Declaration of Voter's Rights

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Reducing Policy Lurch


John Thorton and Todd McKay wrote about the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) issue in the May 12 Shellbrook Chronicle. Together they provide an educational contrast.
 
John's letter presents a history of the STC under the Sask Party. Initially, a decrease in fares produced an increase in revenue. Yet, fare increases made it "too expensive for nearly 100,000 riders in five short years." John emphasizes that the STC is and should remain a public service.
 
Todd's article presents the case that the STC "didn't serve everyone even though we all subsidized it through our taxes."  He gives the example of the AV Transit company.  It may offer more timely and less expensive service between Martensville and Saskatoon. Todd concludes the STC is best privatized.
 
John's and Todd's writing reveal the potential policy lurches possible in our first-past-the-post electoral system. Imagine the next Saskatchewan government is pro-public services. We could lurch back to a public bus service.
 
 
 
When the seats in government are in proportion to the way people voted, there are fewer policy lurches. Proportional representation (PR) creates a cooperative decision-making process.  PR produces sustainable and durable policy outcomes. This is why over 80 democracies have evolved to some form of PR.
 
Evidence heard by the all-party electoral reform committee (ERRE) overwhelmingly favoured PR. Find your MP at http://tinyurl.com/memberbypostalcode.  Ask them to be a democracy hero by voting to accept the ERRE report at the end of May. Let's make every vote count federally, then provincially.
 
Nancy Carswell, Co-spokesperson Fair Vote Saskatchewan
Shellbrook, Saskatchewan

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Proportional Representation and Pharmacare

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t just break a promise to the Canadian people when he recently abandoned electoral reform. He also abandoned his country to a costly pharmaceutical system that favours powerful drug companies at the expense of taxpayers, an advocacy group says.

Trudeau’s "appalling" reversal on February 1 makes it nearly impossible to achieve a vastly more efficient pharmacare program, despite 90 percent of Canadians wanting such a system, says Saskatchewan Fair Vote Canada (FVSK). "The majority of Canadians expressed their desire to see a more cooperative and inclusive form of politics in the House of Commons," when they voted for electoral reform, said FVSK co-spokesperson Lee Ward. But Trudeau’s flip-flop in support of the current electoral system will inhibit the formation and enactment of policies in the public’s interest.

National pharmacare programs already exist in advanced democracies with proportional representation – a more representative system achievable through electoral reform. Thus pharmacare systems in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland control drug costs and save their taxpayers huge sums of money. In Canada, that money goes to drug companies with lobbyists in Ottawa.


"Anyone’s spending is somebody else’s income," said Bob Evans, a Professor Emeritus with the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics. "Universal pharmacare could save billions to Canadians, so there are powerful corporate interests that will do everything they can to make sure it does not happen."

An Angus Reid poll found 91 percent of Canadians support the idea of a national pharmacare program. But the national electoral system fails to represent Canadians' wishes, says the FVSK’s Nancy Carswell.

"If we had proportional representation, we could better turn this pharmacare concern into policy," Carswell adds. "Instead, we have a flip-flop. A two percent change of the vote can mean a 100 percent change in power and a counter-productive, 180-degree change in policy direction."

By contrast, proportional representation fosters political consensus-building, which in turn produces policies and laws that recognize "the rights and concerns of most Canadians," Ward says. The current systems disproportionately serves "a narrow subsection of electorally significant voters in a few key swing ridings."

Canada’s drug costs have quadrupled since the 1990s, according to study of the nation’s healthcare costs. Scandinavia’s pharmacare programs have prevented such increases, writes Anu Partanen, author of the acclaimed book The Nordic Theory of Everything.

"The most obvious advantage is that it helps the country control health-care costs by weeding out expensive yet ineffective treatments, or drugs that have a more affordable alternative," says Partanen.

Lead Now has a campaign focusing on Liberal MPs at https://act.leadnow.ca/democracy-heroes/.

FVSK encourages all voters to connect with their MP and insist the government keep its electoral reform promise to make every vote count. MP contact information available at http://tinyurl.com/memberbypostalcode.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Proportional Representation and Environmental Protection

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan – March 9, 2017 – Prime Minster Justin Trudeau repeatedly stated he would make 2015 the last federal election using first-past-the-post.  Fair Vote Saskatchewan (FVSK) intends to hold him to his promise. 

