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Posts Tagged ‘Electoral Reform’

I can’t believe a small part of me actually believed it was possible that our wonky, undemocratic and downright dangerous electoral system would be replaced by Justin Trudeau and his band of smiling hacks.

The government has announced it is abandoning one of its main election promises.  A promise spoke in no uncertain terms: “2015 would be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post system.”

I can’t say I am surprised that the party that has benefited the most from the undemocratic, non-representative first past the post system has decided to keep it.  Why not?  They more than any other political organism have benefited from its erratic outcomes where less than 40 % of the popular vote can win you a majority government which in Canada, as demonstrated under Chretien, Harper and now Trudeau gives one absolute unchecked power.

Canadians now, more than most western ‘democracies’ will continue to be at risk of a Trump style populist wave gaining unchecked power in this country and remaking it however they, a small extremist group, choose.

Justin Trudeau has failed Canada and all Canadians in the name of his own political success and power.

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Here is a short about our current roulette voting system:

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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 could have a system which delivers our MPs in a way that matches how the country voted.  We could be doing this while maintaining local representation through several different formulas.  My personal favourite is proportional representation where the priority listing of candidates on a party’s list is determined by the percentage of the vote they captured at the local level.  Those who capture a large percentage of the local vote would be higher on the party’s list and thus have a higher chance of making it to parliament and would represent their local riding.  Party leaders could be reserved the first seat for any party.

Here’s the problem: the party that just won the election was using fptp.  That’s right the election winner has just taken their first hit of fptp success and they are hooked.  They know it is wrong but they just got a big boost from the distorted fptp results.  They decide they want that high again and do not break the habit.

How can Canadians break the election winner’s addiction to fptp and get a system which would make everyone feel as though their vote counted?

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“Canada’s electoral system and government structures make it susceptible to ‘hijacking’ by radicals who could, with a majority in the house of commons, make fundamental changes to the country.”  I remember the remark hanging in the lecture hall at Catherine Parr Trail College.  I paid this point little attention, thinking, “I guess anything is possible.  Likely? That’s another thing altogether.”

Canada’s single member plurality electoral system produces twisted, malformed results that do not match the sentiment expressed by voters.  Thirty eight percent of the vote means over fifty percent of the seats and absolute power; ten percent of the vote meant zero percent of the seats and so on.  Candidates represent ridings where sixty percent or more did not vote for them.  An extremist group could take absolute control of the country with only twenty five percent of eligible voters depending on voter participation rates.

It is disconcerting to think that we have chosen to arrange things so that over sixty percent of those who do their civic duty end up with no voice.

Canada has now found itself in the exact situation warned of in the lecture mentioned above, hijacked by an extremist group that was not forthcoming about their plans for the country, took over an established political brand with a history in power, mounted a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign when there was no election under way to smear opponents, played cynical wedge issues to divide the country and used fear to stampede as many votes as they could.

I am not saying that past Liberal or Progressive Conservative governments have not prospered at the expense of electoral accuracy.  This is, however, a very different scenario with a right wing movement that would put Utah Republicans to shame being given a majority government.

The election of the Harper Conservatives in May of 2011 does not represent a growing conservatism in Canada, nor does it mean that a majority of Canadians agree with this right wing extremism.  Canadians would never have voted for the Conservatives in May if it were not for many key factors, many of which are rooted in deception and assumption.  When we consider that only 61% of voters actually cast a ballot and apply this to the Conservative percentage of the votes (39%) we see that less than 25% of registered voters cast their ballot for the Conservatives.

I think it is important to understand just how Stephen Harper of the National Citizens Coalition; The Canadian Alliance and the Reform Party became Prime Minister.

The number one factor for this series of posts about the extremist Harper regime success is Canada’s single member plurality electoral system, which allowed a well organized minority to take control of the country’s levers of power.  I will add to the list of factors which led to Canada being taken by a fringe group of radicals that do not reflect the fabric of Canada, they will work hard to change that fabric so that it reflects them, or at least appears to.  “Canada’s values are Conservative values, The Conservative party is Canada’s party.” (ahem, 39%)

I plan to continue with the factors that led to this situation over the next few posts.

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Imagine an electoral system which actually reflected the will of the majority when it turned in it’s results.  Not one that takes the the party with a minority of votes and puts it in power absolutely for the next four to five years.  Imagine an electoral system where Conservatives could be conservatives, Liberals could be liberals and New Democrats could be, well in third place…  Imagine a system where you could vote for who you wanted and not have to dig and research to figure out the way to stop those you dislike the most.  Imagine not having to worry about whether a small group is able to hijack and destroy the country you have built.  Imagine being able to relax as a vote…. ah wouldn’t it be lovely.

One could easily argue that the best governments we have seen as Canadians have been minorities, they seem to emit a more measured approach with a greater attention to detail.

How undemocratic does Canada have to be before anyone takes action?  We Canadians like to cast our ballot for her majesty’s representatives and then shuffle off allowing whoever wins to stumble about for the next four years.  Heck when it’s time to look again, if the economy looks in reasonable shape, we’ll let them stay another four years.

One thing I agree with Stephen Harper about is a triple E senate, Equal, Elected and Effective.  I actually studied politics and when I think of the senate I think of a chamber with red carpeting, feeling very cathedral like where people go for their naps…  Perhaps we could tack an A onto the end there and call it accurate, that maybe each of the provinces actually send a group of representatives that reflect the popular vote.

As far as the legislature, we should elect our members with a pure Pacific to Atlantic to Arctic proportional systems.  That is, seats are divvied up according to the percentage of the vote each party receives on a national level.  The Green Party would have 30 seats, the NDP would get a slightly stronger voice at around 60 seats and the other two would not be able to run away with something they never won or deserved.

Climate change is not the only area Canada lags behind the rest of the western world, we lag behind most of the western world in democracy as well.

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