and Environment Institute report which estimates “the 12 countries involved in the proposed free trade deal would lose a net total of 771,000 jobs in the 10 years after the deal comes into force.

All of this raises many many questions.  All the evidence I’ve seen suggests signing the TPP will cause actual harm to Canada, so I can see no good reason to sign the thing. And besides, didn’t we just vote out the government that got us into this spot?  Didn’t we vote for real change?

And what happened to the promised consultations?

Here’s hoping the House of Commons will reject Bill C-51

Canadian flag

Bill C-51 will deepen and widen Canada’s democratic deficit into an abyss. Is it possible to stop it?

postcard design #2 - Preserve the canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Stop Bill C-51From the beginning, Green Party leader Elizabeth May has led the opposition against Bill C-51. Happily she has been joined by the NDP and every other party in voicing serious concerns, although the Liberal Party has fewer concerns than any other, and say they will actually vote for it. (No, I don’t get it, either.)

From the very beginning, the Harper Government made it clear it would fast track Bill C-51.

Bill C-51 was even presented to the Senate before it even cleared the House of Commons, something that is certainly unusual, and possibly even unprecedented. Even there, an MI5 intelligence expert (one of Canada’s “Five Eyes” intelligence ally) condemned Bill C-51 roundly before at the Senate hearings. In the past, Canadians have seen the Senate’s reluctance to provide sober second thought, so we really can’t expect anything more than it’s usual rubber stamp of Harper Government Policy.

The Parliamentary Committee meant to study Bill C-51 was severely limited in the number of submissions the Government would allow. An NDP filibuster made it possible to slightly expand the scope of the presentations, but it still fell very short of the mark. Nevertheless, most of the experts on the array of issues covered by this omnibus bill were not allowed to even speak to the committee.

Rather than silencing opposition, this policy had the opposite affect: the experts made an effort to wade through and dissect this law in a way seldom seen any more. Since the committee couldn’t hear their opposition on this incredibly important issue, the experts have presented their findings to us, the Canadian public.

The Parliament Buildings drawn by Roger Duhamel, from the Canadian Bill of Rights (public domain)

Legal scholars Craig Forcese (University of Ottawa) and Kent Roach (University of Toronto) began by presenting their findings online, as they found them. Former Prime Ministers, Supreme Court Justices and finally the entire Canadian legal community rose up against this dreadful draft legislation. Canadian Privacy Commissioners — past and present — spoke strongly against Bill C-51. Civil Liberty groups, Conrad Black, Rex Murphy, the Communist Party of Canada and even a group of business owners have all come out against Bill C-51 in the strongest terms.

In the beginning, ordinary Canadians were told this law would make us safe from terrorism, when in fact this claim has failed to rise above the rhetoric. Instead of being supported with evidence, the expert evidence demonstrating that stripping Canadians of Charter protections will in fact make us less safe. As a result, ordinary Canadians held rallies and Days of Action across Canada to raise awareness. When Canadians learn the import of Bill C-51, we oppose it. Now that ordinary people have the facts, support for the bill has plummeted and the vast majority of Canadians are in opposition to this bill.

Because Bill C-51 is not a partisan issue, it’s a Canadian issue. This law would be un-Canadian.
Stop Bill C-51

And yet none of this seems to have dampened the Harper Government’s determination to fast-track the Bill. The deepest flaw in our electoral system is that a party with 39% of the vote can gain 100% of the power. When a party has 100% of the power, it can pass any law it likes. (This is why we need Proportional Representation.)

Rather than scrapping the bill outright, the Harper Government’s domination of the parliamentary committee instead flexed it’s dictatorial muscles by defeating every amendment presented by every other Canadian political party with representation in Parliament. The only amendments to the law have been the three 3 cosmetic changes in an unconvincing effort to demonstrate the Government had in fact noticed public opinion opposes the bill.

At the Report Stage, Ms. May delivered an excellent speech on Bill C-51 in Parliament. Everything she said is born out by experts.

And yet The Harper Government continues to spread misinformation about this bill through its response made by the West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country MP. John Weston claimed Bill C-51 made “modest changes” which would “bring our government up to the level of other western democracies” without providing a scrap of substantiation. Then he attempted to discredit Ms. May with an ad hominem attack, then he concluded with a false claim that Bill C-51 would provide “judicial overview.”

This was Ms. May’s response.

Mr. Speaker, let’s be clear, this bill does not contain a single element of judicial oversight.

