Canada’s Colours are Red and White

The Poppy Truck
Do red poppies drive help Canadians remember war or do they drive us to it?

Originally red poppy donations provided a way for the Canadian Legion social club to offer its members ~ Canadian veterans and their families ~ assistance beyond what the government does.

This in no way relieves our government of its obligations to support the citizens who have served in any branch of our armed services. Whether or not our nation is at war, our government owes a debt to the Canadians who have served, and their families.

Jeff Rose-Martland wrote a Huffington Post article What Fantino Wants Us to Do on Remembrance Day Is Forget. What follows is my comment, which may or may not be approved “Due to the potentially sensitive nature of this article.”

The mainstream media supports the status quo.  Mainstream news programs show us images of Remembrance Day ceremonies where politicians at every level of government wear red poppies on their lapels as they stand shoulder to shoulder with veterans in uniform.

So why should there be outrage?

Canadians in both “service world” and “civilian land” believe the illusion Canada is a democracy, while living in a country where most Canadians have no say at all in what our governments do in our name.

Because the votes of most Canadians simply don’t count.

That didn’t used to be a big deal because our elected representatives at least tried to represent all their constituents.  To represent the public good.

Today the public good is at risk on all fronts in Canada.  Environment. Health Care. Education. Civil Liberties. It is shameful our nation has such a record of poverty ~ and most of those below the poverty line are children.

If veterans choose to suffer stoically while the Canadian government does not live up to it’s obligations to them, they are not doing their part.  Some are already fighting for change.

Veterans can join the Occupy movement or Fair Vote.  They can protest fracking, scientist muzzling, secretive trade deals… any of a multitude of wrongs committed by our undemocratic democracy.

Or they could vote for politicians committed to Proportional Representation.

Or they can wear a white poppy on Remembrance Day.


Royal Canadian Legion poppy drive collection box in a Conservative MP's officeAs both student and parent, I have attended many Remembance Day ceremonies in schools. There is no question whether the red poppy makes Canadians remember…
at least for one day a year.

But has honouring the symbol done anything to stop war?

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino calls the white poppy campaign “offensive “ as he moves to close Veterans Affairs offices.

Shouldn’t we be supporting all Canadians speaking up for peace?  As far as I can tell, no one is selling white poppies.

You can make your own white poppy, or you can continue to support the Legion’s poppy drive with donations, and paint your red poppy white with a bit of craft paint.

But can you think of anything more bizarre than fighting over what colour best symbolises peace?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

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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.
a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves