Two short messages from Wayne.
1. ———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Wayne Smith
March 26, 2011
Fair Vote Canada announces federal election results
Although the writ has barely dropped, Canada’s citizens’ movement for electoral reform reckons it’s not too soon to announce the results of the coming federal election.
“Our dysfunctional voting system throws up erratic and irrational results,” says Bronwen Bruch, President of Fair Vote Canada, “but some outcomes are sadly predictable.”
So, the national grassroots movement is confidently predicting the following:
- Most Canadians will be “represented” in Parliament by somebody they voted against. Under the current, winner-take-all system, votes for losing candidates do not help to elect anybody and are essentially wasted votes.
- Canada will elect less than 25% women to Parliament. That’s about as good as it gets with our voting system. Fifty countries do better than we do in this regard, most of them using proportional voting systems. Every democracy with at least 30% women in its legislature uses a proportional voting system.
- The Conservatives will win every seat in Alberta, or all but one, with about 65% of the votes.
- The Liberals will win almost all the seats in Canada’s major cities, with about half the votes.
- The NDP will get one million more votes than the Bloc Quebecois, but the BQ will win almost twice as many seats.
- The Bloc Quebecois will win two-thirds of the seats in Quebec with half the votes.
- The Green Party will get one million votes (enough to elect 25 Conservatives) but will not win any seats.
- Voter turnout will be the lowest in history, or close to it. When your vote doesn’t make a difference, why bother? Unprecedented amounts of negative campaign advertising will deliberately foster apathy and cynicism.
“Our antique voting system is not really competitive,” added Fair Vote Canada Executive Director Wayne Smith. “Two-thirds of Canadian voters already know who will be elected in their riding, before the votes are even cast. Really, it’s a tribute to Canadians’ sense of civic duty that any of us bother to vote at all.”
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2. SECOND MESSAGE FROM WAYNE
Sent: March-25-11 7:40 PM
Subject: [FVCchapters] that other election
FVC organizers and chapter leaders:
Here we go!
For the next 35 days or so, our “dry, technical, boring” issue is newsworthy and relevant in the eyes of the media and the public. This is our moment to step forward and speak out for a better democracy in Canada!
Already, I am happy to report, new memberships, donations, and signatures on the Declaration of Voters’ Rights are pouring in. The Declaration is sitting at 9247 signatures as I am writing this. It would be sweet if we could announce the 10,000th signature during the election campaign!
It’s time to mobilize your local group and develop a plan of action for your area. Call a meeting!
Here’s what we need to do:
- Distribute flyers.
- Talk to our friends, our neighbours, our co-workers, the people on the bus, anybody who will listen.
- Go to the all-candidates’ meetings. Ask a question, such as, “This is for all the candidates—do you think it’s acceptable that we have a voting system under which most of us are ‘represented’ in Parliament by people we voted against?” or “Do you think it’s acceptable that we have a voting system under which a single political party that gets 40% of the votes can win a ‘majority’ government and have unaccountable power for four years?”
- Write a letter to the editor.
- Call a talk show.
- Saturate the Web with posts and comments on Web sites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and news pages.
- Let people know about Fair Vote Canada, and encourage them to sign the Declaration, make a donation, become a member, and volunteer.
The most devastating thing politicians say to me when I talk to them about changing the voting system is, “I’m not hearing this on the doorstep.” So let’s make this the “Take It To The Doorstep” campaign! When the candidates show up at your house, tell them we need a new voting system, and hand them a flyer.
And let’s put flyers in mailboxes! It’s OK during an election campaign. You can hit a few hundred houses in an evening, a few thousand over the course of the campaign. And find a few other people to do it with you.
The most cost-effective way for us to distribute material is for you to download material from the Resources page of our Web site, http://www.fairvote.ca/en/resources, get copies printed yourself and hand them out.
However, we will be printing and shipping some commercially printed flyers too. HOW MANY DO YOU NEED? Let me know right away. We have only a few weeks to get them and distribute them.
It looks like there is a very high level of dissatisfaction out there with the hyper-partisan nature of politics these days. Unprecedented amounts of negative advertising, deliberately designed to promote apathy and cynicism, are drawing attention in the media. We know that all this is fostered by the winner-take-all nature of our current voting system, and we need to make sure every voter and every newspaper columnist and editor gets that message too.
Proportional voting promotes diversity and rewards cooperation. It requires sharing power, and fosters a more consensual type of government and a more civilized style of politics. Promoting civil civic discourse is what we are all about. We are passionate, but always polite. We get our message across, but we listen more than we speak.
Oh, and “coalition” is not a dirty word. Coalition government is the normal way of doing things in most developed countries!
Start by reviewing some of the introductory material on our Web site. It’s alway helpful to know what you’re talking about. But keep it simple! Give people a simple message (We need a new voting system.) and save the details for answering questions. Don’t waste time and energy debating the merits of this or that hypothetical system.
First we need to establish the basics:
- Our current voting system is broken—winner-take-all means a few winners and lots of losers.
- Elections are about choosing our representatives, and we are ALL entitled to representation.
- It doesn’t have to be this way—proportional voting makes every vote count.
Here’s a slogan for you: “If we want politics to be different, we need a vote that makes a difference.” Say that to every human being you speak to for the next month, and use it as the answer to every question, including the ones about the weather. (Yes, we can learn something from politicians!) Say it to the dog, too, it’s good practice.
Give me feedback! Tell me what you are hearing on the street, what’s going well and what’s not, and I will share it in an election blog on FairVote.Ca. That’s how we learn together and build a team with spirit and momentum.
Now get to work.