It does allow a CSIS agent to go to a judge and obtain a warrant–  but does that judge have the overview and the oversight to continue to monitor the way that warrant is used?

And no other modern democracy — NONE — anywhere — would allow a judge in a secret hearing to give a warrant to violate the constitution.

It is unheard of in the democratic world.

It’s unheard of, period

and this parliament should not stand for it.

Elizabeth May, Speech on Bill C-51

Although I am not a lawyer, my reading of the Charter suggests this is all that will remain of our rights and freedoms if Bill C-51 becomes law.

Canadian Charter After They pass Bill C-51

For this reason, I sincerely hope that Bill C-51 is withdrawn by the Harper Government. To this end, I sincerely hope Canadians will continue to call or write or email our MPs (you can print your own post card here) — even Conservative MPs — or sign the petition or petitions of your choice, and encourage others to do so as well. If we keep silent, our Charter will become a ghost of itself, our civil rights a sham.

For this reason I lend my own voice to Ms. May’s plea that her colleagues in the House of Commons will reject this bad law.

I’m only an ordinary citizen, maybe I’ve gotten it wrong.  But the experts have out the evidence out there.  Because the experts know why Bill C-51 must be scrapped.  Please watch the video (it’s only ten minutes) and hear for yourself.


a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

 

Image Credits:

My flag photo is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License;

My post card designs are CC0 (in the public domain)

Roger Duhamel‘s rendering of the Canadian Parliament Buildings is Public Domain.  The image is from the Canadian Bill of Rights, which was originally under Crown Copyright, which expires 50 years after publication.

My graphic “the Canadian Charter after they Pass Bill C-51” was used under the fair dealing exemption to Canadian copyright law, and I’ve dedicated my resultant work to the Public Domain.

Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election Candidates

Currently two Ontario electoral ridings are in the grip of By-Elections. In the riding of Vaughan everyone seems to assume the Liberal candidate will be a shoe-in. Although predictions are made in every election, we wouldn’t need to bother with the expense of elections if any poll or prediction’s outcome was guaranteed.

No such assumption has been made in Elizabeth Witmer’s Kitchener-Waterloo riding, where Witmer has reigned under Progressive-Conservative colours for decades. The only reason her staunch conservative seat is up for grabs is because she’s resigned to accept a plum job offered by Premier McGuinty. Nice to see such consensus in government, eh?

Because the Liberal Party of Ontario is one seat short of a majority, this is quite an important election for the Liberals, who have discovered it was much easier to govern when they had a majority.

Governments can do whatever they want when they hold a majority of seats. Which is why it is important to the rest of us as well. After all, minority government is the closest we get to democracy in these parts.

My favorite, multipartisan, grass roots, electoral reform group, Fair Vote Canada, is hoping to change all that. Fair Vote WRC hosts events and seminars throughout the year so citizens can learn and discuss the issue of how to re-inject democracy into our political system.

Politics On The Patio Goes Underground

Last year during Democracy Week they held a “Politics on The Patio” event which happened to occur in the midst of the Ontario election. It was a relaxing change from the tightly managed election events, instead providing a forums so candidates could mix informally with the public and actually get an opportunity to meet one another.


Since this By-Election will be over by Democracy week, Fair Vote Waterloo Region held a “Meet The Candidate” event in the Huether Hotel’s basement Malt Room Museum. Almost all the candidates managed to attend, so it was an excellent opportunity to meet candidates in a relaxed setting — in this case, the Lion Brewery Museum and Dining Lounge, located in the depths of Waterloo’s Huether Hotel.

There was an excellent turn out of candidates.  Here they are in alphabetical order (by first name):

Allan Dettweiler, Ontario Libertarian Party
Catherine Fife, NDP
Elizabeth Rowley, Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)
Eric Davis, Liberal Party
Garnet Bruce, Independent
Stacey Danckert, Green Party

In these days of copyright maximalism, it is important to have accessible photographs of people in public life available to citizen journalists and bloggers. I’ve been taking every opportunity to photograph local politicians; all these blog photos are by laurelrusswurm and licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Although Conservative Candidate Tracy Weiller did not attend the Fair Vote “meet the Candidate” event, I can share this photograph of the candidate for tomorrow’s election.

Tracy Weiler, PC Party of Ontario

The byelections are being held tomorrow, Thursday September 6th, 2012.   I can’t vote in either riding, but I can hope the Ontarians who can don’t lock Ontario into an unfortunate majority.  Fingers crossed!

