Saturday, December 21, 2013

Corporate media conspiracy against voting reform

Jeffery Simpson laments that Harper is only going to focus on 10 percent of voters over the next 2 years until the next election. Harper is at 30% in the polls and he needs 40% for another “majority.” So he couldn’t care less what the 60% super-majority thinks, he just needs to fool the 10%.

Yet in the entire column Simpson doesn’t say one word about the real problem: our primitive voting system, First-Past-the-Post. This doles out absolute power to 40% minority parties excluding the vast majority from government — which is the literal opposite of democracy.

Fact is, 91% of developed countries have upgraded their voting systems to ensure an actual majority is represented in government. Yet the only time the corporate media talks about voting reform is to rant it will destroy the country.

Conspiracy theory

I’m not one big on conspiracy theories. I believe Oswald killed Kennedy. I believe the hijacked planes brought down the WTC buildings. But here it is painfully obvious the upper-class business community — which controls the major media — has an agenda to suppress the voting reform movement.

Take, for example, the senate scandal. It spawned countless columns from pundits who weren’t afraid to call for senate reform. Yet whenever pundits talk about the ill effects of vote splitting, they are forbidden to even mention the cause — First-Past-the-Post — or the solution: voting reform, which the rest of the developed world has adopted.


The motive is simple enough: it’s much easier for businessmen to lobby and influence a single-party dictatorship than a multi-party democratic government. FPP also creates a de facto two party system, which is easier for corporations to control.


In order to make Canada a real democracy it’s up to us in the social media. The corporate media — which endorsed a Harper majority in 2011 by 88% — has other designs on our country.

We have a small window of opportunity in 2015. The Liberals currently support ranked ballot voting. This is a good first step in voting reform that will be a giant leap forward for democracy in Canada. If we had it in 2011, Harper would already be gone.

Friday, December 20, 2013

2025: Déjà vu all over again

In the year 2025…

Activist #1: “We need to talk about voting reform. It’s the only way we can stop the Cons from destroying (what’s left of) the country.”

Activist #2: “Jason Kenney has a majority. He’s not going to legislate voting reform. Duh!”

Rewind back to 2013…

Activist #1: “We need to talk about voting reform. It’s the only way we can stop the Cons from destroying the country.”

Activist #2. “Harper has a majority. He’s not going to legislate voting reform. Duh!“

Activist #1: “Obviously. But now’s the time to raise awareness for voting reform to make it a top 2015 election issue.

“If we don’t enact voting reform after Harper is ousted in 2015, the Cons could be back in power for another decade as early as 2017. Then we’ll be having the same conversation in 2025…”

Moral of the story

Voting reform is the most important issue because it affects everything.

Our undemocratic voting system gives the united Conservative party a huge unearned advantage. Vote splitting lets Cons win dozens of center-left ridings. This allows a 30% minority of radical cons — who control the Conservative party — to rule the country despite the vast majority of Canadians being opposed to them.

If we fix the voting system — when we get the chance in 2015 — we will get government that represents the will of Canadians — forever. No more neo-con wrecking-ball dictatorships.


Ranked ballot voting is the safest reform. It’s a small change (and first step) that can be legislated without a referendum — which is what Justin Trudeau proposes. If we had it in 2011, Harper would already be gone.

Now's the perfect time to get to work on voting reform.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Are conservatives freaking crazy?

Something just ain’t right with the right.

Rob Ford hangs out with gangsters, indulges in drunken stupors and smokes crack, but the way some conservatives see it, it’s not his fault.

When Jason Kenny suggested the painfully obvious, that RoFo should resign, Jim Flaherty screamed at him: “Shut the f--k up!” The altercation — on the floor of the House of Commons, no less — almost came to blows. (Flaherty’s temper and relationship to Ford certainly puts his Enron-style book-keeping in a whole new light.)

Kooky punditry

Then there are the bizarre opinion pieces from conservative pundits coming to Ford’s defense.

Conrad Black states “Rob Ford’s critics refuse to give up their hate campaign.” Claims there’s a “prolonged effort to crucify” the mayor.

Rex Murphy writes in a column titled, “An early, bitter Christmas for the Ford-haters,” the real problem is that Ford is “an outsider to the elite-media game.”

Michael Coren, the most disgusting of the bunch, chalks it up to “Jew hating hippies.” This one has to be read to be believed:

Outside Toronto City Hall are the stoned hippies, the professional protesters who seem not to have to work for a living, the Marxist haters who have added Ford to their list of monsters that up to now consisted of Jews, conservatives, Harper, the U.S. and mommy and daddy.


