| April 4th, 2015Tags: , , , , , , ,


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 info@fairvote.ca
For more information about counting unrepresented votes and script author: Julien Lamarche julien.lamarche@gmail.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


| October 23rd, 2014Tags: , , , , , , ,


With several candidates to choose from in each of three electoral districts and a total of seventeen candidates, many are wondering for whom to vote on Monday 27 October.

If the over-riding factor were the effectiveness of each person’s vote, they should know that under the present plurality/majority (First-Past-the-Post or FPTP) system, the winning candidate could be elected with as little as 15% of the vote (Calgary-Foothills) and little more than 20% (Calgary-Elbow and Calgary-West). All the other votes, serving to elect no-one, are ‘wasted’.

With an effective proportional representation electoral system, 95% of the votes cast in a general election help to elect representatives to the legislature and the resulting composition of the legislature closely reflects the popular vote. Every vote counts!

In these by-elections, discerning electors should vote for the candidate who promises to introduce proportional representation when their party forms a government or agrees with other parties to introduce an effective system of proportional representation.

Fair Vote Calgary has polled the Calgary candidates and parties in the present by-elections. The following candidates or parties have endorsed the introduction of proportional representation:

Calgary Elbow:

Alberta’s New Democrats.

Calgary Foothills:

Polly Knowlton Cockett, Green Party of Alberta.

Alberta’s New Democrats.

Calgary West:

Alberta’s New Democrats.

| October 6th, 2014Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


As you know,  70% of Canadians in several polls over many years have indicated their support for Proportional Representation (PR). This has been reinforced by the ten commissions across Canada that have studied the issue at the provincial and national level over the last 11 years and unanimously reported that we should introduce PR (More information here ) . However the politicians in power benefit (or hope to benefit at the next change of regime) from the present system of plurality/majority rule, so change doesn’t happen.

We have an opportunity to find which  of our local political aspirants support PR and try to elect them in the coming by-elections on Monday 27 October 2014. This exercise will be repeated at the next national general election (probably October 2015) and at the next provincial general election, probably in 2016.

I have written to all the Calgary candidates listed below to determine their willingness to move toward PR. Voters in those electoral districts can be guided in their vote, to support those who will move to introduce PR to Alberta. As the candidates reply – if they reply – I’ll post the results in updates to this post. If you have an opportunity to raise the question with a candidate, please report the result back to calgary@fairvote.ca

Update on 2014 10 11 – no responses, except (unasked) I have been put on the mailing list for one of the parties.

Update #2 on 2014 10 17 – no responses; second request emailed to all candidates (except one independent).

Update #3 on 2014 10 17 – Alberta’s New Democrats (NDP) response received, see below at *4.

Update #4 on 2014 10 20 – Wildrose response received, see below at *6. Polly Knowlton Cockett (Green Party of Alberta) response received – see below under Calgary -Foothills.

Calgary – Elbow

Greg Clark – Alberta Party – This party, while articulating many changes to effect ‘democratic renewal’ does not mention proportional representation.*5
Gordon Dirks – Progressive Conservative – The PC Alberta Statement of Principles does not address PR or electoral reform.*2
Susan Wright – Liberal Party Alberta – “Alberta Liberals believe in … Fairness to Future Generations. We … are committed to … solutions that are based on … Social Progressiveness …” *3
Stephanie McLean – NDP Alberta – see below at *4
John Fletcher – Wild Rose Party – This party does not mention Proportional Representation on its web site, but see *6 below.

Calgary – Foothills
Michelle Glavine – Alberta Party – This party, while articulating many changes to effect ‘democratic renewal’ does not mention proportional representation.*5
Jim Prentice – Progressive Conservative – The PC Alberta Statement of Principles does not address PR or electoral reform.*2
Polly Knowlton Cockett – Green Party of Alberta – “Like all other Green Parties globally, the Green Party of Alberta supports electoral reform to introduce proportional representation in Alberta” *. Polly Knowlton Cockett has signed the Declaration of Voters’ Rights – Politicians Pledge here: Proportional Representation – Cockett
Robert Prcic – Liberal Party Alberta – “Alberta Liberals believe in … Fairness to Future Generations. We … are committed to … solutions that are based on … Social Progressiveness …” *3
Jennifer Burgess – NDP Alberta – see below at *4
Kathy Macdonald – Wild Rose Party – This party does not mention Proportional Representation on its web site, but see *6 below.

Dave Woody Phillips – Independent – Position on Proportional Representation unknown.

