Sunday, November 6, 2016

Principles Should Trump Partisanship

Why Voter Equality?

It’s not the results of polls or referenda which provide the core rationale for upholding the principle of voter equality. The reason we should “make every vote count” and thereby uphold the equal rights of those who vote for smaller parties is not because this principle could win polls or referenda, or that it could win unanimous approval/ consensus in the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform. Those are not core reasons for upholding the principle of voter equality.

Instead, this principle should be upheld simply because it is the right thing to do. “Rightness” is defined by the golden rule, not by the “majority rule.”

“Majority Rule” can sometimes be poisoned with partisanship, such as would be the case in a referendum on proportional representation. Such a referendum would be a partisan measure of how much people want to protect their parties’ present turf in the status quo -- rather than a non-partisan measure of how much people want to change the status quo so that it protects the equal fair rights of those who vote for smaller parties. If the majority don’t want a redistribution and relinquishment of some of their power in a change that would give all voters their fair share, then that resistance from the majority doesn’t make the majority fair or right. 

Other examples of when the majority has not been fair or right are found in history: Look at slavery, the women’s right to vote, etc.

“The Golden Rule,” as opposed to the Majority Rule, is principle which states “treat others the way you want to be treated.” It is the higher principle because it isn’t susceptible to the fallacy of “appeal to popularity” (argumentum ad populum). That explains why the concept of human rights is based on the Golden Rule, not on Majority Rule.

Voter equality is a human right. The government needs no further argument to keep their promise to “make every vote count” –just as it needed no further argument to take a stand upholding minority rights among ethnic groups.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Why a referendum on proportional representation would be detrimental to voter equality

A referendum on whether to change our Canadian electoral system to the proportional representation* of parties would be a partisan measure of how much people want to protect their parties’ present turf rather than a non-partisan measure of how much people want to provide equal protection to all voters, including those who vote for smaller parties.

If that type of referendum, with a partisan-skewed topic, were to be perceived as having a non-partisan topic (such as the referendum on the prohibition of alcohol in 1898), then it would erroneously be perceived as “fair,”** and would provide a false cover of legitimacy. This erroneous perception would do more damage to the cause of fair voting and voter equality than not having a referendum at all.

Here is what would motivate a proportional representation (PR) referendum voter to be partisan: Since the outcome of a PR referendum would greatly influence how much power a political party would obtain in future elections, it is very likely that a voter’s answer on the referendum question would take that into account and therefore be influenced by their allegiance to their chosen party. Even without taking that into account, that referendum voter would be influenced by those in their chosen party who do take that into account.

**Our current system is unfair because in a winner-take-all election races in individual ridings, the only voters who have the unequal privilege of influencing national election results are those voters who happened to vote for the party candidate who won their riding. Other voters do not get that privilege, hence the inequality.


How the results of a PR referendum could be erroneously perceived as non-partisan by large numbers of people

There is a probability that a person’s answer on that referendum question will be influenced by their allegiances to their chosen political party. That probability is much higher than if that same person were to answer a referendum question on Prohibition (1898), Conscription (1942), and/or the Charlottetown Accord (1992).

Because of that difference in that probability, it is illusory to think that a referendum on proportional representation is the same as those other referenda.

And yet that illusion is precisely what some people, who have a long term political agenda, want us to believe. These people have money to spend on pushing this illusion.

Others simply believe that illusion because they have not yet been made aware that it is an illusion. There is less money spent on debunking this illusion, than on pushing this illusion.

Some corollaries

Because of the above, it is a mistake to have a referendum on PR. It always has been a mistake and it always will be…anywhere. This includes all of the provincial referenda in Canada, and all of the national referenda around the world. The decisions to have these referenda perhaps all involved people falling into the trap of believing the illusion that referenda on PR are not inherently partisan.

New Zealand, and other countries, shouldn’t have had to wait for the political landscape to be strategically correct*** before they switched to PR. No one should have to wait before making their voting system fair. No one should have to wait for basic justice. Justice delayed is justice denied.

*** A ”strategically correct” landscape meant a combination of 1. a minority government situation, and 2. a referendum that they could have a chance of winning (because of that minority gov’t situation). 