What could possibly cause these people to behave in this way? I think the Ford fiasco exposes the underlying mechanism behind the con ideologue. That is, every word that comes out of their mouths is a lie: a line or wire whose entire purpose is to manipulate people.

What underlying motives or values do they have? They say, for example, liberals are only into politics for power. The ideologue, in this context, is “principled” with a higher ideological purpose.

Yet their ideology is founded on “principles” like unfettered selfishness and insatiable greed. Their angle is that the bad turns to good with the aid of an “invisible hand.” Yeah right. If anyone is in it for raw animal power, these guys fit the bill.

No blame, no shame

One also can’t help but notice the conservative doctrinaire is physiologically incapable of feeling shame. This often leads them to preposterous rationalizations like the ones above, not to mention blatant hypocrisies without batting an eye.

Are conservative true-believers sociopathic? There’s a joke that sociopaths who don’t become thugs, grifters or serial killers go on to become corporate executives. I think you can add neo-con activist to the list.

Of course, unlike Dexter who vented his anger on individuals, the conservative sociopath dreams of inflicting his rage upon on an entire nation — or even better, the whole wide world. From crusaders to conquistadors to Nazis to terrorists, history shows us the most dangerous kind of sociopath is one with a political agenda.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Latest con job: forget reversing corporate tax cuts, they won't pay

Remember when free-market ideologues were saying Harper’s corporate tax cuts would create jobs, boost productivity, raise economic growth and make Canada more competitive?

How did their economic “wisdom” mesh with the real world? Not surprisingly, it was a policy failure on all fronts.

Corporations ended up pocketing the “dead money.” They closed down plants. Killed hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. Productivity growth fell to all time lows. Our trade surplus turned to a massive trade deficit.

Now these same neo-cons — utterly unfazed by their sheer economic incompetence — are saying forget reversing these tax cuts, because corporations simply won’t pay.


If you were to believe right-wing economists, you’d think corporations paid whatever level of tax they felt like. According to Kevin Milligan, corporations, “when faced with higher rates, sharpen their pencils and implement tax strategies to lower their burden.”

This excuse for not reversing failed tax cuts is belied by the fact that corporations are always in the business of finding ways to cut costs. It’s what drives up share value and corp exec bonuses. So corporations are always “sharpening their pencils” to lower their tax burden regardless of the tax rate — which in Canada is ultra-low.

Canada’s ultra-low corporate tax rate

Another fact that makes these lame excuses absurd is that Canada has the lowest effective corporate tax rate among all major economies — including China! According to KPMG’s international guide for businesses:

Corporate income taxes are lowest in Canada (7.3 per cent effective corporate income tax rate), France (14.7 per cent), and China (14.8 per cent).
At the other end of the scale, effective corporate income taxes exceed 30 per cent in Japan (31.5 per cent), Brazil (36.1 per cent), and Italy (37.6 per cent).

Laffer curve

These neo-cons are simply rehashing the same lame Reaganomics based on the “Laffer curve.” This suggests that if taxes are too high, people will find ways to stop paying them. Hence the ridiculous concept that tax cuts “pay for themselves” and raising taxes lowers tax revenues.

Given America has gone bankrupt waiting for tax cuts to pay for themselves, Canadians would do well to avoid these “voodoo economics.” Fact is, this flaky economic theory is nothing more than self-serving ideology cooked up by corrupt businessmen.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The damage Harper has done

The Toronto Star has created an interactive graphic detailing the myriad of reckless spending cuts the Harper Government has made over the past 8 years.

The article also delves into Harper’s Soviet-style government secrecy and the difficulties the Parliamentary Budget Office — Harper created — has had in gaining access to public budget documents.

“The idea for a parliamentary budget office came when the Conservatives were an opposition party,” Page said in an interview. It was a “noble idea” to set up an independent body to make government spending more accountable. “Obviously, everything changed when they took power.”
But Page says MPs are deliberately being denied information they need to fulfill their duty to scrutinize the use of taxpayers’ money. “The prime minister effectively rigs the game so the power of the purse rests with the cabinet and the PM, as opposed to the House of Commons where it belongs,” says Page.

Balanced budget bullshit

The Cons are boasting the mess they made of the budget with $44.4 billion a year in boutique tax cuts will be cleaned up in time for the 2015 election. Of course, they plan to return to massive deficits with promises of billions more in frivolous tax expenditures — part of their “starve the beast” agenda.

