the NDP leadership race is our chance to make democracy more democratic.

64 posts / 0 new
Last post
terra1st
the NDP leadership race is our chance to make democracy more democratic.

http://www.thestar.com/news/insight/article/613535--the-quiet-unravelling-of-canadian-democracy

In early 2009 James Travers wrote an article that won him the National Newspaper Award for best political writing. He died two years later.

In the wake of the robo-call scandal, in a time of increased use of closure and 'in camera' meetings, it's worth reading his award winning column.

We must ask our political leadership, now while a contest is on in the NDP, and when the Liberals have their contest (for the liberals here), what practical steps they will take to devolve powers from the PMO to backbench MPs? What will they do to encourage more grassroots democracy? What will they do to move power away from party offices, and into the hands of party activists?

In short, we must pressure them to make our democracy more democratic.

We cannot miss this opening. This leadership race gives us a chance to make long needed gains in this area. Ask your candidates what their plans are, pressure them to make policy in this area. Lets try to make our democracy relevant again.

What are your thoughts, rabble community?

Issues Pages: 
Regions: 
Skinny Dipper

I look forward to the next two NDP leadership debates. The two topics are Connecting People and Regions and Building a Strong, United Canada.

I do not want to hear the leadership candidate state that they support proportional representation because it's NDP policy.  That implies that they don't fully support proportional representation.  I do want to hear that they support proportional representation with reasons why this would be an improvement in Canadian democracy.  I also want to hear how they would implement any changes.  For example, would there be a referendum with a 50%+1 majority or 60% required?  Would there just be a passage of a law by Parliament?  Or would proportional representation be constitutionalized?  Each method has its strengths and weaknesses.  How would they convince Canadians that proportional representation is a good idea?  How much of a priority would the NDP give voting reform or other democratic improvements in the next election campaign?

Note: there are many different ways to improve democracy such as campaign financing, abolishing or reforming the Senate, reforming the House of Commons, and voting reform.

terra1st

So far as I can see, Nathan Cullen has the most fleshed out stand on this, but even then his policy seems a bit thin on info for me.

 

Nathan Cullen has endorsed PR (MMP), abolishing the senate, getting rid of the monarchy, and reinstating party financing are all good ideas.  By and large, I'm sure all the candidates support these.

 

I would like to see something on Open Source Governance, steps to move power away from the PMO, ideas to make question period more useful, and steps to make committies more effective would all be great to see.

 

If anyone knows where to find the policies of other leadership candidates about strengthening democracy, please post them here!

philwalkerp

The robocall scandal shows just how far democracy is being abused in this country. From concentration of power in the PMO, muzzling of MPs and their rights to represent their constituents, to in-and-out scandals and now apparently fraud to suppress the vote, we'll soon be considered a frozen banana republic if things continue. 

Why have the power-hungry been so desperate that they would abuse democracy and push things so far? The root cause is the electoral system itself. When the difference between the Opposition benches and the absolute power of a majority government hinges on the smallest fraction of the vote, people will do anything to wedge, divide, and suppress their way to a "democratic dictatorship". 

The elephant in the room of the Leadership race is electoral reform. If a candidate isn't willing to take a clear public and unequivocal stand to reform our system (ahem, Thomas Mulcair) then what good will a change of dictators at the top - even authoritarian to benign - do for the people in the long run, and why should we vote for them?

There will always be power-hungry people in politics. We can make harsher penalties for supressing the vote or try to reduce heckling in Ottawa or try to stop our long decline in voter participation. But until you treat a root cause of our democratic malaise, you are prescribing a band-aid for the symptoms, not treating the disease. 

 

terra1st

exactly my thoughts.

Slumberjack

From the NDP platform:

Quote:
We will focus Canada's military on three main priorities: defending Canada; providing support for peacemaking, peace-building and peacekeeping around the world

Speaking of making democracy more democratic, when did the 'peacemaking' bit contained within the party platform get voted on?

From the NDP Constitution:

Quote:

5. Authority of Conventions:

Conventions are the supreme governing body of the Party and shall have final authority in all matters of federal policy, program and constitution.

Unionist

Really, Slumberjack. How can you keep the peace before you've bombed the crap out of the enemy first? There'd be no peace to keep!

