Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform Report Solves Nothing.

A special all-party committee is recommending that the Trudeau government design a new proportional voting system and hold a national referendum to gauge how much Canadians would support it. ……… The report does not recommend precisely how a referendum should be conducted or how many electoral options Canadians should be asked to choose . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform Report Solves Nothing.

The Disaffected Lib: Neoliberalism Out, Neofascism In?

Cornel West says America is in for a makeover, Trump style.

White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Neoliberalism Out, Neofascism In?

Democracy Under Fire: Fair Elections Act Updated

This week the Liberals introduced a bill to reverse many of the more egregious changes brought in with the Conservative “fair” elections act, the summary of this legislation says…… This enactment amends the Canada Elections Act to (a) remove limitations on public education and information activities conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer; (b) establish . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Fair Elections Act Updated

The Disaffected Lib: The A, B, C’s of Dictatorship

Harvard prof and Foreign Policy columnist, Steven Walt, has a thoughtful essay, “10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator.“

My fears about Trump’s foreign policy have always been two-fold: that he might pursue a more sensible grand strategy but do it incompetently, thereby weakening America’s international position, or that he will eventually get . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: The A, B, C’s of Dictatorship

Democracy Under Fire: The Good, the Bad and the Narcissist

Regular readers will be aware of a lack of posts of late and no commentary on the situation south of us and perhaps are asking how a blog about democracy can be silent about the upcoming change in the U.S. Administration. Apart from being driven almost speechless by the American people electing a lying . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: The Good, the Bad and the Narcissist

Song of the Watermelon: The Travesty of the Electoral College

Of the myriad outrages that define last week’s United States presidential election — namely, the elevation of scandal over policy, of demagoguery over competence, of unabashed sexism and racism and conspiratorial paranoia over reasoned debate — perhaps the most egregious is the fact that the winner of the popular vote will not be the . . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: The Travesty of the Electoral College

Against the Grain: Rethinking attitudes about voting in democracies

“Voting is a chess move, not a Valentine.”

-Rebecca Solnit

So there’s still a lot of postmortems popping up concerning the US Election and one theme that is quite common among all of them is this notion that Clinton was unlikable. Setting aside the hazy malaise that expelled such conspiracy theories as “Clinton is a . . . → Read More: Against the Grain: Rethinking attitudes about voting in democracies

Things Are Good: Easily Browse Online Anonymously

In a world where our digital lives are tracked by democratic governments (Canada and the UK amongst them) we need to ensure that we can have private conversations online. Over at Digg they have collected a very easy to follow setup to get your protecting your privacy online in only an hour!

Keep Your . . . → Read More: Things Are Good: Easily Browse Online Anonymously

the disgruntled democrat: Democraphobia Runs Rampant in North America

The fear of democracy has a long history.  Plato was mistrustful of the demos, believing it would be subject to bullies and to tyrants. In England, the storming of the Bastille in France by the sans-culottes during the French Revolution was dismissed as a regrettable manifestation of “mobocracy”. According to Thomas Jefferson, one of the most . . . → Read More: the disgruntled democrat: Democraphobia Runs Rampant in North America

The Disaffected Lib: Money + Politics = Support for Democracy

At least that’s what finance minister, Bill Morneau, says whether he believes it or not.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau is continuing to defend his fundraising activities, arguing that people who attend political fundraisers are supporting the democratic process and keeping good people in politics.

“What’s happening at those fundraisers is, people are saying we support . . . → Read More: The Disaffected Lib: Money + Politics = Support for Democracy

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Wall Took Money From Who?

Who has the Saskatchewan Party accepted donations from? The UofR, City of Regina, Regina Public Library, etc.

Most of the cash came from oil companies such as Crescent Point, Cenovus, Encana and PennWest, though the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Western Bank and construction company PCL also contributed.

…The NDP last year campaigned on . . . → Read More: Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Wall Took Money From Who?