Real numbers

Clearly there’s no way to know what the real budget numbers will be until we oust the Cons and get a real look at the books. But when Flim Flam Flaherty was finance minister in Ontario in 2003, he claimed a $5.6 billion deficit was a balanced budget. I hate to think how deep the rabbit hole goes now.

Restructure, reverse, repair

Whoever forms the next government will have to restructure/reverse most of these tax cuts and put the resources to better use. Trudeau and Mulcair must forgo the lame “read my lips: no new taxes” bullshit.

The damage Harper has done

Monday, December 9, 2013

Quack-o-nomics: Mulcair will raise taxes by one zillion dollars!

A neo-con economist from Maclean’s shows why it’s almost impossible to have a serious policy discussion — these days. Taking a page from Harper’s playbook, Andrew Leach claims Mulcair will impose a $100 per-ton carbon cap that will raise the price of gas 25 cents a liter.

To put things in perspective, Mulcair proposes the same cap and trade program Europe uses. There the price on carbon is presently 4.40 euros per ton — or $6.50 CAD!

Math this bad certainly puts the 2008 global economic meltdown in perspective.

Trouble with economics is economists

As Paul Krugman points out, the real problem with economics is economists. They regularly pluck numbers out of thin air to support whatever agenda they have. They cherry pick and manipulate statistics like a neo-con spins propaganda. It’s not Aristotelian — it’s far worse.

A neo-con’s impression of Mulcair — or any NDP leader, for that matter.

Take the Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff paper, Growth in a Time of Debt. It said countries that have more than 90% debt/GDP experience a steep decline in economic growth. It was the foundation of failed austerity measures around the world.

It turned out they cooked the statistics. Who discovered this? A Nobel-prize winning economist? No a PhD student doing a homework assignment.

So not only are there no standards, it seems few economists care.

If Reinhart and Rogoff had been journalists, or scientists or academics in any other field, their careers would be toast. But they are back in the debate still promoting the same debunked junk-economics as if nothing happened.

Economics as science

Economics determines how humans behave en masse. This means the very survival of civilization depends on it. If we don’t make economics a science, civilization will collapse under the weight of its own corruption.

Economics is not dismal and fatalistic as nihilistic neo-cons would have you believe. Investing in human capital — people — makes a country wealthy and productive. Spending big on infrastructure greases the wheels of business. Green regulations create new industry, business opportunities and jobs.

Sound, balanced economic policy will solve the world’s problems. Flaky self-serving ideology will destroy us.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy birthday — not

It's been 10 years since the Reform Party swallowed up Canada's traditional conservative party. What's worse is that they've been ruling for 8 of those 10 years — and with someone as abrasive and unlikable as Stephen Harper at the helm.

This does not bode well for the future of Canada.

That's why voting reform is the ONLY issue.

Voting reform or bust

Stephen Lautens (‏@stephenlautens) “It's the Conservative Party's 10th birthday. Time for a piece of cake. #cdnpoli”

With voting reform, Canada will be ruled by Canadians. Without it, Canada will be controlled by a 30% minority of neo-con and social-con fanatics who have vowed to change our country beyond recognition.

Since proportional representation was rejected in provincial referendums, the safest move is to fix our existing system with ranked ballot voting first. This is the system all parties use to elect their leaders.

If we had PV ranked ballot in 2011, Harper would already be gone. Instead of a 40% minority overruling the will of the 60% super-majority, Canadians would've got what they voted for. (Crazy idea, huh?)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lawrence Martin just doesn’t get it

In a Globe and Mail column, Lawrence Martin blames the Green Party for the Liberals losing a recent by-election in Brandon–Souris (Manitoba) by 400 votes. He goes so far as to say the party should pack it in. Not only is this suggestion pointless, it’s absurd and offensive.

In a democracy, people have the right to form parties and vote for whatever party they want. The Green Party is not the problem. The problem is our primitive, 19th-century voting system most developed countries got rid of a century ago.

The media is the message

Martin’s ridiculous column is indicative of what the real problem is: the corporate media. They favor FPP single-party dictatorships over multi-party democratic governments because they are much easier to lobby and influence.

Only in Canada (and perhaps the UK,) do people offer bizarre solutions to fix distorted election results instead of fixing the distorted voting system that produces them.

PR not in the cards

Although proportional representation voting reform would be the ideal solution, there’s just too much opposition to it. The corporate media despises the system and would ensure a federal PR referendum went down in flames, just like they did with PR referendums among the provinces.