Either way, get out there and vote!

Oh yeah, this *is* Canada, after all … if any stranger ~ human or robot ~ should happen to call you up to tell you you need to go somehere different to cast your vote, please check it with the official information available at Elections Ontario.

Ding Dong Bill C-32 is Dead

Canadian DMCA

I am happy that the writ was dropped before Bill C-32 was passed.

Is that a bad thing?

Of course it mans we have another federal election.

Copyright Reform Apathy

Not so long ago, Jesse Brown did a Search Engine podcast called So Bored of Copyright. He wasn’t alone in thinking that Bill C-32 was likely to be pushed through no matter how atrocious simply because everyone is tired of arguing about copyright. The thinking, shared by many other Canadian activists was that our elected representatives just want it to be over. I understand how difficult it is to fight the same fight over and over again. But still, there was a disturbing willingness to settle for bad law just because everyone is tired of it.

copyright symbol over a red maple leaf

That’s wrong.

Copyright law will impact on every Canadian. Our existing copyright law may not be perfect, but it isn’t as though we are a lawless nation of pirates, no mater what the USTR says to get a trade advantage. So I’m happy Bill C-32 is off the table, even if it does mean we’re having another Federal election. And I’m sure it will be back, but the longer it takes, there is less chance that we’ll end up with a copyright law benefitting special interest groups to the detriment of Canadian Culture.

Some people are tired of elections.

We’re having them too frequently, apparently.

Yet there are places in the world where there are no elections. Or where the election results are preordained.

Other people are unhappy because elections are expensive.

If we have a minority government, it stands to reason that we will have more elections. It is much harder to run a minority government because the government can’t operate in a vacuum.  They have to build a consensus. And sometimes even listen to what the citizens want.  And if they want to do something that the people think ill advised, we have some possibility of preventing it.

a pile of canadian money

Then some people think majority government is a good thing.   Talk about an expensive proposition.

Say what you want, our run of minority governments has meant very little in the way of patronage spending.   While majority governments are always awash in patronage.   That’s got to be worse.

Even with a minority our federal government managed to find a billion dollars for the G20.

Acryllic on Illustration board painting by Aviation Artist Lance Russwurm
The AVRO Arrow ~ painting by Lance Russwurm

Can you imagine? How many fighter jets would we have bought if there was a majority government? Wait a minute… fighter jets? Excuse me? If we want fighter jets, why don’t we build our own, shall we? You know, like the AVRO Arrow?

Citizens can’t afford NOT to have elections. We need as many as it takes.

I’ve heard some people are saying they will vote for the Conservative Party of Canada just to give them a majority, just to be done with this election business.

the NoProrogue rally in Guelph

You know what?

If you want to vote for a political party you don’t support, that is your democratic right.

You can use your vote to improve this great nation of ours, or you can waste your vote. You get to decide.

You can vote for the candidate you believe will do the best job for you, or you can vote the way someone else tells you to vote. It is entirely up to you.

You can vote strategically and vote for someone you don’t want to elect. It seems to me that strategic voting is always about voting for someone else;s candidate, never your own. That seems to me just as big a waste. But still, it is your right to choose.

You can spoil your ballot, which won’t count. Or not cast a vote at all.

Andrew Telegdi

A great many of us are frustrated because we’ve been ignored for so long. Many of us have given up because the people we vote for are never elected. In the Conservative stronghold where I live, Liberal candidate Andrew Telegdi lost his seat in the last Federal election by 17 votes. And one of the most powerful members of the incumbent government “tweeted”:

Minister of Industry Tony Clement

On Twitter, Tony Clement said:
@TonyclementCPC I use my 28 vote margin in 2006 all the time as an example of “every vote counts!”

The thing to remember is that when we abstain from voting, our voice, however small, is completely unheard. Abstaining from voting doesn’t “teach them a lesson,” it gives them our power. It makes it easier for fewer people to determine our government. All voter apathy does is to make electoral inequity worse.

You have the right not vote. But every vote not cast means that fewer votes hold greater sway. I am well aware Canadian votes count for more or less depending on geographical location. That’s bad enough. If you, like me, live in a place where your vote only counts for a fraction, blowing it off makes it worse. What government does affects all of us.

