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.
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
Fair Vote Canada strongly encourages proportional representation (PR) as a better way to elect MPs (or MLAs or municipal councillors) than our present pluralitarian system, more commonly known as Winner Take All (WTA) or First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). That sort of electoral system produces distorted results. In the 41st Canadian General Election in 2011 where only 61% of the electorate voted, 39% voted Conservative and won 54% of the seats in Parliament. When you have 54% of the seats, you have an absolute majority so 100% of the power. Sixty-one percent of the votes cast, including many Conservative votes, were wasted and served to elect no-one. Put another way, 23% of the electorate gave the government 100% of the power.
The Alberta general election produced a similar result in May 2015. Albertans voted 40.6% for the NDP which won 61% of the seats in the legislature and 100% of the power. Only 54.2% of electors actually voted, so 22% of the electorate gave the government 100% of the power. It is the voting system that is broken, not party politics at work, since the WTA or FPTP problem seems to apply to all elections.
Fair Vote Canada and Fair Vote Calgary have been trying to find out where parties and candidates stand on PR. The results are encouraging, and in keeping with the polls that have been conducted over the last few years – about 70% of Canadians want to see PR introduced to replace our WTA system, and many candidates support electoral reform and possibly the introduction of PR.
This graphic shows where the parties stand (click to enlarge image):
Fair Vote Canada has developed a Canada-wide listing of candidates who have responded to a questionnaire about PR and you can find it here.
Fair Vote Calgary has done a similar exercise focussing on candidates south of Red Deer. You can see here which candidates and parties have declared support for PR.
There are further details of all local candidates (where their position is known) in a table which you can download here.
So, in answer to the question ‘Who should I vote for’ the reasoning works like this:
• The greatest threat we have in Canada is to democracy itself which is under serious attack from our politicians. Since the 1970s politicians have progressively been taking more and more power from the people and adding it to the party leadership and government, particularly recently to the unelected and not-answerable-to-Parliament Prime Minister’s Office.
• The first step to correct this issue is to now elect MPs who have committed to introduce PR so that every vote counts toward electing an MP. In future, membership of the House of Commons would reflect the popular vote. Decisions by Parliament should reflect the wishes of the electorate. (There’s much more work to do to achieve that goal, outside the scope of the present election and Fair Vote’s mandate).
• In this election, each of us should vote for a candidate who if (no, when!) elected will work to introduce PR. A majority of MPs (170) could ensure PR is introduced by the next scheduled general election in 2019.
• Check out the information referenced above and make your candidate choice, or perhaps select alternative candidates you might vote for.
• In some electoral districts, it may be preferable to vote strategically for a candidate who is likely to win if he or she attracts enough votes and who supports PR but is not necessarily your first choice.
Most important of all – Just Vote!
Don’t be among the 40% of the electorate that stays away from the ballot box.
Make sure you are registered to vote, don’t find out at the last minute you need extra information under the new identification requirements. If you are registered to vote, you should by now have received a Voter’s Card with the information you need. If you haven’t, contact your local Elections Canada office as soon as possible. You can find it’s address on their web site.
There’s little to no excuse not to vote – you can go now to the Elections Canada office in your electoral district (the address is on your voter’s card), until 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday 13 October.
You can go to an advance poll (the days, place and opening times are on your voter’s card).
You can even go to your polling station on Election Day, Monday 19 October (the address is on your voter’s card – but also check Elections Canada’s web site).
A nearly-complete, ever-changing listing of candidates in southern Alberta who support PR can be found here.
Now that nominations are complete and Elections Canada have confirmed the candidate lists in each electoral district, there will be little change. Check back for updates – most recently Friday 2015 10 05.
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!
The detailed Unofficial Results from Elections Alberta look like this.
A summary of the results can be seen and downloaded in the Calgary Foothills Results Table including information about the candidates’ support for proportional representation.
Of 32,212 electors enumerated by Elections Alberta, only 12,717 voted (39.48%).