Ranked ballot safe first step

The best bet is to first fix our existing system with ranked ballot voting — which is what Justin Trudeau proposes. Since it’s only a minor change (from single-choice ballot to ranked) it’s much easier to bring about. Not only does it stop vote splitting, it ensures reliable strategic voting and automatic electoral cooperation.

If we had the ranked ballot in place last week, the Liberals would’ve won Brandon-Souris with a majority of votes. If we had it in place in 2011, Harper would’ve been ousted by a NDPLiberal government commanding 50% of the vote and 53% of the seats.


In 2015, we have a narrow window of unprecedented opportunity to bring real democracy to Canada. If we don’t take advantage of it, be prepared to watch the Cons destroy the country despite the vast majority of Canadians being opposed to them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

If we had ranked ballot, Liberals would’ve earned 3 of 4 by-elections

Last night, constituents of Brandon–Souris in Manitoba voted for change, but got stuck with the same old same old.

Fifty-five percent voted for a center-left candidate. But because we have a horse race instead of a democracy, a 44% minority overruled the 55% majority.

Imagine the freedom

Just image if we elected MPs the way we elect party leaders: with the ranked ballot. This is the version of voting reform Justin Trudeau proposes. Yesterday’s distorted election result would’ve merely been the outcome of the first round.

With ranked ballot voting the last-placed candidate is removed each round. People’s alternative votes are then distributed to other candidates. This process continues until one candidate wins with a majority.

Here’s a rough simuluation of how the election would’ve turned out under PV ranked ballot:

Ranked ballot: 1st round

Party Candidate Alt Votes Votes Vote %
CPC L Maguire 12,205 44.1%
Liberal R Dinsdale 11,814 42.7%
NDP C Szczepanski 2037 7.4%
Green D Neufeld 1354 4.9%

2nd round: instant runoff vote

Party Candidate Alt Votes Votes Vote %
Liberal R Dinsdale +542 12,356 44.6%
CPC L Maguire 12,205 44.1%
NDP C Szczepanski +812 2849 10.3%

3rd round: instant runoff vote

Party Candidate Alt Votes Votes Vote %
Liberal R Dinsdale +2846 15,202 54.9%
CPC L Maguire 12,205 44.1%


The ranked ballot doesn’t just benefit the Liberals. It would’ve allowed the NDP to form a minority government with Liberal support back in 2011.

It’s time Canadians upgraded to a democratic voting system like 91% of developed countries have done. There’s absolutely no reason why voters should get stuck with politicians and governments they don’t want and didn’t vote for.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thirty years of Cheaponomics: crumbling infrastructure, soaring debt

Back in the 1950s and 60s, Canada engaged in big, expensive infrastructure projects like the Champlain bridge in Montreal. These created good paying jobs and greased the wheels of business. They were investments that not only paid for themselves, they paid dividends.

Today we apply duct tape solutions to keep crumbling infrastructure from falling into the river. Where did it all go wrong?

Paradox of thrift

To understand the answer we have to go back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Back then, free-market ideology caused the global economy to implode in a never-ending depression. At the source of the problem was the “paradox of thrift”: people were afraid to spend which killed economic activity and jobs in a vicious circle.

Centrist system

John Maynard Keynes identified the problem as a lack of demand. From this he created the centrist mixed-market system founded on partial government involvement in the economy and progressive taxation.

In the post-war era, Western governments embraced the Keynesian system. Even though they had greater debt than they do today, they spent big on infrastructure and social programs to prime demand and keep the economy firing on all cylinders.

The end result? An economic golden age which enabled governments to pay off most of their debts by the mid-1970s.

The empire strikes back

In the 1980s, free-market ideology made a comeback through leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. To them, Keynesian “big government” was the problem. This began an era of big tax cuts, deep spending cuts, deregulation and trade liberalization.

The result? Instead of paying our bills we borrowed vast sums to dole out in tax cuts to the rich. Instead of investing in infrastructure, we let our roads and bridges crumble. Instead of having an economy firing on all cylinders, we got soaring inequality and another free-market implosion.


We don’t need to reinvent the wheel to fix the mess we’re in. The centrist Keynesian system worked before. It works great in northern European countries today. It will work here again.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Harper’s hidden “starve the beast” agenda

Neo-con columnists from Maclean’s and the National Post are praising Harper’s efforts to “starve the beast.”

