Archive for the 'electoral reform' Category

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.

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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.

What Next for Electoral Reform in BC? They need to hear from you!

June 9, 2009

From the people at Fair Vote BC:


Thank you for your support of BC-STV and electoral reform in the referendum last month. We are all disappointed that we did not win. However, as reform is still essential, we are picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and moving on.

We want your ideas at the June Conference Read the rest of this entry »

The New Dawn of Democratic Reform in Canada

May 13, 2009

The referendum to bring in a new age of democracy in BC failed last night, the battle, lost.  As we wake up this morning we must realize that the war is not over, it has only just begun for many of us.

Thousands of people across BC and Canada have been woken up to the need for change in the past year.  I had never been involved in politics until last fall when the arguments about the Coalition awoke me to the widespread lack of understanding of our democracy.  Now I have experienced first hand with many others how hard it is to bring about change.

But change is needed.

From the artificial choice between two parties in BC to the continuing minority trials in Ottawa to the growing attention on vote swapping it is clear that our democracy is broken and voters know it. Dispersed voices, such as the Greens are not heard.  Concentrated voices such as the Bloc are heard beyond their actual strength.  Everywhere, voter turnout is lower than ever before and the choices presented to the voter seem more and more meaningless.

So brace yourself, and take a look at the official results:
http://results.elections.bc.ca/REF-2009-001.html

(make sure you look at which cities voted, the areas with the most volunteers, Victoria and Vancouver, did much better. One next step could be to get those city councils to institute STV for municipal elections)

Even StudentVote, which gives high school and elementary students the opportunity to practice voting didn’t do much better. Young people generally support reform more than older people but these students still did not have nearly enough support to pass the reform:

http://www.studentvote.ca/bc/results2009/index.php

To make you feel a bit better, or maybe worse, take a look at these results of how this election might have turned out if we’d been using STV.

Someday soon, the media, the politicians and the Canadian public will connect these dots and realize change is needed. Now our job is to continue working to make that happen.

I have been so honoured to work with and have been deeply impressed by all of the people I have met while volunteering to campaign for STV.  The response online was especially robust but even on the street I can remember the dozens of people who had that lightbulb of hope go off right in front of me.  And of course many people gave money to help the campaign, I wasn’t involved in that but it was essential to get the level of visibility we did achieve.  Thank you to everyone who helped in any way. We did a good thing, and now it seems it was just one  battle of many to come.  But we shall not surrender.

If you aren’t willing to admit defeat either, then you can do two things right now

  1. Join Fair Vote Canada if you haven’t already
  2. Join this facebook group : Canadians for Democratic Change to keep the discussion going and let the politicians and the media know what Canadian voters demand out of democracy and their representatives.

Today is the day.

May 12, 2009

Today is the day we move democracy in Canada into the 20th Century.  Yes, we’re overdue, we’ve been living with an 18th century system for too long and most of the world has already moved on.  I’m excited, scared and hopeful.  Will British Columbians look at this very sensible voting system, BC-STV and make a very sensible choice.  I have to believe so.  If not, then I’ll drown my sorrows tonight, I’ve been saving up my Canucks mourning from last night’s game, so I can get it all out at once.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!  Democracy isn’t like hockey, there doesn’t have to be a winner and a loser.  Everyone can win if we believe it and make a rational choice.  That’s what STV is all about, finding a way to let everyone have a say and stop running democracy like its a horserace.  Democracy is about representation not about winning and losing.  When we vote, we are trying to select sensible people to represent us.  Under STV you get to help select 3-7 people rather than just one.  Who can argue with that?

So if you haven’t already, get out and vote for STV, and I guess vote for a party too if you can figure out who to choose.  But if we make the right decision, then  next time it will be different.  Next time, you’ll be able to vote honestly and know that your vote won’t be wasted.

If you are on twitter please consider adding a few tweets today with the #bcstv tag and the #bcelection tag, I’d love to see it trending today on the twitter sidebar or on What the Trend, last night half the trending topics were about the Chicago – Vancouver hockey game, so don’t say we can’t do it.

Good luck BC — the rest of Canada is watching, lets show them what the West beyond the West can think outside the box.

Referendum on Electoral Reform – A Citizens’ Assembly Member’s Perspective

May 11, 2009

Below is an email about the BC-STV referendum by Craig Henschel, a Citizens’ Assembly Alumnus that I have worked with and think very highly of.

Also, here is an absolutely excellent 6.5min video by Christie Clark about why she supports STV now that she is no longer a politician.

-Bruce

Apologies for the spamishness of this e-mail.  Please pass this on to your address book by Bcc.

Hi,

As you know, there will be a Provincial Referendum on Tuesday May 12th to determine which electoral system we will use in future provincial elections, First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) or the Single Transferable Vote (BC-STV) as recommended by the BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

You may recall that I was a member of the Citizens’ Assembly.  I’m sending you this e-mail so that you will make a more informed choice on May 12th.  I’m also hoping that you might forward this e-mail on to your friends. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t let them out of downtown without thinking about BC-STV

May 11, 2009

Hey there.  One more day to go.  Tomorrow is the big vote and we’ll see if the forces of reason win out over the forces of fear and lack of information (its a weak force 🙂 )

Take  a look at the events map, there are some people planning to cover skytrains in vancouver and maybe bridges too so that no one can get home tonight without having to think about BC-STV again, at least for a second.

If you haven’t already, take a look at this video from Christy Clark, former Deputy Premier of BC and current host on CKNW.  Be sure to rate it with five stars and leave a comment. This has drawn some attention and some people think it may be turning the tide in our favour.  We’ll see tomorrow night.

Long List of Official Endorsements of BC-STV released

May 8, 2009

This is a great list of famous people, smart people and fantastic community people who support BC-STV. Take a look!  My favourite part is this subset of the list of Canadians outside BC:

  • Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians
  • Andrew Coyne, journalist, Macleans, National Post columnist
  • Bruce Cox, Executive Director, Greenpeace Canada
  • Kim Elliott, Publisher, rabble.ca
  • Andrea Horwath, Leader, Ontario NDP
  • Tom Kent, former chief advisor to Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson
  • Naomi Klein, author
  • Preston Manning, former Reform Party leader
  • Elizabeth May, leader Green Party of Canada
  • Farley Mowat, author
  • Walter Pitman, former NDP MP, former President, Canadian Civil Liberties Assoc.
  • Hugh Segal, Senator, Conservative Party, former PC leadership candidate
  • Lois Wilson, former President, World Council of Churches, former Senator
  • (US) Krist Novoselic, musician, formerly of Nirvana, currently Chair, Fair Vote (US)

Never thought I’d see Naomi Klein, Preston Manning, Elizabeth May and Farley Mowat together in any list of any kind.

Go BC-STV!….and go Canucks!

Take Heart, we’re almost there and we’re not alone.

May 7, 2009

Two fantastic articles/posts in the last 24hours from influential people in the media that you should read before you go to bed tonight, you’ll rest a bit better knowing there is reason and sanity in the world. Then get out there and spread the word for a few days more.

Andrew Coyne (editor : Macleans Magazine) : A Vote That Really Counts

Christy Clark (Host on CKNW and former BC Deputy Premier) : Why I’m Supporting STVyoutube video