The new member of the legislature was elected by 38.35% of 39.48% of the voters. The successful candidate has 38.35% of the popular vote, so 61.65% of the votes were wasted; those voters are unrepresented in the legislature, as are those who chose not to mark a ballot.
Edited later: As a correspondent observed ‘So he was elected by about 15% of the electorate’ and another wrote ‘I think it’s fair to say he represents the people who actually voted for him, so we can state that he represents 15.14%. No need to speculate on what they would have voted – they chose to exclude themselves from the conversation’.
Elections Alberta’s slogan ‘A Mark that Matters’ rings somewhat hollow.
One can only speculate on how the result might have differed with a system which encouraged people to vote ‘for’ a candidate because they were casting effective votes, instead of strategically ‘against’ those they didn’t want.
If this had been a ‘referendum’ on electoral reform, 92.24% voted to stay with the tired old system we know, rather than take a step forward to a modern electoral system. Of course most voters strategically consider other factors before electoral reform, so these results are only a sad reflection on the inadequacies of the present electoral system.
Fair Vote Calgary has been vigorously trying to determine the positions of the candidates on proportional representation (PR). Janet Keeping, candidate and Leader, Alberta Green Party and Mark Taylor, candidate, Alberta Party, are the only candidates who actively support PR. In choosing for whom to vote, if PR is their over-riding concern Calgary-Foothills electors are advised to select one of these candidates . For more about the candidates and party policies, see this page.
Wilf Day has written a post in his ‘Wilf Day’s Blog’ in which he discusses how a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) proportional representation system might work in Canada. MMP was recommended by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004 and is being promoted by the federal NDP at present. Take a look here.
The following post was prepared and posted on his campaign web site by Marlo Raynolds, Liberal candidate for the Banff-Airdrie Electoral District. The original blog post (reposted with Marlo’s permission) is here
People want their vote to count and their voice heard.
With Canadians thrown into an early summer election, people are starting to have conversations at the dinner table about their voting options. Many of those conversations are about peoples’ desire to have a Parliament that actually reflects the way all Canadians voted, not one that reflects a single party winning only a minority of votes but getting the majority of seats and all the power.
People want their vote to count and their voice heard.
The outcome of electoral reform, if it takes the form of proportional representation, or PR, would significantly change the face of Parliament by more accurately reflecting how we vote. In Alberta, for instance, a form of PR in the last federal election would have given the Conservatives 19 seats instead of the 27 they achieved under the existing “first-past-the-post” system. The NDP would have won five seats instead of one, the Liberals would have gained three seats instead of none, and the Greens one instead of none.
Recent redistribution of electoral ridings mean that the next federal election will increase the number of Alberta MPs to 34 from 28.
It is time to restore and modernize our democracy, for which many Canadians have fought.
This is why the Liberal Party is committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system. As part of a national engagement process, we will ensure that electoral reform measures – such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting – are fully and fairly studied and considered. This will be carried out by a special all-party parliamentary committee, which will bring recommendations that will allow Parliament to take action before the next federal election. Within 18 months of forming government, we will bring forward legislation to enact electoral reform.
My personal view is we need to evolve our electoral system to be inline with the vast majority of democracies around the world – one which results in the proportion of votes cast for each party to result in a similar proportion of power and seats in the House of Commons.
But we need to design a voting system that works for Canada. A system that Canadians understand and is recognized to be fair. This will take work.
If elected as the Member of Parliament for Banff-Airdrie, I will start by hosting a series of facilitated dialogues across the riding to develop our local view on how to ensure we restore trust in our democratic process and decision making in Ottawa.
The idea of PR, and how it could affect Canadians, is complex. But it’s an important and timely issue. The more we understand it, the better the consultation process – and recommendations – will be. And the better you’ll feel about voting.
It’s time for Real Change in electoral reform and the Liberal Party – working with Canadians – will get it done quickly, openly and fairly.
I encourage everyone to start their research both with Fair Vote Canada and the Liberal Party’s position. And of course, I am very interested in directly receiving your feedback, just email me or give me a call.