Save the date and make sure to be there!
When: Tuesday 14 June, 7.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
Where: Tuxedo Community Association 202 29 Avenue NE Calgary.
What: Discussion on Climate and Proportional Representation in Canada.
- Bruce Hyer, Deputy Green Party of Canada Leader and newly elected Fair Vote Canada Council member ;
- Janet Keeping, Alberta Green Party Leader;
- Mark Hambridge, Fair Vote Calgary.
Why: The Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform has been announced with a mandate to report to Parliament this fall. The format of the Committee has been amended to reflect the popular vote in the 42nd General Election. Now is the time to learn more about PR and to tell the Committee what you want to see in our future electoral system.
The CBC have announced that the Liberal Party has agreed to NDP Nathan Cullen’s suggested format of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform – details here.
The committee will now reflect the popular vote of the last general election, rather than the false majority House of Commons seat allocation. ‘One small step for democracy – one giant leap for Canadians’.
An Open Letter to All Parties and House Leaders,
Canadians have given you a mandate. Sixty-three percent (63%) of us voted in favour to change the electoral system to one that is more fair, equal and democratic – a system that will make every vote count so that the will of the electorate is reflected in the House of Commons.
You have the task of improving democracy in a very undemocratic system. Seventeen million (17,000,000) Canadians cast ballots on October 19th and 4.6 million voters elected MPs who now hold a false majority. Millions of Canadians – more than two million each for the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats – have no representation in Ottawa. It is incumbent upon you to show us that you understand the problem, you are willing to fix it, and you are prepared to provide the leadership required to get the job done.
As a multi-partisan organization, we know that true Democracy – where all citizens enjoy equal rights and the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly through their chosen representatives – is not easy. It’s difficult to set aside partisan stripes, listen carefully to the people, cooperate, compromise and build consensus. It’s even more difficult in an unfair system where some parties have been awarded more than their fair share and some have been denied their due support. Equal representation in the legislature should be the right of every citizen in a free and democratic society. Democracy is not easy but it delivers better results and respects all voices.
That is why it is so important, during what appears to be a growing impasse that can damage the integrity of the electoral reform process, to embrace the spirit of democracy. Canadians are watching. The world is watching.
We are very concerned that the reforms are already in trouble before you have even started. You are all very aware of the fact that if you are honestly considering all options, you need to stick to a tight timeline. Since Canada’s new House of Commons first met December 3, almost six months have passed. This has raised concerns by the media and civil society groups as well as MPs in the House about the credibility of the process.
We ask you to remove your partisan hats and govern on behalf of all Canadians. Embrace the true spirit of democracy and realize that Canada cannot be truly ‘back’ until all voices are at the table.
House Leaders, we are calling on you to sit down and negotiate a date to get the Electoral Reform Special Committee motion on the floor in time to have a robust debate and move the motion forward before the House leaves for summer break.
Failure to get the Committee off the ground in order to address our democratic deficit will reflect poorly on all Parliamentarians. Failing to do the hard work will be considered by the electorate as an attack on our collective desire to create an electoral system that treats all voters, and their representatives, equally.
This is no time for finger pointing and pot shots.
In a speech in Halifax, our Prime Minister stated “We need to show, once again, that the Liberal party is not afraid to challenge the status quo, even if it means breaking with our own traditions.”
We are asking all of you to do just that. Please put your partisan differences aside, get down to the work the voters have asked you to do and show the world that Canada is serious about evolving into a modern democracy that respects and provides voice to all voters. We know you can do it. We look forward to cheering you on.
Fair Vote Canada
Une lettre ouverte à tous les partis et leaders parlementaires,
Les Canadiens vous ont donné un mandat. Soixante-trois pourcent (63%) d’entre nous ont voté en faveur d’un changement du système électoral pour un système qui est plus juste, équitable et démocratique – un système qui fera en sorte que chaque vote compte, qui fera en sorte que la volonté de l’électorat sera reflétée à la Chambre des communes.
Vous avez la tâche d’améliorer la démocratie dans un système qui ne l’est pas. Dix-sept millions (17 000 000) de Canadiens ont exprimé leur voix le 19 octobre dernier et 4,6 millions d’électeurs ont élu des députés qui ont maintenant une fausse majorité. Des millions de Canadiens – plus de deux millions chacun pour les libéraux, les conservateurs et les néo-démocrates – n’ont pas de représentation à Ottawa. C’est maintenant votre responsabilité de nous démontrer que vous comprenez le problème, que vous êtes déterminés à le régler et que vous être prêts à avoir le leadership nécessaire pour obtenir les résultats souhaités.
