Posts Tagged ‘bcstv’

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:

(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:

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.


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


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,
  • 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

Cyberspace is ours, now BC-STV must conquer meatspace.

May 7, 2009

I think the online buzz and opinion making for BC-STV is pretty solid at this point.  Letters are flooding onto websites of newspapers and blogs and twitter is all, well, a-twitter about the benefits of BC-STV.  Of course, the internet doesn’t get a vote and you can’t send in your ballot via twitter (yet) and there are some people out there not buzzing around online talking about the election.  Actually, most people aren’t.  This weekend most people will be shopping, attending conventions, street festivals and hockey games.

So we need to be there.

We need to get out of cyberspace and get into meatspace and talk to people using modulated soundwaves in the air.  We need to ask them to consider this important choice, offer them pamphlets to read more, tell them about the website to find videos and just plain-old answer their questions and assuage their fears, because there is nothing to be scared of except staying with FPTP forever.

So this is a call to everyone online, to go offline at some point in the next 4 days and connect with some real, physical people.  If everyone one of us online can convince 10 people and raise awareness of 100 people we might be able to actually do this thing.  Of course, we’ll use the internet to organize that 😉

Flyers : Here are some great flyers to print out about BC-STV. Print 100 and give them out this weekend.

Map : Here’s a map with the locations of some of BC-STV events that need volunteers or where people plan to be talking to pedestrians.  It will grow in the next few days, so far its just vancouver, but anyone in BC can use it.  If you have a gmail account you can edit it yourself and add your plans.  Maybe people will show up to help.

Pass the link on to your friends and add stuff to the map, then get out there and talk to people, the link is

Star Trek: STV – Where no referendum has gone before #startrekstv

May 6, 2009

First of all a confession, without any shame, I am a Star Trek geek.  I don’t dress up as a Klingon or anything, but I like it a lot.  So in the next week there are two exciting things going on: 1) the biggest election of my lifetime (so far) with a real chance to begin the process of electoral reform in Canada on May 12 and 2) the Star Trek prequel movie is coming out which could lead to the rebirth of a healthy Star Trek storyline.

Are these two passions related in any way?  Not really, but that won’t stop me! Because it occurred to me the other day that the electoral system that a society chooses to use says a lot about what they value in democracy and it influences the way their society grows by giving different incentives to leaders.  So, the thought experiment for Star Trek fans is, which electoral systems would the civilizations in the Star Trek universe use?

I’m going to tell you what I think but first we need a few ground rules.  Lets assume every Star Trek civilization has some form of representative democracy that involve an election system of some kind.  We’ll try to limit ourselves to existing electoral systems in use around the world or plausible ones that could be created.  Here is a map of electoral systems in use around the world right now and the wikipedia page on electoral systems to give you an idea of what they are.

I’ll update the page as I think of more and you should feel free to add comments here on what I got wrong or right or what the races I missed would use.  You can also join the discussion on twitter with #startrekstv.

Note: to star trek pedants, I realize star trek STV sounds like I may be talking about the “movie” Star Trek V: the Final Frontier, but since I have decided to ignore the entire existence of that horrible film and there is no reason to talk about said film I didn’t think it would be too confusing.

The Electoral Systems of the Races of Star Trek

Klingons – FPTP – Clearly the Klingons would use a single member plurality system, or First-Past-The-Post (FPTP), which is used currently in Canada, US, Britain, India and a few other places.  FPTP is winner take all, you don’t need consensus, or a majority you just need to be the strongest one in the room and the last one standing.  Is it an honourable system?  Its simple and I suppose it seems honourable if honour is equivalent to strength for you rather than wisdom or fairness.  In addition to FPTP used on Earth of course, the Klingons would not just throw away all the votes for the losing candidates, they’d have the losing candidates killed, fair’s fair.

Romulans – Closed List MMP – The Romulans are a logical bunch, a trait they got from their Vulcan ancestors, and they actually do have a democracy in Star Trek with a Roman style senate.  However, they don’t seem too interested in grass roots movements or losing control of the central levers of power. So it seems like the Romulans would use a robust proportional system that placates the people but then rig it so that they have as much control over who wins as possible.  One way to do that is to use a list proportional system like Mixed Member Proportional but instead of openly published lists, which is what we normally do on Earth and is  a good idea, the Romulans would have closed, secret lists chosen by the party.  Of course, in addition to that, the ‘parties’ in the Romulan Senate are probably just fronts that pretend to hate each other to convince the electorate there is competition.

Vulcans – ??? – I’m still undecided on what the  Vulcans would use. Vulcans are very logical so perhaps they’d use the most reasonable and logical system, STV.  But they probably aren’t actually interested in fairness as much as balance so they may aim for something that is less combatative than a standard electoral system, something that requires a great deal of consensus or even a unanimous vote.  One idea is that they would use an electoral college system that always requires unanimous votes.  Once a local representative is chosen they go to the central legislature and analyse policies until unanimity is reached.  One thing I’m sure of is they would not allow campaign advertising which tends to play on emotions or a long campaign period.  The various candidates would list their policies in detail.  Then all citizens would have a week to study them and then choose, without discussion, the most logical candidates.

Ferengi – Pure Capitrocracy – The Ferengi are definetly not interested in fairness, voter choice or even the most logical choice.  They want to be lead by those with the best business acumen who can increase the profits of the empire the most.  So, every four years the government would be replaced by the CEOs of the most profitable corporations of the previous four years. Ministerial jobs such as Environment would be selected based on the leading corporations from different industries such as resources and mining.

Borg – Continuous, Online Forced Consensus Voting – Ok, the Borg are a little different, they really do vote I’m sure. Its a plurality system, sort of.  Once more than half the collective decides, “one drone one vote”, then all other drones who disagreed are reprogrammed to agree with the decision. So after the fact it is always a completely unanimous democracy, ‘perfect’ as the Borg would say.

Humans/Federation – STV – The Federation of United Planets is primarily interested in fairness, equality and hearing all voices.  Despite accusations of being a ‘Homo Sapiens only club’ they would want broad representation of the many varied viewpoints on each planet and across the federation.  So clearly they would want a largely proportional system that also has local representation.  Each planet would need to send multiple representatives so that they are not viewed through a single, oversimplying stereotype.  Decisions in the government would be made using a parliamentary system where a majority rules but the majority would need to be formed through consensus and coalitions between individual representatives from different worlds or multi-world parties if these formed.

Now, what do you think?  I left out a lot of civilizations and I’m sure you disagree with something in my analysis, let me know.

Our second — and last — chance for change

May 5, 2009

A few must reads:

Oh ya, STV, that’s gonna pass this time right? #stvrocks

May 2, 2009

I get this a lot.  There are a lot of people who know about BC-STV, think its a great idea, an obviously great idea and assume its going to pass this time around.  That really gives me hope, I hope they’re right, I really do.  But some polls indicate that a lot of people, half the province or more, don’t even know about the referendum.  So I don’t know what to think except, lets not count our eggs until they’re hatched.  There is only a week and a bit to go, so lets just pretend for the next week that we’re not sure and make sure we do everything we can to make people aware of the importance of this referendum. Read the rest of this entry »