In case you’re not familiar with this morally-bankrupt strategy, it’s a 4 point program designed to destroy centrist government and bankrupt the social safety net:

  1. Implement reckless tax cuts.

  2. Manufacture a budget crisis.

  3. Justify deep cuts to spending.

  4. Go to 1.

Low tax, small government

Right-wing economist Stephen Gordon outlines Harper’s low-tax, small-government scam:

As I’ve written before, the Conservatives have applied the “starve the beast strategy”: First, cut taxes; second, cut spending in order to match lower revenues; third, obtain a balanced-budget for a smaller government. … And as each year passes, Canadians will get more and more used to the idea of a government with taxes lower than Diefenbaker’s.

John Ivison of the National Post says “draining the swamp” of big government with reckless tax cuts is foolproof. It puts the opposition in a tough spot: “The challenge is then issued — repeal our tax cuts or raise money by imposing your own tax hikes.”

Is it foolproof?

The Achilles heel of this reprehensible scheme is in the name itself, “starve the beast.” All it takes is for opposition leaders to raise awareness of what the Cons are doing. For example:

Mr. Speaker. Economist Stephen Gordon from Laval University says Stephen Harper has engaged in a “starve the beast” agenda. It’s a 4 point plan to bankrupt government and destroy the social safety net. I don’t recall the Harper Conservatives running on “starving the beast” back in 2011. Does Mr. Harper believe he has a mandate from voters to “starve the beast?”

The term “starve the beast” gets uglier the more you hear it. Opposition leaders should ensure it becomes a household phrase. Canadians will be aghast — and outraged — at what the Cons are doing.

In 2015, opposition leaders can run on stopping Harper and his “starve the beast” hidden agenda. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lest we forget the real purpose of Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day has never been about glorifying war. People who think that are forgetting the symbolism. Why do we hold 2 minutes of silence on the 11th month of the 11th day at the 11th hour? To reflect on the stark reality that humanity is on the verge of destroying itself with war.

Remembrance Day is also a good time to keep in in mind that war is insane. Given war has been a constant presence in the world since the dawn of civilization, sometimes it's easy to forget.

Even though war exemplifies the banality of evil, sometimes it’s a greater evil to do nothing while evil flourishes. It would've been a greater evil to do nothing while Hitler enslaved Europe and attempted to destroy democracy. We should remember the sacrifices our ancestors made to pass down the freedoms we enjoy today.

We should also take note of the other way we are destroying ourselves: with environmental degradation. Let's keep in mind, we are not required to lay down our lives to preserve the world for our children. We merely have to take responsibility for our actions. If that's asking too much then Remembrance Day is surely a farce and our ancestors died in vain.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why women’s issues are crucial to society

Many accused Justin Trudeau of being sexist for holding a women’s-only fundraising event titled, Justin Unplugged. Emma Teitel of Maclean’s points out the irony that it was actually a charity fundraiser put together by female volunteers.

Lindsay Mattick, who oversaw the controversial invitation design said, “The fact that an invitation could cause women to think there was sexism involved in this event was really upsetting to me. This was an event designed by women for women.”

Are there women’s issues?

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel and NDP MP Megan Leslie went so far as to say there are no women’s issues: “All issues are women’s issues.” Although I happen to be male, I think they are wrong. Women have a different take on things than men and it’s important that their voices are not only heard, but acted on.

Despite 50 years of the women’s liberation movement, we still live in a very patriarchal society. Women are kept down by a corporate-culture glass ceiling. This is not only unfair, it’s destructive to society.

Why we need to talk about differences

To tackle sexism back in the 1960s, society took the unisex approach making it politically incorrect to talk about how the sexes differ. Pointing out differences could imply one sex is superior to the other.

But pretending there are no differences means patriarchy wins by default: the male way of doing things becomes the only way.

How men and women differ

Generally speaking, men and women take very different approaches to life.

Men tend to be individualistic. Women, community oriented.

Men suppress their emotions to show they are strong under adversity. Women are better able to comprehend feelings through non-verbal cues and better communicate on an emotional level.

Men are competitive and see everything as a game to be won. Women focus on creating solutions that work for the entire group.

Global patriarchy

The end result of global patriarchy is a corrupt civilization with many serious problems. Self-aggrandizing alpha males see the world as something to be conquered and dominated. Greed and self-interest are promoted as values. Social and environmental injustices are dismissed as unfortunate necessities.

If we lived in a world that was half-way influenced by women, we’d have a much more progressive and responsible civilization. Instead we have an ugly mess of war and oppression on a fast track to self destruction.

In order for humanity to survive and thrive, we need a stronger input from women.