En tant qu’organisation multipartite, nous savons que la vraie démocratie – celle où tous les citoyens profitent de droits égaux et où le pouvoir appartient au peuple et est exercé directement par le peuple au travers de leurs représentants élus – n’est pas facile. Il est difficile de mettre de côté les allégeances, d’écouter réellement les citoyens, de coopérer, de faire des compromis et d’obtenir un consensus. C’est encore plus difficile dans le cadre d’un système injuste où certains partis ont reçu plus que leur juste part et d’autres n’ont pas l’appui auquel ils ont droit. Une représentation équitable au sein de la législature devrait être un droit inaliénable de tout citoyen dans une société libre et démocratique. La démocratie n’est pas facile, mais elle engendre de meilleurs résultats et respecte toutes les voix.
C’est pourquoi il est très important, en cette période où le processus de la réforme ressemble de plus en plus à une impasse qui pourrait en abîmer l’intégrité, de s’immerger dans l’esprit de la démocratie. Les Canadiens regardent. Le monde regarde.
Nous sommes très inquiets que cette réforme soit déjà boiteuse alors qu’elle n’est même pas commencée. Vous savez tous très bien que si vous voulez considérer sérieusement toutes les options, vous devrez vous en tenir à un échéancier serré. Depuis la première rencontre de la Chambre des communes le 3 décembre, près de 6 mois ont passé. Ceci a soulevé des inquiétudes chez les médias, les groupes de la société civile et quelques députés concernant la crédibilité du processus.
Nous vous demandons de retirer vos chapeaux partisans et de gouverner au nom de tous les Canadiens. Embrassez l’esprit de la démocratie et réalisez que le Canada ne sera pas « de retour » tant que toutes les voix ne seront pas entendues à la table.
Leaders parlementaires, nous vous demandons de vous asseoir et de négocier une échéance pour déposer la motion du Comité spécial sur la réforme électorale à temps pour pouvoir avoir un débat rigoureux et faire avancer la motion avant que la Chambre n’ajourne pour l’été.
Si le lancement du Comité qui doit affronter notre déficit démocratique devait être un échec, cela exposerait tous les parlementaires sous un très mauvais jour. Une incapacité à faire ce travail sera considérée par l’électorat comme une attaque envers notre désir collectif de créer un système électoral qui traite tous les électeurs – et leurs représentants – de manière juste.
Il n’y a pas de temps à perdre en recherche de coupable et attaques partisanes mesquines.
Lors d’un discours à Halifax, notre Premier ministre a dit : « Nous devons montrer, une fois de plus, que le parti libéral n’a pas peur de mettre au défi le statu quo, même si cela signifie être en rupture avec nos propres traditions. »
C’est exactement cela que nous vous demandons de faire. S’il-vous-plaît, mettez votre partisannerie de côté, mettez-vous au travail tel que vous le demandent les électeurs et montrez au monde que le Canada est sérieux dans son intention de mettre en place une démocratie moderne qui respecte et donne une voix à tous les électeurs. Nous savons que vous pouvez le faire. Nous avons hâte de vous applaudir.
Représentation équitable au Canada
You may have seen or heard something about this strange situation on the news on Friday 18 September in Calgary. I heard an interview with Nicolas on the CBC’s Eyeopener and it is still here their site. He has also been featured in other media.
Nicolas Duchastel de Montrouge is a Canadian Citizen, born in Montréal PQ who is at present living in Seattle, Washington, USA. He has lived outside Canada for more than five years; as the result of a court ruling earlier this year he is not permitted to vote anywhere in Canada in the coming election (together with about 1.4 million Canadian expatriates who are nevertheless guaranteed the right to vote in the Canadian Constitution!) There’s more about this on Elections Canada’s Voting from Abroad page.
However, he is permitted to be a candidate for election to Parliament as an MP! He is urgently seeking 100 electors who live in Calgary Heritage to sign his nomination papers so that he can file them and be a candidate on the same ballot as Messrs. Harper, Christie, Miles and Burgener.
Can you help? If so, please:
Check the map to ensure you live in Calgary Heritage. It is not the same as the electoral district boundaries for the last general election.
Check by entering your postcode in Elections Canada’s web site tool.
Go to Nicolas’ web site and follow the directions on the HOW TO HELP page. However, do NOT email the form in – it must be physically delivered very soon to the Returning Officer. Contact email@example.com for further directions as to how to get the signed form to her.
It is urgent to get this moving! Please help if you can, to redress this farcical, typically Canadian! electoral situation. You could discuss it with your local candidates, and ensure the situation gets resolved after the election during the next Parliament. Nicolas does not want your vote in the election – just help him get on the ballot. There is already enough ‘vote splitting’ and strategic voting under FPTP!
Oh, and Nicolas is indeed a firm believer in proportional representation, of course!
From Kelly Carmichael, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada:
“As we get closer to the election this group (those opposed to PR, or change, or the status quo – MH) will become more and more important.
We know many partisans will fight back in order to keep power. Some will stretch the truth, others will wield complete misinformation.
