UK e-petition 168657 #ERRÉ

Although the Trudeau Government seems to think ERRÉ will go away if they keep their fingers in their ears long enough, nothing could be further from the truth. For the first time in my life, Electoral Reform is on the Canadian radar. Even though most of us don’t understand all the ins and outs, we know there are alternatives to a voting system that requires far too many of us to vote “strategically” if we’re to have any chance of casting a vote that counts. And far too many Canadians who did just that in hope of electing a government that would introduce a fair system have learned a #WinnerTakeAll “majority” government can thumb its nose at voters as they cavalierly choose to break a promise repeated thousands of times during the 2015 election campaign (and after).

PEI picks PR (Brigitte Werner's photo dedicated to the Public Domain with CC0)A majority of voters in Prince Edward Island voted to adopt Mixed Member Proportional Representation in their referendum last year, just as a majority of BC Voters voted to adopt Single Transferable Vote in 2005.

The thing to remember about Canadian referenda is that they actually aren’t a part of the Westminster Parliamentary System, they’re voluntary.  It is entirely up to the government of the day whether or not to hold them.  This generally means governments never embark on a referendum they think could be lost.  That’s why the support of 57.7% of BC voters wasn’t enough to “win.”  And why the BC Government was able to design the next referendum to fail more definitively. That’s why the PEI Government believes they can ignore their results and do it again, this time with a referendum more effectively designed to fail.

Map: 2005: 57.7% of BC voters voted YESBut times have changed.  British Columbia actually has a government that wants Proportional Representation to win the referendum. Granted, the referendum question hasn’t even been announced and the defenders of the status quo are already working hard to spread misinformation.

This is so important because once we get a Proportional Representation government anywhere in Canada, we’ll be able to see for ourselves that it isn’t any harder to vote in a Proportional system.  More importantly, we’ll see that the sky doesn’t actually fall. Instead of having to take anybody’s word for it, we will know (as 90+ countries already using Proportional Representation know) that it is better to vote in a system designed to provide most voters with representation.  For starters, it will mean government policy that most of us will be able to live with.   When votes count, elected governments are accountable to voters.  We’ll be able to see with our own eyes what a difference real representation makes.

Electoral reform is inevitable, it is just a matter of time.  Sadly Canada is not the only country to have such problems.

United Kingdom

Our UK cousins have been striving for Proportional Representation in the United Kingdom for well over a century.  That’s why they had an electoral reform referendum in 2011.  The only problem was that that referendum didn’t actually include Proportional Representation on the menu; the question was whether to keep the winner-take-all First Past The Post or adopt another (arguably worse) winner-take-all system known as Alternative Vote.  [This, by the way, is Prime Minister Trudeau’s preferred system, the one our Liberals tried to rebrand as “Preferential Vote” or “Ranked Ballot.”] Fortunately UK voters chose to keep FPTP

Perhaps what’s most incredible is how many people who ought to know better think it was a Proportional Representation referendum.  I was surprised to hear one of the ERRÉ electoral reform experts from Scotland suggest that was a Proportional Representation referendum. Although the UK continues to use First Past The Post, the devolution governments of Scotland, Wales and Ireland all use some form of Proportional Representation.

Petitions

Canada’s E-616 petition garnered more than 130,000 signatures.  More than any other Parliamentary e-Petition in Canadian history.  There was some thought that this would lead to an actual Parliamentary Debate on the Electoral Reform process promised by the Trudeau Government.  But like everything else in Canada’s colonial government, there is no such guarantee; the party with 100% power can completely ignore such a petition.  Which is exactly what the Trudeau Government did.

But it’s different in the United Kingdom.  When a Parliamentary e-petition in the UK exceeds 100,000 signatures. it triggers an actual Parliamentary Debate.  Recently an Electoral Reform Petition resulted in just such a debate the other day.  It was quite interesting, and if you’re interested in taking a look, it is still online, although I am not sure for how long.  For now at least you can see it at http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c52f8c49-55ac-44c8-bf23-b1705afadaf8 or choose to download the mp3 to watch at your leisure.

But even if the video is no longer online, you’ll still be able to read it in Hansard here:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-10-30/debates/9D7C1DE6-0EA9-45D2-AD7E-D0EEB3ECCB92/ProportionalRepresentation
[Of course you won’t get to see the Minister squirm in the text version 🙂 ]

It is good to see support for Proportional Representation growing in the UK as well.


