Declaration of Voter's Rights

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Proportional Representation Wisdom Gained

I accepted an invitation to present proportional representation (PR) at the Saskatchewan Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) in Regina on September 20.  The PSF is designed to build solidarity by building connections between groups and social movement.  

The more presentations I do, the more I become aware that in my audience there will be experts.  When I did a pre-assessment of audience knowledge of PR it became evident that this case was no expectation.  In my resources from Fair Vote Canada, I had a vote simulation for Single Transferable Vote (STV).  I was keen to test it out because as an instructional designer my motto is "show don't tell" and as a learner my request is to "show me don't tell me."  I was unsettled when one of my experts asked why I was doing STV.  I explained it was because it was readily available and am thankful that we continued the conversation to explore the reason for his question.

He questioned my choice of STV because there is evidence in countries using it that it does not remain proportional.  Over time, it begins to look like first-past-the-post.  While I was surprised, on reflection I realized that every commission or report I had heard of was recommending mixed-member proportional (MMP).

Thanks to my PR experts, I will wisely choose the MMP simulation for my next presentation which I hope will be in your location.  If you want to learn about PR or if you can help me learn more, I have a data projector and stand ready, willing, and able to travel.

Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Chapter
Shellbrook, Saskatchewan

Friday, September 12, 2014

FPTP Produces Phony Majorities in the Majority of Elections

This Letter to the Editor was submitted to papers around the province in time for Democracy Week.
Let's imagine in 2011 you were appointed the sole UN observer of a democratic election in a country. You watched closely for bribing or bullying of voters and witnessed none. You declared it a fair election and yet you were perplexed. Over 60% of the voters voted against the party that won a huge majority. Which country's election did you observe? Would you be surprised to learn the country was Canada?  
Since WWI, Canada's first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system has produced four legitimate majorities—the other twelve have been phony majorities. A phony majority holds the majority of seats in the House of Commons with less than a majority share of the popular vote.    
Ten Canadian commissions, assemblies and reports that have recommended we replace FPTP with proportional representation (PR). Countries that use PR find it changes politics from combative winner-take-all situations to cooperative everybody-wins environments. More cooperation usually leads to more diversity; more women and minorities, in the legislature. As a bonus, more people vote because every vote counts.      
If you think phony majorities are undemocratic, during Democracy Week September 15 to 21 spread the idea of using PR to ensure a party's seat-share reflects its vote-share. Ask people to help make 2015 our last unfair federal election by voting only for candidates committed to bringing about electoral reform through PR. For PR resources visit fairvote.ca or your local library.    
Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Chapter
Shellbrook, Saskatchewan

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ten Canadian Recommendations for Proportional Representation

Wilfred Day at http://wilfday.blogspot.ca/2014/01/ten-canadian-commissions-assemblies-and.html offers up the "expert evidence" that has accumulated in the past decade in support of proportional representation.
  1. The Law Commission of Canada (2004) recommends a mixed system.  "Like all proportional systems, it will let every vote count, and promote consensual, cooperative and cross-party law-making. Since each province would still have the same number of MPs, no constitutional amendment would be needed."
  2. Quebec’s Estates-General on the Reform of Democratic Institutions (2003).  Of the 825 people who deliberated, only 10% want to keep first-past-the-post (FPTP).
  3. Prince Edward Island's Justice Carruthers "presented his report recommending a Mixed Member Proportional System (MMPS) based on the system now in use in Germany, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales" (2003).
  4. The BC Citizen's Assembly "proposed the single transferable vote (STV) system, used in Ireland, for British Columbia."
  5. A Quebec government study under Jean Charest "presented a draft bill proposing a new mixed electoral system like the Law Commission recommendation but with very small regions."
  6. New Brunswick’s Commission on Legislative Democracy (2003) "recommended a regional MMP system that would combine 36 single-member riding seats with 20 regional 'top-up' PR seats, elected within four approximately equal-sized, multi-member, regional districts."
  7. Quebec Citizens Committee Report (2006) "proposed a MMP system similar to that used in Germany, with a two-vote system."
  8. Quebec Select Committee Report modified the 2006 report "to give greater consideration to the multiplicity of political expressions."
  9. Ontario’s Citizens Assembly (2007) "recommended a MMP system combining members of provincial parliament elected in local districts and members elected for the whole province from closed province-wide party lists."
  10. Quebec’s Chief Electoral Officer’s Report (2007) "reviewed a number of options for the design of a mixed proportional model for Quebec, leaning towards a nine-region model with an open list system giving voters the choice of using their second ballot to vote for a party or one regional candidate."
Day concludes that it is not surprising that polls show 70% of Canadians support a move to proportional representation. Please talk about proportional representation within your circles of influence and let's make 2015 the last unfair election in Canada.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is the "Fair Elections Act" More Trouble?

The Green Party has prepared a detailed infographic explaining why our democracy is in trouble.  It begins by showing the voter turnout has dropped by 20% since 1988 with a disproportionate number of youth not voting. 

The "Fair Elections Act" would:
  • Muzzle the Chief Electoral Officer
  • Prevent Canadians from vouching for fellow citizens
  • Allow Senate to veto democratic reforms like online voting
The infographic then promotes proportional representation.


To view the infographic visit http://tinyurl.com/osnrsax.  The link at the top http://www.greenparty.ca/true-democracy offers you an opportunity to demand a true democracy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Visit Your MP to Pitch PR

I committed to "environmental stewardship through social justice" after a time of finding that between us and the remedy to any environmental problem stood wage slaves.  To stop climate change we need system change and I am convinced proportional representation (PR) is our best option.  When I signed up to visit my MP to lobby for PR at http://www.fairvote.ca/mpvisit/, Fair Vote Canada (FVC) informed me:
  • Parties are already busy preparing their platforms for the 2015 election. From January 2nd to 26th, 2014, MPs are in their home ridings. Now is the time to tell them that we want votes that count - we want proportional representation.
  • The best way to influence your MP is through a face-to-face meeting. When you take the time for a personal visit, your MP knows that the concerns you express probably reflect those of thousands of their constituents. Your MP will remember these conversations better than letters, and may even bring them back to party caucus meetings on Parliament Hill.
Saskatchewan has 14 of those MPs.  Find yours here http://tinyurl.com/yourSKmp and please take advantage of this window of opportunity and arrange a visit with your MP.  It might be stepping outside your comfort zone but climate change threatens to move us all out of our comfort zones. 
Let us know if you arrange a visit and we'll update this blog.
Your Riding/Your MP
Battlefords—Lloydminster/Gerry Ritz
Blackstrap/Lynne Yelich
Cypress Hills—Grasslands/David Anderson
Desneth√©—Missinippi—Churchill River/Rob Clarke
Palliser/Ray Boughen
Prince Albert/Randy Hoback
Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre/Tom Lukiwski
Regina—Qu'Appelle/Andrew Scheer
Saskatoon—Humboldt/Brad Trost
Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar/Kelly Block
Saskatoon—Wanuskewin/Maurice Vellacott
Souris—Moose Mountain/Ed Komarnicki
Wascana/Ralph Goodale
Yorkton—Melville/Garry Breitkreuz

Nancy Carswell
Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Canada Saskatchewan Chapter