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Marois: It’s not a priority for me to break up the country…right now.

March 22, 2014

Image from the Canadian PressSo Pauline Marois wants to focus on issues other than a referendum on breaking up Canada.

“It’s not a priority for Quebecers at the moment and it’s not my priority either. Our priority is to reinforce Quebec, reinforce it in all areas, reinforce the economy and adopt a charter.” -Pauline Marois

“At the moment” … so it’s on the table then.

Therefore, it’s a valid thing for people to be obsessed with. It’s not a small thing. It’s not something you can just try out when you feel the time is right. It’s about the fundamental nature of our country, all 10 provinces and 3 territories of it.

You are essentially saying :

‘It’s not a priority for me right now to break up the country. But maybe later if I think enough people want it. Just don’t worry about it, it’ll be fine. I’ll only try to break up the country if I think people want to.’  - What Pauline Marois means to say

But. What. If. People. Don’t. Want. That. At. All?

The safest, logical, course is to simply not elect you in the first place.

If you can’t get elected proudly proclaiming that you want to have a referendum, then don’t try to hold that possibility in reserve for later. It’s called a mandate. If you think you can get a mandate for your handling of the economy and instituting a mildly racist charter that targets minority religious groups in your province in favour of the white Judeo-Christian majority…ahem…then focus on that and promise there will be no referendum before another election. Or could you not get elected if you said that either? Tricky.


Mayor Rob Ford The Time Traveller

November 5, 2013

Rob Ford spoke to the media twice today, twice!

The first time he admitted that yes, he had in fact smoked crack in the past but he doesn’t really remember it (which is why he wants to see that video).

The second appearance seemed on the surface to be innocuous, it was just a statement with no questions where he said “sorry” a lot, and I mean a lot. He didn’t specify for what exactly he was apologizing but from his past statements we can only assume it is for (a) drinking too much, or as he calls it “getting hammered” (b) smoking crack (c) getting caught doing (a) and (b). Of course lots of people are also pretty angry about his (d) habitual lying about (a-c) and other things (e) his absolutely viscous attacks on journalists who correctly reported many of these things and thus were doing their job very well and (f) other stuff, just google it.

However, in this second speech he made one particularly impassioned comment which I think people will overlook but which has truly cosmic importance. It began by him saying:

“I’d do anything, anything…”

Now perfect completions of this sentence include:

  • “…to make up for what I’ve done to those who put their trust in me. And that’s why I’m going to resign.”
  • “…to make this city a better place. And that’s why I’m resigning as Mayor and I will let the people of Toronto decide if I should be Mayor in the next election.”
  • “…to heal the damage I’ve done to the city. And that’s why I’m resigning from politics forever and moving to Iqaluit.”

As you might have heard, he didn’t go with any of those. Here’s how he finish that sentence:

“…to change the past.”

Really? You’re expending all that sincerity on how much you’d like to change the past? Is that something you’re close to being able to do? If so then this is much worse a claim than even he probably realizes. You see, his smoking crack that fateful day is now a fixed point in time. So many people know about it and have seen evidence of it that there is no way it could have failed to happen. Even if the mayor had the ability to change the past in principle he wouldn’t be able to change that event. River tried doing just that and look what happened (careful, spoilers!) she almost destroyed the entire universe and Time itself. But the mayor says he would be willing to anything to change the past. So we must assume that includes destroying the universe.

Rob Ford, you arrogance truly knows no bounds. Or maybe you just don’t watch Doctor Who, I don’t know, either way it’s a horrible character flaw.

Rob Ford’s Apology and Promise to Continue is Unacceptable

November 3, 2013

Mayor Rob Ford has apologized sincerely for something , he won’t say what. He then spends part of the rest of his Sunday radio show attacking the media and his opponents who keep hounding him…despite the fact that what they were hounding him for seems to be true. He says “no one will want to get into politics” after this kind of thing. Isn’t that his fault? He’s hurting our democracy by playing to the “politics is a pointless game” idea.

Some Context

The Mayor of Toronto is the elected leader of the largest city in the country; it’s the position which gets the single largest number of votes of any office in the country including the Prime Minister since federal ridings are only around 100,000 voters and the mayor is vote for by all Torontonians (around 800,000 people voted in the last election)

He won the election outright, gaining 47% of the vote with the next candidates getting 35% and 11% respectively, both much more centrist or left leaning candidates. So, while he definitely won the election, beware of anyone who says a majority of Torontonians elected him, most of those 53% of voters did not want him to win. So shouldn’t he have some sense of representation of that majority as well?

