Posts Tagged ‘harper’

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.

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Now is the time for a discussion on democratic reform

December 10, 2008

I need a rest, maybe even a “cooling off period” to recover from all the political intrigue of the past week. Not that parliament necessarily needs a break, at such a pivotal time, but I sure do.  Rarely have constitutional issues and parliamentary maneoveres raised so much interest with the Canadian public.  People are engaged, whether because they are upset, angry, confused or excited.  Hardly anyone is bored by it.  For now it seems to have settled down, whether for good or ill.  One good thing that should arise from all this excitement, however, is that Canadians are more aware than ever of the inner workings of our democracy. Furthermore, regardless of where you stand on this particular coalition, Harper’s behavior, Dion’s leadership, or any of the other issues, almost everyone would agree that something is broken with democratic system.

It is time for  national discussion on democratic reform.  Never before have Canadians been soon interested and so upset at how the system works.  This is the opportunity, with the STV referendum coming up, to discuss ways to fix our system.  Canadians want to know that their voice is heard and that decisions are being made in a transparent manner.

So lets start that discussion now. It’s easy. Here, I’ll start.

Some may blame the recent fracas in Ottawa on politicians and their crass, greedy, conniving ways.  But really, contrary to some reports,  politicians are people too.  The problem, I think is that the system we use to govern ourselves have very strange incentives built into it.  It has incentives for prime ministers to shut down government to avoid being voted out of his job. It has incentives for opposition parties to make any compromise just for the hope of forming a more representative government.  If the members of parliament elected only two months ago actually represented the votes cast nationally then a coalition of opposition parties would look very different.  See Larry Gordon’s letter to see the break down of what the party numbers could have been.

While we do that, the parties will realign themselves, the Liberals have already chosen a new leader, the Quebec election is over even with historically low turnout and eventually parliament will sit again.  Parties are playing political games and voters are still tuning out.  Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m crazy. Let me know.

Assuming you agree, and I will assume that until you tell me otherwise, what’s a responsible citizen to do?

Get involved.  Join groups (fairvote, stv, fairvoteubc ), join the discussion (twitter, or comment on this blog! any others? let us know! ), writer letters (some hints), talk to people!

Mark Crowley is a PhD student in Computer Science at UBC

The sound of one democratic hand clapping

December 5, 2008

Coalition government? Yes, but it’s not the one we deserve

After 141 years is Canada finally, albeit accidentally, on the path to modern representative democracy? Don’t pop the champagne cork yet. We still have a way to go, but the law of unintended consequences may be at work in Ottawa. Read the rest of this entry »

The System is Broken but it sure is entertaining

November 29, 2008

This may be a good moment to clarify what’s good and bad about our democracy.  First-past-the-post is horrible and misrepresents the will of the people.  But parliamentary democracy is just awesome. Read the rest of this entry »