Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Forgeddabout the Polls: Trump will win!

Norpath The Primary Model Guru

The Primary Model forecasts an 87% certain Trump win in two weeks time:

The prediction formula of the Primary Model, as shown in Table 4, leads to this forecast: In the match-up between the Republican and Democratic primary winners, Donald Trump will defeat Hillary Clinton with 52.5% of the two-party popular vote, with her getting 47.5%.[i]  

It is 87-percent certain that Trump, not Clinton, will be the next President. 

Trump benefits from a swing of the electoral pendulum to the Republican side in 2016 and his superior performance in early primaries. While Trump won the Republican primaries in both New Hampshire and South Carolina Hillary Clinton split the Democratic primaries in those states with Bernie Sanders. 

So, Hillary, don’t start measuring the Oval Office for curtains just yet!

Why I hope CETA fails

Michael Geist in today’s Globe & Mail gives cogent reasons why the EU-Canada trade deal is bad for Canada, and for our democracy. This bad trade deal has not been discussed in detail by Canadians; was born in secrecy, negotiated in secrecy; diminishes our democratic rights; and is being  pushed by the political and economic elite without due consideration of the long-lasting impact on our country.

I hope the Walloons stick to their rejection, that the German courts oppose these very terms, and that the agreement fail until such time as these unnecessary anti-democratic provisions are totally stripped from the agreement.

Here is his exceptionally clear and journalistically sound analysis of the anti-democratic provisions:

If CETA were limited to tariff reductions, it would be relatively uncontroversial. The discomfort with the agreement lies in the mandated changes to domestic regulations and the creation of dispute settlement mechanisms that may prioritize corporate concerns over local rules.

Regulatory provisions in CETA mean that both parties face the prospect of changing national laws to accommodate foreign businesses. For example, CETA requires Canada to expand patent protections, largely due to demands from European pharmaceutical companies. The required changes would add billions to Canadian health-care costs by extending the term of protection for popular drugs. Similarly, European countries would face the prospect of altering food and safety regulations.

The insistence on including investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions are particularly puzzling. These rules, which allow companies to seek damages where local regulations interfere with their economic expectations, are commonly found in foreign-investment treaties with developing countries whose court systems are unknown or viewed as risky by potential investors.

There are no such risks in Canada and Europe, however, since both offer reliable, respected court systems that are widely used by companies from around the world. 

Moreover, Canada has first-hand experience with the dangers associated with ISDS as it infamously lost a major environmental case involving Delaware-based Bilcon, which had proposed the expansion of a quarry on the shore of the Bay of Fundy in September, 2002, that was rejected by the Nova Scotia and federal governments after a joint review panel recommended it not proceed. The government also faces hundreds of millions of dollars in liability stemming from a patent claim by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly.
Canada and the EU have sought to assuage concerns over the ISDS provisions with some legal tinkering, yet the underlying problem is that the provisions prioritize the rights of foreign investors over domestic companies without a compelling argument for their inclusion at all.

Thank you, Mr Geist: you have done Canadians a service by your analysis of these dreadful terms.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Proposal for Electoral Reform in Canada

In an earlier post, I recommended that our MPs consider a rather simple way to achieve significant and effective electoral change.

The essence of that proposal is this:

The FPTP system has one overwhelming feature in its favour: It is very simple to explain, very simple to understand, and very simple to apply. So if the battle for the minds of our voters comes down to the proponents of FPTP fighting any reform proposal, the FPTP system shoots out of the gate with the fundamental support of its simplicity.
This post recommends for consideration by the all-party process that is now considering alternative electoral reform options, of  a simple but powerfully effective alternative to the FPTP system we now have.
The Simple Election Law
This Simple Election Law has the advantages of:
  • offering substantial electoral reform for the election of our federal MPs;
  • being very simple to understand;
  • needing very little detailed explanation as part of its adoption;
  • requiring just one vote by voters; and
  • being capable of review and amendment after use in two elections.
How Does it Work?

We keep the 338 electoral districts we now have.

Political parties nominate candidates (selected according to their own rules) to stand for election as an MP in each of the 338 electoral districs (the Direct Election).

