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Municipal Councils opposed to Ranked Ballot on “too complicated” argument insult voters intelligence

The province of Ontario recently gave municipal and city councils the ability to reform their voting system. Thanks to Bill 181, municipalities now have the option of using ranked ballot for their local elections.  It shouldn’t come as a total surprise that there has been resistance to change. A lot of status quo politicians out there don’t want to change a voting system (First Past The Post)  that has benefitted them greatly.

The main arguments I’ve seen so far  they’re giving for not wanting to change that system though is a rather silly one: its too hard for our voters!

Brampton council voted 11-0 against the idea…Brampton councillors who responded to the Star said they voted against ranked balloting because voters might find the system too confusing.

That appears to be the rallying cry for anti-reformers everywhere.. as we have another example of that right here in Brant County:

Brant County councillors appear not eager to embrace voting changes introduced by Queen’s Park…Brant’s municipal elections review committee, made up of Mayor Ron Eddy and councillors Joan Gatward, John Peirce and Shirley Simons, is backing a a staff recommendation to keep the current voting system for at least the 2018 municipal election instead of moving to ranked ballot voting.,,Gatward, who chairs the elections review committee, thinks Brant voters would not be receptive to a new system that they would find complicated.

So apparently ranked ballot is too complicated.. yet in both of these articles, the Toronto Star and the Brant News explain in a couple of sentences how this electoral system works:

(Ranked Ballot) works by allowing voters to rank at least three top candidates (cities can opt to allow more candidates to be ranked on each ballot). The candidate who receives the least first place votes is eliminated in each round and their votes are redistributed until one candidate has a majority.

That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? How did the Brant News explain Ranked Ballot to its readers?

Under ranked balloting, voters pick candidates in order of preference (potentially first, second and third). The candidate with the most votes — 50 per cent plus one — wins, just as in the current system. However, if nobody meets that threshold, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is knocked out. The second-place choices of that candidate’s supporters are added to the totals of the remaining challengers until someone has a majority.

Apparently, some municipal politicians don’t expect their voters to know how to put “1” “2” “3” beside a name on their ballot. Its an insult to the voters intelligence and quite frankly, an excuse for them to try and maintain the status quo.

Stephane Dion and his Green Shift are vindicated. More Hard Work needed though.

Vindication took eight years, but it finally showed up for Stephane Dion:

“The government proposes that the price on carbon pollution should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 per tonne in 2022.”

And then the kicker.

“If neither a price nor cap-and-trade system is in place by 2018, the Government of Canada would implement a price in that jurisdiction.”

When the prime minister concluded his remarks, Stéphane Dion left his seat and walked over to shake Trudeau’s hand.


This was extremely gratifying to read as someone who attended the 2008 Liberal Convention, witnessed Stephane Dion’s victory, and became a Liberal member because of it (based a lot on his green policies and his Green Shift) and then watched Dion and his Green Shift plan mocked relentlessly, which led to his defeat.

We now have a version of that plan about to take place, and I for one applaud the Liberal government’s move in finally moving on this file.  The provinces have time to come up with plans, and if they don’t, or if they are still stonewalling (as is the case with Premier Brad Wall and Saskatchewan), the federal government will do it for them. It’s not dis-similar to Obamacare, where the states were given opportunities to set up their own health care setup to comply, and if they refused or couldn’t, the US government would set up the health exchanges for them.

More needs to be done however. Elizabeth May is correct when she says that for Canada to meet our Paris Agreement goals, we must have carbon basically taxed at 200$ a ton by 2030;  so 50$ a ton at 2022 is a long ways away from that. There needs to be additional pricing or other measures taken to reach that goal.

It’s a good start however, on a file long neglected.




Electoral Reform Townhall in #Brantford #Brant on 10/2/16

There is an electoral reform meeting here in Brantford-Brant on Sunday to discuss (what else?) Electoral Reform. It is being sponsored by the three Liberal Party of Canada  Clubs here (the Women’s Commission, the Seniors Commission and the Young Liberals of Brantford-Brant), but it is meant to be a non-partisan event.

