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In Canada it is easy to see where elite consensus lies. Marijuana legislation is barrelling ahead (potheads rejoice!) and electoral reform is dead in the water and slowly sinking out of the public’s consciousness.

This is how electoral reform died in Canada:

“In response, Trudeau pointed to a difference of opinions among the major political parties.

“As people in this House know, I have long preferred a preferential ballot. The members opposite [in the NDP] wanted proportional representation. The Official Opposition wanted a referendum,” he said, gesturing toward the Conservatives.

“There is no consensus. There is no clear path forward. It would be irresponsible to do something that harms Canada’s stability.”

Later, in response to a question from May, Trudeau expanded on his explanation.

“Anything a prime minister or a government must do must be in the interest of Canada and all Canadians, particularly when it comes to transforming our electoral system. I understand the passion and the intensity with which the member opposite believes in this and many Canadians mirror that passion and that intensity.”

“But there is no consensus, there is no sense of how to do this. And, quite frankly, a divisive referendum, an augmentation of extremist voices in this House, is not what is in the best interests of Canada.”

It is quite odd that ‘building consensus” and “augmentation of extremist voices” were of such a deeply troubling concern to our dear Prime Minister. The Liberal Party currently holds a majority in our House of Commons – 184 seats (14 more than the required 170) – so they can pass whatever damn legislation they choose, at any time, and the opposition can do precisely diddly-squat about it.

Enter the consensus building. Or, to look at things slightly more Machiavellian, why would the government dismantle the electoral system that has brought it to power tweny-four times since the inception of Canada as a nation?

I’m pretty sure that’s all that needs to be said on the issue of electoral reform.

The other half of the story is the legalization of marijuana and that folks is an example, par excellance of Canadian Government policy careening downhill on the greasiest of skids.  Nothing is going to stop this fully loaded freight-train of weed goodness.   (I have heard nary a whisper of building consensus on this issue – it’s just getting done).  From the Liberal Party website

” Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.

Arresting and prosecuting these offenses is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses. At the same time, the proceeds from the illegal drug trade support organized crime and greater threats to public safety, like human trafficking and hard drugs.

To ensure that we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals, we will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.

We will remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code, and create new, stronger laws to punish more severely those who provide it to minors, those who operate a motor vehicle while under its influence, and those who sell it outside of the new regulatory framework.”

Oh the principled anguish!

I’m not buying it for a second.  The legality of marijuana is a trivial issue.   It will not affect those in the halls of power one iota.  And, thus we have this great commitment and expressed vigour to helping all Canadians and making things better for the country.  (Clearly, reforming the skewed FPP electoral system won’t benefit Canadians or the country…)

OTTAWA — The Canadian government has introduced sweeping legislation designed to permit the recreational use of marijuana throughout the country by July 2018, fulfilling an election promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The bill, inspired in part by the experiences of cannabis regimes in Colorado and Washington state, goes well beyond the U.S. situation, where marijuana remains prohibited at the federal level. In Canada, the federal government will change criminal law nationally and will license growers and set product standards while leaving it up to the provinces to handle distribution and manage retail sale.

Canada will become the first large industrialized nation with a broad system permitting recreational as well as medical use of marijuana. At present, only Uruguay has a national legal regime permitting widespread use of cannabis.”

*sigh* – Oh, Canada.  :/




fairvotecan Canadians are watching closely to see if their new government is going to stick to the promises made during the recent election campaign.  One of the most important promises was to reform the electoral system and get rid of our current First Past the Post system.  I was browsing about and found an interesting article (?) on the National Post’s website (!!) about possible changes and how they might effect Canada’s political parties.   I was struck by the word choice in this part:

“Clearly, there is no upside for the Liberals in pursuing PR. But the introduction of a ranked ballot system would take the Liberal heels off the Conservatives’ chest and thrust it hard into the party’s wind-pipe.

