Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Harper Government Doesn't Govern for You

Did you know that, that the Harper government, CANADA's government, isn't here to govern for you?

James Bow caught something in Tony Clement's comments about elites and "chattering classes" that I'd not noticed. Here's Clement:

"I know [Harper's use of prorogation] is a big issue with the Ottawa media elite and some of the elites in our country, but I got to tell you if reaction in my constituency is any indication, I've had maybe three dozen emails. It may not be what the chattering classes want, but we're not here to govern on behalf of the chattering classes."

Consider these numbers:

  • 42 percent of Canadians are members of Facebook.
  • 75 percent of Canadians were eligible to vote on October 2008.
  • 207,000 people are members of the Facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.
  • Approximately 156,000 members of CAPP are eligible voters.
  • 156,000 distributes 506 voters to each of the 308 federal ridings.

I don't have the numbers but I suspect that, in the last few elections, several ridings were decided by less than 500 votes.

Tony Clement supposes that the people against Harper's ill use of prorogation are members of the elite and chattering classes. The Facebook numbers are indicators only of the extent of Canadians' anger against the erosion of our democracy and our Parliamentary system. If our system can be abused in this way, something is terribly wrong.

Despite the numbers above, Clement states that his government isn't "here to govern on behalf of the chattering classes" - of which he deems anyone who is against prorogation to be a member. Which means Clement doesn't think that a MINIMUM 506 voters in each of 308 federal ridings are anything to worry about. Silly man!

More numbers to think about.

[Cross-posted at Challenging the Commonplace.]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Strongly-Worded Letters to PM, Opposition Leaders

On January 12, Fair Vote Canada sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and another to the leaders of the Liberal, New Democrat and Green parties. I've not seen such strong words from this organization before.

From the letter to Stephen Harper:

You have granted yourself and your party two unsupervised months to correct course...

Your party represents fewer than 40 per cent of Canadian voters. You can’t square that minority support, and the unilateral shutdown of Parliament, with any reasonable concept of legitimate and representative democratic government.

I do not accuse you of violating democracy itself only because the Canadian political system as it stands is intrinsically undemocratic. If you are leading a party of democrats, then surely it is time for you to abandon the shamocracy and make the House of Commons democratic.

And from the letter to the opposition leaders:

There is no sign that elimination of the democratic deficit in the House of Commons is on Stephen Harper’s agenda. It should be on yours...

At present the House of Commons embodies and projects a series of ridiculous untruths. Judging from the current “representation” most Quebecois want to quit the federation; most Canadians are reluctant to elect women; there are no Conservative supporters in Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto; there are no Liberal supporters in Alberta. There are no New Democrat supporters in Saskatchewan and remarkably few elsewhere, and no Green supporters anywhere in Canada...

Each of you should now be asking: does my party really want democratic representation for all Canadians, and what will my party risk or sacrifice, now, to achieve it?

I look forward to your individual written replies – and to your unequivocal commitments to seize the moment and do what is needed to make the House of Commons democratic.

I urge Canadians to read the letters in full.

It's long past time that individuals and organizations promoting democracy took their gloves off. By the tone of these letters, it sounds like Fair Vote Canada has taken the lead, in addition to the 1 out of every 160 Canadians who are members of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Numbers to Make You Ill

Did YOU vote for Stephen Harper to be Prime Minister of Canada? In theory, no one did. But in practice, given Canada's democratic system that elevates parties to the detriment of voters' interests and preferences, that's what a few rare number of us did do:

Total votes in the riding of Calgary-Southwest on October 14, 2008: 52,996
Total votes cast for Stephen Harper: 38,548
Total votes cast in the general election: 13,834,294
Total number of people eligible to vote: 23,677,639 

Because Stephen Harper is leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, he ipso facto became the Prime Minister of the country, which means...

On October 14, 2008, 1 out of every 359 voters determined who would be Canada's next Prime Minister. Worse, that's 1 out of every 614 registered voters. How warm and fuzzy those rare few people must feel, to have chosen who would dictatorially preside over us all!

Some more numbers:

Voter turnout in Calgary-Southwest: 58.4 percent
Voter turnout in the general election: 58.8 percent

Voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian history.

Does anyone wonder why?

Don't blame non-voters. That is the typical knee-jerk reaction to such numbers.

There's no reason to think that voting patterns among non-voters would be dissimilar to those among voters. That is, there's no reason to suppose that the percentages of votes by party and hence votes to individual party candidates, wouldn't break down as they do now. It would still be the case that with our multiple political parties the results of elections under our antiquated single member plurality voting system do not fairly represent the choices of the electorate.

That's one reason why people are turning away in droves from the polls on election day. They may not be able to articulate it as the reason, but they know deep in their guts that something is terribly wrong.

[Cross-posted at Challenging the Commonplace]