I see "peacemaking" as just a syntactical or stylistic add-on which doesn't require convention approval - just the folks on Laurier Ave. is good enough.

I know we used to be "cooperative", share our "commonwealth", and act together as a "federation". That was the old politics. That's why we needed a new democratic party (ok ok, two out of three ain't bad).

Are you trying to drag us back?

 

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
Are you trying to drag us back? 

Certainly not.  That would mean forward and reverse scrape marks on the knuckles.

Fidel

"our chance to make democracy more democratic."

This implies that our democracy is currently democratic to some degree. I think it was democratic at a time when there were exactly two political parties running for election in Canada. And we haven't had that situation for a long time.

JKR

philwalkerp wrote:
Why have the power-hungry been so desperate that they would abuse democracy and push things so far? The root cause is the electoral system itself. When the difference between the Opposition benches and the absolute power of a majority government hinges on the smallest fraction of the vote, people will do anything to wedge, divide, and suppress their way to a "democratic dictatorship".

Excellent point.

Wilf Day

terra1st wrote:
If anyone knows where to find the policies of other leadership candidates about strengthening democracy, please post them here!

New Democrats for Fair Voting:

http://www.ndfv.ca/

Note that the responses from candidates are being posted as they come in. More to come.

Grandpa_Bill

On the subject of the impotency of backbench MPs and the closely related lack of accountability of party leaders, here's an excerpt from Canadian historian Christopher Moore's opinion piece "Come Together" in the June-July 2011 issue of Canada's History-unfortunately not available online:

"In 1919, William Lyon Mackenzie King became leader of the Liberal Party, not by the support of elected Liberal MPs, but by the vote of party members gathered in a convention centre.  That kind of leadership selection process had never been tried in any parliamentary system before, but the other Canadian political parties soon followed suit.  Ever since, Canada has been virtually the only country in the world where parliamentary party leaders are selected by whoever buys a vote in a private, outside-of-parliament popularity contest-and are not accountable to the elected parliamentarians they lead.

"With his Gollum-like cunning, Mackenzie King at once grasped the magical power he had been granted.  Clutching his precious leadership, he had suddenly become immune to his MPs.  He told the people's elected representatives he was no longer accountable to them; they had to do what he told them.  Harper's often-deplored practice of treating backbenchers and cabinet ministers as gofers and water boys is just the blossoming of the seed Mackenzie King planted.  Under Canada's new idea of party leadership, MPs became nobodies long before Pierre Trudeau was mean enough to say so."

Another excerpt, this one from Moore's blog post "Our readers write ...", at http://christophermoorehistory.blogspot.com/2012/02/our-readers-write.html which contains this comparison between the current NDP leadership contest and the soon-to-happen leadership struggle in the Australian Labour Party:

"Australia offers a fascinating comparison right now.  Obviously the fight between two powerful leaders of the party (one the PM) for control of the Australian Labor Party is a total train-wreck for the party, and something parties in parliamentary systems try hard to avoid.  But look how this fight -- between regional factions, over crucial policy options, and also concerning who will be best to lead the party in a looming election -- will be solved: in less than a week, without millions being spent, without taking the candidates out of parliament for months at a time. And it will be solved by the party's MPs, who know that their decisions will be closely scrutinized by their own voters and the general public, and that their choice will probably determine whether they hold their own seats after the next election.  Now that's accountability.

"By comparison, the NDP leadership, to cite the current example here, not that the other parties are any different) will be determined by 120,000 private citizens who have purchased the right to vote for $10, and who will cease to have any control over the winner the moment the decision is made.  And the 100 or so NDP MPs recently elected as representatives of the Canadian people? Just bystanders, during and after."

