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Democracy Under Fire: Harper History, Part 8 – Senate reform / suspensions, Election Act

2013 – 2014 Even with the ongoing Senate expense scandal, the Robocall investigation crawling along (much delayed by the presence of the Conservative lawyer at E.C. Interviews) another suspension of parliament for no apparent reason followed up by another massive austerity budget it was the (un)Fair Elections Act that got all the attention during this period. The closing or cuts to any number of federal programs and departments continued, many aimed at scientific, public safety and oversight areas, in an apparent effort to be able to ‘balance’ the budget just before the 2015 election. It becomes increasingly difficult to (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Prime Minister Trudeau will lead us out of the Harper darkness

Harper’s sham democracy

It is difficult to think of a more important election for Canada’s future than the coming October one. The choice is stark: more of the Harper Conservative chipping away at our democratic institutions, or, under Justin Trudeau as our PM, a refreshing change that will usher modern democratic methods into Canada.

Make no bones about it. If Trudeau is PM and Harper is not, Canadians will have wrested control of Parliament away from the highly centralized, undemocratic PM Office and returned it to their representatives. We will notice the difference within months, starting with the first few (Read more…)

Democracy Under Fire: Too Much Money?

With much speculation (Harper, will meet with Governor General David Johnston, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada, Sunday at 9:55 a.m., according to a statement released late Saturday by the prime minister’s office.) that today is the day that Harper will go to the GG and dissolve parliament thus resulting in a record 11 week election period (or not) here is a quick review of the inordinate amount of money that will be spent during that time. No attempt has been made to estimate the millions spent by the Harper regime in recent months assassinating (Read more…)

Politics Canada: How can we change the electoral system?

Our system is an absolute farce. 38% of the vote gives you 55% of the seats and absolute, unchecked power. Power that is concentrated in the PMO like never before in our history.

When I approach our first past the post (fptp) system I feel the way someone must feel when they have to clean a smoking, loaded and cocked pistol. Who knows what the outcome will be? Certainly not what I intended.

Will some well organized group of fringe radicals through intense discipline, deception, and extreme message control be able to get the required 38% to take absolute power?

We (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Jeff Spross argues that in addition to ensuring that employees are fairly paid for the overtime hours they work, we should also be pushing to ensure people aren’t required to work as much to begin with. And Angella MacEwen points out that any spin about increasing wages is based almost entirely on a proportional increase in hours worked, rather than workers receiving any benefit from improved productivity.

- Meanwhile, Cory Doctorow highlights new research showing that the CEOs who manage to squeeze the most money out of businesses actually perform worse than (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Mr. Trudeau brings more good news on the democracy front

This is shaping up to be a good week for democracy. The new Alberta government’s banning of political donations by corporations and unions has been followed with a surprising and very welcome announcement by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau of major democratic reform if his party wins the October election.

Some of the Liberal proposals I particularly like include the following:

A thorough study

Scott's DiaTribes: Real Change – democratic reform package released by Liberals gets attention.

Yesterday in Ottawa, Pierre Trudeau and over 160 candidates (inc. my friend Danielle Takacs) released a set of 32 democratic reform proposals called “Real Change”, which would significantly overhaul how democratic institutions and process work in the country. Everyone knows I’m a Liberal supporter, so hearing I’m excited about these would not be surprising to anyone (particularly the part that says our current electoral model of First Past The Post will be our last in 2015). So let’s look at the reaction of some more non-partisan, even cynical folks out there.

-Paul Wells on Twitter and a more fleshed out (Read more…)

Impolitical: Thoughts on the #LPC electoral reform policy plank

As a party member who has been involved with supporting democratic reform initiatives in the Liberal party, I thought I would add a few thoughts to the discussion today on the Liberal Party of Canada’s electoral reform plank, rolled out earlier today. The pledge to “Make every vote count” is as follows: We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system. As part of a national engagement process, we will ensure that electoral reform measures – such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting – (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Four Unusual Men & The UK Election

The Mayor waits patiently …

The political fate of four men might be determined by this week’s UK general election. Two of the men have fluffed their campaigning in parts, while one man has a chance to rise, Lazarus-like, and change the rules of future elections; the fourth man is circling, with vulture-like feigned indifference, waiting for a chance to tear into the carrion-corpse of his party’s leader.

Cameron’s view of the importance of the election: This week Prime Minister Cameron dropped a Freudian Slip when talking about the election: After Mr. Cameron misspoke on Friday and called the election “career-defining” (Read more…)

Pop The Stack: Should America Make Voting Mandatory?

So US President Obama recently suggested that making voting mandatory. There are multiple reasons for this, one being that the people who don’t vote are more likely to be low income and democrat so it would favour his party. But he also suggested it would reduce the influence of money in politics since the candidates that can spend more to make sure their base get out would lose the advantage.

I don’t disagree but I think there are many better ways to get people voting, like ensuring every vote counts equally and that every significant voice is heard even if (Read more…)

Je suis Charlie: All NL parties agree to anti-democratic, regressive cuts to legislature #nlpoli

Whenever the provincial government gets into financial trouble, someone will suggest that one great way to save money would be to cut the number of members in the House of Assembly.

Some people make the suggestion because they think members of the House doing nothing anyway. Others suggest that cutting the House is a way of sharing the pain of cuts coming to government generally.  And others justify proposed cuts to the House of Assembly because other places with a larger population have fewer politicians to represent them.

None of those are valid reasons to cut the House budget.  Reform of the House of Assembly should be about representing the people of the province more effectively. It should be about reducing the control of monied interests, including unions, and increasing the influence of ordinary people.