Debate and Democracy

GPC leader Elizabeth May with nearly a million constituents, not a seat in the House

This election will impact on us all too. Although we are desperately in need of electoral reform, we have to do the best we can with what we’ve got. So although it is your right to vote or not, I hope you decide to vote, and more, to vote the way you believe is best.

I’ve been trying to get the final proof of my novel done, so I’m spread a bit thin. Still, there’s been a flap about the proposed televised Federal Leadership Debate. The decision (by who?) has been made to exclude Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

The story they are trying to sell is that her exclusion stems from the fact no Green party member has yet been elected. Naturally this speaks to the issue of Electoral reform, since nearly a million Canadian citizens cast Green votes in the last election without electing one.

The thing is, we might have bought that argument had Elizabeth May not participated in just such a debate in a previous election. Excluding her now is not only grossly unfair, but a sign of just how well she did last time.

Unlike our American Neighbors, Canada is a multi-party country. So long as our nation subscribes to party politics, I’m inclined to think that any leadership debate ought to include the leaders of every registered political party. The point of an election is that the slate is wiped clean. No one has been elected yet for the 41st Parliament. So all the candidates – and leaders – ought to be treated as equals. I’m sure that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney would be happy to tell you what a difference an election can make.

It is in our own best interests to stand up for our democracy. The leader of Canada’s fledgling Pirate Party hit the nail on the head when he tweeted:

pirate party of canada

@mikkelpaulson

A vote for anyone other than your first choice undermines democracy. We should vote for,
not vote against

I don’t know about you, but as inefficient as our system is, and as badly as we need electoral reform, I’m rather partial to democracy.

And elections are a really good time to get out there and find out what the candidates think.

Or at least what they say.

Vote.

Canadian Political Party Logos
Registered Federal Canadian Parties include neorhino, Christian Heritage, Communist Party of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador First, Libertarian, Work Less Party, People’s Political Power Party, Green Party, First Peoples National Party, Bloc Quebecois, Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party, Marijuana Party, Canadian Action Party, Marxist Leninist Communist Party, and the NDP


Image Credits

AVRO Arrow, painting by Lance Russwurm

Andrew Telegdi photo by Chris Slothouber

Tony Clement, Twitter account image (fair dealing)

Elizabeth May photo by Grant Neufeld, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5) License

All political logos reproduced as fair dealing.

All other images created by laurelrusswurm and released CC by-sa

Prorogation Vacation

Mape Leaf that says "Oh! Canada"
[Like I need another blog… But the Canadian political situation has been overwhelming my personal blog, in the wind, and since there are more political blog posts fermenting in my brain, the only solution seemed to be to start Oh! Canadato look at

prorogation, electoral reform and Canadian stuff

Because I’ve already written quite a lot on prorogation, I’ve included links to those articles I’ve already published in the wind in the sidebar under “on Prorogation”, including Canada, we have a Prorogue which explains prorogation. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s inappropriate use of prorogation is just a symptom of all the things that are wrong and getting worse in our Canadian manifestation of democracy.

Promotional Image for Political Parody
Proroguing Rock Video

So this is the place to find my further mutterings about Canadian electoral reform. Any other purely Canadian issues I tackle will also end up in this space.

Watch the Video

Canadians need all the smiles we can get, so I recommend that we take our own break to enjoy this excellent prorogation rock video parody on YouTube:
I’m On A Break – (T-Pain parody: I’m on a Boat) 14+ “UNCENSORED” created by concerned Canadians Duane Burnett and Marc Buzzell

Warning:

If strong language bothers you, I suggest the just released censored version below:

One of the reasons I enjoyed this video so much is because it was so well done, in such a short period of time. Hardly a sign of the Canadian penchant for “apathy” that is so often leveled at us by the news media.

partisan?

Personally, I have come to wonder just how much the news media’s vested interest in Liberal and the Conservative advertising dollars is. I’m beginning to wonder if the media can ever be anything but partisan. Since the first-past-the-post status quo favors the Liberal and Conservative parties at the expense of the others, it may well be that the news media would prefer to retain the status quo.

Regardless, I am proud to be a Canadian, and I am happy to see so many people coming together to effect positive change. So give yourself a pat on the back.

democracy

Canada is a democracy, but our system currently frustrates and disillusions a great many Canadians. When your vote is devalued it is very difficult to feel like you have a say. Majority governments routinely ignore Canadian citizens, whatever party is in power. (That would of course be either the Conservative or Liberal party.)