The following excerpt is from Moore's book review "Our Hidden History" in the July/August issue of Literary Review of Canada, available online at http://reviewcanada.ca/essays/2011/07/01/our-hidden-history/

"On this central question of parliamentary accountability, we today live once again in something like pre-1848 conditions. What Canadian party leader ever cedes power because his or her caucus is changing its mind? Today we accept that any party leader who wins a majority has, not constant accountability, but a four-year free hand, during which any caucus member who doubts or disagrees will be put out of caucus and probably out of politics. We have replaced LaFontaine and Baldwin's hard-won achievement of leadership accountability with the perverse idea that legislators are once more accountable to leaders, rather than the other way around. Where the backbenchers concluded in 1851 that they could dispense in mid term with the services of the two greatest leaders of a generation-and did-today's members of Parliament accept that they must be the only people in the country with no political opinions of their own, just passive supporters for whatever leader extra-parliamentary processes have imposed on them."

See also these posts from Moore's history blog:

"Hint: they are likely to listen if they know you can fire 'em" at http://christophermoorehistory.blogspot.com/2012/01/something-you-dont-see-often-sense-from.html

"Colby Cosh on leadership accountability" at http://christophermoorehistory.blogspot.com/2012/02/colby-cosh-on-leadership-accountability.html

And do doubt others.

PS.  Every library should subscribe to Canada's History.

janfromthebruce

You know I get that grandpa Bill. But personally I live in an area where an NDP MP has never been elected and thus my view of who I think should be the leader of the party that I support would never be considered in the equation.

Grandpa_Bill

Well, janfromthebruce, I also live in such a riding:  Northumberland-Quinte West.  No NDP MP in sight, now or ever.

Even so, Moore's point still carries some persuasive weight for me:  it is better to have a party leader who is accountable to elected MPs than to have one who, once chosen, is accountable to no one at all, which is (more or less) what we have now.

Moore makes the following point in another of his blog posts: http://christophermoorehistory.blogspot.com/2010/12/there-is-procedure-party-discipline-in.html :

"This is how politics works in functioning parliamentary democracies, where leaders are part of caucus and accountable to it and where caucuses of the people's elected representatives are understood to be coalitions of interests, not merely cheering claques for leaders imposed on them by extra-parliamentary shenanigans."

janfromthebruce

Well I guess we will just have to respectfully disagree. With you saying that, Jack Layton would never have become the leader in 2003 and perhaps not the leader at all. It may lead to insider like baseball forever.

Wilf Day

Grandpa_Bill wrote:

I also live in such a riding: No NDP MP in sight, now or ever.

Even so, Moore's point still carries some persuasive weight for me:  it is better to have a party leader who is accountable to elected MPs than to have one who, once chosen, is accountable to no one at all, which is (more or less) what we have now.

Argument number 83 for proportional representation: when every vote counts, we will all have an MP we voted for, either a local one or a regional one, and we can have a leader accountable (if we choose to do so) to a caucus that represents all NDP voters. In New Zealand, where they have PR, the Labour Party caucus elects not only the leader but the cabinet; and has done so since 1940.

Grandpa_Bill wrote:

Well, janfromthebruce, I also live in such a riding:  Northumberland-Quinte West.

Good heavens; that makes at least three of us.

Chris Borst

Moore's argument doesn't seem very persuasive to me. Parties in the UK elect their leaders by convention, but their backbenchers aren't sycophantic lackeys. Not only do they often buck the whip, they can and do eject their leaders. And outside of Westminister parliaments (e.g., France, US), although presidential candidates are in no way beholden to their party's caucus, those caucuses are rarely well-behaved followers of their leader.

On the thread, I would love to see the NDP committing to breaking the PMO and reforming our electoral system (heck, I would love to see our electoral system replaced by selection-by-lot), but I don't see this race as offering much scope for that. This race is about "which candidate is best placed to 'finish Jack's work' and 'be Canada's first NDP Prime Minister'?" While most candidates seem to support some form of PR (typically MMP), otherwise they seem perfectly happy with professionalized party rule.

flight from kamakura

for people looking for a book-length exposition on the rise and rule of the pmo, the touchstone text is called "governing from the centre" by donald savoie.

as for accountability of the leader, there are two very serious mechanisms that we have - the leadership review and the support of caucus.  we've seen leaders deposed by caucus before (chretien) and leaders who've fallen after leadership reviews (landry), so that both of them create a check on leaders' drfiting too far from party and caucus thinking.

philwalkerp

The latest rankings are in on how the candidates stack up on proportional representation:

http://www.ndfv.ca/

 

philwalkerp

Finally, a solid committment is made by Thomas Mulcair on electoral reform.

