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Message to Trudeau: #StickToThePlan

October 20, 2016

According to this article the Prime Minister had some words the other day in Montreal’s Le Devoir newspaper about how much support is now needed for different kinds of electoral reform. They weren’t the best words.

“Under the current system, (Canadians) now have a government they’re more satisfied with and the motivation to change the electoral system is less compelling”


“Less support and a small change could be acceptable. A bigger change would take greater support”

and then in parliament

“In the spring, the member opposite (Mulcair) was tremendously worried that we would use our majority to ram through changes to our electoral system and we worked with them to demonstrate the hard work that a committee could do, hearing all perspectives… Now, he’s changed his mind and he wants us to use our majority to ram through electoral change.”

Oh gosh.

There are a few things wrong with this entire line of discussion:

  1. It plays right into opposition arguments about Liberals changing their policies once they get in to power.
  2. Even worse, it plays to Conservative Party arguments that no change should be made without first going to a referendum. They are reading the mood of the country based on talking to people and polls. People will talk about it less right now because they are happy yes, but also because they assume it’s a done deal! Why rally in the streets when there is a minister travelling around doing town halls? There’s lots of support. And regardless, that’s your mandate! You were elected partially to fix our voting system. Stick to the plan. Don’t use the fact people aren’t protesting in the street to weaken the change. The Conservatives will use this window to argue that what is really needed is a referendum. Referenda are traditionally very very biased towards the status quo because it is easier to scare people to say no than to take a change and say yes to a particular policy. No change is perfect so it’s easy to come up with arguments against one, implicitly assuming the current system isn’t that bad. But in this case the status quo is that bad.
  3. It insults all the citizens who’s votes were wasted in the last election: Urban conservatives, rural Liberals, NDP voters, Green Voters. Just because the current system sometimes gives us parties that are good at governing doesn’t mean it’s working. The makeup of parliament should not be what it is today given the way people voted. 39% of the country supported the Liberals, they would likely still be in government under a better voting system. But they’d have a much stronger opposition and possibly be in a coalition with the NDP or the Greens. Even more likely, there would be a completely different party makeup once a few elections of effective voting allow people to create parties that truly match their beliefs.
  4. We’re. Not. Going. To. Take. It. The Liberals should be wary of underestimating how much the promise to change the voting system was part of their win. Most people in this country aren’t voting system nerds like me. The don’t really care about ranked ballot vs proportional or whatever. But they do have widespread, legitimate worries about politicians rigging the system in their favour, corruption, and business and usual power grabs. Whatever else the Liberals did and Trudeau appealed to in the last election, one thing you could always point to was that this was a party, and a leader, willing to promise in a concrete way to get change one of the structures in our democracy that benefits them. Sure the current voting system sometimes benefits the Conservatives greatly, but often it benefits the Liberals. Most importantly though, the current system has never, ever, benefited any other party in a structural way. The NDP and Bloc had to build incredible social movements just to be recognized in Parliament and the tiniest misstep has been enough historically to keep the NDP out of power against the two favoured, traditional parties. Don’t get me started on the amount of work the Greens have had to put in for their single seat when they should right have over a dozen.


Prime Minister Trudeau : #StickToThePlan #ERRE #DemReform


Teaching Yellow Dogs New Tricks

October 20, 2016

This is an interesting point by Stewart Prest at the Ottawa Citizen: Here’s an argument for Proportional Representation – the yellow dog effect. A yellow dog riding is what some call a ‘safe riding’ where the same party always wins the same seat election after election. More proportional voting would make most of these seats more competitive or at least give citizens multiple representatives.

I wonder if there is voter participation data on a per riding level that could let us see how much of the lack of low voter turnout is due to yellow dog ridings? I would assume voter turnout is much lower in a riding everyone knows won’t change hands. So nationally, how many of the people are sitting out of voting altogether are in those ridings?

