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Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform – Personal Perspective

After more than 5 years of writing about our declining democracy and having several times reviewed the options open to us should we ever get a government in power willing to put the issue of voting reform before the people I am now going to try and spell out my own wishes in this regard. Such wishes must be tempered by some practical considerations, wishing for things that simply are never going to happen is an exercise in futility – perhaps this whole series on Electoral Reform should be filed under that heading!

I will start by reiterating that I (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform – The Parties Position

Its sometimes hard to see where the parties stand on any particular issue given the hype, bafflegab and spin that issues from almost all of them at times and the ever changing positions taken depending upon their position in the polls or whether they are in power or not. As far as I can tell the following is their current position on Electoral Reform.

Trudeau is a supporter of a preferential ballot, having made it a plank of his leadership platform.Liberals say they will launch all-party consultations on reform. The party passed a resolution at its convention earlier (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform – Voting Systems

I have said that simply calling for PR (Proportional Voting) is not sufficient but that we must understand the various systems that are generally promoted as ‘proportional’, and the alternatives. I wrote about the various systems some 3 years ago and will simply re-post part of that article with some updates and additional thoughts here in this series on Electoral Reform.

First however I must point out that non of the systems thus far proposed can be compared with what is often touted as the outcome from FPTP in so far as ‘the popular vote’. We currently vote for an (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform – Proportional Representation

Proportional Representation or PR for short has become the buzz word for those who are advocating for Electoral Reform (and that group includes myself) but what exactly do we mean when we say we want PR? The broad definition is “a method of voting by which political parties are given legislative representation in proportion to their popular vote.” , in Canada we have to add “within the limits set by our constitution” as some provinces have a minimum representative threshold. We must also add “as close as possible within practical limits” after all we cannot put fractions of MPs (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Reform Needed!

In the recent Ontario Election out of every 100 (eligible) citizens approximately 52 voted and one or two of those either declined or (deliberately?) spoiled their ballots We have no means of knowing how many tried to vote but were turned away due to being at the wrong poll or not having proper ID but judging from the feedback I have received it is probably in the thousands rather than the hundreds.

“Unofficial results released by Elections Ontario on Wednesday showed 31,399 voters chose to decline their ballots, the highest since 1975, there were 22,687 rejected ballots and (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Election Stories

With the Ontario election now history and a slight uptick in the voter turn out I will relate a few of the problems various voters have encountered whilst trying to vote in an effort to make both the voters and those that run the system aware of impediments to voting during said election. Most of these stories are specific to rural areas and related to poll location and rural addressing issues, it may be that in urban areas such things are not such a problem and it would seem that Elections Ontario either is unaware of such problems or considers (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Ontario Election: A Good Case for Proportional Representation

Premier Wynne led her Liberal Party to a majority government this week, trouncing the anti-statist (drown the government in a bathtub) frothings of the Conservative Party, and shouldering aside the NDP expectation that governmental power was theirs for the taking, like ripe fruit, without any real effort on their part to justify this to voters. But yet again the majority one is a mathematical majority, but not a moral one. Premier Wynne’s Liberals would be foolish to interpret their majority of seats as being a sign of a massive mandate from a majority of Ontarian voters. It is not. That (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Elections Ontario Struggling……

Elections Ontario is struggling to find enough staff to fill the positions required to process your vote, this is not a particular surprise to those who have worked the polls before, it always tough to find responsible folks available for a one day 12 to 1`4hr shift with no breaks! I am not sure how Elections Canada gets away with it but poll clerks and others who work the polls are expected to be at their station the entire time that the polls are open and then some must remain to count ballots or forfill other duties related to closing (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Election Act, Election Ont, Election Incentives

So the flawed “fair” Elections Act has now passed final reading with a few amendments that public pressure made the Cons include but without the dozens of amendments proposed by the opposition and without even considering the 75 amendments that the Greens were not permitted to table.

The Speaker upheld the decision of the House committee tasked with studying Bill C-23 to deny the Green Leader the right to present her amendments.  “I am profoundly disappointed by today’s ruling,” said the MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “This decision undermines the ability of MPs from smaller parties and independent MPs to move amendments, (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: CPC Lied To Elections Canada On RoboCalls?