As one clear-eyed senior Conservative put it, adoption of preferential balloting would force the Tories to “water down” their agenda to become the second choice of more people.

“The reality is, if the Liberals do this, the Conservative movement is going to have to increase its appeal. We won’t be able to afford to be the 35-40% party,” he said.

The NDP would face a similar dilemma, ensuring the centre ground of Canadian politics becomes a very crowded space indeed.

The question remains, how aggressive are the Liberals likely to be in pursuing the reforms signalled in the throne speech?”

Is John Ivison’s article accurate, maybe? Does it deliciously tickle my partisan happy neurons, you bet it does. :)

[Source:National Post – Canada’s other Conservative Paper that isn’t written at a Grade 4 level.]

I am not a big fan of Stephen Harper and his merry band of reactionary pundits which he calls a government.  His

Kittens: Great for Breakfast.

proroguing of  parliament is another bitch-slapping of democracy and the Canadian People.

We need a voting system that better represents the people of Canada.  I am proud to be part of the riding that went to the NDP in the last federal election.  It was a close battle with the incumbent conservative (tough on crime, currently facing drug charges) was beaten by Linda Duncan.  We are the tiny crack in what has been fortress tory Alberta for much too long.  Go to Fair Vote Canada and sign up and let us turf this antiquated and thoroughly anti-democratic First Past the Post system of representation.

Fair Vote Canada has a great FAQ.  I snipped the first two topics off their page.  Read the rest here.

Myths About Fair Voting and Proportional Representation

Rather than defend the glaring problems with Canada’s winner-take-all voting system, critics usually spend more time trying to frighten people about change. Let’s look at some of common myths they promote, compared to the facts.

Myth 1: There are trade-offs between good democracy and good government.

The Facts: In his landmark study, Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Democracies (1999), internationally-renowned political scientist Arend Lijphart assessed and compared the performance of majoritarian democracies (associated with winner-take-all voting systems) and consensus democracies (associated with proportional representation systems).

He concluded: “the overall performance record of the consensus democracies is clearly superior to that of the majoritarian democracies” and “the good news is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, there is no trade-off at all between governing effectiveness and high-quality democracy – and hence no difficult decisions to be made on giving priority to one or the other objective.”

Fair Vote Canada has prepared an 8-page summary of Dr. Lijphart’s key findings.

Myth 2: Proportional representation means coalition governments and that’s bad because it requires deal-making.

The Facts: Governments formed under any voting system are coalitions of different groups who negotiate and make deals. That’s the way democracy works.

In Canada, the two largest “big tent” parties are coalitions of factions which are generally hidden from public view except during leadership races. These internal factions compete with one another and then negotiate and compromise on the party platform and policies.

The primary difference between this and the formation of multi-party coalition governments under fair voting systems are: 1) transparency – coalition negotiations among parties are generally more visible to the public and the compromises are publicly known; and 2) majority rule – under fair voting systems, the resulting coalition or governing group represents a true majority of voters.

PR makes sense and would get more people voting because your vote would make a difference.  PR would better reflect the diversity of values that we as Canadians claim to hold dear and close to our sociopolitical hearts.  Implementing PR in Canada is that hard part.  The funny thing is that it really should not be so hard is it is made out to be. already exists.  A structure is in place to let the voices for PR to be heard on Parliament Hill.  If enough people join the Fairvote cause and they let their MP’s know they want PR it will happen.  Simple.  End of story.

What is missing is fact that people are systematically steered away from organizing and coming together (thank-you corporate media).  The current established parties have no interest in seeing PR in Canada as it would hinder their goal of staying in power.  PR is a tough sell to either the Conservative or Liberal Party as both have prospered under the current first past the post system.   They rightly wait for the fuss and bother of electoral reform to go away until next election time.

If you don’t like the current system then do something about it.  Do nothing and nothing will change.  Start with and see if you agree, write to your MP, talk with someone else about electoral reform.   Do not let your indolence vote in your stead; the established parties are counting on it.Voting

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