UBC VoteMob – Get the Word Out

April 16, 2011

Check out the UBC votemob youtube page is here. Here’s the promo…yes, I said promo. This is serious.

See you there Wednesday at noon at the Knoll outside the SUB.

UBC is Go for Vote MOB

April 13, 2011

You know that votemob thing we mentioned? Looks like someone is going to make it happen.

The Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=117463898334533

The blog post from a UBC prof?http://hummingbird604.com/2011/04/13/ubc-vote-mob-rock-your-vote-wed-apr-20th-1200-1400/

Anyone else buzzing about it? Will there be a video? What’s the plan, is it secret? Are you excited?

Whatever makes you happy so long as you

  1. tell EVERYONE
  2. you go to the vote mob (unless you have an exam thatsokdontgoskippin)
  3. you vote on May 2

U to the B to the C

Get your Vote On.

Find out more about votemobs at leadnow.ca

UBC Needs To Have a Vote Mob

April 9, 2011

Update!: There is so going to be a UBC VoteMob

A federal election is coming in just four weeks. That means you’ll still have time to think about voting after your exams are over.  If young people actually come out this election and vote at the same rate of the rest of the population it will have a huge, unpredicted impact on the outcome of the election.  There is a lot at stake this election that should be important to young people.  The current government has been fundamentally disrespecting the democratic institutions of our country and has made a lot of policy choices that young people need to think about in terms of their long term benefit.

One of the most exciting things happening this election is a new movement called Lead Now. They are gathering opinions from the people of Canada about what is important to them and they’ve come up with four broad types of issues that are important to Canadians: Health, Environment, Economic Opportunity and Equality and, wait for it, Democracy.

If you agree with these topics, or even if you don’t, you owe it to yourself to stand up and be heard this election.  They aren’t expecting young to vote so your opinions are not part of the predictions or something the party leaders worry about. So UBC needs to make a loud statement that this is a place that cares about democracy and this election, young people are going to do the unexpected and vote. We need to have a vote mob.

And Just to get you riled up to here are two videos. Rick Mercer’s call out to young people to vote. And the University of Victoria’s (WHAAAA????) awesome video for THEIR vote mob.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we can let them have a more awesome vote mob than us (hint: it’s easy to beat nothing)

Maybe these people could make a video?

Your move UBC.

Update: some thoughts on why Arcade Fire has the perfect song for a votemob lipdub.

Ignatieff talks at UBC – but will he Say anything?

January 15, 2010

UBC is being visited today by the Liberal party road tour, Michael Ignatieff will be talking about his and our dreams for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.  I’m planning on going, hopeful there is room for questions from the audience. If so I’m going to ask him this:

Will your party commit to working with other opposition parties to address the democratic deficit in Canada? Fair Vote Canada recently sent a letter to your party and the others suggesting some ways to improve democratic representation in Canada.  This is more important now than ever when we have to endure a Conservative minority government that was rejected by 60% of the population and who are willing to reckless abuse the constitutional powers of government to shut down debate and investigations.

So, Mr. Ignatieff, will you commit to working with the other opposition parties to ensure that Canada gets the representation that they actually vote for in Ottawa?

Thank you.

I’ll let you know what he says later…

Autocratic Leaders With Good and Bad Intentions

January 8, 2010

You may think Federal politics pales in comparison to the endless scandale-factory that is AMS politics, but Ottawa is giving the AMS a run for their money.  Its not like Harper sent off a letter to the UN without authorization of parliament.  He’d never do that, he doesn’t really believe in the UN anyways.  And why ask parliament for permission when you can just cancel parliament altogether?  Harper and Blake have their hearts and intentions in very different places.  One dismisses global warming and all progressive advancements except for an obsession with Senate Reform.  The other is so impatient to make progressive change that he is willing to ignore the rules of his elected office to take them.  The only commonality between them is a disrespect for the institutions in which they participate.  The assumption that a Prime Minsiter, or President, is their legislative body, that they are the one who makes the rules when in fact they are merely head facilitator of a collection of elected officials.

