Could the Senate actually stop Bill C-51?

Canadian FlagBill C-51 passed through the House of Commons after a mere two days of debate (if you can call it that.)

Currently the law that will effectively remove our civil rights that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is before the Senate, where it seems to be getting better presented than it was in the House of Commons Parliamentary committee.

It appears that Liberal Senators are planning to vote against it, so there may yet be hope for Canadian Civil Rights.  You can follow the progress of the bill (as you can any Canadian legislation) at LegisInfo.

Leadnow has a nifty online tool to make it easy to write to your senator to let them know where you stand on Bill C-51.

The Senate has served as a rubber stamp for the house of Commons for so long that it’s hard to even imagine that it might provide sober second thought.   But maybe it will.

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Email The Senate Tonight

flag smallTomorrow morning, Conservative Senators are expected to be “whipped” to vote for a motion to suspend Senators Brazeau, Wallin, and Duffy in one fell swoop – before proper investigations into the conduct of those three Senators have been concluded.

If you don’t understand what’s wrong with being “whipped” please watch Sean Holman’s excellent documentary CPAC Special – Whipped: The Secret World of Party Discipline on CPAC.

If our Conservative Senators allow themselves to be dictated to by Stephen Harper via his party whip in the Senate, this will provide more justification for abolishing the Senate.

Canada NEEDS an independent Senate to prevent any Prime Minister with a majority government from ruling dictatorially and imperilling the public good.

PLEASE take the time tonight to write a quick email to our Senators asking them to vote according to their own conscience and good judgment in the coming days, in order to preserve the dignity and autonomy of one of our foundational and vital institutions.

Here’s mine:

Dear Senator:

The Senate is supposed to be the gatekeeper of good law in Canada.  Your job is to ensure that the “tyranny of the majority” does not override good law and policy. Being a chamber of sober second thought is THE essential role of the Senate. Canadians count on Senators maintaining their autonomy.  The Senate is the Upper House of the Canadian Government, it can not be a rubber stamp for any Prime Minister with a majority.

Please stand on guard for Canada.

