Monday, April 21, 2014

Two Sentiments That Will Resonate With Many

Today's Star brings two letters, one on despotic rule and the other on electoral reform, that many would find hard to argue against:

Harper’s on a lonely road to political isolation, April 15

Aristotle once remarked that all forms of government — democracy, oligarchy, monarchy, tyranny — are inherently unstable, all political regimes are inherently transitional and that the stability of all regimes is corrupted by the corrosive power of time.

To prolong the viability of democratic form of government, his advice had been constant turnover of leaderships to renew the political process.
After eight years in power, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is clearly showing the signs of “the corrosive power of time,” as evident from the litany of problems outlined by Chantal Hebert.

He should, therefore, stand down, allowing a new leader to renew the political process. Time for change and renewal has arrived in Canada.

Mahmood Elahi, Ottawa

Why does anybody call Canada a democracy? It has taken nearly eight years for Stephen Harper’s stranglehold on his party and the country to start to loosen – and in all that time he has never enjoyed majority voter support.

We still can’t be sure Harper and Co. will be removed from office in 2015. It’s only a majority faint hope. Canadians will pay many millions to finance the federal election in 2015 — and then watch the pre-democratic voting system deliver, as usual, a House of Commons that bears no predictable relationship to what voters actually said and did. It could re-elect the Harper Conservatives with even less public support than they had last time.

The country needs new leaders who show real respect for citizens and taxpayers – by making a firm commitment to equal effective votes and proportional representation in the House of Commons. Representative democracy in Canada is 100 years overdue.

John Deverell, Pickering


  1. When it comes to real democracy, we must let Canadians choose. In Canada and the UK there have been 5 failed referendums that didn't put all options on the ballot. (4 PR referendums in Canada and 1 ranked ballot referendum in the UK.)

    The best way to do this is with a 3-way referendum and a runoff vote. That way, one option will be chosen by a majority. The 3 types of voting systems are: First-Past-the-Post, PR and ranked ballot voting.

    The kind of PR system can also be put on the ballot: party-list, Mixed Member Proportional and Single Transferable Vote.

    If we repeat the same process where an unelected citizens' assembly makes the choice for Canadians, we will still be stuck with corrupt FPP another century from now. (If a voter's choice is not on the ballot they will opt for the status quo.)

    The two kinds of voting reform Canadians support

    Toronto Star: fiercely against voting reform and real democracy

    1. Thanks you for the information, Ron. I must admit that I have not done a serious study of electoral reform, being aware only generally of the pros and cons of PR.

      I guess the first challenge, should a referendum be called, would be to ensure that voters understood the concept and the various possibilities. That would require a significant education initiative. As well, of course, would be trying to convince a sitting government of its value. I somehow think that improving democracy is not a priority with the majority of our overseers.

      I will be sure to check out your links.

    2. Both the Liberals and NDP have committed to voting-system reform. So it would appear a referendum is very likely.

      Both have some version where a citizen's assembly looks into the issue. But as has happened 4 times already (in BC, ON and PEI,) the people ended up rejecting the recommendations of the citizen's assembly. (Actually, the Liberals wanted voting-reform votes before the election, then brought in designed-to-fail referendums with an impossible 60% win threshold because they favored FPTP.)

      So to counter the 60% win threshold and corporate media bias against PR, a 3 x 3 referendum would paint a moving target that would make it harder for the business community to attack. With a dichotomy, it's much easier to frame fear-mongering rhetoric.

      The purpose of the citizen's assembly could be to design the details behind MMP (e.g., balance of directly elected and party-list MPs) and STV (e.g., number of MPs per riding.)

      It would be up to us in the social media to educate the people and campaign. In the provincial referendums there were failed education initiatives (only 12% 'knew a lot' about the ON referendum,) and essentially no campaigns (in the 2009 BC referendum, they banned campaigning with a gag rule.)

      If we, in social media, don't take charge of this issue, it is certain to fail. And the Cons will become Canada's natural governing party (unless Wildrose goes federal like Social Credit and Reform before it.)

    3. Thanks for providing further information on reform, Ron. I think it also sheds light on the uphill battle that those wishing to embrace electoral change face.