Yesterday, Ryan Campbell and I (Kelly) tried to dispel a few of the myths around ‘too much power in the parties’ but there will be more”.
Congratulations to the Alberta New Democrats on ‘winning’ the 2015 Alberta general election. Everyone put in a tremendous effort, led by new NDP Leader Rachel Notley and a Notley Crûe of candidates, volunteers and eventually voters who turfed the 44 year Progressive Conservative dynasty. Another ‘orange crush’. Democracy is great, when it works.
What Alberta voted for is not what Alberta got because of the archaic First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system we continue to use. While the television reporters and pundits were wondering at the magnitude of the NDP ‘win’, others were looking behind the numbers on the screen.
There are about 2.5 million ‘electors’ in Alberta and about 58% turned out to vote, according to Elections Alberta which also says 1,162,877 votes were cast. My Vote Should Count says 797,564 votes did not help to elect anybody. That’s 797,564 / 1,162,877 (53.82%) wasted or ‘unrepresented’ votes. So if just over half the electorate voted, and less than half of those votes served to elect someone – was democracy served? Since the NDP obtained 41% of the popular vote, did they really ‘win’ the election?
Because of inherent bias in our FPTP system (which was designed for two-candidate elections), the results are a grossly distorted ‘false majority’ (as were the 2012 provincial general election, the 2011 federal general election, and most others before that).
The MLAs we voted for if we had province-wide proportional representation [PR] would have been:
NDP: 36, PC: 24, WRP: 21, ALP: 4, Alberta Party: 2 seats.
What we got was:
NDP: 53, PC: 10, WRP: 21, ALP: 1, Alberta Party: 1 seat.
That assumes that everyone would have voted under PR the way they did under FPTP, which is unlikely. Under PR there would probably have been a larger turnout of the electorate since more votes would have helped to elect someone.
FPTP leads to strategic voting which further distorts the results of an election: ‘I have to vote for A (who has a better chance of winning) so as to defeat B (who I don’t like and don’t want to win) when I would prefer to vote for C (whose policies I really agree with and want to see implemented)’. How many voted like that on May 5, to ‘punish’ the party or candidate that ‘misbehaved’ in the eyes of a voter? Would a different result have come about if no-one ‘had to’ vote strategically? That is the biggest advantage of PR. A voter can be confident that the candidate, or at least the party they represent, will be elected to the legislature in proportion to the popular vote so everyone’s voice is heard to some extent.
Now is the time to change the voting system, to Make Every Vote Count and ensure that 2015 is the last unfair election. The New Democratic Party has made proportional representation its policy, both federally and provincially, so here again is an opportunity for the NDP to show that Alberta is a progressive place and become the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce PR – and catch up to most of the modern democracies in the rest of the world. In a poll conducted for LeadNow and Fair Vote Canada in 2013, 70% of Canadians were reported to be in favour of PR. All the many commissions conducted over recent years have recommended PR as the new, right way to go. It hasn’t been adopted because politicians in power have obfuscated and rejected change; the system that got them into power is just fine for them! We mustn’t let the NDP adopt that position. Now is the time to initiate this change in Alberta. There are four years ahead of us to assess and design a system which would be used in 2019.
The Calgary Herald called for letters advising the (at that time unknown) Premier what should be task #1after the election. My letter said:
• Imagine a legislature which reflected the members that Albertans voted for and wanted to see there!
• Imagine not having to vote strategically to ensure someone you didn’t want was elected, to be sure someone you really didn’t want was defeated.
• Imagine an electoral system where every vote counted to electing a legislature member.
• Imagine a legislature where the membership reflected the popular vote.
• Imagine a legislature where debate was collegial, not adversarial, in the best interest of all Albertans.
• Imagine, and work for, a proportional representation electoral system;
• Make 2015 the last unfair election.
It is up to Albertans to make sure their MLAs know our priorities and pressure them now to introduce this up to date electoral system.
Dear Alberta Liberal Party Calgary Area Candidate:
I tried to write to you individually but regrettably your web sites do not provide email addresses so I am compelled to address you openly, in the same manner as I have emailed individually all other Calgary area candidates of all political parties.
Please excuse the impersonal addressing . . .
I’m writing on behalf of Fair Vote Calgary to seek your signature to the Declaration of Voters’ Rights — Politician’s Pledge, which in short says that you will work toward getting proportional representation (PR) introduced in Alberta. The Pledge is attached; I ask you to print, sign, scan and return the document to me (or mail it back to me at the address below). Please keep a copy to display in your campaign headquarters. I have created a page on the Fair Vote Calgary web site on which I will publish the names of candidates who are in favour of PR and who have signed the Pledge.