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Building higher walls #nlpoli

A new government security policy does everything short of banning people from Confederation Building altogether.  Visitors to the main government building in St. John’s now have to enter through a single entrance in the basement of the building at the back.  There’s no parking available and the whole thing is so congested that on busy . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Building higher walls #nlpoli

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral News

For the last few months I have been focusing on Electoral Reform here at Democracy Under Fire and in order to ‘keep up’ have a Google Alert set to give me the headlines on this subject each day. Generally they are just ‘more of the same’ with one side whining about having a referendum . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Electoral News

Democracy Under Fire: No Consensus without Referendum say Conservatives.

“There will be no consensus that includes the Conservative party that does not include a referendum” “there is simply no flexibility of any form.” Conservative MP Scott Reid the party’s senior member on the electoral reform committee. Well Mr Reid how one can achieve consensus by setting preconditions, particularly ones that are all but . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: No Consensus without Referendum say Conservatives.

Democracy Under Fire: An Electoral Framework for the 21st Century

Marc Mayrand, the outgoing chief electoral officer, has apparently put together a number of suggested changes that he would like to see made to our electoral system. I can only say thet the eight highlighted by Kady in the Ottawa Citizen look pretty good to me……..

“While it’s well worth perusing the full . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: An Electoral Framework for the 21st Century

Democracy Under Fire: A Farce of a Electoral “Consultation”?

Last week I posted the details of out local Mp’s (Larry Miller) upcoming Telephone Town Hall re Electoral Reform not to promote him but to promote discussion about this important initiative. Well said teleconference is now history and the reports are in and they are not good. I had said in my previous post . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: A Farce of a Electoral “Consultation”?

Politics, Re-Spun: Get Uppity, BC, or Get Screwed Again

I’ve written about being “uppity” many times before. It’s a controversial word. It’s been used to insult women and people of colour who don’t know their place. Who don’t know they should keep quiet and not try to cut back on white male entitlement. Don’t ya know. The fear of being uppity creates a chill … Continue reading Get Uppity, BC, or Get Screwed Again

People who read this page, also read:

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Get Uppity, BC, or Get Screwed Again

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: #ERRE Electoral Reform Committee in Regina

First Expert guests I watched presenting to the committee were unable to understand French question fired at them because they were not equipped with translation headphones. Nathan Cullen leaped up and got the headsets for them. CLC points out they are a political org and that is why they are interested in this subject of […] . . . → Read More: Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: #ERRE Electoral Reform Committee in Regina

Democracy Under Fire: Special Committee on Electoral Reform to travel across Canada

With a mandate to broadly consult Canadians from all walks of life, the Special Committee on Electoral Reform will criss-cross Canada this coming September and October. The Committee will use this opportunity to hold formal hearings and public sessions where members of the public may share their views on electoral reform, online voting and mandatory voting. For the open-mic sessions, it will be first come, first served. The format for these public sessions and the specific locations for the sessions remain to be determined. A press release providing further details will be issued at a later date.

The Committee’s mandate was set out in the motionadopted by the House of Commons on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The Committee must present its report to the House of Commons no later than December 1, 2016.

Committee’s Travel Schedule (Tentative)
Monday, September 19 Regina, Saskatchewan
Tuesday, September 20 St-Pierre-Jolys, Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Wednesday, September 21 Toronto, Ontario
Thursday, September 22 Québec, Québec
Friday, September 23 Joliette, Québec
Monday, September 26 Whitehorse, Yukon
Tuesday, September 27 Site visit (to be determined)
Victoria, British Columbia
Wednesday, September 28 Vancouver, British Columbia
Thursday, September 29 Leduc, Alberta
Friday, September 30 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Monday, October 3 Montréal, Québec
Tuesday, October 4 Halifax, Nova Scotia
Wednesday, October 5 St. John’s, Newfoundland
Thursday, October 6 Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Friday, October 7 Fredericton, New Brunswick
To be determined Iqaluit, Nunavut

Those wishing to contribute to the Committee’s discussions may find out how do so by reading the full news release on the Parliament of Canada website..

