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
The following press release was just sent to the Calgary media (lightly edited for this publication):
For Immediate Release
Who Should I Vote For?
Seventy per cent of Canadians want to see proportional representation (PR). Many candidates support electoral reform and the introduction of PR. A majority of MPs (170) could ensure the next scheduled general election (in 2019) is conducted under PR.
Fair Vote Canada strongly encourages PR as a better way to elect MPs (or MLAs or municipal councillors) than our present pluralitarian system which is commonly known as Winner Take All (WTA) or First-Past-the-Post (FPTP).
Fair Vote Canada and Fair Vote Calgary have been finding out where parties and candidates stand on PR. Results are encouraging and in keeping with polls and reports of electoral commissions conducted over the last few years. In Calgary 2015 all-candidate forums voters are indicating through applause that they want reform and PR.
Fair Vote Canada has developed a Canada-wide listing of candidates who have responded to a questionnaire about ‘Where They Stand’ on PR; see Fair Vote Canada’s web site.
Fair Vote Calgary has done a similar exercise focussing on Alberta candidates south of Red Deer. The candidates and parties which have declared support for PR are shown here.
Further details of all local candidates (where their position is known) are shown in a comprehensive table you can download here: S AB Fed Electoral Districts 2015 10 05. Voters are encouraged to check out the information referenced above before choosing their candidate.
Fair Vote recommends in this election that each of us should vote for a candidate who when elected will work to introduce PR. Basically, this means a Green Party or New Democratic Party candidate.
In some electoral districts it may be preferable to vote strategically for an alternative candidate who attracts enough votes and supports PR, even though not necessarily the voter’s first choice.
Most important of all – Just Vote!
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For more Information:
Kelly Carmichael Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada
Mark Hambridge, Leader, Fair Vote Calgary Action Team. Phone: 403-239-5516
Rob Lewis – a 34 year old junior high science teacher, hasn’t voted for many years. The CBC Eyeopener is asking people to persuade Rob to vote — here is Fair Vote Calgary’s effort.
Rob – your vote is important, even if it doesn’t serve to elect someone. What?
By NOT even going to vote, you are signalling that you accept the present state of affairs, which you clearly don’t. Your comments about not finding someone suitable to vote FOR are fine, but you can more effectively register a protest by going to the poll, registering to vote, and declining to accept a ballot.
Some people choose to spoil their ballot. This doesn’t tell anyone anything – you might have made a mistake in marking the paper, or you might have written ‘None of the Above’, or marked the ballot in a preferential order. None of that will be recorded – just that the ballot was spoiled and discarded.
Under the present First-Past-The-Post system only the votes for the candidate who gets the most are counted toward electing someone. In a four-candidate electoral district, that could be as low as 30% of the vote. That means 70% of the votes cast did not elect anyone – they are ‘wasted’. No wonder even those of us who DO vote are dissatisfied with the present system; there IS a better way!
Proportional representation works to make every vote count toward electing someone; the way the ballots are designed and the way the votes are counted makes all the difference. The goal is to ensure that the representation in the legislature or Parliament reflects the provincial or national popular vote. Get 39% of the vote – get 39% of the seats; not 60% of the seats (and 100% of the power!) This is not unique to the present federal government – in 2012, in Alberta, the PCs got 44% of the vote, 61 of 87 (70%) seats in the legislature, so 100% of the power.
So, Rob, carefully evaluate the parties’ policies and support — that is, get out on Tuesday (or in an advance poll) — and vote for a candidate who will support the introduction of proportional representation, regardless of political colour or stripe. You can find out a lot more on Fair Vote Calgary’s web site here and here. In Alberta, we need a simple majority, 44 of 87 MLAs (50.6%), to support proportional representation, and then you will have helped make 2015 the last unfair election.
Leader, Fair Vote Calgary – a Fair Vote Canada Action Team
Make Every Vote Count! Make 2015 the Last Unfair Election!
An email received from Wendy Bergerud in Victoria:
“Craig Scott was in Victoria on November 28, 2014 and made a presentation on electoral reform and their proposed [Mixed Member Proportional] MMP model. Some Victoria supporters of FVC paid to have his presentation video-taped. There were about 200 people in the audience and I was impressed with the quality of questions asked at the end of his presentation.
“We are hoping to have this presentation shown on our local Shaw community television.
“The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px5I5oqJIsQ
“Stephane Dion says “A voting system is more than just a way of tallying votes. It sets the ground rules that have a profound influence, for better or worse, on voters’ choices, the behaviours of politicians and political parties, parliamentary proceedings and government operations.” (from http://ideefederale.ca/documents/Dion_ang.pdf )”
Craig Scott MP (NDP – Toronto-Danforth) presented the NDP proposal for MMP to an audience in Victoria and answered questions. The whole tape runs for nearly an hour, about half is a series of questions at the end. Well worth watching.
I just received the following email from Dave Meslin, Campaign Director for the Friends of the Reform Act.
“September is going to be an important month for the Reform Act!
“Just three months ago, there was an incredible amount of multi-partisan support in the House of Commons. But we need your help to make sure the Reform Act survives the next four weeks!
“A few days ago, we mailed out thousands of leaflets to volunteers across the country. Now we need your help too. Please take a moment to put both the debate and the vote in your calendar (and if you’re on Facebook please RSVP for both events: debate / vote). As it gets closer, we’ll send you links so you can watch both events live online.
“You can help us spread the word by sharing our website with friends, continuing the discussion on Facebook and Twitter and by making sure your MP knows how you feel about the Reform Act and the important democratic changes that Michael Chong has introduced.
“This is a rare opportunity for us to rebuild trust and faith in our democracy by giving both you and your MP a stronger voice. Thank you for your support!
Friends of the Reform Act “
I have reproduced below (with his permission) Wilf Day’s most recent post on his blog, ‘Wilf Day’s Blog’, http://wilfday.blogspot.ca/
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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