Yet we are constantly told that majority government is good for Canada. I think that is true only for the party forming the majority, not for us citizens.

The reason it is so difficult to achieve Canadian electoral reform is that our archaic “first-past-the-post” electoral system favors the Liberal and Conservative political parties. The easy evidence for this is that these are the only two Canadian political parties who have ever formed a government. So of course it’s no wonder neither of these parties want electoral reform.

Canadians aren’t apathetic, we are simply frustrated with a political system which leaves so many Canadian voices unheard. Up until now, we have not known what to do.

grass roots

Canadian discontent has fed into a growing grass root movement of those of us who are frustrated and unhappy with our electoral system. Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (CAPP) is a group that started by University of Alberta student Christopher White on the social networking website Facebook. The non-partisan membership grew to (as of this writing) 221,217 members. On this Facebook site, Canadians have posted 22,765 links, and begun 1996 topics of discussion underway in the Discussion groups.

NoProrogue Rally Posters
NoProrogue Rally Posters

One of the most interesting things to me is that the Facebook CAPP group is truly non-partisan. Oh sure, it is composed of people who support the Conservative, Liberal, NPP, Green, Marijuana, Pirate parties, and probably all the others as well… and there is at least one new party wandering the boards trying to drum up business. There are even lots of people like me… people who don’t belong to any party.

The common ground we all share is Canada. People from all across the political spectrum – from die hard supporter of the party of choice to people who have given up casting their vote… we are all there because we all see that there are big problems besetting our system of government.  

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s second inappropriate prorogation of the Canadian parliament in the space of a single calendar year was the flash point. But it only takes five or ten minutes in any of the discussion groups to realize that prorogation is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Outside of Facebook there are still some people trying to contend that there wasn’t anything unusual about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s inappropriate prorogation. The fact that it wiped out more than half of the laws in the legislature – laws that his own party had put there – says different.

Rally Round The Country

The CAPP group inspired the NoProrogue rallies all over Canada, with a few sprang up from Canadians currently residing in other countries.

I’ve heard people denigrating the turnout. Some say there weren’t enough people at the rallies. They say our rallies don’t count because there were only tens of thousands of us. I know people who did not attend because of health reasons. After all, two hours is a long time to be standing around outside in winter even if it was a mild day in Canada. But how many Canadians were out there doesn’t matter. The point is that there were people out there.
They think that because there weren’t enough of us there our concerns don’t matter.

Yet. They value one individual letter more highly than several form letters. They value a postal mail letter over an email. They value an email form letter above a many signatures on a petition. A big reason for the higher valuations is the increased level of difficulty. I would think that one person standing out in the cold would be valued more highly than ten letters.

They attempt to devaluate the Facebook CAPP membership. One of the common reasons given is that it is “easy” to set up a facebook account with the implication that many Facebook accounts belong to many people. Obviously this argument is made by people who don’t understand what goes into having a Facebook account.

Which is an interesting argument, and a good one for electoral reform. Far too many Canadians don’t have a say under our present system. All too often Canada has majority governments elected with less than a majority of the votes. Under the current system, every Canadian does not have representation in our government. THAT is the problem. And it isn’t right.

Lets look at some other Facebook Groups in favour of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s second early Prorogation:

Canadians FOR the Prorogue!
Description: “Cuz bigwigs need vacations too! Lets take a break from the nauseating debacle that is watching the impotent Conservatives and the laughably bad Liberals go at it. Lets all go Olympic glad handing!”
18 Members

Canadians Against Canadians Who Don’t Really Understand “Prorogue”
Description: “This FB site is a gathering place to mock those half-educated bandwagon jumpers who think it makes them seem politically educated to be against proroguing Parliament this one time, as opposed to every. other. time. Evidently, they don’t understand why Parliament gets prorogued. But they are against it. ‘Cause it’s bad.
This group attacks a specific group of people and will not be tolerated. ”
6 Members

Prorogue is a good thing
Description: “ ”
6 Members

Canadians FOR Proroguing Parliament
Description: “On December 30th, 2009, for the second time in as many years, Stephen Harper has asked the Governor General to prorogue parliament. Like last time, he will certainly get what he’s asking for, doing something that is routine and has happened 105 times in the past, including four times under the Liberal Prime Minister Chrétien.

If you do the math that works out to about every one in 1.3 years. The majority of the Canadian people understand that this is parliamentary procedure, and we support this measure.