Apparently he answered a survey where he said:

Quote:

If elected Prime Minister would you, in your first mandate, undertake a process that includes public consultation to make the federal electoral system fairer and more proportional to the popular vote?

Yes.

Although, unlike the other candidates, he wasn't willing to sign something called a "Declaration of Voters Rights", he did at long last make a first commitment that he can be held to account for. I hope he isn't reluctant to go farther when it comes to fixing our democracy, which is clearly in need of some help right now.

socialdemocrati...

I think a lot of candidates end up making statements that show obvious support, but might not make time to fill out a formal survey.

Wilf Day

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

I think a lot of candidates end up making statements that show obvious support, but might not make time to fill out a formal survey.

Actually they all filled out the survey except Singh, but Singh has been very strong in his support for PR, he just missed filling out the survey.

Skinny Dipper

I think tomorrow's debate in Montreal on Building a Strong and United Canada will be the last significant event where the candidates will be able to express their support for proportional representation.

Leigh

The NDP once made a priority of connecting with activists in communities, particularly youth activists.  Today many youth and environmental activists reject carbon emissions trading because the practice allows global corporations to purchase these licenses to pollute in Canada, and use them to offset fossil fuel development elsewhere.   Proper environmental assessments for projects in Canada are good, as is Peggy Nash's policy to "act as model to other countries by developing and  fully implementing an ambitious domestic plan to avert climate change." (linked from http://peggynash.ca/2012/nash-proposes-action-in-five-critical-foreign-p...).

However Peggy Nash and Paul Dewar both support global trade in carbon emissions.  Presumably, hopefully, their goal is to persuade all countries to also implement strong environmental assessment requirements so that corporations could not develop nor expand fossil fuel projects anywhere.  In the meanwhile though their support of emissions trading is destructive. Alternatives to trade in carbon offsets/pollution permits exist.  Carbon taxes or simple caps on emissions are possible.  I don't understand why candidates feel obligated to support carbon credit trade.

What is the potential of current NDP candidates to shift from their current stated policies to more environmentally friendly policy?

It's also really disappointing that rabble chose not to raise the question of limiting financiers' power to create money from nothing with NDP candidates, and that no NDP candidates have directly responded to that question, nor explicitly supported use of the Bank of Canada to provide for the welfare of Canadians, as the BofC is mandated to do.

I did hear young activists at 'Occupy' protests last fall talk about these issues.  Is the NDP not willing to talk about these issues, even as it prepares for an election four more years ahead?

 

Unionist

Leigh wrote:
I don't understand why candidates feel obligated to support carbon credit trade.

Unfortunately, I think I understand. It's similar to their reasons for never talking (as they once did long ago) about expropriating anything and turning it into social property. Carbon credit trading is a way of showing concern about the environment without threatening the stranglehold of the wealthy over all the levers of the economy. It's easier than the measures which may actually do some good.

I don't think you'll get any of these candidates beyond issuing licences to pollute and change the climate. But good luck with that.

 

Leigh

What difference will proportional representation make if all the elected MPs support a global offset trading scheme that allows more pollution?

A one percent change in temperatures is game over for a healthy planet. We don't have another generation, or even four years, to pretend to 'be a model' for the world while in practice we promote global fossil fuel development through gifts of 'offsets'.

I'm not saying that its 'game over' in four years, rather honest steps to stop and reverse global warming include caps, and eliminate market  mechanisms which serve, at any point from this moment forward, to expand fossil fuel development.

"...should not create market mechanisms with regard to nature, biodiversity and the so called environmental services:..[which would] effect the sovereignty of our States and peoples by generating new forms of property rights over the functions of nature that will be in the hands of investors. These mechanisms are uncertain, volatile and the source of financial speculation given that the bulk of the money they mobilize will remain in the hands of intermediary actors."

http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/proposal-of-bolivia-to-rio20/#more...

Leigh

----

Leigh

thanks for your response.

hopefully though we could get candidates to do more. activists are needed to support good policy,  like carbon caps not trade, use of the Bank of Canada for funding public services and infrastructure, and limits if not elimination of the ability of the banking industry to create money from nothing- a power which has resulted in banks taking more power than governments or persons.