Friday, November 8, 2013

RoFo 2014!! (This is your democracy on drugs)

What’s worse than having a crack-smoking, alcoholic mayor who hangs out with criminals and indulges in violent outbursts? Watching one get re-elected…

Under siege

This is your democracy on drugs.

Ford Nation makes up about 32% of the vote and according to them, it’s all a big misunderstanding. The fault really lies with the media.

According to Christie Blatchford of the National Post, Ford is akin to Piggy in the book, Lord of the Flies. Piggy was ridiculed by the other boys and eventually murdered by them. See, Ford is just a regular guy and that’s why media elites persecute him so ruthlessly!

More insane

What’s more insane than that crack-addled interpretation of events, is our primitive voting system, First-Past-the-Post. Instead of Torontonians deciding who will be their mayor in 2014, they have to rely on a crapshoot. The candidate with the biggest block of voters wins the race, not the one who commands a majority.

So all is left to chance on how the vote is divided. If Ford alone runs on the center-right, and many candidates on the center-left, he could win on 32%, even though 68% would rather poke out their eyes with knitting needles than see him mayor for another term.

Real democracy

In a real democracy, voters elect their representatives with a majority of votes. The only way to do this is with runoff voting — or the ranked ballot which is instant runoff voting.

Ford might win the first round, but if the people of Toronto don’t want him — and nothing could be more painfully obvious — there’s no way he’ll win the final round.


In a related note, if we used the ranked ballot during the 2011 federal election, Harper would be gone. That’s right. Finished. Vanished. Relinquished. No more!

Instead of a 40% minority overruling the 60% super-majority — and plaguing Canada with its worst government in history —we would’ve got an NDPLiberal government that held 53% of the seats on 50% of the vote.


Tired of putting up with a democracy on drugs? Just say No to First-Past-the-Post! Justin Trudeau proposes ranked ballot voting reform. In 2015, let’s put our electoral system in rehab!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Senate a corrupt mess long before Harper

Some people are claiming the senate was this wonderful institution of “second sober thought” before Harper came along. Pure hogwash.

Let’s not forget one of the four corrupt senators caught with his hand in the cookie jar was Liberal Mac Harb. He was appointed to the senate by Chretien for working on his campaign. Harb kept a 0.01% stake in a house he never lived in to fraudulently claim housing expenses. Like all disgraced senators, he resigned before being forced out so he could collect his lucrative senate pension.

Fact is, prime ministers have been shamelessly stacking the senate with their partisan friends for a long time.

Senate appointments by PM

Prime minister Appointments Partisan % Partisan
Stephen Harper 59 59 100%
Paul Martin 17 12 71%
Jean Chrétien 75 72 96%
Brian Mulroney 57 55 96%
John Turner 3 3 100%
Joe Clark 11 11 100%
Pierre Trudeau 81 70 86%
Lester B. Pearson 39 38 97%
John Diefenbaker 37 36 97%

Loosing my religion...

The senate debate is one where all rational thought flies right out the window.

I find that belief in the senate is the same as belief in religion. People abide by it purely out of an obligation to tradition. The last thing they want to hear is that what they believe in is absurd. But it is.

Rest of developed world

Canada is the only developed country that has appointed senators. Other countries that still have senates elect their senators. Most would be shocked to discover the morally-bankrupt appointment process we have in place.

In an democracy, the concept of appointed politician is an oxymoron. The purpose of politicians is to represent voters who put them in power. Then they are held accountable at the ballot box come next election.

Canadian senators have none of these qualities. They are not beholden to Canadians. They are manipulated by their party leaders from the House of Commons.

Liberals just as corrupt

When Justin Trudeau voted for mandatory minimum sentences for growing a few marijuana plants in 2009, he was probably assured he’d have nothing to worry about. Liberal senators ended up gutting the bill. (Which is why it wasn’t passed until 2011.)

Mulroney received fierce opposition from a Liberal senate against the Free Trade Agreement. Liberal senators, controlled by John Turner, blocked his efforts. He ended up calling the “free trade election” to decide the issue in 1988. Today, Liberals proudly proclaim they are the “party of free trade.”


The senate is an intolerable mess and has been for decades. We must either elect senators like other democratic countries. Or just get rid of it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Proportional Representation ensures “equality of ridings”

The Cons have started a new misinformation campaign. They claim democracy is founded on the “equality of ridings” and somehow First-Past-the-Post is the only voting system that can deliver it. They couldn’t be more wrong.