Canada uses first-past-the-post to elect members to the House of Commons.  This system works when only two parties are on the ballot.  With more than two parties, the winner does not need a majority of votes.  Since 1921, Canadian governments have been told that using first-past-the-post is undemocratic.

Trudeau's Electoral Reform Committee (ERRE) heard over 80% of its expert witnesses and open mic speakers endorse proportional representation to make every vote count. In September 2016, the Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association (QVEA) presented a brief to the ERRE.  It was titled "Protecting Canada's Environment Requires a Voting System Based on Proportional Representation (PR)."

The QVEA brief states that countries with proportional representation are stable and robust.  When a coalition government is formed, it is not as easy to lobby for or ram through a particular agenda.  For example, in 2012 the Harper government's phony majority easily gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act. 

If the 2011 election had used proportional representation, the seats in the House of Commons would reflect how people voted.  The Conservatives would have had 127 seats not 166.  The 97 New Democrats, 56 Liberals, 17 Bloc Québécois, and 11 Greens seats could have voted down all or any of the omnibus bills.

The QVEA brief observes, "Environmental protection and ecological sustainability is less likely to be marginalized with [proportional representation], including when it involves a coalition government, than under a government like that of Harper which got majority power from minority support."

Co-chair of QVEA Jim Harding emphasizes, “Prime Minister to be, Trudeau, promised that we’d never again use the slanted, unfair, first-past-the-post voting system. We believed him. The all-party Standing Committee came together as non-partisans and did their work. Thousands of us presented and it became clear that it was time for Canadian democracy to grow-up and adopt a proportional system specifically designed to work for us. Such a system is more likely to bring the issues about which Canadians care, including environmental ones, into mainstream discussions. It would depolarize regional politics and better serve the country moving forward. Perhaps Trudeau wanted another outcome, but the Liberals are now making poor excuses for ignoring what Canadians said. There can be no excuses for Canada maintaining an unfair voting system.”

Co-spokesperson of FVSK Nancy Carswell said, "I had this naïve idea that if I told my MP about an environment issue based in evidence, then they would act.  I've realized we don't have government regulated industry but industry regulated government.  For example, documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show that the pipeline industry influenced the changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act.  The fossil fuel industry wants to hold us hostage.  Proportional representation is the best way to free ourselves and foster renewable energy."

FVSK encourages people call their MP daily (http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members) and/or visit their MP monthly to hold them to their promise of electoral reform that makes every vote count.

Also, Leadnow is running a Vote Better campaign asking people to lobby their MP to be a "Democracy Hero" at >https://www.votebetter.ca/

Fair Vote Saskatchewan (FVSK) and the Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association (QVEA) believe that electoral reform with proportional representation would result in a fairer government and better environmental protection.  As shown here, although the Liberals could have formed the government in 2015, they would not have the majority of seats requiring them to collaborate.


FVSK Press Release

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dorito Democracy

The book The Dorito Effect proposes that the cause of our obesity epidemic lies in the food industry's fixation on mouth taste. Why do I specify mouth taste? Apparently other parts of our digestion system have "tastes" too. If these other tastes are not satisfied, we experience the Dorito effect and one Dorito becomes countless Doritos.


There is a parallel here to voting When we vote, we get a taste of power. Sadly, first-past-the-post voting is the equivalent of "mouth taste. It does not satisfy the needs of our democratic system. We can vote countless times and never count.

In 2016, the Electoral Reform Committee heard 88% of its expert witnesses and 87% of the people who stepped up to the mic say they believed a system of proportional representation would satisfy our democratic system.

In 2017, let's give our democratic system the proportional representation it needs to be healthy. Connect with our new Minister of Democratic Reform Karina Gould and tell her you want to experience how democracy tastes with a Canadian-made system of proportional representation. Email Karina.Gould@parl.gc.ca or phone 613-995-0881.

After experiencing a healthy democracy for a few elections, we could ask ourselves then if we wanted to return to a Dorito democracy.

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