Voters vote on election day using the Preferential Vote System:
1.      A voter has to put an X next to at least one candidate’s name on the ballot.
2.     The voter may (but is not obliged to) rank all other candidates in the order the voter prefers (if there are 5 candidates, you put numbers 1 to 5 next to the names).
3.     The priorities of votes are calculated by Elections Canada in order to elect as MP that candidate who first obtains 50% plus 1 vote.
Once the 338 MPs are elected, the next phase – the Proportional Top Up - is done automatically, with no further input from voters.

How the Proportional Top Up works

An additional number of seats in the House is available for the selection of more MPs in order to achieve representation in Parliament of MPs as close to each party’s overall share of the national vote as possible.

The number of additional MPs is capped at (say) 162, bringing the total number of MPs elected to 500.

Any political party that achieves at least 5% of the total national votes cast in the Direct Election, is entitled to have its share of the additional Top Up MPs selected.

Only people who have stood for election as MPs in the Direct Election (but were not the winner in any electoral district) may be selected as Top Up MPs. This ensures that all MPs have gone through the normal nomination process laid down by our election laws, and have faced voters; it also avoids any continuation of the senate appointment process mess.

The selection of the Top Up MPs is made by the leader of each political party, after due consideration by each leader of one or more of the following factors:
1.      The ranking of the party’s candidates for Top Up MPs by their achieving the highest percentage of votes cast for candidates from their political party, in the 338 seats in the Direct Election. So, if I am a Liberal who stood for election in Crowfoot, and achieved 30% of the total votes cast there (with the winner getting 50% plus 1 or more), and if another Liberal stood in Langley and received 35% there, then the other Liberal will rank ahead of me on the Top Up list, and/or
2.     Gender equality of that party’s MPs, and/or
3.     Provincial representation in Parliament of that party’s MPs, and/or
4.     The need for certain skill sets in the House, and/or
5.     Any other consideration that the leader deems fit.
Each party leader has to publish a list of all possible contenders, ranked in priority according to the above five tests - this will make the selection of top-up MPs more transparent and, hopefully, more fair.

After using the Simple Election Law in two elections, the all-party process is to consider whether any tweaks are required in its operation, including possible changes.

How about it, MPs?  Please add this to your list of possible alternatives for electoral reform.

And readers, please share this post.

How the Liberals can have a voter referendum on serious electoral change

My earlier post on the issue of electoral reform had these recommendations, which might help solve the problem of political legitimacy for comprehensive electoral reform; here they  are:
1.      For the terms of reference of the all-party parliamentary committee to require it to study the matter, and then to present AT LEAST two alternatives to the House (other than the FPTP system), for the House to decide upon. The committee could present a third system, should it so decide.
2.     That the House be asked to choose TWO ALTERNATIVES to the current FPTP system, to be presented to the House (or a referendum – see below) to choose the winning one.
3.     That if the House is to choose, the choice be a free vote choice by all MPs, by secret written ballot, with a simple majority of those MPs (50% plus 1) voting, choosing our new system.
4.     That if the two choices chosen by free vote of all MPs are to be presented to voters in a referendum, that the referendum require a winner to be selected from these two choices by a simple majority of those casting votes in the referendum (50% plus 1 vote). In this case, there will NOT be a minimum percentage vote requirement of all ELIGIBLE voters: that issue was settled by the recent election.

Concern mounts over PM Trudeau's waffling on electoral reform

And the concern - and protests - spread:

Katelynn Northam of advocacy group Leadnow said there is also much grassroots concern that Trudeau may be backing off the promise. More than 400 members have already made phone calls to Liberal MPs or the Prime Minister's Office, and another 4,000 have sent emails so far.
"Many members of Leadnow voted Liberal in 2015 because of the party's commitment to voting reform — and tens of thousands of people have since joined our Vote Better campaign for proportional representation in the last year," she told CBC News. "It's clear that people do care about voting reform and they expect this promise to be kept."