Regards,

Laurel L. Russwurm

Senate email addresses

raynell.andreychuk@sen.parl.gc.ca,

salma.ataullahjan@sen.parl.gc.ca,

george.baker@sen.parl.gc.ca,

denise.batters@sen.parl.gc.ca,

diane.bellemare@sen.parl.gc.ca,

lynn.beyak@sen.parl.gc.ca,

doug.black@sen.parl.gc.ca,

boisvp@sen.parl.gc.ca,

david.braley@sen.parl.gc.ca,

patrick.brazeau@sen.parl.gc.ca,

joanne.buth@sen.parl.gc.ca,

catherine.callbeck@sen.parl.gc.ca,

larry.campbell@sen.parl.gc.ca, 

claude.carignan@sen.parl.gc.ca,

andree.champagne@sen.parl.gc.ca,

maria.chaput@sen.parl.gc.ca,

gerald.comeau@sen.parl.gc.ca,

anne.cools@sen.parl.gc.ca,

jane.cordy@sen.parl.gc.ca,

jim.cowan@sen.parl.gc.ca,

jean-guy.dagenais@sen.parl.gc.ca,

romeo.dallaire@sen.parl.gc.ca,

dennis.dawson@sen.parl.gc.ca,

joseph.day@sen.parl.gc.ca,

line.tessier@sen.parl.gc.ca,

Percy.Downe@sen.parl.gc.ca,

norman.doyle@sen.parl.gc.ca,

michael.duffy@sen.parl.gc.ca,

lillian.dyck@sen.parl.gc.ca,

nicole.eaton@sen.parl.gc.ca,

art.eggleton@sen.parl.gc.ca,

tobias.enverga@sen.parl.gc.ca,

suzanne.fortin-duplessis@sen.parl.gc.ca,

joan.fraser@sen.parl.gc.ca,

linda.frum@sen.parl.gc.ca,

george.furey@sen.parl.gc.ca,

stephen.greene@sen.parl.gc.ca, 

celine.hervieux-payette@sen.parl.gc.ca,

diane.lacombe@sen.parl.gc.ca,

elizabeth.hubley@sen.parl.gc.ca,

mjaffer@sen.parl.gc.ca,

janis.johnson@sen.parl.gc.ca,

serge.joyal@sen.parl.gc.ca,

colin.kenny@sen.parl.gc.ca,

noel.kinsella@sen.parl.gc.ca,

daniel.lang@sen.parl.gc.ca,

marjory.lebreton@sen.parl.gc.ca,

carole.smith@sen.parl.gc.ca,

ghislain.maltais@sen.parl.gc.ca,

fabian.manning@sen.parl.gc.ca,

elizabeth.marshall@sen.parl.gc.ca,

martin@sen.parl.gc.ca,

paul.massicotte@sen.parl.gc.ca,

elaine.mccoy@sen.parl.gc.ca,

thomasjohnson.mcinnis@sen.parl.gc.ca,

paul.mcintyre@sen.parl.gc.ca,

terry.mercer@sen.parl.gc.ca,

pana.merchant@sen.parl.gc.ca,

don.meredith@sen.parl.gc.ca,

grant.mitchell@sen.parl.gc.ca,

percy.mockler@sen.parl.gc.ca,

wp.moore@sen.parl.gc.ca,

jim.munson@sen.parl.gc.ca,

nancy.ruth@sen.parl.gc.ca,

richard.neufeld@sen.parl.gc.ca,

thanhhai.ngo@sen.parl.gc.ca,

pierreclaude.nolin@sen.parl.gc.ca,

kelvin.ogilvie@sen.parl.gc.ca,

victoria.deng@sen.parl.gc.ca,

olived@sen.parl.gc.ca,

dennis.patterson@sen.parl.gc.ca,

don.plett@sen.parl.gc.ca,

rosemay.poirier@sen.parl.gc.ca,

nancy.raine@sen.parl.gc.ca,

pierrette.ringuette@sen.parl.gc.ca,

michel.rivard@sen.parl.gc.ca,

jc.rivest@sen.parl.gc.ca,

bob.runciman@sen.parl.gc.ca,

kfl@sen.parl.gc.ca,

judith.seidman@sen.parl.gc.ca,

asha.seth@sen.parl.gc.ca,

sibnic@sen.parl.gc.ca,

david.smith@sen.parl.gc.ca,

larry.smith@sen.parl.gc.ca,

carolyn.stewartolsen@sen.parl.gc.ca,

scott.tannas@sen.parl.gc.ca,

claudette.tardif@sen.parl.gc.ca,

david.tkachuk@sen.parl.gc.ca,

betty.unger@sen.parl.gc.ca,

josee.verner@sen.parl.gc.ca,

john.wallace@sen.parl.gc.ca,

pamela.wallin@sen.parl.gc.ca,

charlie.watt@sen.parl.gc.ca,

claudine.courtois@sen.parl.gc.ca,

senatorwhite@sen.parl.gc.ca

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leavesThanks to Skeena Sage Williamson

What’s wrong with Canada’s Electoral System?

horse and buggy

Canada has a form of “Representative Democracy” known as “Single Member Plurality.” Each geographic electoral district (that we call ridings) elects a single candidate to send to parliament.

outdated

Canada’s First Past The Post electoral system, the basis of our Representative Democracy, was progressive in 1867. Before automobiles, telephones, airplanes, space travel, computers or the Internet. Our antiquated electoral system is totally inadequate for Canada in 2013.

unfair

Our winner take all system is inequitable. Some votes count more than others, and some don’t count at all.

Steam Train

mysterious

It has long been considered impolite, if not downright rude, for Canadians to talk about politics. Most Canadians are proud we are not “flag wavers” like Americans are. But although there is plenty wrong with the American electoral system, they understand the mechanics of how their government works. Americans learn about politics in school, and talk about it ever after. Any Canadians who feel the urge to talk about politics tend to talk about American politics.

After all, we know more about how the American system works than we understand our own. We can no longer afford not to talk about politics. We need to learn how our system works.

democracy

We think Canada is governed democratically. But it’s not.

When an election produces a majority government, as is often the case, our government is effectively a time limited dictatorship. And if you take a look at Canadian History, you’ll see that our majoritan electoral system has traditionally produced serial dictatorships.

The only element of democracy in the current system is that Canadians get to vote periodically.

broken

While most of us think we have “majority rule,” the reality is that a minority of voters elect our government. The majority of Canadians are not actually represented in Parliament.

The system is so bady broken, almost half of our eligible voters don’t vote. After all, what incentive is there to vote when your vote doesn’t count?

Since the system is stacked against us, as things have steadily worsened, Canadians have been trying to outsmart the system by voting strategically.

But the point of representative democracy is to allow citizens to vote for the candidate who will best represent our interests in parliament. Yet if we’re voting strategically, we aren’t voting for who we want, we’re voting against someone else.

The fact Canadians have come to accept strategic voting as legitimate demonstrates just how broken our supposed democracy actually is.

crisis

Our civil liberties, human rights, guaranteed Canadians by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are being steadily eroded. The public good is ignored in favour of special interest lobbyists.

checks and balances

Canada’s Upper House, The Senate, was supposed to catch ill advised government policy. The reality is succeeding governments stack the senate with partisan senators, robbing Canadians of the protection of “sober second thought,” and now all we can expect from the Senate is a rubber stamp.

There are no effective checks and balances available to Canadians. Our system grants majority governments absolute authority for the term; our only recourse is public opinion, the same as in any monarchy or dictatorship.

proportional representation

Most modern democracies have chosen proportional representation. England, Canada and the United States are the only hold outs clinging to our outdated First-Past-The-Post systems.

“Democracy is NOT about picking winners and losers. You are thinking of sports, or perhaps capitalism. Democracy is about working together to accomplish more than we can do as individuals. It is about bringing all stakeholders to the table so everyone can get what they need. When democracy functions as it should, we are all winners. For that, you need a fair voting system”  Wayne Smith, Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada

we want democracy

If two thirds of Canadians want proportional representation, why don’t we have it already?

the problem

The people with the authority to change the system, are the same people who got into power with this system.  If they change the system, they will lose the unfair advantages that put them in power.  One of the loudest advocates for electoral reform to proportional representation was Stephen Harper… before he became Prime Minister.  NDP Party policy supports electoral reform to Proportional Representation, yet they have done nothing to implement it in the two provinces where the currently NDP holds a majority, which begs the question: can we trust the NDP to implement electoral reform?

to be continued . . .

I started out to write “Why I’m a “Liberal Party of Canada” Supporter” but as it turned out, I had to first write this necessary prequel. I will be unable to finish the next article tomorrow, but I hope to have it posted by Saturday night.
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