On a somewhat related topic, here is  a repost from my PopTheStack blog on some reforms being discussed to avoid some of these issues arising again in the future [in Ottawa, I’m not sure if anything can save the AMS from future scandals🙂 ]

Reposted from popthestack.wordpress.com

A great article on the Globe and Mail about Harper’s Senate reform plans. As always, Senate reform is a more complex issue than it first appears. Harper likely knows this and knows that his overly simple solution will never be implemented anyways because as the author points out, there are a lot of drawbacks to the West of taking the first small step to reform and going no further.

But perhaps the best part of this article is a comment by one Jim Q which I am repost below in its entirety, he proposes a PR solution to give the senate legitimacy without any consitutional changes, and I must say, its so crazy it might just work.

Here’s Jim Q’s proposal. (Jim if you’re out there and take issue with my reposting please let me know)

Oh my dear Lord.

Meaningful Senate reform without constitutional change is the easiest thing in the g-d world, if Harper were actually serious about it (as it happens, his hair-brained doomed-to-fail approach demonstrates his lookiing for a wedge issue more than anything…)

Here’s the formula:

1.) Keep current distributions.
2.) Make the elections nationally Proportional Representation.
3.) Have the HoC leaders/party leaders submit lists of prospective Senators before an election.
4.) Empty Senate seats are filled round-robin based on the proportional vote.
5.) Put a low-cap minimum PR vote at 7-10% to keep out the crazies.

This way, the lesser-populated regions STILL have the protection of extra representation,

BUT every voter has an equal voice in the election. There may be more seats in NFLD, but they’re being elected with Quebec and Alberta votes as much as Atlantic.

Finally, this would ensure that the Senate is not just a byzantine added layer of useless politicos. In Harper’s plan, the Senate is essentially a redundant extra HoC, whose only purpose will be to suck up time and money with no added benefit.

His a national PR Senate, there’s a real difference in the type of input given.

There could and would be Liberal Senators from Alberta, Conservative Senators from NFLD and a Green from somewhere (at 13.4%, they deserve ONE person, at least.)

This means a different perspective on local problems, and a voice for people who right now voted for the government (or major opposition party) but have no representation in them.

No province would ever again be entirely left out of cabinet.

Best of all, because there’s no FORMAL change to the system (we’d just be changing the convention on advice to the GG on appointments) everyone could take their demands for a constitutional reform and shove them.

But, again, this assumes one actually wants an elected Senate. With Harper, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Me too Jim. I’m not a huge proponent of Senate reform because I worry about the deadlock that plagues the American system. But this is the kind of reform I could get behind. It would introduce PR on the national stage, it would reduce the democratic deficit felt by also-ran parties across the country, it would add a check to the unbalanced power of a majority parliament (if we ever get one again) and if done right it should heal some of the East vs. West wounds by adding something to the fabric of our nation that the West is so passionate about.

Along these lines I have another proposal that wouldn’t require constitutional changes but would remove the reckless power of the PM to prorogue parliament whenever he feels uncomfortable.  Hold a national election to select the next Governor General.  We could use the same process as we do now with a committee to generate a list of nominees and there would be no changes required since the PM would still be appointing the GG.  The only change would be that there would be a law that says the PM must adhere to the advice of the electorate when choosing the GG.  This could be a single nation-wide vote, no ridings, no electoral colleges, just plain and simple vote counting.  The Governor General would retain the same rights that they do now except now they would be able to actually make a decision if needed.