No doubt, equality of ridings is important in a country with diverse regions like Canada. It ensures regional representation at a federal level. That’s why all the major kinds of voting reform being proposed take equality of ridings into account.

Single Transferable Vote (PR)

In our current Westminster system, voters elect one MP to represent their riding. STV allows voters to elect many MPs per riding.

This not only delivers equality of ridings, it gives constituents better representation. Instead of voters getting saddled with a single MP on 35% of the vote, they have many who can speak for them.

Seats are awarded to party candidates proportional to the riding vote. Collectively this approximates federal proportional representation ensuring equality of voters as well.

Mixed Member Proportional (PR)

MMP is a hybrid of Westminster plus party list PR. It ensures equality of ridings plus it distributes federal votes so parties get the same percent seats they got in votes.

It delivers the best of both worlds: equality of ridings and equality of voters.

Ranked Ballot (runoff voting)

This keeps our existing Westminster system intact but makes MPs earn their seats with a majority — ensuring they have the right to represent constituents. It stops vote splitting and prevents wasted votes. Not only are all ridings equal, all voters are equal as well.

First-Past-the-Post doesn’t deliver

FPP doesn’t deliver on equality of ridings or equality of voters.

Thanks to vote splitting, some voters are more equal than others. In 2011, a 40% Conservative minority had more say than the 60% super-majority. That’s the opposite of voter equality — and democracy.

Voters didn’t fare any better at a riding level. The Conservatives won dozens of center-left ridings saddling voters with the opposite of what they voted for. Obviously there is no equality of ridings when constituents have the wrong person/party representing them.


Both equality of ridings and voters are essential to democracy. That’s why 91% of developed countries ditched FPP for a democratic voting system. In 2015, we need to tackle the democratic deficit with voting reform.

Monday, November 4, 2013

If we had ranked ballot, Reform party wouldn't rule the country

Ranked ballot voting is a modest kind of electoral reform that accomplishes a lot. It changes the ballot letting voters rank candidates by number instead of marking one with an X.

It makes MPs earn their seats with a majority, which is how all parties elect their leaders.

2004 Conservative merger

If we had PV ranked ballot in 2004, right-leaning parties wouldn't have needed to merge. Back then, FPP vote splitting gave the Liberals a big unearned advantage (which the Conservatives now enjoy.)

Take the 1997 election. The Liberals won a majority with 38.5% of the vote when the combined conservative vote was 38.2%.

Australia uses PV and actually has four conservative parties that form an “Anyone But Labor” voting coalition. There's no worry about vote splitting there: PV distributes right-leaning votes among right-leaning parties.

In Canada, it would distribute center-left votes among center-left parties. People could vote “Anyone But Conservative.”

2011 Election

In 2011, Harper won 54% of the seats on 40% of the vote giving him 100% of the power. This is because vote splitting allowed him to win dozens of center-left ridings.

If we had PV ranked ballot, he would've got 46% of the seats. That would've let the NDP and Liberals form the government with 50% of the vote and 53% of the seats. Much more reflective of the will of voters.

Conservative future

In 2004, the conservative parties didn't really merge. The Reformers swallowed up Canada's historic conservative party. Now the united conservative party is ruled by extremists and many moderates are forced to vote Liberal.

If we implement ranked ballot voting in 2015 — as Justin Trudeau proposes — Red Tories will be able to get their party back. Even better, Canadian conservatives will likely vote for the moderate conservative party over the extreme one. This will relegate the Reformers back to the lunatic fringe where they belong.


If we don't fix our voting system in 2015, the Conservatives will soon be back in power for another decade. Only someone like Jason Kenney will be destroying the country instead of Harper.

Some believe PR is the better kind of voting reform. But Canadians rejected it by over 60% in provincial referendums. Now is not the time. We must fix our existing system with the ranked ballot first.

If we don't, the Reform party will become Canada's natural governing party and change our country beyond recognition — as promised.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Conservative ideology and brain damage

Colby Cosh of Maclean’s muses how the cold winter weather of Edmonton produced the “cradle of leadership” in Canada. He bases this on a study out of Japan which claims people who live in northern latitudes have higher IQs.

That got me wondering: how bright can Albertans be? These are, after all, people who divide the vote among two main parties: conservative and ultra-conservative.

Lizard brain

According to Psychology Today, conservatives are ruled by their lizard brains (that is, amygdalas):

Researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals had more gray matter at least in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity.

Author Seth Godin has a more colorful take:

The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny.
The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe.
The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta...