Time for clarification from Justin Trudeau!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Justin Trudeau should resign as PM if this is true

Today we read that PM Trudeau is musing that his government is so popular that they might back off their solemn promise before last year's election to carry out electoral reform.

The NDP reaction was swift:

NDP critic Nathan Cullen warned that if the Liberals "think they're so incredibly popular that people will forgive them any broken promise, they are sadly mistaken."
Leader Tom Mulcair took the matter to question period. "Instead of inventing excuses and backing away from his solemn promise to Canadians," Mulcair said, "will he work with us in good faith to deliver the fair, proportional electoral system the voters deserve?"

 If the Liberal Party walks away from serious and meaningful electoral reform by any means (holding a referendum when they promised the end to first past the post, or simply dragging their feet or in any other way), then voters should pay heed and vote against the Liberals in any by elections and in the next election.

Hundreds of thousands of voters voted for change, including serious electoral change, and heard PM Trudeau promise  it.

I personally would work to unseat my Liberal MP if this happens.

We wanted clean and transparent government, not broken promises of this nature after one year.

Liberals should think twice about this kind of speculation, never mind action.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Electoral Reform: Will it be set up to fail?

So say many commentators, included failed MP candidate Craig Scott. There are three lines of attack on the Liberal Party promise of “electoral reform” during the election.

Critics are rushing to frame the electoral reform debate by setting parameters which will restrict the right of elected MPs to decide on an alternative to our current archaic system.

The Three Lines of Attack:

The first line of attack is that the promise was of electoral reform, but did not guarantee that our first past the post system of electing our MPs would be replaced by either a proportional representation or a ranked ballot system. The implication is that the reform part of the promise will be diluted in the interests of the Liberal Party, and not of the millions of voters who voted for significant electoral reform when they bypassed the Conservative, Green and NDP parties to vote for Liberal candidates.

The second line of attack is that the Liberals will use their majority of MPs in the House to ram through by a majority vote of whipped Liberal MPs an electoral system that favours the Liberal Party, such as the single transferable vote system favoured by Justin Trudeau.

The third line of attack is that the MPs in the House do NOT have the legitimate political or moral right to change our electoral system from the current FPTP system to another, without a referendum agreed to by a majority of voters. Implicit in this line of attack is an attempt to rewrite the October 19 election results by giving the supporters of the Conservative Party (just over 30% in that election) a backdoor veto on any change to the FPTP system. The means to give this veto, is to have as a requirement that a certain high percentage vote of ELIGIBLE voters must approve the replacement system, and not just a simple majority of 50% plus 1 of voters actually VOTING in the referendum.  Setting such a high bar, coupled with the lack of active support by provincial governments, has ensured the failure of electoral reform on a provincial level.

My recommendations on what to do:

My recommendations are:

1.      For the terms of reference of the all-party parliamentary committee to require it to study the matter, and then to present AT LEAST two alternatives to the House (other than the FPTP system), for the House to decide upon. The committee could present a third system, should it so decide.
2.     That the House be asked to choose TWO ALTERNATIVES to the current FPTP system, to be presented to the House (or a referendum – see below) to choose the winning one.
3.     That if the House is to choose, the choice be a free vote choice by all MPs, by secret written ballot, with a simple majority of those MPs (50% plus 1) voting, choosing our new system.
4.     That if the two choices chosen by free vote of all MPs are to be presented to voters in a referendum, that the referendum require a winner to be selected from these two choices by a simple majority of those casting votes in the referendum (50% plus 1 vote). In this case, there will NOT be a minimum percentage vote requirement of all ELIGIBLE voters: that issue was settled by the recent election.

Is there enough time to do this?

Some are arguing that the Liberal Government will have to extend the 18 months to a longer period, because of the amount of work to be done, as Mark Gollom of CBC News reports:
While it may not seem like one of his more pressing issues, Trudeau has said he would introduce legislation on voting reform within 18 months of forming a government, based on the recommendations of an all-party parliamentary committee to study alternative voting systems, including proportional representation and ranked ballots.