My Letter to my MP on Electoral Reform

September 15, 2016
Dear Mr. Saini,
I am one of your constituents and I must say very happy you won your seat and your party won the recent election even though I am not always a Liberal voter.
I was unable to attend your open house last night in Kitchener with Minister Monsef but I have a strong interest in electoral reform and I’m very happy that this process is being carried out now under your government.
In the past I have been fairly active in arguing for electoral reform of some kind and for more proportional systems in particular.
Unfortunately I have not had much time to write on this topic since I returned to Ontario.
You can find my previous writing on the subject at my blog: Pop The Stack
But just to keep it short and fun here are couple discussions of electoral reform in the language of Lord of the Rings and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy🙂
But in all seriousness, this process is a profoundly important one and I hope after the public consultation is done, your government will follow through looking at all the opinions.  Even more importantly I hope you will have the bravery to make the right choice and implement it without a referendum even if a loud minority disagrees with it.
Option 1 – STV
The best option is clearly some form of Single Transferable Vote with ridings of various sizes, 1-3 members in rural areas, maybe 5-6 in urban areas. The BC-STV system was a good approach and was supported by many people. It would allow for voters to have influence over the candidate each party can put forward over time and make government truly representative. It was brought down in the referendum by cynical people using people’s fears. They are against all change because they benefit from the existing system.
Don’t listen to those who say STV is too complicated for Canadians. If they can handle our Prime Minister giving a lecture on quantum computing they handle a ballot where they rank candidates from all parties and the votes are weighted and counted by a computer.

Option 2 – MMP
My second choice would be something along the lines of Mixed Member proportional with party lists. If the list system is open to some primary voting process to party members this would be even better.
Option N – Something else….
Now anything is better than our current system, I do believe that. So some list based, alternative vote or instant runoff system would be an improvement, as hobbits argued.
However, it has severe drawbacks in that a party which has many third or second ranked votes could be dropped off before those votes are used. This would in particular hurt parties competing in the ideological space of the Liberal party such as the NDP and especially the Green party.
So choosing such a system would be bad for the country, waste a once-in-a-generation opportunity for change, and look like the triangulating, strategic manipulation that Liberal opponents love to attack the party for. It would, in my opinion have a much greater chance of emboldening conservatives who support FPTP (for some reason) to use in a later election and would be at risk of being reversed. Which is strange because I truly believe conservative voters have should be even more eager for change that liberal voters (use of case intentional) as they have considerable wasted votes in the urban centres that are the engine of our country.
So that’s it. Do the right thing and make us proud.
Thank you for your time,
Mark Crowley

Come on Colorado, Just Take One Whiff, What Harm Could It Do?

May 5, 2016

Colorado may be about to try out another experimental lifestyle habit, single payer universal healthcare:

This needs to happen. Just try it out America! If you are so into allowing states to experiment just try it.

What trouble could one little state cause?…

Of course, this is how we got single payer in Canada. Saskatchewan tried it out, slowly country came along. 40 years later our health care system is one of the most commonly cited things Canadians are proud of about our country.

Amazing advice! One thing you can do today. The results will astound you!

October 19, 2015


Seven simple steps that will change everything. You won’t regret it.

October 18, 2015
  1. On Monday, get out of bed half an hour early to do a little bit of planning how to vote.
  2. Find your voter information card to find out where to vote or if you don’t have one type in your postal code here.
  3. Determine when you’re going to vote, before work, during or after. Here are the hours polls are open in each province. TL;DR If you’re in the west you can go before work, in the east you have lots of time after work. You can do this.
  4. Before you leave the house make sure you have:
    • your driver’s license,
    • or some other photo id plus
    • a letter from hydro or the phone company or that parking ticket from last month.
  5. Stop by Tim Horton’s. Go to Work, School, etc. Go to the voting place. The order depends on you.
  6. Vote.
  7. Pat yourself on the back.

Wow. This will change everything. Find out how to ensure you aren’t left out!

October 17, 2015

On Monday, vote.

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