We wonder exactly how useful these few meetings where the committee members will hear a few opinions from a limited number of people on a first come first heard basis, I would suggest a written submission would be to the committal to be much easier and more effective for most folks. I also wonder about the above proposed schedule which details one meeting per province or territory EXCEPT Quebec where 3 are scheduled and BC where 2 are on the list, I wonder what criteria such inequality was based upon?

We know that each MP is expected to hold a ‘Town Hall’ to permit some of their constituents to express their views on electoral reform and many have done so already and been reported upon in various local news media. It will be interesting to see how closely the subsequent reports from those MP’s match the actual general tone of said meetings and how much of the various ‘party lines’ colour these synopsis of the meetings!

Finally for those not following such thing closely one of the Conservative members of the committee has withdrawn, it is unclear if a replacement has been named or if he or she will be equally wasting the committee’s time bellyaching about having a referendum!

According to the Hill Times’s report, Mr. Kenney “quietly gave up his spot on the key federal reform committee in the middle of August.” How quietly? According to the publication, his resignation was “unbeknownst to journalists who at the time were covering testimony” to the committee on Aug. 22, and also “even unknown to at least two MPs on the busy panel” until last week.
No loss I would say given his confrontational style both in this instance and elsewhere.

. . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Special Committee on Electoral Reform to travel across Canada

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform Online Survey Available

The Special Committee on Electoral Reform began witness hearings in July and this week, launched an electronic consultation to probe citizen views on electoral systems and other vital aspects of voting. The introduction to that multiple choice sur… . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform Online Survey Available

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform Online Survey Available

The Special Committee on Electoral Reform began witness hearings in July and this week, launched an electronic consultation to probe citizen views on electoral systems and other vital aspects of voting.

The introduction to that multiple choice survey says in part:-
The House of Commons has created a Special Committee on Electoral Reform to identify viable alternative federal voting systems to replace the first-past-the-post system and to conduct a study of them, as well as to examine mandatory voting and online voting. As part of its mandate, the Committee is using various tools and methods to consult with Canadians. This e-consultation is one such consultation tool intended to solicit Canadians’ views both on voting and on the election of Members of Parliament. The Committee’s report to the House of Commons will take into consideration the results of this consultation.
What to Expect
Before completing the e-consultation, you will have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with background material on electoral systems.
If you consent to participate in this e-consultation, you can expect to complete the questionnaire within approximately 30 minutes. (or less)
You do not need to complete the questionnaire in one sitting. You can interrupt the e-consultation at any question, save your work, and return to it at a later time. If you plan to complete the e-consultation in more than one sitting, it is recommended that you bookmark the webpage.
Find the survey Here

Those with a greater understanding of the issues than the average citizen may find themselves wishing for the ability to further define their answers, there is however a comment section at the very end. As noted in a previous post those with more to say can send their commentsvia this web form or via email to ERRE@parl.gc.ca

 
. . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform Online Survey Available

Democracy Under Fire: Irish PR-STV system

In my last post I promised to take a harder look at the Irish electoral system of Open List PR-STV which is, as I said before a combination of a multi riding STV and Preferred Ballot system. I will start by covering some of the remarks made by Michael Gallagher, Professor of Comparative Politics, Trinity College Dublin and Michael Marsh, Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin in their presentation to the Electoral Reform Committee.

“Nothing comes without problems, and there are two problems in particular that might be identifiable. One is that constituencies as we call them, ridings, would have to be much larger, both in geographical size and in population because proportional representation necessitates multi-member constituencies, so ridings would be much larger, and they already are huge in some cases. In addition, government formation becomes a much more complicated process because single party government would be very unlikely. It’s very hard for any party under a really proportional system to win an overall majority.”
I note that whilst STV systems produce more proportionality than FPTP they are NOT a proportional system in and of itself.

“To expect an electoral system change to transform the whole nature of politics and make it more civil and so on, I think, is probably unrealistic. Generally we shouldn’t try to over-explain things through the electoral system. A lot of people do look at countries, including Ireland, and say that Irish politics works this way, and it’s got that electoral system, so it must be cause and effect. Very often it’s not. “
I have said before in these pages that expecting a change in our voting system to cure all the problems in our system of governance and expect parliament to suddenly become more ‘functional’ is dreaming in technicolour!