Cutting the number of members  as proposed by Dwight Ball, Lorraine Michael, and Paul Davis, . . . → Read More: Je suis Charlie: All NL parties agree to anti-democratic, regressive cuts to legislature #nlpoli

CuriosityCat: Michael Den Tandt is wrong: Mulcair knows what a mess of pottage is

Den Tandt: Muclair cannot count

So, what will our next federal government look like? Today is the last day of the year 2014, and most commentators have hidden their heads in the sand rather than venture a public guess.

Michael Den Tandt is one of the braver ones.

In an article in the National Post he forecasts a minority government for Stephen Harper, without any attempt by the two opposition parties – which combined will have more MPs than the Tory minority government – to vote him out in a no-confidence vote. Den Tandt believes that Harper will survive for (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: Mulcair leads the way to a more democratic Canada

Mulcair: The man who would bring democracy to Canada

Thomas Mulcair, that very capable MP who is leader of the NDP, has publicly committed himself to remedy our democratic deficit, as this post indicates. Mulcair is to be commended for two things. First, for signing the Fair Vote Canada declaration (click herefor the full text). Second, for strongly coming out in favour of a modified proportional representation system of electing our federal MPs. The Fair Vote Canada declaration has this very important commitment:

What is important about the Fair Vote Canada declaration is that it is the modern equivalent (Read more…) . . . → Read More: CuriosityCat: Mulcair leads the way to a more democratic Canada

Democracy Under Fire: An Open Letter to Tom Mulcair.

Dear Sir I am in receipt of you self congratulatory email boasting of how you have just signed the Fair Vote Canada’s Politicians’ Pledge,I congratulate you on doing so and would hope that many other MPs from all parties join you in doing so but have a number of concerns with the other issues raised in you communications. Firstly your “commitment to make 2015 the last unfair election — and 2019 the first election to use a truly democratic electoral system” is clearly unobtainable…… unless you intend to either impose a new system upon Canadians without public consultation and (Read more…)

CuriosityCat: 2015 election: Coalition gains favour

Which one, or two, of these men will lead Canada?

The end of the Harper government is clear from this latest poll, which shows that the Harper scare tactics of the past have run their course: Liberal and NDP supporters, meanwhile, have expressed a tepid willingness to consider each other, suggesting that a Liberal-NDP coalition may be feasible should the Conservatives pull off a minority win in 2015. Indeed, unlike in 2011, it appears now that Liberals and NDP supporters are equally likely to say they are certain to be voting. The rise of greater commitment to vote in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, taking a quick look at Canada’s options for electoral reform while arguing that an MMP system would create far better incentives for our political leaders than the alternatives.

For further reading…- Alison wrote about our options in advance of yesterday’s vote on the NDP’s electoral reform proposal. – Eric Grenier discusses the possible outcomes under the three main alternatives based on current polling. And I’d argue that the current party standings offer a useful litmus test as to one’s weighting of representativeness versus defaulting toward majority government – as a preferential system would put the Libs within (Read more…)

ParliamANT Hill: Electoral reform: Which party would benefit most?

Satire inspired by this headline: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/electoral-reform-which-party-would-benefit-most-1.2857321

Song of the Watermelon: On the Benevolence of Slippery Slopes: Women Taking the Lead

I had the pleasure last week of attending a public talk called “Women’s Voices: What Difference Do They Make?” featuring Canada’s first and only female prime minister, Kim Campbell.

Appearing at Vancouver’s Harbour Centre campus of Simon Fraser University, the former PM sat down with Shari Graydon of Informed Opinions to discuss women’s participation in government, business, and the media. She spoke with ease and humour about her time in politics, relating such anecdotes as the aura of stunned silence which prevailed when, having recently been promoted to cabinet, she disrupted the old boys’ atmosphere by launching into a (Read more…)

The Progressive Right: I Support Mandatory Voting ( #cdnpoli #onpoli )

I went on a bit of a tear today on Twitter in support of mandatory voting, spurred somewhat by the discussion happening at the Canada 2020 conference in Ottawa.

Voter participation in Canadian elections is abysmal and with municipal elections happening across Ontario, it’s time to revisit mandatory voting.

If you’re a voter, good for you. You probably have an opinion on mandatory voting, but I’m not addressing you right now. I’d like to take a stab at why mandatory voting would be good for motivating non-voters.

I believe there are two general types of non-voter.

Single issue-based or politically (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Harper’s Gambit

With his numbers sinking in the most recent polls, Harper appears to be moving to bring out his rear guard actions to sustain his grip on power.

There are several pieces to this discussion:

(1)  Foreign Affairs

Between fomenting a shooting war with Russia in the Ukraine,  a stance on Israel that’s about as nuanced as an angry rhinoceros, and taking explicit sides in the ongoing collapse of Iraq and Syria, anyone would think that Harper was trying to drag Canada into a war.

Make no mistake about it, that is one of the cards that Harper (Read more…)

The Progressive Right: Return to the Ward System in #Oshawa ( #oshpoli )

In the upcoming municipal election, the city of Oshawa will have a ballot question asking voters whether the city should return to the ward system – that is, electing councillors based upon neighbourhoods rather than the current “councillor-at-large” method. Click to see full size PDF

Oshawa previously had a ward system, but changed to an at-large voting system for the election of 2010.

The question of moving to the councillor-at-large system originated with a 2006 ballot question. The turnout was low and thus non-binding, but City Council moved ahead with the decision to elect councillors at large for the 2010 (Read more…)

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…)