He’s Hurting Our Democracy

For leader of this great city to sit there and say that politics is dirty, that you won’t get a fair shake is the media don’t like you, that it’s all run by the elites, that hurts everyone. It discourages people from running for office, it discourages people from voting. Rob Ford has no respect for democracy or for the city he thinks he is helping so much.

His Policies

He’s so focussed on saving pennies here and there, on fighting the wrongs which conflict his common sense, that he doesn’t look at the bigger picture. He’s tearing the city apart, pitting downtown against suburb, drivers against bicyclists, and brother against brother. He’s also hurting the image of Toronto around the world. Wherever I go now and say I’m from Toronto the conversation inevitably turn immediately to Rob Ford and the crack video. That’s not how I want to be talking about my hometown. Rob Ford and his brother seems to assume that only some people really know what is right and everyone else is not just wrong but vindictive and out to get him. Well, people can just disagree, and you can actually be wrong about what is best for the city.

My Opinion

I don’t think the mayor of a Canadian city should smoke crack. If he did he should resign. I also don’t think he should wander the streets blindingly drunk, if he does, he should apologize and consider resigning. I also don’t think they should lie about any of these activities to the media and attack journalists for doing their job as “out to get him”. This is especially abhorrent if they turn out to be right! People complain about convicting someone with a trial and the “court of public opinion”. For a politician the court of public opinion is the only court that matters, it’s the electorate that hires and can fire you. If you it is clear you have broken your promise they hired you on, you should have the decency, even feel the obligation, to resign and ask them again for their support. The Mayor and his supporters say “everyone makes mistakes”. Yes, they do, and if they make them over and over and lie about and attack those who call them out on it what do you do with a person like that? Elected politicians need to be held to a higher standard, they represent us in the interests of society.

The Mayor of Toronto should resign. Now.

If he really wants the people of Toronto to give him another chance then he should run for Mayor next year, as he has promised and let the electorate resign. Saying sorry and then saying you’ll “fight like never before” isn’t the right answer. What are you fighting? Truth? The Media? The people of Toronto who are disappointed in you? Why are you fighting Rob?
Maybe it’s time you just stop, for your own good and for the good of the city you claim to love so much.

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Conservative Party Does Not Believe in Equality of Voters

November 2, 2013

This fascinating and scary post just showed up on the FairVote Canada Facebook page:

FairVote Facebook

The Conservative version of equality. Bigger picture below.

A couple of things to notice here and I’ll just leave it at that.

They’re Worried

The Conservative party is worried about what the NDP and Green Party have to say about reforming our democracy. They are scared of PR and Elizabeth May and the NDP. They are scared that Canadians will finally say yes to staring to improve our unfair system.

Ridings, Not Voters

“Our country was founded on the equality of riding first and foremost.”

Gee, I thought it was the voters who were equal. Why do we care about ridings being equal? If every single person in the country has the same power to affect the process of governance in Ottawa, surely that is what we want. Apparently not.

Equality = Majority

Somebody should make buttons with Stephen Harper saying this. Notice the “Equality = Majority” and “Say yes to future strong, stable majority conservative governments”. This shows that the Conservative Party has made a calculation that the only way they can hold on to majority rule is to maintain the current system. The current system weights riding equally, that is true. But it does not weight voters equally. 39% of voters supported the Conservatives last election and they were rewarded with complete, untrammeled power. The weight that a voter has in determining what happens in Ottawa is not only due to population and rules about smaller provinces having more seats. The weight of a voters in a non-competitive riding where they are in the minority is effectively zero.  When a riding is split more than two ways all the votes for smaller parties are wasted. There is nothing about proportional representation which would cause one riding or region to have more votes than another. What PR would do is remove the current inequality between voters who have different impact depending on the largest voice in their riding.

Conservative Voting Rules

Let’s see that poster more closely shall we? This is a flyer being distributed at the current Conservative convention. Care of FairVote Canada. Click to zoom in.

With a fair, more proportional system every voter would have a chance to have a voice even if they  were surrounded by a majority against them. This goes for Conservatives in Quebec just as much as it does for NDP and Liberals in Alberta or Greens in most ridings.

What matters is that every voter has a voice, that every vote matters. The ridings are only important if you are counting your pieces of the pie and worrying that it might be split more evenly in the future. The only one who worries about that is the one who knows he is getting too much pie. And right now, the only one in that situation is the Conservative Party.