That timeframe may be overly ambitious, suggests David McLaughlin, who was deputy minister to the New Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy…

McLaughlin figures it would take at least a year to conduct that kind of a review, with a countrywide referendum possibly following in the second year. And that doesn't include the time it would take to actually pass the legislation.

But a change to Canada's voting system does not necessarily require any constitutional considerations — only an amendment to the Canada Elections Act through Parliament.

Gollom also quotes Pilon on how to test if the Trudeau government is setting the electoral reform exercise up to fail:

"I think that would tell us how committed [Trudeau] is to it. Because if he goes the referendum route, it pretty much says he wants it to fail," said York University political science professor Dennis Pilon, an expert in electoral reform.

The Favoured Trudeau Method would result in a Liberal advantage:

As Gollom reports:
Trudeau has indicated his support for a ranked ballot system, where voters pick the candidates on a ballot in order of preference. 

In this system, all the No. 1 choices are added up. If a candidate has a majority after the tally, they are declared the winner. If not, the candidate with the lowest vote total is knocked off, and their votes for other candidates transferred based on the ranking preferences.  A winner is declared when a candidate finally reaches a majority.

There are other systems open to us:
Many political scientists seem keenest on the mixed member proportional (MMP) system, like they have in Germany and New Zealand, which combines proportional representation with single member ridings. Voters would be asked to vote twice: for the candidate and for the party. So if a party won 20 per cent of the vote, but its candidates only won 15 per cent, the party would top up its representation in the House with extra MPs. 

There are different ways that could be done, but if the extra MPs are drawn from party lists, some argue it could create a two-class system of representatives — those who were actually voted in by the public and those chosen by the party.

Enter Nanos the Numbers Man:

Stuart Parker in Rabble.ca spells out the impact of ranked ballots (instant runoff voting is another name for this system of electing MPs):
If the Liberals' official policy for voting reform, Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) were in effect, we would see a very different result -- -- one that magnified the inequalities of our archaic first-past-the-post (FPTP) system -- according to Nanos Research's polling of voters' second choices in its final pre-election poll.

The Liberal Party would have gained an additional 22 seats, rising to 206 seats; the Conservatives would lose 23 seats, falling to 76; the NDP would do unusually well for a third party, rising to 50, while the Bloc would lose half its caucus, falling to five MPs and the Greens would keep their one seat.

Just as IRV magnifies the disproportionality of our current winner-take-all system, converting the Liberals' 39.5 per cent of the vote into 61 per cent of the seats, instead of the 54 per cent our current system does, it also magnifies regional inequalities.

Not only would IRV insure that the NDP and Conservatives had no Atlantic MPs, it would also reduce these parties' representation throughout English Canada.
Just what is the all-party parliamentary committee to do?

The parliamentary committee will consult experts and others:

At a minimum, a thorough Parliamentary committee study of the assigned electoral topics would necessarily involve testimony of experts (who can be counted on to offer conflicting advice) and comparative examinations of electoral system proposals or actual changes in other Westminster-model parliamentary countries (the United Kingdom and New Zealand come readily to mind.

What kind of a referendum (if any) will be required?

This is the way John Courtney describes this issue in the LSE:

Some will argue that only a countrywide referendum will confer “legitimacy” on the move. Others will dispute that claim by asserting that the referendums held by three provinces have set no precedent for Ottawa to follow and that, in the final analysis, Parliament is master of its own electoral rules.

Do we need a referendum to make our electoral change “legitimate”?

I do not believe a referendum is needed, given that the three opposition parties clearly indicated that this was the last FPTP electoral system we would have.

The Liberal Party also clearly indicated that an all-party parliamentary committee of MPs would research the subject and make recommendations to the House, with legislation being passed within 18 months (that is, by April 2017).

This means the Liberals have the moral, political and legal right to have this all-party committee of MPS make recommendations to the House, with MPs deciding by a simple majority vote in the House, what course to adopt.

And this means that the Liberal Party, if it whips the vote, can choose whatever system of electing our MPs it wishes to, including a choice of any alternatives proposed by the all-party parliamentary committee of MPs, or a variation of any such alternatives, or, indeed, any other system the party chooses.