The moral basis for protecting the equal voting rights of those who vote for smaller parties

The protection of the rights of voters who vote for smaller parties is based on the logic of the Golden Rule (the principle of reciprocity) which states, “Treat others how you wish to be treated.”

Too few referendum voters will use this logic. The only hope for a referendum on PR is to force voters to use this logic by stating the referendum question in a way that will make it impossible to for voters to avoid that logic.

*Proportional Representation occurs when the percentage of seats a party gets is proportional to the percentage of votes they get.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

2023 for Proportional Representation?

2023 for Proportional Representation?

We must prepare ourselves for this:

We must seriously consider the possibility that 2019 will again use First Past the Post voting system – unlike Trudeau’s promise.

But we can’t let that real possibility weaken us. On the contrary!  : We must use each hill and valley of our struggle to propel our momentum to even greater heights the next time. We must use every bit of exposure our issue gets to create even more exposure the next time round. We must build on every opportunity to create even more awareness the next time.

Here is what “building on past successes” might look like:
In 2019, we can pressure the next government to commit to spending no less than their predecessor spent on education about Proportional Representation:
The 2015-2019 government committed 10.7 million dollars for education and consultation - 8 million of which will be spent on public consultation in 2016/2017.

So, in 2019, we can, and must pressure the 2019-2023 government to spend at least as much as that precedent.

We now have that precedent, so let’s build on it !

I disagree strongly with those who say that “we will not get a second chance” after 2019.

I, for one, will continue the struggle for Proportional Representation until my last breath, and even beyond:

And if I die before I see it, I will encourage those who come after me to carry on this struggle.

For me, the struggle for Proportional Representation is not controlled by the whims of one term of government. No.  For me it means the difference between a genuine democracy and a false one.

Does anyone out there in internet land feel the same?!   If so, let me hear your voice in some way!! Thank you.

Take courage, my friends!

Our struggle is worth putting energy into for the long term! Temporary setbacks are just that: temporary!

Despite rain or snow, Our struggle shall continue!

Every single letter we write,

Every single educational we do,

Every single meeting we attend

Every ounce of frustration that we breathe out,

Every song we write

They are all worth it because they collectively build the long term struggle.

The Struggle Shall continue!

--Boyd Reimer

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Learning to make votes equal - a great webinar

Do you want your vote to count in federal elections – even though your chosen party didn’t win in your riding?

Soon, this might actually happen! – after 150 years of it not happening! Join this live “learn-at-home” webinar discussion in a fantastic opportunity to learn about your options, ask questions, etc:

The new Liberal government has promised that 2015 was the last election using the “first-past-the-post” voting system. Their election platform stated:
“We will make every vote count.
We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.”

An all-party committee is being formed now and public consultations are set to get underway soon to ask Canadians about what values are most important to them in a new electoral system.

With values such as fair and proportional results, equality for voters, more inclusive politics, diversity and effective local representation in mind, you may be wondering:
What do the terms “ranked ballot” and “proportional representation” really mean? Which systems will deliver on our most important values and the promise to Make Every Vote Count?

We invite you to join us Sunday, Feb 21, 7:00 pm EST for a two part webinar:

1. 7:00-7:20: Make Every Vote Count -  Campaign 101
2. 7:20-7:55: Unpacking Ranked Ballots

Are you new to the issue of electoral reform? Join our first section to learn more about proportional representation, and how it will build a more diverse and inclusive Parliament!

If you already have a handle on the basic case for PR, jump on the webinar for the second section where Associate Professor and Canadian electoral reform expert Dennis Pilon will explain how ranked ballots are used in winner-take-all and proportional electoral systems - the options, the history, the objectives and the possible consequences.

Fair Voting BC President Antony Hodgson will contribute to the discussion to explain how Single Transferable Vote (STV) could work as one option for Canada.
You can attend the entire webinar, or you can join us for the section you are most interested in.

Following the presenters, we will have Q+A where you can ask questions via a chat box. We will endeavour to answer as many as we can!

Please share this webinar widely with friends who may be interested.
Thanks for being part of the campaign to Make Every Vote Count.