Expropriation of corporate banking powers is very different from expropriation of persons, or families from their homes. So far, governments have allowed the latter, and haven't had the guts to do the former.  As many have emphasized, corporations are NOT persons.  They do not and never should have the same rights as persons, to personal property needed for sustenance.

If the NDP isn't going to stand up in the House of Commons during the next four years for the priority of human persons and human rights over corporate rights,  then who is?

 

 

 

 

 

philwalkerp

Skinny Dipper wrote:

I think tomorrow's debate in Montreal on Building a Strong and United Canada will be the last significant event where the candidates will be able to express their support for proportional representation.

 

Most candidates have made strong statements in debates in support of proportional representation, and usually those are the times the candidates get the most applause. It is obvious that fixing the broken voting system is really important to New Democrats, and it's one committment that doesn't cost that much money at all. For that reason alone you would think all the candidates would be jumping in on it.

Fixing our voting system, the same one that divides, discriminates, creates unassailable strongholds for parties, and pits region vs region, is important for national unity. Giving everyone an equal voice, whether you are a New Democrat from Saskatchewan or a Conservative in Montreal, is integral to building a united Canada. So for Sunday's debate I'm looking for strong statements from the two candidates that have avoided making any committments on TV, radio or print about proportional rep so far: Martin Singh and Thomas Mulcair.

Desire for a lively debate aside, this is one issue I hope all the candidates agree on.

Leigh

Why does it matter if all the candidates agree on proportional representation? just vote for the leader who does, all else being equal.

hopefully at least one leadership candidate though would speak to regain democratic control over money. [edited to change,  'particularly if carbon trade is advocated': I don't think there's any way carbon credit  trades would work if they're given to energy companies with financiers from places where they can create money from nothing,  like the US.]

so that raises the question, is it possible for any one country to try to implement restriction on the ability of bankers to create money?  I  think so, along with other credit and investment limits.  Other countries have set limits.

 

philwalkerp

Leigh wrote:

so that raises the question, is it possible for any one country to try to implement restriction on the ability of bankers to create money?  I  think so, along with other credit and investment limits.  Other countries have set limits.

 

There is a lawsuit filed recently that seeks to restore the Bank of Canada's unique ability to create money.

When the Government needs money, it asks the Treasury to issue bonds, which then given to the Bank of Canada, who created money in the amount of those Bonds, and thus the Government is funded.

But in order for Canada to join the G7 1976, Canada had to modify its monetary system such that instead of the BoC creating money interest-free (because whats the point in owing yourself interest?), the BoC transferred treasury bonds to private Chartered Banks who would create the money instead, at interest. That is when our national debt started to rise drastically. It's essentially a large transfer of weath from taxpayers to private financial institutions. The lawsuit is an attempt to return to the pre-1976 regime, where the BoC creates the money.

There is no chance that, even if the lawsuit succeeds  in court, that the powers that be will let that stand. Too much financial gain is at stake for too many powerful interests.

So as far as any NDP Candidate is concerned, what can they do about this? I have no doubt that if any Leader made this an issue and it looked like they were getting close to becoming PM, there would be an "accident" or some other event that would effectively eliminate the problem. There is precendent for this in other countries, never think it cannot happen here.

One step at a time. First, proportional representation so that no government can be elected with the support of only a narrow section of society. Then, you can start democratizing and legitimizing other institutions.

Leigh

thanks for the information on how the BofC worked before. i'll need to look more at that.

I still think there needs to be more public dialogue about this issue, by all members of parliament, the media, educators, unions, progressive economists, farmers, students, everyone. If we've lost a significant mechanism of democracy,we need to regain it.

Leigh

The COMER case filing (linked through www.comer.org) says (p.13) that it was in 1974 the Bank of Canada stopped issuing interest-free loans to provincial and territorial governments and municipalities, in favour of loans from private banks with interest.

The filing also says that in 1974 Canada became a member of the Bank of International Settlements, wherein an agreement was reached that none of the central banks loan interest-free money, and instead use borrowed money through the BIS. The Bank of Canada is the only 'public' bank in the G8. The other central banks are 'private' banks. 

