Declaration of Voter's Rights

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, Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Co-spokesperson
Shellbrook, 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

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Electoral Reform Referendum Undemocratic

This letter to the editor was inspired by a Fair Vote Canada Chapters discussion that mentioned no referendum was needed to enfranchise women.

Dear Editor,

Would Canadian women have the vote today if it could only happen through a referendum? Like all roads not taken, we will never know but the question does provide guidance on whether we need a referendum for electoral reform of our first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. It may appear that recognizing women's right to vote is a different case than replacing FPTP but at their core they are both issues of fairness.

In 1918, the Supreme Court did not consider women "persons" and this would have been reflected in the beliefs of men who would be voting in our hypothetical referendum. It was the 1918 "An Act to confer the Electoral Franchise upon Women" voted in by parliament that entitled women to vote.

While it takes only simple math to prove that FPTP with more than two parties on the ballot is unfair, choosing a replacement system requires time-consuming research and reflection.

In 2015, 63% of voters cast ballots for parties which campaigned on conducting a public consultation, then making every vote count in 2019. Yet Conservative MP Randy Hoback writes not having a referendum would be "profoundly undemocratic". I suggest we remember that we have a representative democracy. We vote in members of parliament to consider complex questions, consult with constituents, virtuously debate the issue, and then cast a vote on our behalf.

Visit FairVote.ca and other sources to study electoral reform options. Then, let your MP know your informed opinion so they can make a more informed decision.

Nancy Carswell Fair Vote Saskatchewan Co-spokesperson

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thanks to co-spokesperson Lee Ward, Saskatchewan Chapter of Fair Vote Canada was part of the University of Regina Students’ Union "Get Out and Vote" campaign. The goal of the campaign is to encourage young people to vote by talking to them rather than at them. I feel our "Mock Vote/Go Vote" session achieved this goal. Having learned my lesson, I did the simplest of mixed-member proportional (MMP) vote. This was the ballot.


After my FVC presentation, analyzing the results from our mock vote, and Dennis Pilon's video, the group discussion was encouraging as no one opposed proportional representation and the questions focused on logistics and which type to implement.


Lee Ward with students at mock vote.

I was pleased that someone in the crowd said it before I did.
  • First, go vote.
  • Second, on October 19th please vote for a candidate committed to PR so that hopefully in future elections all votes will count.
Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Chapter

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Right to Proportional Volume

This Letter to the Editor was inspired by a comment in The Right to be Cold:

When asked by the late Jack Layton to enter federal politics, renowned Inuk environmental activist Shelia Watt-Cloutier's declined because she "couldn't possibly survive the loud and uncivil manner in which the House of Commons conducts itself." Where does this loud and uncivil manner originate from? It is from our winner-take-all first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system that produces phony majorities.

FPTP works well in a two party system. With more than two parties there is always the potential that more people will vote against the winners than for them. Our 2011 federal election gave 54% of the seats to a party that won 40% of the popular vote. Then, 40% of the people didn't vote (perhaps because they recognize it is as futile), so the Conservative mandate was from 25% of the eligible voters. Conversely, FPTP gave 100% of the power to a party not mandated by 75% of the eligible voters.

As soon as a party forms the government, the goal becomes to win the next election by competing with the other parties—not collaborating, so we have a "loud and uncivil" House.

FPTP has to go. Insist your candidate commit to proportional representation (PR). PR is designed to produce a House that shares out its seats in proportion to the way voters vote so that the volume of each party's voice is genuine, not phony.

Let's make 2015 the last time a party wins a phony majority. If your candidate commits to electoral reform through PR, then Go Vote.

Nancy Carswell
Co-spokesperson Saskatchewan Chapter Fair Vote Canada