Image Credit:

Houses of Parliament by Adrian Pingstone dedicated to the Public Domain

Canadians Deserve Better -Proportional Representation - on Canadian Flag background
This is the thirty-third article in the Whoa!Canada: Proportional Representation Series

Go back to "An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals"

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
Sign the Petition e-616
#ProportionalRepresentation Spin Cycle ~ #ERRÉ
• International Women’s Day 2017 ~ #IWD
• An Open Letter to ERRÉ Committee Liberals
UK e-petition 168657 #ERRÉ

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

 

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DEBill… bad4democracy

As a Canadian concerned with corporate subversion of democracy, I watched a good bit of the BBC democracy live coverage of the United Kingdom’s ill conceived Digital Economy Bill, known around the world by the acronym #DEBill, being made hastily into law.

Earlier in the year there were great howls of protest from Canadians as Prime Minister Stephen Harper prematurely prorogued parliament as a means of deflecting hard questions about Canadian involvement in torture overseas. Prorogation in Canada means that all the unfinished legislation is tossed out, and is usually done just before an election. Canadians were quite upset about this abuse of democracy, and a result has been the politicizing of a good number of previously apolitical citizens which in retrospect may well be regretted by those in power.

The UK also has prorogation, but before applying it their government can fast track laws in progress during a process called “wash-up” Traditionally in the past, only uncontroversial laws have been rushed through during wash-up, as the alternative is to have to start over from the very beginning at the next session of parliament. But this time, the Digital Economy Bill has been rushed through even through it is not only controversial but riddled with serious deficiencies which will result in sweeping changes to UK democracy.

twitter logo
I also spent a bit of time trying to follow #DEBill on twitter yesterday but there were so many people doing the same it was going so fast and freezing up, it seemed that #DEBill nearly killed twitter. Looking at it today there is still a great deal of activity there.

I think it is sickening that the UK MPs dismissed thousands of protests from constituents. There were thousands of signatories to the talktalk petition as well as some 20,000 individual letters of protest received by the government. According to MP Bradshaw, these communications were trumped by paid advertising (I believe by trade unions) which supposedly represented other constituents.

Only twenty thousand emails from the actual members of the trade unions supporting the DEBill should be able to counter balance twenty thousand constituent protests.

But I doubt that they could marshal that much support from the rank and file of the unions, particularly as many would understand the issues. The corporate media interests behind DEBill are in fact in a position to apply economic blackmail to many of these people as well. You know the kind of thing… support our business model, or don’t bother coming to work in the morning. This is why a great many of those opposed to this law daren’t say anything publicly against it. It is also why a key tool of democracy is a secret ballot.

Supposedly democratic representatives seem to do the same thing the world over. Our representatives seem to consider citizens less important than corporate special interests. Has democracy gone full circle? Are citizens are back to being voiceless serfs while corporations are the new nobility allowed by the government to rape and pillage at will? All because corporations give vast sums to political parties so they can advertise themselves into office? Are funds more valuable than votes?

It was glaringly obvious that the people pushing the Digital Economy Bill through do not actually understand what it is that they are legislating. This is clearly apparent in this letter from the Right Honorable Stephen Timms MP of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The Digital Economy Bill was pushed through by MPs like Timms who think that the “IP” in “IP Addess” means “Intellectual Property” when in fact it means “Internet Protocol”. I would have expected the UK government would have made an effort to understand the issues before pushing it through to appease corporate pressure.

Watson fights Digital Economy Bill 3rd reading

Worse is that they are taking the allegations made by corporate special interest groups on faith while completely ignoring the opinions of informed constituents.

There were a small minority of MPs who clearly understood what is happening, particularly Tom Watson, who not only worked hard to fight against the Digital Economy Bill, but amazingly conversed live with constituents via twitter during the course of the 3rd reading.

There was this lovely little Twitter initiative called What Digital Economy Bill? #debill When I first saw it yesterday it had less than 100 signatures.

The idea is to tweet:
“I choose not to recognise the UK’s Digital Economy Bill #whatdebill #debill http://whatdebill.org”

Or you can just use the #whatdebill hashtag, and you will be added to the list. Today when I looked just now it was up to:

5,392 Twitter users have declared that
they do not recognise the Digital Economy Bill (#debill)

All the UK political parties seem to have participated in allowing this travesty to become law.

Whether it is because there are computer illiterates in every party or the pressure from the corporate interests was so strong it is hard to say. The point is that computer use and internet access has long since ceased being a luxury; how governments treat the internet will have a huge impact on the country’s economic future.

A huge irony here is that within the confines of this same Digital Economy Bill the UK government is both endeavoring to put more and more government services online as a cost saving measure, while making it possible to summarily cut off citizens by the houseful (or university full) from the internet on the basis of unproven allegations.