“When voters go to vote, they see a ballot paper with all the candidates in the constituency listed. In Ireland they’re listed in alphabetical order. That’s not necessary, but that’s the way it’s done in Ireland. Votes are cast for their favourite candidate, their second favourite, their third favourite, and so on. They don’t have to vote for any more than the favourite. They might vote for the favourite and then quit and not give a second preference. Or they might go from their favourite right down to the bottom of the ballot paper and cast number 17 for their least favourite.
This part is much the same as in Preferred Ballot systems except for the inclusion of candidates from 3 or more ridings.

“As to the counting process, if we went over a detailed, stage-by-stage, blow-by-blow explanation, it would all sound rather more complicated than it really is.”
I disagree with this statement, it not only sounds complicated but is VERY complex. See the fuller explanation of the counting system later in this post.

“The surplus distribution is the most complex part of (this system of) STV. What’s more straightforward is that if a candidate fares very poorly, and gets only a few hundred votes, those votes are not wasted. The candidate is eliminated from the count and the votes are transferred to other candidates in accordance with the second preference marked. If that candidate in turn is later eliminated, the votes are transferred on in accordance to the third preference marked, and so on. The aim is that even if a voter votes for someone who doesn’t do very well, this vote is not wasted as it is under the first past the post system. “
He makes it sound simple but in their particular system it is NOT.

“The counting is a multi-staged process. It takes much longer than a first past the post count. ……… Counting is not an instantaneous process—it can be several days before the full result emerges……….

When it comes to counting, the system that’s used in Scotland, for instance, in local elections, is electronic, so it’s instant. “

If this system were adopted electronic counting of the ballots and calculation of the results would, in my opinion, be essential. Recounts could still be assured by having the ballots both human and machine readable.

“A few thoughts on how PR-STV might work in Canada. At the moment you’ve got 338 MPs, so if Canada had PR-STV there might be around 70 to 90 multi-seat ridings, each returning anything from maybe three to seven MPs, or it could be more. Just looking at a few particular provinces, we see that Newfoundland and Labrador currently has seven single-seat ridings that might become one three-seat riding and one four-seat riding, for example. Prince Edward Island currently has four single-seat ridings that would become one four-seat riding. New Brunswick currently has 10 single-seat ridings that could become two five-seat ridings. It could be that really large geographical areas like Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon would remain as single-seat ridings. I see that Labrador is a single-seat riding. Labrador is about three times as big as the entire island of Ireland, so to us it’s unbelievable that this would be just one— “
Can you imagine a ballot with 4 (ridings) x up to 5 (parties) or up to 20 candidates to rate? Can you imagine the line ups waiting for folks to figure in what order to rate them?

Question
Is there a preference built into the system for causing the more rural, more lightly populated areas to have a smaller number of TDs in order to keep the districts within a reasonable geographic size, and then do the opposite when it comes to the urban districts? That tends to have been the discussion in Canada, when we’ve debated this kind of system, that we would have larger numbers of members per district in the urban areas and fewer in the rural areas. Is it the same thing there, or is there a different logic? “

Answer

No, not really. In a word, there isn’t. That would create a potential unfairness. The parties that were stronger in the cities would kind of lose out because they might not get their fair share of seats in the smaller rural constituencies, whereas the big parties would do better in the rural ones and only get their fair share in the urban ones.
This whole question of making our already large (rural) ridings even bigger (even with several Mps representing the area) leaves me shuddering with the thought of the possibility of ALL those chosen living hundreds of miles away from those the purport to represent.