Following discussion in the comments I whipped up this image for the counterargument I think people need to make against this approach by the Conservatives. Feel free to use this image as you wish. (Click on the image for the png file. Click here for a pdf : votingfairness.pdf)

Equality of Voters = FAIRNESS

Equality of Voters = FAIRNESS

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How will the Republican Party Beat Magic Robots in 2016?

January 10, 2013

Two amazing quotes in this very long article.

Gingrich said. “On the left you have a natural grouping. You have the sense of, ‘What’s this week’s cause? And we did turtles this week. What can we do next week?’”

For someone how is supposedly one of the brightest minds in the Republican party it’s amazing to me that he can be so wrong so often. Does he really think that is how people work? The reality is the in this big messy, complex world there are a lot of issues worth fighting to fix, and they arise randomly as people discover them or one voice rises above the others for a while. People are not searching for new issues of the week. They are open and searching for what is important.

The main point I agree with and should be stressed form this article is that the Republicans lost and have trouble forming groups and trouble reaching out because the hard core conservatism seems to be about a particle ideology rather than general principles. The problem with that is if you can’t convince then you’ve lost. The democrats and what Gingrich and others try to label as ‘Liberals’ are simply people who don’t think they have it all figured out and are open to being convinced. That could be a weakness because you’re not unified. But it’s actually a strength because no one is right, so it’s better for everyone to keep listening so they can constantly improve and use the best solutions out there. If you are sure you’re right from the start then you better be right because no one is going to help you when you’re wrong.

The second quote is ominous for Republicans. If you thought this election was tough:
Reed said. “I think people think of some like magic robots in the sky that we just pointed at people who were into Obamacare and then like anointed them and we gave them, like, secrets. But that’s 2016. 2016 that’s what we’ll do.”

It’s worse than we thought and everyone is to blame

December 2, 2012

So, scientists are finding that once again,  it’s worse than we thought regarding global carbon emissions. Particularly interesting here is the list of the top 10 polluting countries in 2011. Can you see which one of these is not like the others?

Simple back of the spreadsheet calculation here for the per capita pollution:

Relative Pollution

Canada not looking so good at all on this one.

Voting For, Against and Together

December 1, 2012

Great proposal from Andrew Coyne. I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I’ve tried, and tried and tried.

“The opposition parties would agree on a single candidate to put up against the Conservatives in each riding. Were they to win a majority, they would pledge to govern just long enough to implement electoral reform: a year, two at most. Then fresh elections would be called under the new system, with each party once again running under its own flag, with a full slate of candidates.”

Coyne begins his article talking about how the idea of ‘splitting the left vote’ is a myth we tell ourselves. In fact, he says, all that is happening is that one party has more support than all the others and under our current system they are the ones that win. Thus elections are always unfair in Canada in a way. At the moment this benefits the Conservatives because they can reliably get the largest block, even if it is only 37% or 40% of voters. When someone asks you why our current system is unfair, that shouldn’t the winner win? Ask them if it is fair that 37% of voters can get 100% of the power. It is not.

However, I do disagree a bit with Coyne’s assertion that voters do not vote against anyone, they only vote for someone.  But if you think about, it is much easier to figure out who to vote against than who to vote for. Assume for simplicity that all parties really exist somewhere on an imaginary political line. Four political parties will not be distributed equally along that line, and my opinion on various issues probably doesn’t fit right in the middle of the spectrum either. So there is going to be one party which is furthest from my political beliefs than all the others. If this party is significantly further than the others then it’s simply easier to think about how to vote them out than how to pick amongst the other parties. This is magnified if one of the parties is more extreme on some important issues than parties have been historically and if that party even refers to all the other parties with a single label.

It's not hard to understand why voters might vote against a party.

It’s not hard to understand why voters might vote against a party.

While I don’t agree with all of his reasoning, I do agree wholeheartedly with his conclusion. Electoral reform to create some kind of proportional voting system would end all this discussion forevermore. It is important enough that Canadians of all political stripes should support it. Even conservatives (note the small c) should support it as it removes the current constraint of being the right kind of Conservative to hold power. A clear contract with each other and with the Canadian voters would make this clear and make the next election a referendum on reform vs the status quo and stagnation.

The benefit of such an election would be that the resulting parliament would have the mandate to institute electoral reform without another national referendum. Then in the ensuing election under the new system, the voters could reward and punish as they see fit, including supporting a party which promised to reverse back to first-past-the-post if they wished.


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