No wonder Greece has a problem.

No wonder Canada now has a problem.  We need to uphold the Bank of Canada Act.

and democratize banking.

Leigh

Use of the Bank of Canada for inter-governmental zero-interest loans instead of borrowing from private bankers is necessary.

The other issue is the commercial Bank Act which gave private banks the ability to create money simply by entering 'deposit' on one side of their ledger, and 'loan' on the other.  That law needs to change so that banks only circulate money created by government.  One way to do that is to implement 100% reserves, I think, with the reserves in government-created money, not recycled private bogus derivatives.  The other way is to turn banking into a public service, democratized. 

People need to know there are alternatives to more budget and service cuts, and alternatives to hypocritical economic arguments which attempt to argue against budget cuts based on debt numbers which were the result of budget cuts.

[edited to change "'withdrawal' on the other" to "loan' on the other.]

jerrym

I have been an advocate for a proportional representation system for some time. I now believe this scandal shows that it is now essential in a high tech society where widespread electoral fraud is currently so easy to accomplish. Instead of targeting several thousands or tens of thousands of voters to greatly change to the distribution of ridings among parties, a party would have to engage in hundreds of thousands or even millions of cases of voter suppression in order to make a major change in the distribution of ridings among parties. While this would not eliminate voter suppression, it would significantly reduce its potential damage to a fair electoral process and increase the risk of the perpetrators being caught because of the enormous volume of the fraud.

philwalkerp

jerrym wrote:

I have been an advocate for a proportional representation system for some time. I now believe this scandal shows that it is now essential in a high tech society where widespread electoral fraud is currently so easy to accomplish.

 

 

There is no doubt that our democracy is being abused in this country like never before. Its hurting. But even if we get to the bottom of the Robocon scandal and punish those responsible, we are only treating a symptom and not the disease. So long as there exists a razor-thin popular vote margin between the absolute power of a majority, and absolute powerlessness in opposition, there will be people desperate enough to come up with new and creative ways to abuse democracy to win.

The other parties have never been interested in real electoral reform. The NDP is the only party ever in Canadian federal politics that supports proportional representation and has come this close to winning. If the new Leader becomes Prime Minister one day, she or he must move to improve our ailing democracy at the first opportunity. We may not get another chance.

Leigh

while we have parliament, we need to have representatives of equity-seeking groups in parliament.

proportional representation helps not only diversity of party representation, it also helps women, the differently-abled, LGBT, and others to participate in decisions.

Grandpa_Bill

Leigh wrote:

while we have parliament, we need to have representatives of equity-seeking groups in parliament.

proportional representation helps not only diversity of party representation, it also helps women, the differently-abled, LGBT, and others to participate in decisions.

Very interesting comment.

In a thread related to this one, Wilf Day wrote this:

"In Quebec, Levesque was set to proceed with PR after 1980 when his caucus veto'd it. Trudeau's 1980 throne speech promised a parliamentay committee on electoral reform but his caucus veto'd it. More recently, Charest promised a draft bill for a PR system which then took about 12 months to get through his caucus, and his MNAs polluted the model to the extent that everyone else rejected it as a partisan poor version. So it's possible that the caucus are the problem, not the solution; they were elected from the party strongholds, and "if the party's voters in other regions got no representation, why should I do them any favours if it may hurt me?" (No one said that on the record, but dozens thought it.)"

If caucus members (NDP included) will not go to bat for PR, whether or not it is party policy, will they be at all thrilled at the prospect of having members of equity-seeking groups, perhaps from newly-minted minority political parties enabled by PR, sitting at desks in parliament?

Leigh

I  thought PR was supported by NDP members, leadership, and was party policy.

I thought Greens included  PR as well in party policy.

the Liberals, and Conservatives, if they  don't already, ought to include PR in their policies.

All the members of opposition  in parliament ought to work together - together they could implement PR perhaps and other good policy.

Wilf Day

Leigh wrote:

I  thought PR was supported by NDP members, leadership, and was party policy.

I thought Greens included  PR as well in party policy.

True, at the federal level. Greens like to point out that NDP governments in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and BC have never done anything about PR, and the Saskatchewan NDP government did nothing about it for 14 years, and decided too late to start moving on it.

