Declaration of Voter's Rights

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Most Important Two Minutes of My Life

 
Meeting No. 24 Special Committee on Electoral Reform
Evening Addition http://tinyurl.com/erreRegina 20:36:30

Dear Electoral Reform Committee,

Your mandate and my vision need proportional representation which makes this the most important two minutes in my life.

I've had fierce conversations about why civilizations rise and fall.  Author Chris Harman says civilizations rise when citizens "remold society around the values of solidarity, mutual support, egalitarianism, collective cooperation and democratically planned use of resources." 



Civilizations fall when citizens fail to maintain these values.

Let's focus on the value of "democratically planned use of resources."  As an environmentalist, I was frustrated when a wage slave would step between me and the tree I wanted to hug.  Then I realized that the tree wouldn't need hugging if the wage slave’s owners did not undemocratically use resources in ways that externalize costs on the poor and the environment and then use the profits to amplify their voices.

As citizens, we can best maintain our values if our voices have proportional representation in our House of Commons.  This gives a foundation of consensus rather than majority rule.  Countries using proportional representation have risen to the top for voter turnout, women and visible minorities in government, income equality and strong economies, and, my priority, environmental protection.

Give Canadians the opportunity to remold our society around our values.  On December 1, identify proportional representation as the electoral reform that offers effectiveness and legitimacy, engagement, accessibility and inclusiveness, integrity, and can offer Canadian-made local representation. 

Thank you.

Nancy Carswell
Senior Researcher into Happiness


 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Finding a Better Electoral System

Imagine you are living in the age of cavepersons with a constant supply of water and food in your cave. Would you ever risk venturing outside? Brain research reveals there is a demographic in our cave that has a brain designed to venture outside—teens. Ironically, it is our teens' drive for reward that has become the foundation of our existence as they enthusiastically ignore consequences. Sometimes they take themselves out of the gene pool and sometimes they succeed in a "better way" that benefits all of us.


Our government has promised to replace our first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system with a better way. While some think keeping FPTP is keeping us safe, among other severe problems, it favours survival of the richest.

  The Electoral Reform Committee (ERRE) is reporting in December on two options; ranked ballots and proportional representation (PR). Ranked ballots would not meet the requirements of effectiveness and legitimacy, engagement, accessibility and inclusiveness, and integrity. PR meets all of these plus we can customize it for the requirement of local representation. No constitutional changes needed.

The "teen" brain found PR is a better way in 35 other robust democracies including Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. In our Canadian cave, let's replace adversarial first-past-the-post with consensual proportional representation. Tell your MP and/or tell the Committee (http://tinyurl.com/tellerre) that PR is the better way to make every vote count.Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Chapter

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Electoral Reform Committee Not Looking at Status Quo

I jokingly say I prefer being on a committee of one—me or someone else. Imagine you are the committee responsible for electoral reform in Canada. Your Liberal party campaign promise was that the 2015 federal election would be the last using our first-past-the-post (FPTP) winner-take-all-losers-get-nothing plurality-majority electoral system. Your committee must report by December 2016 on reforms that include ranked ballots and proportional representation.


The Conservative Party has vowed to block any electoral reform without a referendum. Perhaps though it would be wiser for the Conservatives to support proportional representation rather than counting on a referendum to keep the status quo. If your committee report recommends proportional representation, the Conservatives would get seats proportional to how voters voted—9 more than FPTP gave in 2015.

If your committee report recommends ranked ballots (which is still winner take all), it could give the Liberals a perpetual advantage. What advantage? In experiments, voters on the right rank Conservatives #1 and Liberals #2. Voters on the left rank NDPs #1 and Liberals #2. All the Liberal #2s plus their own #1s rank them into first place.

Proportional representation is not just fair for the Conservatives; it is fair for all Canadians. It is the system that over 80 countries have progressed to because it is consensus based rather than majoritarian oppositional so parliamentarians can focus on policy rather than politics.

The committee wants to hear from you at http://www.parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/ERRE "PARTICIPATE in the study" or ask your MP about their electoral reform town hall.

Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Chapter

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ping Pong and Political Policies

What do Canadian politics and ping pong have in common?  At the Saskatoon "Making Every Vote Count" Green Party event, former MP Bruce Hyer explained how our winner-take-all voting system turns politics into a game of ping pong.


In order to win votes, Party R must differentiate itself from the other parties.  Party R enacts their promises when they win and then get bounced off the table by voters.  Party L reverses Party R's policies and enacts the opposite.  Policies get batted back and forth like a ping pong ball.

Unlike first-past-the-post (FPTP), Hyer said that proportional representation (PR) produces longer-lasting policies resulting in better governance.  This is supported by an article on how Scotland's PR is helping change politics.  Journalist Adam Ramsay wrote, PR "seems to have replaced the pendulum of Big Ben, swinging back and forth between two increasingly tired parties."

