Archive for the 'AMS' 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.

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

Op-Ed : Blake, don’t pull an Al Gore

February 7, 2009

The recent AMS elections left me with a warm feeling in my heart in more ways than one.  It was the highest turnout in UBC history, over 6000 students, a big achievement in a  campus democracy.  Read the rest of this entry »

AMS election results: good news for BC-STV

February 5, 2009

There were many reasons to be optimistic about last night’s AMS election 2009 results:

1) Strong BC-STV supporters elected to key positions

UPDATE: It appears that Blake Frederick has been disqualified for ‘slating’ (collaborating too much with other candidates), which would make Alex president.  Details and commentary posted here.  There could be an appeal, so this may not be final.

We at Fair Vote UBC were happy to see that the two candidates we endorsed, Blake Frederick for AMS president and Tim Chu for VP External, were both elected in their respective races. It is crucial that in the coming months leading up the May 12 BC-STV referendum that we have a supportive AMS executive that will help raise awareness among the UBC community. Both Blake and Tim support an AMS endorsement of BC-STV, and we hope that the AMS will take a leading role in promoting BC-STV in the coming months.
Read the rest of this entry »

AMS Election Coverage Kickoff

January 20, 2009

FairVoteUBC  is kicking off our election coverage today of the 2009 Alma Mater Society election. Our goal is to provide some insight and analysis into the candidates’ views with respect to the important issues of student representation, influence and voice.  The voice of students must be heard on campus, across the province and even across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Municipal Electoral Finance Reform: It should be the AMS’ top lobbying priority.

November 12, 2008

Honestly, I haven’t been paying too much attention to the municipal election.  It’s just that the issues I care about most are not apparently being championed by any party, or even by the AMS.  Sure the AMS is trying Read the rest of this entry »