The corruption that is the CPC’s actions in the 2011 election continues to fester.

The most recent instalment comes to us via Stephen Maher’s latest column.

In an email May 1, party lawyer Arthur Hamilton told Elections Canada that Conservative call centre workers were not advising voters that Elections Canada had changed the location of polling stations, and that the party had not advised voters to go to a polling station an hour and a half from their home. 

But a report released by Elections Canada last month includes a script that shows the party’s callers were telling voters (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: This and That – Distractions and Obfuscations

The ongoing Elections act cluster fk has successfully distracted from the latest omnibus budget from the Harper Regime, hardy a word has been seen about the 350 page “Harper Government Creating Jobs & Growth While Returning to Balanced Budgets With Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1.”. Yep, we are back to that H*&^%$# Government thing again to describe our Canada Government as run by the Harper Oligarchy and hardly a word about all the hidden things about food safety, rail safety, the appointment of judges and altering military ranks, and other stuff which has nothing to do with (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Meaningful Changes or Lipstick on the Pig?

In the unholy rush to jam their Unfair Elections Act through before the majority of Canadians realise just how bad and self-serving piece of legislation it is the Harper regieme has asked the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to “pre-study” it. In short order the Conservative-dominated committee has come back with a number of changes that it would like to see, remember this is just a “pre-study” not full hearings and that the House of Commons has yet to finish its initial study of this bill. The House Affairs Committee studying the bill will conduct one more day of (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Stealing Our Democracy: Linda Frum, Talking Points and the Dumbf

*Dumbf = dumbfuckery – a condition that appears to be unique to the creation of Harper Government talking points regarding Bill C-23.

On Huffington Post this morning, I read Michael Bolen’s commentary on Bill C-23 which led me to Linda Frum’s more verbose op-ed defending her TWITter position from earlier this week.

Ms. Frum is a shadow of her brother when it comes to writing political polemics, and the Op-Ed which the Globe and Mail had the poor judgement to publish demonstrates that in spades.

According to Ms. Frum, there’s a conflict of interest in the mandated missions of Elections (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Stealing Our Democracy: The Senate Takes A Swing

Okay, now the Senate is talking about wanting to see some amendments to the Harper Government’s bill to undermine Canada’s democracy.

The interim report recommends: 

— Removing a provision which would allow political parties to exempt from their election expenses any money spent to raise donations from anyone who has donated at least $20 over the previous five years. Experts have called this an unenforceable loophole that would allow rich, established parties with big donors’ lists to spend untold millions more during campaigns. 

— Requiring automated call service providers to retain records of campaign robocalls for three years, (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Prerequisites for Democratic Legitimacy

Anita Vandenbeld author of an article called ‘Imposing Legitimacy: The Dilemma of International Democratic Development’for LawNow magazine and former director of parliamentary affairs for Jacques Saada, the first minister of Democratic Reform in 2004, recently wrote an article on the legitimacy of bill C23. In it, in contrast to her previous article where she raised the question of how democratic institutions become legitimate in the eyes of a population, she now asks how do democratic institutions losetheir legitimacy?

Here are some extracts, read the whole thing at Ipolitics:-

Basically, I argued there are five prerequisites for democratic legitimacy: (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Bill C-23: Accountability for Thee Not For Me

It’s not exactly news that Harper has never liked Elections Canada.  In fact, it’s less than news.  His outraged utterances about Elections Canada when he was head of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC) in the 1990s set the tone for the content of Bill C-23.

“The jackasses at Elections Canada are out of control.” 

In 2001, Stephen Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition. That was his opening line in a fundraising letter. 

His loathing for the election overseers was almost pathological, recalls Gerry Nicholls, the conservative commentator who worked with Mr. Harper at the NCC. (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Winning at All Costs.