Hyer also constructed a check list for what a democratic electoral system should provide.  While FPTP and alternative voting/ranked balloting get check marks for local representation and accountability, unlike PR, they miss check marks for fair representation, reflecting Canadian diversity, or giving voters equality. PR gets check marks for all plus for good governance because cross-party cooperation yields the mentioned longer-lasting policies.

Thankfully, the Liberal government is now basing its electoral reform committee seats proportionally.  Connect with your MP today and ask them to invite you to their electoral reform town hall.  Phone or visit fairvotecanada.good.do/townhalls/emailMP/.
 
Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan


 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Electoral Reform Need Not Be Like First-Past-the-Post on Steroids

There was dancing in the streets—or at least in the offices across Canada of non-profit organizations when the Liberals announced a committee on electoral reform that will be looking at systems to replace first-past-the-post (FPTP). Why would non-profits be dancing? Their hope is that the 2019 federal election will use a system of proportional representation (PR); one where seats in the House of Commons will be in proportion to the way people voted.

Community-serving non-profits recognize that FPTP serves the rich community as the rich can bet their money on a party and influence the election. Then, post-election, they have their hands on the reins.

Ominously, as well as PR, the Liberals are considering a ranked voting system called preferential-balloting or alternative voting (AV). Analysis show that Liberals would win with AV because being in the middle of the Conservatives and NDP, people would rank them as a second choice. Enough second choices makes you a winner. Ed Broadbent says, "Simply put, ranked ballots in a federal election would be like First Past the Post on steroids – even larger false majorities, results even more outrageously torqued and even more unrepresentative of the popular will."


The electoral reform committee is charged with finding a system that is effective and legitimate, engaging, accessible and inclusive, and has integrity and local representation. The committee is setting up consultations; written, online, and face-to-face. Visit FairVote.ca to compare PR and AV then let the committee know which you think is best for all Canadians.

Nancy Carswell
Co-spokesperson Saskatchewan Chapter Fair Vote Canada

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Can You Name All Six Parties That Ran in the 2016 Saskatchewan Election?

Can you name all six parties that ran in the 2016 Saskatchewan election? Each of these parties is a voice for their voters yet we ended up with a two party government. Where are the other four voices?

Of the 431,140 votes, 277,379 were cast for the winners and 153,761 were cast into the wind. Adding in the 320,424 eligible voters who did not vote, we have 63% of the people of Saskatchewan without a voice in government. Yet, we are told we have a majority government.


Recently Stephen Lewis says replacing first-past-the-post with proportional representation (PR) "is a fight we have to win: it should consume our energies." PR is any voting system designed to produce a legislature where the voices of voters are represented in proportion to their numbers—not their bank balance.

Countries with PR like Sweden, Denmark, and Norway have more income equality and more gender equality in government. They are more likely to have stronger economic growth and at the same time better environmental report cards. Why? Because the parties don't waste energy beating each other, they use their energy to win voters and cooperate for the common good.

If the Liberals don't come calling to consult you on their promise that the 2015 federal election would be the last using first-past-the-post, you can call on Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef to support PR. Once our votes count federally, it won't be long before they count provincially.

Nancy Carswell
Co-spokesperson Saskatchewan Chapter Fair Vote Canada

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mercer Rants on PR's Change from Fantasy to Possibility

"If it's never going to happen in my lifetime, why should I even think about it?" "I" being Rick Mercer and "it" being proportional representation (PR). In his Rant, he explains that PR was for him a leftist fantasy that would change our electoral system "so the number of seats a political party has in the House of Commons reflects the percentage of the vote the party received."


That was, it was a fantasy until a giant from the right, Stephen Harper's former Chief of Staff Guy Giorno, joined the Every Voter Counts Alliance. Mercer says for him it was the equivalent of "Darth Vader sitting down with the Ewoks to fight climate change." Mercer concludes the Alliance is "Smart people, political rivals, coming together with one goal—to improve our democracy."

How would PR improve our democracy? Research shows that PR countries have significantly fewer wasted votes, higher voter turnout, better economies and environmental outcomes, more diversity in their elected representatives, and lower income inequality.

Above all, Fair Vote Canada's Kelly Carmichael says, "Proportional representation is not about parties. It's about giving every voter an equal say, and creating a Parliament that represents us."

The Trudeau government has promised to convene an all-party Parliamentary committee within 18 months of forming the government. Let's hold them to that promise and let your MP know that a whole bunch of smart people say that PR is the best system to make every one of our votes count.

Nancy Carswell Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Co-spokesperson