Justin Trudeau has publicly committed that the Liberal government will allow more free votes in the House, with the requirement that the Liberal MPs will be whipped to ensure that the programs set out in the party’s election program are passed by Liberal MPs (as well as “traditional confidence matters” and matters pertaining to “our shared values and the protections guaranteed by the Charter”).

However, this allows Trudeau to decide to give Liberal MPs a free vote on any alternative electoral systems tabled before the House for the consideration by MPs after the all-party parliamentary committee has presented its recommendations.

The Liberal Party election platform does NOT favour any type of electoral system – it does want an examination of, amongst others, proportional representation and single transferable votes. So Liberal MPs are not bound to choose one of the other.

And that brings us back to my recommendations, set out above.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Election 2015: Fare thee well, Canada!

Fare thee well
Goodbye, Mr. Sourpuss.

Hello, Mr. Sunshine.

Yesterday 68% of Canadian voters sent a message to politicians: Canada has had enough of sleazy Harperism.

Now we have MPs elected from the Liberal Party, NDP and Green parties with the mandate to scrap the undemocratic First Past the Post System of electing our MPs, and replace it forthwith – within 18 months - with a new system where every vote counts, in time for the next election; to remedy our democratic deficits; to restore civility to our Parliament; to take the muzzles off our elected MPs and allow them to represent the voters who sent them to Ottawa; and to modernize our infrastructures.

Congratulations, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair!

And Justin, please help us make Canada greater.

Now it’s time for CuriosityCat to lay down the pen.

Fare thee well, Canada!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Be a part of History & win your Bragging Rights by Voting on Monday

When you vote on Monday, you will earn Bragging Rights for your part in one of the most historical events in Canadian history. In years to come, you will be able to hold your head high and tell your friends, relatives, colleagues and strangers that YOU voted in the election that:

©     Exciting: It was the most exciting election for years, flipping this way and that way for week after week, during the longest campaign in living history;

©     Pink Slip: Gave Stephen Harper permission to step down as prime minister, and, should he wish to, as an MP;

©     Gazillions of Volunteers: It was run by three very competent and well organized national parties, which had attracted hundreds of thousands of new members and volunteers, and funded largely by small donations from supporters, rather than large ones from corporations;

©     Said No to American-Style Politics: Most Canadians used it to turn their backs on the use in our country of the deceptive, divisive, slogan-driven, personal attack style of electioneering found in the US, in favour of a more decent, more issue-driven and more inclusive Canadian style.

©     Killed FPTP: It ended the ancient First Past the Post (FPTP) system of electing our MPs,  and elected a strong majority of MPs from the NDP and Liberal Party who are committed to a new, more democratic way to select our MPs, where every vote counts.

©     Kickstarted a massive increase in those voting: The new system to replace our old FPTP system of electing our MPs will make the 10 million Canadians (40% of the 26 million voters) who don’t vote, keener to vote in elections, because their voices will be heard in Parliament for the first time in our history. Their votes will not be wasted, but will be counted.

Please talk to your friends about their chance to join you in getting Bragging Rights by voting on Monday. Share a copy of this post on your own social media, and ask them to share it with their friends.

And then vote on Monday so as to make the above things happen.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Vive la revolution: Why Liberal and NDP supporters will decide how to vote despite their leaders

The Great Canadian 2015 Revolution
The Harper government has, during its four years of majority government, managed to persuade millions of Canadians that they have to vote in a different way in this election. Harper managed to grab power by cementing his conservative base, and using wedge politics to open the gap between the split opposition groups.

The Law of Unintended Consequences then stepped in. Men propose, the gods dispose …

Voters watched in dismay as the Harper regime proceeded in a very systematic way to implement their hidden agenda of removing any vestige of liberal thought or action from Canadian public life. Many such steps were taken stealthily, out of sight of the public; but many were upfront and clearly visible to all.

Harper decided to concentrate on his core supporters and rule that way, disregarding the 60% plus who had different political views and values. His core-only-and-damn-the-torpedoes strategy worked brilliantly, but then something unexpected happened.

Random posts from my blog - please refresh page for more: