Thursday, 31 March 2011

Do You Really Support Stephen Harper

Are you a lifelong conservative, perhaps going back to the Progressive Conservative Party. Do you assume Stephen Harper represents you because he is the leader of the Conservative Party.

Find out which party really represents your views by taking the Vote Compass survey.

You might be surprised by the results. But don't assume a Liberal Party bias, as many have. I am a lifelong NDP supporter and it told me the Green Party best represented my views - no Liberal bias there.

To find out how your views really match the federal parties and leaders go through the analysis portion of Vote Compass and see how your answers match the parties' policies. You will probably be surprised how out of touch Stephen Harper's Reformatories are with your views and traditional Canadian conservative values.

Check it out and decide for yourself who best represents your political views.

Learn more about Vote Compass here.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber Pushing for Two Party System

It started with Ignatieff joining Harper's anti-coalition bandwagon, the common message being that the big boys don't share power with the little guys and it's extended to the push for a debate between just Harper and Ignatieff because they think that they lead the only two parties that really matter.

It is clear that the fight for a more democratic Canada and a more representative electoral system that recognizes that voters have the right to choose who governs them (not just the right to go through the motions of choosing between two establishment parties) will have be a hard fought battle led by the voters themselves.

It starts with refusing to give any party a majority, even if our flawed system is designed to give parties a majority of seats with under 40% of votes.

This election is about democracy.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Map of The Kanata Lakes 40% Travesty

click on map for full size image

This map, released by the City of Ottawa, makes it abundantly clear just how much of a travesty the so-called Kanata Lakes 40% agreement is. Indeed it was clearly a public relations exercise that the City of Kanata and Regional Municipality of Ottawa Carleton had to be complicit with, or totally incompetent to be taken in by.

We have an agreement that allows land within the environmentally sensitive South March Highlands to be developed in exchange for "saving" a golf course outside of the South March Highlands (according to the map of SMH in the 2008 Brunton report). When you see just how much of the 40% "greenspace" is taken up by the golf course you realize just how much of a sell-out to the developers this agreement is.

And as we look at the map of the golf course it becomes clear that it was designed to have as many houses bordering on it as possible in order to increase their sales and price. It was clearly all part of a marketing scheme and had nothing to do with saving greenspace or environmentally sensitive land.

This makes the whole process, and the agreement, totally illegitimate and for this reason it is totally legitimate and necessary for the public to continue to fight this and not too late for public authorities to finally do the right thing and save the environmentally important lands northwest of the Goulbourn Forced Road (KNL phases 7 & 8) from destruction by Urbandale/KNL.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Coalition is Dead - Someone Tell Stephen Harper

The idea of a coalition government is dead for the simple reason that it is not in Michael Ignatieff's political interest to enter into a coalition that would require him to share power. Although it is in his political interest not to contradict Stephen Harper's coalition fear mongering but to leave the impression he is opposed to a coalition because of it's supposed illegitimacy.

Of course, if coalitions were illegitimate the governments of most western democracies, including that of the United Kingdom that our government is modelled on, would be illegitimate.

It is clearly to the political advantage of the Liberals to reject a coalition and try to leave the impression that the only way to defeat the Harper Reformatories is to vote for the Liberals. That is not true of course. Strategically speaking the best way to defeat the Harper Reformatories is to vote for the candidate in your constituency that has the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate.

If the Conservatives do not receive a majority, but receive another minority and face the House of Commons and attempt to govern as if they had a majority (as they have in the previous Parliament) they will face certain defeat, either on their Throne Speech or Budget, leaving the Governor General bound by precedent to ask the Leader of the Official Opposition if he believes he can form a government. Michael Ignatieff would most certainly reply yes, and as long as his government acted responsibly, presenting measures that a majority of the House of Commons could support, he would be able to govern.

The situation was different when the last coalition proposal was put together because the constitutional precedents become less clear and certain the longer a government is in power and it was deemed advisable to present the Governor General with a very clear indication that a stable government was possible because, despite Stephen Harper's irrational ravings, coalition governments are much more stable than minority governments.

So despite Stephen Harper's desperate fear mongering (over something there is no reason to fear) the Liberals will not enter into a coalition simply because it is not in their political interest to do so.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Too Smart For Canada

I am not a big fan of Michael Ignatieff but this is brilliant.


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Democracy Election

While thousands worldwide sacrifice their lives for the right to free elections Canadians complain about having one.

That is not to say there are no reasons for some Canadians not to want an election. Certainly if you support the Reformatories you have it pretty good right now. With a minority in the House of Commons (and an even smaller minority of public support) they have control of the government with a majority opposition that lets them govern as if they have a majority. On the other hand if you voted for the opposition parties you twice elected a majority of Members of Parliament (representing a majority of the public) that has refused to exercise the democratic power the people gave them and lets the Reformatories govern as if they represented the majority. So what is the point of doing it again.

If there is going to be another election it must be about democracy and bringing the government back under the control of the majority of the House of Commons and establishing a more democratic electoral and governing process.

If the opposition parties are going to force can election they must pledge to form a government that represents a majority of the House of Commons and a majority of voters.

Why are they so scared to say that. Just because Stephen Harper thinks the concept of the majority of the legislature governing, as it does in the vast majority of western democratic countries, is illegitimate does not mean the opposition parties should accept that absurdity. Coalition is not a dirty word. Political parties and Members of Parliament actually co-operating to provide a democratic majority government is a good thing. It is certainly better and more democratic than the current tyranny of the minority that currently governs this country.

Perhaps the voters are collectively smarter than we give them credit for and have discovered that the concentration of power in any one party, no matter who it may be, may actually be bad for democracy. If the people want power to be spread amongst many parties rather than concentrated within one that is their democratic right and it is the responsibility of the political parties to co-operate and provide the people with the government they have chosen.

But we need more than just regime change.

I call upon all political parties and candidates that consider themselves to be progressive (and that can include Members of parties that have removed progressive from their name) to pledge to join together after the election in a democratic coalition pledged to improve democracy in Canada.

The number one priority of such a government should be to establish a more democratic electoral and governing process in Canada.

The first thing such a government should do is initiate the Parliamentary processes, including public consultations, to consider and implement the following measures, along with others that they decide are necessary, to improve democracy in Canada:

- eliminate the use of government advertising for promoting government polices and restrict it to information on how to access government programs and benefits

- ensure the independence of all Officers of Parliament, including the Chief Electoral Officer

- ensure and increase the House of Commons right to and ability to access government information, including provisions for access to confidential and classified information on an in camera basis

- establish a fixed election date every four years with the House being dissolved earlier only when a government cannot be formed that has the support of a majority of the House of Commons (to be effective after the next election)

- strengthen measures to ensure the fairness of elections so that financial resources, rather than individual capabilities and policies, do not determine the outcome of elections

- reform the electoral process into a more representative and democratic process where the number of seats a party has represents the number of votes they receive nation wide, while retaining constituency representation, paying particular attention to the systems of proportional representation used in western European countries
Following the implementation of these measures the government should then resign to allow a new election to be held under the new more democratic and representative electoral process and such an election should include a referendum on whether voters want the Senate to be abolished or reformed.

Establishing real democracy in Canada only takes, what sometimes seems to be the rarest of all things, political will. Do we, as politicians, voters, and a nation, have it.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Democracy Under Attack

Democracy is clearly under attack in Canada by those who always claim to be it's defenders, and led by the man who would be dictator.

Stephen Harper wants all the trappings of Presidential Power without the checks and balances of the separation of powers in the American system, nor the inconveniences of accountability to Parliament in our system of responsible government.

Pierre Trudeau is reported to have said that Members of Parliament are nobodies off Parliament Hill. Stephen Harper would have them be nobodies on Parliament Hill. Stephen Harper believes that the Prime Minister's Office should be the seat of all power, not Parliament.

His contempt for Parliament has been shown by his multiple prorogations to avoid facing it, his government's withholding information from and lying to the House of Commons and it's committees, its cabinet ministers doctoring official documents from public servants, and the list goes on. Indeed his government is the first in Canadian history to be formally found in Contempt of Parliament.

But Stephen Harper not only has contempt for Parliament, but contempt for the voters and the courts. His attitude to his party being found guilty of violating the laws designed to ensure that we have fair elections is to dismiss it as unimportant and simply a difference of opinion on minor regulations. Of course Stephen Harper believes the market should rule everything and that voting should be like shopping - whoever has the most money to wage the best marketing campaign, whether deceptive or not (or fought with the taxpayers money using government advertising), should get the most customers votes.

But then again, Stephen Harper does not believe that the Members of Parliament elected by the people should choose who forms the government. He seems to honestly believe there is something undemocratic about the majority of elected Members of Parliament forming a government and that only a government of the largest minority is legitimate, seemingly unaware of the principles of our Parliamentary system or the practices of the overwhelming majority of democratic countries in the world.

But the problem goes beyond the Reformatories and Stephen Harper. Unlike the vast majority of democratic countries in the world our electoral system results in a House of Commons that rarely, if ever, reflects the way the population as a whole votes in terms of party representation.

Unlike most countries in the world that have proportional representation systems Canadian elections usually result in one party having a majority of seats in the House of Commons without receiving a majority of votes in the election. This is praised because it is seen to be more efficient to have power concentrated in one party. Most other democratic countries of the world seem to manage fine with coalition governments that actually reflect how the people voted and require the different parties to co-operate and reflect the wishes of the voters.

Our system however does not just concentrate power in the hands of the party with the largest number of seats (in some cases the party with the most seats may receive less total votes than another party) but tends to concentrate power in the hands of the Prime Minister, as we have seen too well with the current Canadian regime.

This attack on democracy goes beyond contempt for Parliament and the voters - but extends to a contempt for the whole idea of government, the whole idea of the people acting collectively for their collective interests.

The Reformatories, and right wingers everywhere, like to spout the rhetoric of the evils of big government and the evils of taxation. They do not believe that the people should act collectively or spend their money collectively. They have very good reasons for being against government. When citizens act and spend through their governments they act on a one person one vote basis. When citizens act and spend individually they, in effect, act on a one dollar one vote basis, thus concentrating power in those with the most wealth.

That is the reason right wingers do not like government - because it takes power away from the wealthy and transfers it to the people.