Legalise Happy Birthday

I myself do not belong to a political party. I have on occasionally said nice things about political parties when they do good things (and not nice things when they don’t).  In general, I dislike the idea of political parties. I have this idea that the people I elect should act in my best interests, but when there is a political party they are often made to act in the party’s best interests ahead of those of their constituents. As a citizen in a supposed democracy I reserve the right to vote for the candidate I believe will do the most good.

That said, in light of the Digital Economy Bill travesty, were I a UK citizen I would be seriously considering joining the UK Pirate Party right about now. Contrary to what the Media companies and political parties in power want you to believe, the Pirate Parties that have been springing up in just about every country in the world do not advocate lawlessness, but rather thoughtful participatory copyright law reform. The PPUK had some excellent articles about DEBill deficiencies. Like the Canadian Pirate party, they seem to be shy about trying to raise donations, I expect largely for the same reason; they are mostly young enough to believe that being right should be enough. Unfortunately it costs money just to sign up a candidate to run for office, and according to their website’s front page they are short a whopping £4,500 to go into the General Election that has forced the DEBill’s high speed scrutiny-free passage.

Check them out. They’ve got some very good ideas. In a world dominated by the internet, wouldn’t it be terribly brilliant to actually have an MP or two who actually understand the technology.

Many UK citizens are clearly incensed, and, being computer literate internet aware citizens, they are using tools.

Tools like online articles:

The Pirate Party UK:
Pirate Party Slams Lack of Democracy in Digital Economy Bill

The Daily Record: Controversial new Digital Economy Bill could breach of human rights, warn law chiefs


Charles Arthur’s Guardian article:
Internet provider defies digital bill, about UK ISP Talk Talk who have been fighting hard against DEBill from the beginning.

Tools like blogs:

Who voted NO?, which is the one that started me writing a comment that mushroomed into this blog post

An Open Letter to Siôn Simon, Pete Wishart, David Lammy, Peter Luff, John Robertson, Stephen Timms

boingboing: Correcting the ignorant UK Members of Parliament who “debated” the Digital Economy Bill

Tools to show you who bothered to show up, how they voted:

Did My MP Show Up or Not?

The Public Whip

Debillitated

And even tools to allow you to watch the video of the DEBill proceeding and comment on it:

They Work For You.com

And of course all of these tools help expatriots and foreigners like myself by identifying the participants. It helps us understand as we follow along and watch the UK government undo centuries of British Jurisprudence.

The Register: Mandybill: It ain’t over yet says that it does in fact go back to the House of Lords for a final vote tonight so it is not actually law just yet. Maybe the UK won’t end up saddled with a next generation DMCA. Maybe the UK won’t be the opening act for ACTA after all. And even if the Lords “nod it through” as everyone seems to expect, Maybe DEBill can be an election issue, perhaps even revisited right after before too much damage is done.

The government seems to have been persuaded that these laws are necessary for economic necessity. In fact, by pushing the DEBill through in the face of so much opposition, it is entirely possible that the citizen backlash will be extraordinary, and in fact may well reroute the stream of UK entertainment income largely into the black market. Just from glancing at the twitter feed thousands of citizens who would not have dreamt of breaking the law yesterday are looking at doing so seriously today as a political protest.

It would not at all surprise me if people who have never so much as jaywalked start buying bootleg disks exclusively. And every time the law clamps down on kids who were not legally criminals yesterday, families who might have agreed in principal with the DEBill yesterday will certainly oppose it tomorrow.

UK Flag with superimposed words DIGITAL ECONOMY BILL

[p.s. A great many people are upset and looking for ways to fight against this bad law that has been so undemocratically foisted on them.
Read the comments anywhere. Torrent Freak for instance: Digital Economy Bill Passes, File-Sharing Ends Soon

The problem of course is that encryption will not not stop government intervention. In Canada the backbone Bell Canada ISP has been “throttling” (actually impeding via forged reset packets) specifically the internet traffic it believes to be p2p on the erroneous assumption that all p2p traffic is copyright infringement, which just is not so. They are also impeding any encrypted traffic on the assumption that it too is p2p. You are assumed guilty and you have to prive to them you are not engaging in p2p traffic. Another example of guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

I would really like this site:
What should we do in response to the Digital Economy Bill?,
BUT one can only vote, comment and possibly add their own ideas after providing identifiable information in order to sign up. Kind of defeats the purpose when you’re advising people to:

“Encrypt and obfuscate all data.”]

The House of Lords passed the Digital Economy Bill.