What can we do? Tell your Mp you think it’s a fantastic idea. Maybe even one that we should have every single year. ”
72 Members

Canadians FOR Proroguing Parliament
Description: “There is a huge following of Canadians against proroguing parliament because of some “they are vacationing on our tax dollars” principle.

I say we get parliament to EXTEND their prorogue and set up a system where they only meet 2 months out of the year and for emergency situations. ”
46 Members

Canadian Citizens FOR Prorogueing Parliment untill January 2009
Description: “If PM Harper prorogue’s Parliment untill after the budget scheduled for January 27th, it would avoid any need for a coalition governement or a non confidence vote scheduled for Monday Dec 8. Harper would then have time to formulate a stimulus package aimed at providing relief to industries caught up in the current financial crisis and provide other funding to help stimulate the economy. Canadian’s voted just a few weeks ago and have no desire to hit the polls again. Shame on Dion, Layton and Duceppe for playing politics with our country at a very serious time that calls for focus and action, not politics and coalitions. ”
13 Members

Most of these groups seem to be jokes. But the question remains, if it is so easy to fake a couple hundred thousand member Facebook group, why isn’t there one in favor of Harper’s prorogation?

the NoProrogue rally in Waterloo
the NoProrogue rally in Waterloo

I’ve heard people saying that the news media boosted the estimates of attendees. I can tell you that that the estimates given by the media for the Waterloo Rally attendance were decidedly low. Something else that no one even considers is crowd turnover. It probably wouldn’t happen at other times of the year or in warmer climes, but a good number of older folks packed up and left the rally (around the time that the local TV reporter did). But the crowd didn’t shrink particularly, as groups of younger protesters were trickling in at around the time the older ones were leaving. That may also be peculiar to the Waterloo rally, since they had to push back the Rally time to accommodate a skating show that would have been taking place at the same time. So perhaps a lot of those folks hadn’t been aware that the rally time had moved. Whatever, there were far more than 500 attendees; the photographs I took tell me there were something between between 800 and 1,200 attendees.

the NoProrogue rally in Guelph
the NoProrogue rally in Guelph

I’m not sure about Guelph because I arrived late so I missed the outdoor part of the Rally. The crowd was already on the march away from the Rally en route to the indoor panel discussion in a local church. I started taking pictures as the marchers approached me.

But I could see that some of the people from the outdoor rally did not join the march. By the same token, I don’t know if all of the folks inside the church for the panel discussion attended the rally, or just showed up for the warm parts.

Does it really matter? What both the Facebook page and the NoProrogue Rallies clearly tell us is that there are a lot of Canadians unhappy with our political situation.

Have you ever noticed that Canadians are always accused of electoral apathy by the media, but then when Canadians start throwing no-prorogation rallies and suddenly we’re quaint but still ineffectual. Macleans ran an online story The Commons: ‘I shouldn’t have to be here’ which was yet another mainstream media stories that essentially tells us that when Canadians aren’t being ineffective through apathy, we’re being ineffective but cute when we engage in grassroots protest.

Meanwhile, back at the CBC online, the story Thousands protest Parliament’s suspension has 3206 comments… If you’ve ever fought your way through CBC comments, with only 5 to a page it would take far longer than a No-Prorogation Rally to read your way through them all. I wouldn’t mind so much except I have to sleep sometime.

this explains a lot

In this excellent article from the Times Colonist: Our political system isn’t flawed, it’s broken Ian Cameron explains clearly just what the problem is. Chiefly, the system doesn’t work the way we think it does.

If that is truly the case, we really need to do something about that. It is certainly something to think about.

whose country is it anyway?

This P.A. Herald story Protest about prorogue planned for Prince Albert is about Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback who brings obliviousness to a new low. This is a man spending some of his Prorogation Vacation in California. I think it would be a good idea for all Canadians to let Randy Hoback know just how we feel about this. Here is his contact information:

137-15th Street East (Main Office)
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
S6V 1G1
(Tel) 306.953.8622.
(Fax) 306.953.8625
(TF) 1.800.939.0940
hobacr1@parl.gc.ca
http://www.randyhobackmp.ca/
Canadian Flag
Ottawa
Room 910
Justice Building
House of Commons
K1A 0A6
(Tel) 613.995.3295
(Fax) 613.995.6819
Hoback.R@parl.gc.ca

I mean really, it’s like this guy thinks he’s Tony Clement or something.



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