On October 19 – Vote to Repair Our Broken Democracy

I am working very hard to defeat Stephen Harper on October 19 and bring to Canada a voting system that eliminates the voter alienation that our current, outdated, First Past The Post (FPTP) system causes.

Some form of Party-List Proportional Representation is used by over 8o countries in the world, including Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Brazil, South Africa, Israel, Poland, the UK (for their EU representatives), Spain, Russia, Croatia, Albania and Austria. Two countries, Germany and New Zealand, use another good form: Mixed-Member Proportional Representation, known as MMP.

There is an excellent, more complete list of countries that use Proportional Representation at proportional-representation.org.

Only a few major Western countries, slow to wisen up, still use FPTP: Canada, the U.S. Congress, India and the UK House of Commons.

Liberal Position: “Make Every Vote Count.”

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 – are fully and fairly studied and considered.

This will be carried out by a special all-party parliamentary committee, which will bring recommendations to Parliament on the way forward, to allow for action before the succeeding federal election. Within 18 months of forming government, we will bring forward legislation to enact electoral reform.

Note: I would prefer Justin Trudeau to come out firmly for MMP or Party-List Proportional Representation. His latest position has too much wiggle room, and some of the forms of PR are less proportional than MMP and Party-List Proportional Representation.

NDP:

From the Huffington Post:

Mulcair favourably references Germany and New Zealand, which have both adopted proportional representation. Specifically, the two nations use mixed-member proportional representation, the same system favoured by the NDP.

Note: Tom Mulcair’s preferred method, abbreviated as MMP, is used by only two countries. The vast majority use Party-List Proportional Representation.

Green Party:

From the Huffington Post:

The Greens want Canada to replace the current first-past-the-post electoral system with a form of proportional representation.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May said the existing electoral system allowed the Conservatives to form a majority government in 2011 with less than 40 per cent of the vote.

Note: Considering only 60% ov eligible voters voted, Stephen Harper has ruled like a dictator with only 23% (that’s twenty-three per cent!) of eligible voters marking their X for Harper on a ballot.

The Good News:

All three parties say they are committed to eliminating the FPTP system!

Proportional Representation is in the platforms of all three parties. They do not have to call a referendum on it. If Harper loses his majority, a coalition of the above parties with a combined majority of seats in Parliament can pass this and thereby fix our broken, unrepresentative, currently dysfunctional democracy in which only 61% of voters felt it important to vote.

This is NOT undemocratic, folks; we elect our representatives to govern for us. They will have an obligation to keep their promise to us after a careful review, done with the help of citizen expertise and input, that is finished within a year.

Some Concerns:

Changing how we vote is complicated.

It will take a genuine commitment to bring in a true, fully proportional form of voting, and not some watered-down alternative.

There is a risk that one of these parties may reverse its position and renege on its promise. Rest assured that every right-wing talk show in the country will try to turn voters against this change. It requires courage from the leaders.

Faced with cold feet or heavy propaganda from the media, one of the leaders may decide, as some provinces have done, to “consult the people” without properly educating them, as some provinces have done. In some cases the process required a 60% majority to move to Proportional Representation – a kiss of death if ever there was one when one considers the sad lack of sophistication out there on this complicated issue.  No cynical or cowardly referendum nonsense, please.

Proportional Representation must be at the very top of the new government’s agenda. All parties must set to work immediately and make the compromises necessary to bring in serious change. They must continue to relentlessly focus on this issue while managing the other important things that arise.

Past History:

In 1979 Pierre Trudeau proposed switching Canada’s system to Proportional Representation to the NDP, but both the Liberal caucus members and the NDP caucus members rejected it.

In 2000 the Law Commission of Canada, headed by Nathalie Des Rosiers, studied and recommended the MMP system in a 200 page report. It was not acted on by the Liberals.

In 2012 Stephane Dion proposed Proportional Representation in a New Brunswick speech.

In 2013 Joyce Murray, a Liberal leadership candidate who came second to Justin Trudeau, proposed Proportional Representation.

In February 2014 at the Liberal Convention a resolution was passed recommending “an electoral system including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent all Canadians more fairly and to allow Parliament to serve Canada better.Note: Beware of the ambiguous term, Preferential Ballot. This is a name for something that could be used in real Proportional Representation or something else in a voting system called the Alternative Vote, which is very similar to the current FPTP system and can even, in some cases, produce a less representative result.

Confused?

I don’t blame you, but remember that PR systems are used in the most enlightened countries on the planet and outnumber FPTP in progressive countries by about 90 to 4.  (See above) I want to believe that Canadians are smart enough to be taught something new and better. The FPTP system is keeping voters away in droves and the last four years under Harper’s ruthless hand have gone a long way towards destroying the Canada that those of us who care for our democracy, our environment and our children’s healthy and productive future still remember and love. We must learn to think seven generations ahead, like our First Nations did, before we vote on October 19. Choose wisely. Don’t wast your vote on an excellent candidate if that vote can, just this year, elect the most likely candidate to defeat Harper. With luck none of us after this October will have to hold our nose with one hand and make our X with the other – ever again!