Calgary – West
Troy Millington – Alberta Party – This party, while articulating many changes to effect ‘democratic renewal’ does not mention proportional representation.*5
Mike Ellis – Progressive Conservative – The PC Alberta Statement of Principles does not address PR or electoral reform.**2
David Khan – Liberal Party Alberta – “Alberta Liberals believe in … Fairness to Future Generations. We … are committed to … solutions that are based on … Social Progressiveness …” *3
Brian Malkinson – NDP Alberta – see below at *4
Sheila Taylor – Wild Rose Party – This party does not mention Proportional Representation on its web site, but see *6 below.

* Quoted from the web site of the Green Party of Alberta.

*2 The PC Alberta Statement of Principles (on the party’s web site) does not address PR or electoral reform.

*3 Abstracted from the Vice President, Policy’s message at http://www.albertaliberal.com/2014_policy_convention

*4 “. . . The Alberta New Democratic Party by-election Candidates in Calgary, Jennifer Burgess, Stephanie McLean and Brian Malkinson, thank Fair Vote Calgary for it’s active participation in the election process and for powerfully advocating for electoral reform and a fairer democratic process.
“Alberta New Democrat party policy does not allow for candidates to sign declarations during an election period, but we are very supportive of proportional representation and meaningful democratic reform.
Alberta’s New Democrats are fighting to:
• Set up a system of proportional representation . . .(Emphasis added by FVCalgary)

*5 http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/albertaparty/pages/155/attachments/original/DemocraticRenewal.pdf

*6 Part of a letter received from ‘WildroseCaucus@assembly.ab.ca': “… Changing the method of electing representatives is not something our party members have raised for debate at any AGM, so on that front there seems to be broad support for the status quo. (Emphasis added) Thanks for being involved in proposing improvements to our system, and if there is anything else you or your organization want to propose for democratic reform please let us know”.



| October 5th, 2014Tags: , , , ,
Janet Keeping, Alberta Green Party Leader, at Speakers' Corner, Tomkins Park, Calgary.

Janet Keeping, Alberta Green Party Leader, at Speakers’ Corner, Tomkins Park, Calgary.


This was the theme chosen by the organizers of Speaker’s Corner, Sunday 5 October 2014 at 1.30 p.m. at Tomkin Park, at the corner of 8th Street and 17th Avenue SW

We discussed a part of politics that most don’t even think about…How your vote is used. Speakers were Mark Hambridge, for Fair Vote Calgary and Janet Keeping, Leader, Green Party of Alberta, and members of the public.

A video of the presentations and discussion is available here on YouTube.

Speakers’ Corner is presented and organized by the Zinner Law Office in partnership with the Calgary Leadership Forum under permit from the City of Calgary.

| August 16th, 2014Tags: , , , , ,


I have reproduced below (with his permission) Wilf Day’s most recent post on his blog, ‘Wilf Day’s Blog’, http://wilfday.blogspot.ca/

How would proportional representation work in Calgary?

Polls show more than 70% of Canadians support proportional representation for Canadian elections. The Liberal Party of Canada has opened the door to start implementing it within one year of the 2015 election, and the NDP and Greens fully support it.
So this is no longer an academic discussion. This is a practical discussion: if Canada gets PR, how would it work in Calgary?
Mixed Proportional
With the Mixed Proportional system, you have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today. With the other, you can vote for the party you want to see in government, and for your favourite of your party’s regional candidates.
In this way, you also help elect a few regional MPs to top-up the local results so that every vote counts: it’s proportional. You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal. There are no closed lists. Voters elect all the MPs.

This open list method was recommended both by our Law Commission and by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Jenkins` colourful explanation accurately predicted why closed lists would be rejected in Canada: additional members locally anchored are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

Calgary`s ten MPs

Calgary elects ten MPs in 2015. With the mixed proportional system, six of the ten would still be local MPs. The other four would be city-wide regional MPs, topping up the total Calgary results to make them match the vote shares.

So what would that look like?

When every vote counts, turnout will be at least 6% higher, and no one will have to cast a “strategic vote.” Who can say what would be the result of real democratic elections?Meanwhile, I’ve done projections based on the votes cast in 2011.

In 2011 Calgary voters elected eight Conservative MPs, and no others. Yet those voters cast only 66% of their votes for Conservatives, while 14% voted Liberal, 12% New Democrat, and 8% Green. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect seven MPs, Liberal voters one MP, New Democrat voters one, and Green voters one. (See Technical note below.)

Since I’m projecting from the 2011 votes, I’ll start with the 2011 candidates. Let’s suppose the six local MPs were Conservatives Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, Diane Ablonczy, Michelle Rempel, Lee Richardson, and Deepak Obhrai.

In that case, voters for each party would also elect one regional MP.