Question

The riding I represent in British Columbia is four times the size of the entire country of Ireland. My people come from Longford (Ireland) and I looked it up and my riding is 330 times the size of Longford. The notion we’re looking at is to create even larger constituencies in the rural communities. You’re designated by the constitution in Ireland. We’re not limited that way here in Canada, I don’t believe. The notion of having even larger rural constituencies, as you can imagine, gives some pause. There’s been a notion to have a hybrid in which we had an STV or some sort of proportionality within the more dense urban populations, yet leave the rural constituencies as they are. Has anyone mused about that in Ireland, or are you simply constrained by your constitutional requirements to keep
 We are constrained by the constitutional requirements. In fact, there was a referendum back in the 1960s on allowing for a higher level of representation in rural areas, thinly populated areas, than in urban ones.”

Answer

I’ve always wondered how it is that STV can be proportional, given, as you say, that there’s no proportionality that is privileged by the way the seats are organized; there’s no separate set of seats to represent the imbalance that’s created by voting at the constituency level.
 Within each constituency there’s a reasonable degree of proportionality, especially in the larger ones, such as the five-seat constituencies. In three-seat ones, in particular, you might not get such proportional results, but what nearly always happens is that, simply on the law of averages, if a party loses out in one place they’ll win out on another occasion.
I simply do not believe this would produce such results in Canada in part due to those huge districts and in part due to our greater number of political partys as compared with Ireland. I also note that the professors said that the more combined riding’s in a district the more proportional the results become the less number the less proportional. Thus this system and STV as a whole can be said to be more proportional than FPTP but is NOT fully proportional and should not, in my view, be called such.

Some member of the committee had difficulty understanding the counting system which as I said above is NOT simple. I have tried to assemble the concise explanation below gleaned from an official outlinethat left my head spinning.

In the Irish system of counting the Preferential part of the PR-STV voting system is totally opposite from the normal method where the bottom candidates are eliminated and the second choices are added to the previous count.

In that in this system they are electing several individuals per district they first count the number of ballots and then calculate the minimum number of votes required to be elected (in a 3 riding district a quarter of the votes plus one). Any candidate receiving more votes than this ‘threshold’ is deemed elected. Any excess votes for elected candidates over this threshold are distributed as per the second choice on the ballot, because the number of transferable votes may be more than the remaining ballots the votes are distributed in proportion to the number of selected secondary choices. With the removal of these ballots from any ‘elected’ candidate the ‘excess’ votes are recalculated and further votes removed over the elected threshold from any elected candidates for the next round.
Very, very complicated counting system that few would fully understand and takes several days to complete when done by hand as it is in Ireland……… !!

A complete explanation can be found here http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/LocalGovernment/Voting/FileDownLoad%2C1895%2Cen.pdf

Transcripts and submissions (briefs and witnesses) including my own submission can be found here-

http://www.parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/ERRE/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=9013025

Evidence (which can be found under the individual meetings listing at http://www.parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/ERRE/Meetings) is the edited transcript of what is said before a Committee and includes both remarks made by Members of the Committee and those made by the witnesses. Please note that the Evidence is only published for public meetings and may take approximately 1-2 weeks to be posted to the Committee web page.

. . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Irish PR-STV system

Democracy Under Fire: Irish PR-STV system

In my last post I promised to take a harder look at the Irish electoral system of Open List PR-STV which is, as I said before a combination of a multi riding STV and Preferred Ballot system. I will start by covering some of the remarks made by Michae… . . . → Read More: Democracy Under Fire: Irish PR-STV system

The Progressive Economics Forum: Central Agencies in Canada

Do you ever sit in bed late at night wondering what it is that Finance Canada, the Privy Council Office and Treasury Board Secretariat actually do? Well, wonder no more my friends! Over at the web site of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, I’ve written a blog post titled “Ten things to know about central agencies […] . . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Central Agencies in Canada

Parchment in the Fire: Neoliberalism and De-democratization in Greece

Public discourse of neoliberalism often fails to appreciate the extent to which it entails not a simple process of de-regulation, but rather, a process of pro-market re-regulation. In many cases, constraints are removed from the organizational capacities of capital while more constraints are imposed upon organized labour. For example, the neoliberal era has witnessed increasing… More Neoliberalism and De-democratization in Greece . . . → Read More: Parchment in the Fire: Neoliberalism and De-democratization in Greece