Nurture vs. Nature

The Japanese study indicates it took 60 generations, or about 1200 years, for the effect to take place. Clearly Albertans haven’t had enough time to evolve into lizard people.

So what turned the province into a bastion of angry cranks all too eager to slap bumper stickers like “Let them Eastern basterds freeze in the dark!” on their pickup trucks?

The only remaining possibility is their rigid rural culture which fosters rugged individualism and stone-cold apathy for any person outside of the family circle.

So if culture can actually change the structure of one’s brain, it follows that conservative ideology causes brain damage!


Perhaps Health Canada should insist the Sun Media and National Post put warning labels on their publications.

Just look at what Fox News did to the American South. The Tea Party movement appears to be the outcome of a science experiment run amok that unleashed a contagion of stupid upon the populace. Woody Allen aptly describes the people infected with the brain-wasting meme as “crypto-fascist zombie airheads.”

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fair Vote to “seize the moment” — yet again

According to FVC, the Liberal party is at a “turning point.” Prominent Liberals such as Bob Rae, Stephane Dion and Joyce Murray advocate Proportional Representation. So FVC is targeting the 2014 Liberal Convention hoping PR will be added to the Liberal election platform.

Be careful what you wish for

I think PR best reflects the will of voters. It’s used by 85% of developed countries. But FVC seems to have forgotten the sordid history they have with the Liberal party and electoral reform. Namely, the PR referendums that crashed and burned in BC, Ontario and PEI.

Designed to fail

Although the Liberal party has promised PR in the past, clearly their hearts weren’t in it. In fact, one could only describe the referendums they put in motion as designed-to-fail.

There was an absurd 60% requirement for PR to win — which would’ve killed PR in New Zealand. In BC, the Liberal party legislated a gag law forbidding organizations from campaigning for PR. In Ontario, there was no campaign, just mind-numbing public service announcements (according to one poll, 88% of voters knew little to nothing about the referendum. )

So why on Earth would FVC want to walk into another Liberal referendum buzz saw?

Unrealistic expectations

FVC’s political strategy basically amounts to going “all in” without even looking at their hole cards.

They are fluffy bunnies who have no clue they are surrounded by wolves. They mistake opponents for friends. They ignore the fierce attacks against PR in the corporate media — including the “leftist” Toronto Star. They delude themselves into believing 70% of Canadians support PR, when it was rejected by over 60% in BC, Ontario and PEI.

These people are not going to bring voting reform to Canada — they are going to drive the final nail in the electoral reform coffin!

Change of tack

It’s time to take a practical approach to voting reform. First put out the fire with PV ranked ballot. Then build support for a more proportional system. That way we don’t gamble everything and inevitably lose it all.

Justin Trudeau proposes ranked ballot voting as part of his Democratic Reform platform. If activists hold his feet to the fire, we have a real chance of finally bringing actual democracy to Canada.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The senate: imagined and real

It’s human nature to cling to institutions. They are what stands between us and anarchy.

People tend to think it’s radical to question them. Yet if we didn’t, we never would’ve evolved the great ones like democracy and constitutional rights.

So when it comes to the senate debate, it might be better to suspend one’s instincts on the matter.

Sober second thought

John A. Macdonald’s oft-quoted “sober second thought” had an entirely different meaning back in the 19th century. Back then, democracy was the radical idea.

To prevent the unruly masses from getting out of hand, an upper chamber of upper-class aristocrats was created which could amend or veto democratic legislation. Senators were originally appointed because the senate was an Old Boy’s Club.

Post-war era

Canadians just finished fighting a world war to save democracy. So an Upper House of aristocracy became an affront to our way of life. That’s when senate then took on its modern form: a chamber filled with shameless partisan crony appointments.

Elected senators the norm

In the developed world, countries that have senates elect senators — except for Canada and the UK.

In a democracy, an appointed politician is an oxymoron. The purpose of a politician is to represent people. The purpose of a senate is to provide regional representation at a federal level.

Canadian senators do neither. They are only beholden to the one who appoints them. Since they are appointed for life, they are never held accountable at the ballot box.

Underneath the hood

The real work of reviewing legislation is done in committees by MPs put there by voters. That makes the senate an ornate fifth wheel.

An appointed senate is not any less powerful than an elected one. Whether the Liberals or NDP form the next government, they will find out the hard way how obstinate and activist a Harper Conservative senate can be.


The senate’s meandering course through history has produced an intolerable mess. We should either legitimize it with regular elections like other developed countries. Or just get rid of it.