Conservative voters can vote for the regional Conservative candidate they prefer. Many would prefer Harper, Kenney, Ablonczy, Rempel, Richardson, or Obhrai, but on election day, since they already won a local seat, the regional seat would go to the next most popular. In other words, Conservative voters whose personal preference was not one of those six can, if they wish, elect the seventh Conservative MP. Maybe Punjabis and other South Asians would prefer Devinder Shory. Women Conservative voters might have preferred a new regional female candidate such as Joan Crockatt. Chinese-ancestry voters might have preferred a new regional candidate such as Gary Mar. In single-nomination contests, white males predominate. But when Calgary members of any party city-wide meet to elect a group of regional candidates, can you imagine them failing to nominate a woman or a visible minority? Even Conservatives?

Liberal voters would elect a regional Liberal MP, such as Jennifer Pollock or Cam Stewart. NDP voters would elect a regional MP, such as Paul Vargis, Collin Anderson or Holly Heffernan. Green voters would elect a regional MP, such as Heather MacIntosh.

Regional candidates

How would party members in Calgary nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with a live convention. Likely party members city-wide would decide to nominate the same candidates nominated in the local ridings, and some additional city-wide candidates.

But voters would have the final say, since they can vote for their party’s regional candidate they prefer.

For local MP, you can vote for the candidate you like best without hurting your party, since the party make-up of parliament is set by the party votes. In New Zealand, 35% of voters split their votes that way.

What would regional MPs do?

How would regional MPs operate? The regional MPs would cover several ridings each. Just the way it’s done in Scotland.

Two models

In 2015 Albertans elect 34 MPs. They might be in three “top-up regions” under the Law Commission of Canada`s model, or in four regions under the “moderate“ model based on the UK`s Jenkins Commission. Either way, Calgary`s ten MPs will make it a good “top-up region.”

Competing MPs

These models let citizens of regions across Canada elect competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in your area, likely including someone you helped elect. Every vote counts. Each province still has the same number of MPs it has today. No constitutional amendment is needed. Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.”

Canada-wide consequences.

If we had used province-wide totals with perfect proportionality the projected results on the 2011 votes with the extra 30 MPs would be: 140 Conservatives, 104 NDP, 64 Liberals, 19 Bloc, and 11 Green.

With these mixed models, the projected results for 338 MPs are 142 or 143 Conservatives, 106 or 107 NDP, 66 or 62 Liberals, 15 or 17 Bloc, and 11 or 7 Greens. Close to perfect proportionality, while keeping all MPs accountable to real local and regional communities.

This is not a partisan scheme. Unrepresented Conservative voters would elect eight more Quebec MPs than in 2011, one more in Newfoundland, one more in PEI, and one more on Vancouver Island.

Canadian diversity

Of course, proportional representation would mean a lot for Canada. We would not likely have a one party government’s Prime Minister holding all the power. (The last Prime Minister who got more than 50% of the votes was Brian Mulroney in 1984.) Parliament would reflect the diverse voters of every province.

With this kind of power-sharing, Canada would look quite different.

If we had a Proportional Representation voting system, here are only a few of the things Canadians could have accomplished over the past twenty years:

  • Engaged and motivated voters
  • A reinvigorated democratic system
  • More women MPs and a fair mix of party representation


Our electoral system is broken and people know it:

  • Disengaged citizens are ignoring their right to vote
  • A dysfunctional conflict-oriented political process
  • Majority governments with minority voting results

Poll results on proportional representation

Environics asked in 2013 “Some people favor bringing in a form of proportional representation. This means that the total number of seats held by each party in Parliament would be roughly equivalent to their percentage of the national popular vote. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?”Interviewing for this Environics National Telephone Survey was conducted between March 18th – 24th, 2013, among a national random sample of 1,004 adults. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.Result: support 70%, oppose 18%, depends 6%, don’t know 6%.

The Environics poll showed 93% of Green voters support proportional representation while 4% oppose; 82% of NDP voters support it while 11% oppose; 77% of Liberal voters support it while 15% oppose; 62% of Conservative supporters support it while 28% oppose; and 55% of voters undecided as to party support PR while 19% oppose and 27% said “don’t know” or “depends.”

This is not new. Poll results have shown this for 13 years.

Technical note

The rounding method used in the simulation is highest remainder, for the same reason the Ontario Citizens Assembly chose it: it’s the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of their 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets smaller region sizes.

You might wonder how Green Party voters would deserve a Calgary MP. The numbers work out as follows: Conservatives 6.615 MPs; Liberals 1.375 MPs; New Democrats 1.241 MPs; Greens 0.770. After the first eight seats are awarded, the 9th seat goes to the “highest remainder” (the Green), and the 10th seat goes to the next (the Conservative.)

Would second preferences have changed any results in 2011? Sometimes, but not in Calgary, using the EKOS poll taken April 28-30, 2011: http://www.ekospolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/full_report_may_1_2011.pdf