In the recent request of the PM to prorogue parliament for the second year in a row in the middle of a contentious opposition investigation, the GG could honestly look at the situation and decide if proroguement were appropriate.  They could refuse the PM what now is an implicite right and force him to face the opposition in an open vote in parliament, possibly handing control of parliament to another party or coalition of parties who can command the confidence of the House.  This is how our democracy works, and it should work this way except that the anachronism of an appointment head of state makes it impossible for that head of state to really take legitimate action.  A simple election would solve that and avoid all the constitutional hand wringing about becoming a republic or abandoning the monarchy.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if one of our opposition parties actually proposed something constructive such as the above proposals? Maybe then Canadians would get interested in politics, would pay attention to the possibility of a real change in how our government functions and represents us.

Quiet down children

December 2, 2009

Ok, I’ve been trying to not write this for days and it keeps getting both harder to avoid and harder to write.  The topic is UBC AMS politics.  This is why its hard to write, because campus politics has a way of making sometimes hokey municipal politics look like a grand ideal of civil debate.  UBC campus politics seems to have an endless layer upon layer of intrigue going back year after year.  It’s hard to avoid because this blog is ostensibly about democracy and UBC students.  What could be a more apt topic than a political scandal involving the AMS President sending a letter to the UN asking for an investigation into “human rights violations” on UBC campus?

Seems relevant.  So why is it I can’t seem to pick a side?

Point, the first.

Last fall I asked Blake Frederick not to step down in the wake of his first scandal.  That scandal, SlateGate?,  happened before he was even confirmed president in a complaint that he was running as part of a banned slate.  Well now Mr. Frederick and Tim Chu, the VP External,  are both being asked to step down again.  This time however, it is by the AMS council in a unanimous censure of his letter to the UN.  As you have no doubt heard already (check here, here, here and here is you want the full scope of disgust, misunderstanding, facts and support), those “human rights violations” regard the increasingly high tuition fees at UBC which, they argue, are in contravention of the international convenent of human rights of which Canada is a signatory.

I didn’t want Frederick to step down because he was the best winnable choice for president who might vigorously help to get the AMS behind the campaign to pass the referendum on proportional representation.  Despite the best efforts of FairVoteUBC the AMS council did not endorse BC-STV and as we all know it failed to pass provincewide, achieving only 40% support.  Remember, correlation does not imply causation, just saying...

So, Frederick’s argument that the AMS council is not exactly interested in making any kind of statements, even when it is in favour of perfectly rational proposals such as BC-STV which was widely supported by young people and would benefit students disproportionately to many other groups (pun intended).


That brings me to my second point.  This proposal, to ask the UN to investigate BC for “human rights violations” due to rising tuition fees is not an obviously rational and effective proposal.  It’s not clear it makes any sense, it demeans the notion of human rights and it’s not clear that it will be effective.  Oh, scratch that, it is clear because SFU did the same thing 5 years ago and never heard a peep from the UN. Its just a bit silly really.

Third point, Frederick and Chu sent this request to the UN, without getting approval of the AMS council.  They have since apologized, but not really. Their argument is that the council isn’t activist enough and that their attempt to impeach him is an attempt by a small group of students to overthrough the democratic will of UBC students.

Arguing that you needed to go around the rules government because the government wasn’t doing things the way you want isn’t what elected presidents say, its what dictators say.  So I was surprised Frederick made that argument.  Arguing that the president’s 6% of the campus population vote tally is more legitimate than the small band of AMS councillors, who are also elected, is not very compelling.

So what’s my conclusion? Should Frederick resign? It looks like 2 strikes against Frederick and 1 strike against the AMS council.  But I’m enough of a Bayesian to think there’s a whole lot I still don’t know about all this, and frankly, I’m not sure I want to.

So my advice to Frederick, Chu, the other execs and the AMS council: grow up and start talking to each other, put your personality battles aside or step aside if you can’t handle it.  Also, step back and get some perspective here, we all want to change the world for the better, how can you best improve the lives of the students you claim to represent?

Mark Crowley

Want to write for FairVoteUBC?

November 30, 2009

Do you believe in democracy?  Do you feel the voice of students at UBC and voters across the city, province and country are not being represented because of institutional problems with our voting and political systems?