Leigh wrote:

the Liberals, and Conservatives, if they  don't already, ought to include PR in their policies.

All the members of opposition  in parliament ought to work together - together they could implement PR perhaps and other good policy.

In the Liberals, Bob Rae and Carolyn Bennett support PR, but the party convention just voted for AV instead, partly at the urging of Stephane Dion who said he would have something to say about PR soon, but not at that convention. And now Dion finally has:

http://wilfday.blogspot.com/2012/02/stephane-dions-favourite-proportiona...

JKR

Dion's system seems pretty proportional and very original. But why doesn't he just support 4-6 seat STV? If this is the kind of ideas coming up within the Liberal Party, there's a lot of room for coperation on this front between the NDP, Liberals and Greens.

Wilf, your lightning fast indebt analysis on Dion's system was very impressive. Is there such a thing as an electoral system savant?

Leigh

the different kinds of PR seem very complicated. it would be helpful to outline the components of a good model.

i also think PR, marking ballots, is necessary but insufficient. It needs to accompanied by the kind of gatherings and forms of decision-making that were used in 'occupy' events.

and forms of economic policy which allow people at the grass roots to control money;

perhaps community gatherings like 'occupy' then are directly part of decisions through electing  'spokes'  to gatherings with others ie) 'parliaments'.  policies like using the Bank of Canada and other policies can be implemented.

communities like Indigenous councils, and other communities, could intersect with all the different levels, their councils as their own 'parliaments', if they choose to.

if a Swedish model includes 'regional' lists, perhaps a improved model could also include 'community' lists- not only geographic lists , also communities of those who wish to identify themselves as equity-seeking groups, and diverse 'direct democracy' groups.

philwalkerp

It doesn't matter what Dion's pet system is. The Liberal Party isn't peddling it. They are pushing something called preferential voting, which is more commonly called the alternative vote. It is not proportional representation and actually it is worse than first past the post for distorting the popular vote. With all the vote supression and electoral fraud going on, an even greater distortion of the people's vote is the very last thing we all need.

Granpa_Bill raised the fact that more equity-seeking groups would get elected under proportional representation, which is true. But not under the Liberals alternative vote: it would in fact be worse for electing women and visible minorities. The only group alternative vote would help are parties in the centre of the political spectrum (surprise! that's the Liberals) because they often tend to be the second choice of more voters.

Where is Debater to defend the Liberals' naked self-serving electoral reform scheme when you need him?

philwalkerp

LeadNow has just come out with their rankings for the candidates on cross-party co-operation and electoral reform.

Two candidates in particular did very well.

Although their campaign's gambit is well-known and gets all the attention, the ultimate campaign objective is not known by everyone (Survey Question 3). But the amount of momentum and support they have been able to build in such a short time shows how important it is for many.

Hoodeet

JKR wrote:

your lightning fast indebt analysis

Hoodeet (JW)

you meant "in depth", right?

JKR

Hoodeet wrote:

JKR wrote:

your lightning fast indebt analysis

Hoodeet (JW)

you meant "in depth", right?

Whoops!

 

Wilf is owed a debt of gratitude for his impressive leadership on the electoral reform front.

JKR

philwalkerp wrote:

They are pushing something called preferential voting, which is more commonly called the alternative vote.

It should be familiar to everyone here. It's the system being used right now by the NDP to choose the new leader. All the parties use it as their electoral system of choice.

AV's huge flaw is that it is not proportional when electing multi-member legislatures. It's no more or less proportional than FPTP. AV's only redeeming value is that it deals with the problem of vote splitting endemic to FPTP.

Cullen's joint-nomination plan is a jerry-rigged version of AV in that it is an attempt to solve FPTP's endemic problem of vote-splitting. Cullen and the Liberals are both proposing plans to deal with vote splitting. Both plans are not long term solutions. To solve the FPTP proplem of vote splitting AND to establish fair voting, AV is not adequate. To have fair voting, a proportional system is required. Something like MMP or STV.

philwalkerp

JKR wrote:

AV's huge flaw is that it is not proportional when electing multi-member legislatures. ... AV's only redeeming value is that it deals with the problem of vote splitting endemic to FPTP.