I think we are all sick of the win at all cost mentality of our political parties and their leaders, this mentality is not restricted to just the Harper Regime, although it is certainly most prevalent with that group of oligarchs, but can be seen with very few exceptions in all parties and both provincial and federal politics. I recently came across a piece from Scott, a recent graduate of the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in Political Studies who puts it like this:-

“Almost all of the political parties in today’s system seem to be more concerned (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: The "mother of all accountants" flays election bill

Sheila Fraser was once one of Stephen Harper’s favourite people. When she, in her capacity of auditor-general, exposed the Chretien government’s sponsorship scandal, sewing the seeds that would bring down the Liberals, Mr. Harper praised her handsomely as the “mother of all accountants” and in a neat turn of phrase remarked she “did not say that she thought that something smelled fishy. She

Democracy Under Fire: Citizens Protest Unfair Election Act

Many of my reader will be aware that last Tuesday a number of citizens gathered in front of Conservative MP’s Offices across the country to show their opposition to the Unfair Elections Act that is being railroaded through the legislative process by the Harper Regime. One such non partisan gathering sponsored byLeadNow took place in front of my local MP’s office, that of Larry Miller, where folks from several opposition parties and local non partisan groups spoke to the crowd. Kimberly Love of the Liberals and Karen Gventer of the NDP spoke of the injustices – the removal of (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Electoral Integrity of Act Questioned.

When 19 international Scholars from six democracy’s across the world add their voice to the over 150 Canadian scholars and almost universal condemnation of the Harper Regime’s attempt to introduce partisan bias into our election rules and to reduce the powers of the world respected Elections Canada then you know something is very wrong with the proposed legislation.Here is their open letter which clearly sets out SOME of the problems with this Bill:-

We, the undersigned, international scholars and political scientists, are concerned that Canada’s international reputation as one of the world’s guardians of democracy and human rights is (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Undemocratic Democratic Reform

Are changes to an electoral system in a democracy valid if they are brought in by a less than democratic process, are they in fact valid if the very ‘independent’ body charged with overseeing said electoral system is excluded from the process? Are they valid if recommendations from said body are ignored, debate within our parliamentary system on such measures is curtailed, concerns by parliamentarians and democracy experts across a broad range of political and non partisan stripes fall upon deaf ears? Are they in fact actually antidemocratic if they are not generally accepted by those whos right to select (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: The "Fair" Elections Act isn’t just bad, its being implemented in a bad way

Changes to our electoral system – changes, that is, to the very core of our democracy – are not to be taken lightly. Regardless of where you lie on the political spectrum, we should be able agree on process. We should be able to agree that such changes must be taken with an open and transparent process that engages a genuine debate in Canada.

I dislike many aspects of the proposed electoral reform bill. Pouring more money into elections – asymmetrically advantaging the Conservatives – is a terrible idea. Making it harder to vote – asymmetrically advantaging the Conservatives – (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Canada: A Simple Election Law (“SEL”)

At the Montreal convention, the Liberal Party overwhelmingly agreed to Priority Resolution 31, Restoring Trust in Canada’s Democracy. An important part of that resolution is this: AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, an all-Party process be instituted, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent Canadians more fairly and serve Canada better. Electoral reform has a bad record of success in Canada, with several referenda for modernizing our antiquated and undemocratic (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: On Voter Engagement

One of the purported panaceas for electoral disaffection, subscribed to by many, is some form of proportional representation, a subject upon which I admit to being poorly-schooled. Beyond some of the basic arguments both for and against PR, I know little. However, one of the most frequently-stated reasons for embracing it is that it would do much to remediate people’s oft-stated reason for not turning out at the polls: the belief that their vote doesn’t matter, certainly a perception that has been, I believe, promoted and exploited by the Harper regime to its advantage.

Although not considered a version of (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: The Undemocratic Election Act

“The things in it that are good could have been so much better, but the things that are bad are unforgivable in a democracy.”

Recently Green Party Leader Elizabeth May had an opportunity to speak to the Commons Committee considering Bill C23, The ‘Fair’ Elections Act. What follows are some extracts from that presentation, for a full transcript and audio of that speech please go the her MPs website.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to be able to speak to Bill C-23 today. I want to pause and say that when we have these rushed processes (Read more…)