If you said yes and you are interested in campus politics and like writing then get in touch with us! We need writers!  (email to fairvoteubc  at symbol gmail dot symbol com )

Last year FairVoteUBC was a voice for progressive change in our voting system working to get proportional voting passed for voting on campus and organizing to support the BC-STV referendum.  Read through our past posts to get a sense of what we’re about.  If you agreee with some of what we said last year you could be one of our writers this year.  If you are accepted as a writer you will have total freedom for your own articles.  The hope is that we can get a few people to cover the upcoming AMS elections on campus and other democratic deficit issues concerning students.

If we can then we could enter the VFM competition for next year.  For our election coverage last year we received $700 but we also won the regular, smaller VFMs for several months before election season.

FairVoteUBC is an ally to other fairvote organizations such as FairVoteBC and Fair Vote Canada but is not officially a member or constrained by those organizations.

Please let us know if you are interested.

Mark Crowley – FairVoteUBC Webmaster

Getting out of that funk.

November 3, 2009

Reposting from my blog about UBC Professor Michael Byers’ proposal for how to the NDP and Liberals could get our democracy out of the funk it’s in with a little creative thinking.

And they’re off!

September 5, 2009

Its that time of year again, the kids are buying their supplies, the buses are filling up, the lectures are starting, the private jets are being booked and painted…that’s right, its time for another federal election!  What did you think I was talking about, yes school is starting too I suppose.

UBC is starting to fire up and soon it will be swarming with young people excited about learning … :)  Statistically they will probably be even less excited about a federal election.  Many young people are disconnected and cynical about our democracy.  This is understandable given the very disappointing result of the last BC election.  I don’t mean the party result, I’ll stay neutral about that, I mean the BC-STV referendum result.  Young people overwhelmingly supported switching BC’s electoral system to a proportional one that would have more fairly represented the wishes of the electorate.  Unfortunately, their parents believed the fear mongering and voted it down giving only 40% support when 60% was needed.

It’s easy to become depressed about changing the world when you can’t even make a sensible change to your own province.  There has been lots of discussion of what went wrong with that campaign but the truth is, in one sense, it doesn’t matter why it failed.  We need to keep trying to change our democracy, to improve it, to move it into the 21st century where we, all of us at UBC especially, will spend the bulk of our lives.  We live in a 21st century democracy with a 19th Century electoral process.  There are many ways it can be fixed, and all of us who want change need to work together for some change regardless of the details.  Any progress is progress.

So this year at UBC, we at the FairVoteUBC club will be asking you to put aside apathy and cynicism about democracy.  About politics sure, but not democracy.  We’ll likely be having a federal election before we even have our first term exams.  Then in the the spring we’ll have a campus election.  Last year we used a proportional system for the first time on campus, Condorcet ranked voting. Will we do so again this year, can we do even better? Can we use an STV style system to show everyone that we were not happy with the referendum result?  Can we send a louder message to Vancouver, to Victoria, to Ottawa?  Can we demand that the politicians who will be coming to woo us on this campus make electoral reform a top priority?

We need your help to find out.  We need your ideas. We need your energy. Let us know if you’ll join us (face/twit). And we’ll let you know where to find us on campus soon.

Parliament reaches web 2.0…well, sort of

August 4, 2009

A fantastic new site has just appeared in the wilds of the Social Media-sphere, Parliament2. The site is not run by parliament (booo, parliament) but is brought to you by the makers of PoliTwitter and Blogging Canadians. It lets Canadians propose, discuss and rank any priorities important to them.  The hopeis to send a message to parliament about what Canadians value and let the people actually discuss topics of interest and weigh the pros and cons.  Its democracy for the social media age, I strongly encourage you to go take a look. Its currently still very new so now is the time to make a mark in this new community.

For #fairvoters, the “Proportional representation and fairness in voting” priority is currently ranked 15, surely we can take it higher.