I am in the process of contacting all Calgary area candidates from all parties for this information. The goal is to tell all Calgary area voters which candidates are in favour of PR so their voting intentions are informed. From the Alberta Liberal party’s web site, the policy seems not to be in favour of PR since it states under Better Democracy: “Change Alberta’s electoral system to instant-runoff (preferential) voting.” This of course is not proportional representation – it is in fact a more severe form of the present undemocratic form of First-Past-the-Post, where 50% plus one would see a candidate elected, leaving 50% minus one who would not be represented at all.
PR seeks to ‘Make Every Vote Count’ and Fair Vote Calgary’s intention is to ‘Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election’. Under PR, almost every vote would help to elect a candidate, and the resulting legislature would reflect the popular vote rather than the distortions which now result from FPTP (and would be aggravated by Instant Run-off or preferential voting, unless the preferential system incorporated a measure to achieve PR).
PR is used in advanced democracies world-wide; only a few countries still use our present outdated First-Past-the-Post majoritarian-plurality system. In a national poll conducted for Fair Vote Canada and LeadNow by Environics in 2013, 70% of Canadians strongly or somewhat supported the adoption of PR. 77% of Liberals strongly or somewhat supported the adoption of PR. If the 2012 general election had been conducted under PR, by my calculation the legislature would have “ … had nine MLAs from each of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties and one Alberta Party MLA. Most interesting of all, there could have been 30 Wildrose and 38 Progressive Conservative MLAs …” (before the by-elections and floor-crossings last fall; from my personal blog at http://hambridge.com/index.php/conservative-alberta-elections-and-fair-voting/).
There is much more information in the documents also attached ‘Why PR – Review of Evidence’ and ‘Fair Vote Canada FAQ’. I also ask you to consider the questions on Qs for Candidates and add your brief thoughts or questions. If you return them, we will do our best to address them for you before the election.
Leader, Fair Vote Calgary – a Fair Vote Canada Action Team
Make Every Vote Count! Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election!
1003-4555 Varsity Lane NW Calgary, AB T3A 2V6
Phone +1 403 239 5516
There’s a recently updated page under ‘Get Involved’ called ‘Elections Are Coming!’
Alberta now knows it is headed to the polls on Tuesday May 5, 2015. And while the Canadian government is not due for an election until Monday October 19 this year, the Conservatives may also try for an early election.
Fair Vote Calgary has plans – please go to the Elections are Coming page for more information.
Below is a compilation taken from the Elections Alberta October 2014 by-election results. The analysis was done by Ottawa Fair Vote Canada volunteer Julien Lamarche, and will be repeated for the anticipated Alberta General Election.
Winner-take-all systems (both first past the post and preferential ballot – i.e., Instant Run-off or the Alternative Vote) have a high rate of wasted or unrepresented votes. An unrepresented vote is a vote that will not be represented in the legislature because it did not go to the winning candidate. But most democracies have moved on to some form of proportional voting system which greatly diminishes the lack of representation (to about 5% of unrepresented votes). A proportional voting system also eliminates false government majorities since representation in the legislature reflects the ‘popular vote’, that is the number of MLAs and their party affiliation reflects the way people actually voted.
Proportional representation also encourages more people to vote, since their vote is no longer unrepresented or ‘wasted’ – it actually helps to elect someone they want![table “1” not found /]
Unrepresented votes in the four by-elections, by party:
Wildrose Party: 13,808
Liberal Party: 4,946
New Democratic Party: 4,402
Alberta Party: 4,091
Green Party of Alberta: 356
Independent, Others: 23
More information: Fair Vote Canada
Fair Vote Canada National Executive Director: Kelly Carmichael firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about counting unrepresented votes and script author: Julien Lamarche email@example.com
Code available on Github
If you wish to help change this unfair system:
Sign the Declaration of Voters Rights;
Join or donate to Fair Vote Canada;
During the election: Retweet relevant @cyclingzealot, #wastedvotes tweets
After the election: follow and retweet @FairVoteCanada, #pr2015 and #fairvote
The PCs are morally obliged under the 2011 Election Amendment Act to stay in office until March 2016. To call a general election now would snub the PCs’ own legislation which is just over two years old, even though subsection 1 allows the Premier of the day to call an election when he wants. Subsection 2 was enacted to replace whimsy and established a fixed term. To replace MLAs who have resigned – call by-elections.
The PCs now hold (after floor-crossings) 70 of 87 legislature seats; a comfortable majority (albeit false with regard to the popular vote) with which to hold on to power. To now call a general election would be a blatant, extravagant waste of the taxpayers’ money at a time of diminished government revenue and supposed restraint. The 2012 general election cost the Province $13,631,864, 27% more than the 2008 general election. Squandering perhaps $28 million now (recently provided to the Elections Alberta budget, presumably for an election this year) on a ‘vanity’ election cannot be justified or condoned.
Tell or write your MLA and the Premier – don’t hold an election this year; stick to the PC plan.