More and more Canadians are catching on every day. Let’s keep our political leaders’ feet to the fire until they get it done.

At The Risk Of Repeating Myself Precisely Ten Months Later

Surprise! Sometimes I even have something positive to propose instead of just bashing Stephen Harper.

I am re-proposing my Feb 1st proposal to the Green Party in a more general form. I have resent these messages directly to Elizabeth May and to Stephane Dion, since I respect and trust their greenness and honour. They just might “get it” and start the ball rolling. I am confiding to you readers that this challenging idea may be ignored without a huge show of support from Canadians for the idea. Maybe a Facebook page. I will not do it, since I only now use FB with my tiny iPod after learning that hackers siphoned off some folks’ financial information via that popular social media site.

If you believe, as I and Maude Barlow do, that we do not have two years to wait to derail the Conservative Party’s plan: Let’s Expose Canada to Foreign Corporate Lawsuits Forever By Signing Secret Trade Deals With The Pacific Rim and Europe then…

Here is something that just might work:

Continue reading “At The Risk Of Repeating Myself Precisely Ten Months Later”

Two More Things, Ms. May, SVP

Two more things:
1. I neglected to add that this coalition or merger of Greens, New Democrats and Liberals should move to enact Proportional Representation as soon as possible after election. I’m tired of holding my nose and voting for the candidate with the best chance of preventing a Harper “majority”

2. Parliament is a better place for having your quick brilliance and civil, but fearless, tongue.

Open Letter To Justin Trudeau: “L’heure est venue, si t’as compris.”

Justin Trudeau writes, in a contribution-soliciting email that I received today:

It’s time to turn the page on seven years of Conservative policies that have left too many Canadians behind. Together, we can build a strong middle class and grow our economy so that everyone can share in Canada’s prosperity.

It is well-known by now that growth as we know it is unsustainable. I hope you will speak honestly with Canadians about this reality when the time (hopefully) comes for you, Tom Mulcair and Elizabeth May to be the next government. You have a powerful team there. I hope change comes before it’s too late.

I’m sure you realize that it is irresponsible to grow our economy at all costs. We need to make this limitation clear to all classes of Canadians and come up with a plan that conserves the things without which life itself is unsustainable: our air, soil water and our interconnected biodiversity – the disrespected, often invisible, things upon which all life depends.

I am very concerned that we will not make it to the next election without Harper having signed secretly-negotiated trade agreements that will limit our ability to protect our environment and our health. Even NAFTA needs to be amended to remove the restrictive parts of its Chapter 11, which give American and Mexican corporations the right to sue Canada for lost future profits if we bring in a law to protect our environment, for example, and that law has a negative impact on their revenues. In one classic NAFTA case in 1997, Canada had determined that a gasoline additive made by Ethyl Corporation was a potential carcinogen. This chemical, MMT, was banned in the United States. It was only used in Canada! Canada removed MMT from our gasoline. Ethyl Corporation was entitled under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 to sue for “future profits” – $251 million dollars. Canada, faced with a very expensive lawsuit that we might lose, settled out of court. Canadian taxpayers paid millions to the American corporation and permitted the additive to be used. This is just one example.

No one in Parliament looks ahead seven generations when making a decision as our native peoples used to do.

By the time the next election rolls around the destructive laws contained in huge un-debatable omnibus bills that attack our native peoples on numerous fronts may be un fait accompli. Our First Nations’ genuine rights to treaty and unceded lands (disrespected by us settlers for centuries) may be our collective last defence against pipelines and the permanent, polluting destruction wreaked by  largely foreign resource extraction corporations, whose “moccasins” have never walked our forests. In fact, corporations, though they don’t even have feet, and are, unlike us humans, immortal, have – and this must change – all the rights of a human being and then some! These powerful, ruinous rights, called “Legal Personality” or “Corporate Personhood,” must be quickly taken away. I hope you, Tom and Elizabeth will make this a priority.

It is a sad reflection on Canadian stewardship when millions of hectares of land, water and trees are surrendered to foreign corporations. The profits from these destructive activities don’t even stay in Canada; they are spirited out by means of transfer pricing, a sinister tool by which corporations avoid paying taxes owed to the country whose resources they are exploiting.

If, by sheer good fortune, the powerful, hugely punitive trade deals like CETA and the TPP agreement have failed to be passed before the 2015 election, I call on you to defend the rights of our native peoples and all Canadians to a clean environment. Please do not subject us to trade agreements that are even more powerfully punitive than NAFTA.

Look around. Smell the tobacco and the sweetgrass.

As Félix Leclerc put it, in an admittedly different, but nonetheless patriotic, musical context:

l’heure est venue, si t’as compris