 

For electing a single position like a mayor or party leader, the alternative vote is fine. There can be only one winner anyways.

But for electing a legislature like a parliament or assembly, it is total crud. In fact is sometimes worse than first-past-the-post, as Lord Jenkins wrote in his 1998 Report of the Independent Commission on the Voting System commissioned by the UK Government: "Far from doing much to relieve disproportionality, [AV] is capable of substantially adding to it." The report called results of elections under AV "disturbingly unpredictable" because it can exaggerate the seat total of the winning party even more than first-past-the-post does. Thus AV is often less true to the popular vote than first-past-the-post. It is no wonder that UK voters resoundingly rejected AV in last years referendum there.

But that's hasn't stopped the Liberal Party of Canada from adopting it as official party policy on electoral reform this January. The big argument advanced by Liberals and a few others promoting AV is that it eliminates strategic voting. As we can clearly see from the way most of us are carefully ranking candidates in the NDP leadership race, and how we are all calculating the order and likelyhood each has of being eliminated, this is not the case. I may strategically rank a second or third choice much higher than my first choice, in order to stop someone I really don't like from winning. That is essentially the same as strategic voting under first-past-the-post.

Brachina

I hope that lawsuit against the bank of Canada suceeds, its stupid how we have to funnel tax dollars to private banks.

JKR

philwalkerp wrote:
The big argument advanced by Liberals and a few others promoting AV is that it eliminates strategic voting. As we can clearly see from the way most of us are carefully ranking candidates in the NDP leadership race, and how we are all calculating the order and likelyhood each has of being eliminated, this is not the case. I may strategically rank a second or third choice much higher than my first choice, in order to stop someone I really don't like from winning. That is essentially the same as strategic voting under first-past-the-post.

Putting lower ranked candidates ahead of your first choice could backfire and help elect an unwanted 3rd candidate. People should remember that their first choice is the only one that counts until that person wins or is dropped off. If many people rank their favorite candidate in 3rd place and put the same "also-rans" in first and second, an electoral disaster could take place.

Strategic voting is not the same for FPTP and AV. If both systems were the same, political parties would just stick with using FPTP instead of using AV. Unlike FPTP, AV  does not penalize the voter for voting for their favorite candidate when their favorite candidate is an "also-ran" that has little chance of winning.

The NDP isn't using FPTP to choose the new NDP leader because AV is far better than FPTP. FPTP is only suited for two-candidate elections for a single position like mayor or president. In all other types of elections FPTP should not be used. AV should only be used in multi-candidate elections for a single position like mayor and president. Multi-member assemblies should use proportional representation to fairly elect their representatives.

 

What would the NDP leadership election look like if the NDP was using FPTP instead of AV?

 - Opinion polls would be used to determine which candidates are contenders and which ones are pretenders who should step down in order to avoid vote splitting.

- There would be pressure on  some candidates to step down to avoid vote-splitting.

- The new NDP leader would most likely become leader with minority support.

- In a 7 candidate field, the new NDP leader could become leader with less than 25% support.

JKR

philwalkerp wrote:
But for electing a legislature like a parliament or assembly, it is total crud. In fact is sometimes worse than first-past-the-post, as Lord Jenkins wrote in his 1998 Report of the Independent Commission on the Voting System commissioned by the UK Government: "Far from doing much to relieve disproportionality, [AV] is capable of substantially adding to it." The report called results of elections under AV "disturbingly unpredictable" because it can exaggerate the seat total of the winning party even more than first-past-the-post does. Thus AV is often less true to the popular vote than first-past-the-post.

This disproportionality point is correct but overdone. Both FPTP and AV are disproportional but there is an important difference between AV and FPTP regarding their lack of proportionality. AV can only exaggerate the victory of a generally popular party while FPTP can exaggerate victories of a much loathed party with good geographical concentration.

FPTP allows a party like the Conservatives to take the side of 30% of the electorate and neglect more than half of the electorate and still win elections. Unlike FPTP, to win AV elections, the Conservatives would have to appeal to 50% of the electorate. AV would force the Conservatives to appeal to people beyond their right-wing base that represents little more than just 1 in 3 voters.

Pages