You can find more details at the Facebook Event here, and there is also an article about it in the Brant News.  If you’re  nearby and interested, you’re invited 🙂


After almost a year in power, approval rates for governing Liberals increasing

When you’re a blogger that happens to support the governing party and you approve of most of what they’re doing, it’s sometimes hard to blog about anything . However, this new poll and survey by Abacus is worth pointing out merely for the fact that the “honeymoon” with the Liberal government appears to have hardened into more permanent support:

If there were an election tomorrow, the Liberals would win 46% support, 6-points better than their result last fall. The Conservatives are steady at 28% while the NDP is at 16%. Both the NDP and Conservative are four points below their election result last year.Regional breakdowns show the Liberals with a 23-point lead (over the NDP) in Quebec, a 23-point lead in BC, and a 17-point lead in Ontario…57% approve of the job the federal government led by Justin Trudeau is doing, the highest number we have recorded since he took office, and 25-points above where Mr. Harper stood entering the last election.

It appears despite some hiccups here and there which all governments are going to have), the general voting public likes what the Liberals have been doing and the image that Prime Minister Trudeau projects.  There have been some promises that still need to be acted on (marijuana legalization, electoral reform being the two main ones), and I think the only advice I’d give to the Liberals is to act upon these sooner rather then later while the goodwill remains high amongst the populace.




Sorry for the absence from the blog.. life interrupts these things occasionally.. and I confess Twitter and Facebook are easier to post stuff on that dont require essays.

Just to prove I am still on here.. a nice picture of Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and myself. “Nate” was in Brantford onTuesday for 2 events: a roundtable on his private members bill Bill C0246 (which he is trying to get passed to update the animal cruelty laws) as well as a local fundraiser. Here he is with one of the shirts the local Brantford-Brant Federal Liberal Association helped create and our past LPC candidate Danielle Takacs has been championing (and took out to Winnipeg to the LPC Convention with much fanfare.. these shirts were a hit).     Nate was a very good speaker and was gracious, saying he hoped Danielle would be a part of Team Trudeau after 2019’s election.



The open primary debate south of the border

I realize the debate on Open Membership in the LPC is now a done deal.. but an interesting look at it from the US side of things, with the leading Democratic blogsite Daily Kos (or more accurately its founder) vehemently opposed, to say the least. I guess we’ll see over the next few years whether the idea to open the party up to allow “Supporters” rather then just Liberal Party of Canada members to vote on things like picking candidates etc. was a good idea or not. Just found this perspective interesting

Liberal Party leaders heard concerns of delegates – new constitution passed with amendments.

After all the buildup to a possible split in the party over the Liberal Party’s proposed constitutional changes, delegates backed the new constitution overwhelmingly to the tune of 96% – but only after the Liberal Party leadership realized that a fair # of delegates were not happy –  good on the LPC hierarchy for realizing this and responding to it by putting forward several amendments to address those concerns, which helped ease opposition.

I also gathered from reading a few delegates social media comments that the tension over delegates being bullied and intimidated (a chief concern of mine last week in my prior blogpost) was removed directly by this statement from the Prime Minister directly to the delegates:

Trudeau directly addressed the allegations of intimidation, telling opponents of the proposal: “It takes courage to speak out against something your party leadership believes in and I want you to know I admire and thank you for doing it.”

I give big props to Prime Minister Trudeau for being gracious and conciliatory to those folks who expressed their convictions not initially agreeing with all of what he was advocating, and resisting the pressure to fall in line.

That said, the complaints about the process that (nearly) got the party to the point of  a divide remain, even among those who supported the amendments and applauded Prime Minister Trudeau for his assurances. Hopefully, the Liberal Party hierarchy took a lesson from this convention and will take steps to address complaints on the process that we had this year, and we won’t be having a repeat performance in 2018 if and when other proposals like this get put forward.

Concerns about Liberal Party hierarchy leaning on delegates over constitution.

I received this from a local Liberal Party delegate who is going to Winnipeg next week who is struggling over  over the proposed changes to the Liberal Party Constitution and how to vote on it. Most of the discussion on the Constitution has been with regards to the membership being opened up to non-Liberal Party members, but this delegate’s concerns are more to do with the apparent implicit and subtle pressure being brought to on delegates to vote in favor of this and trying to make this a fait accompli:

I’m mostly disappointed by the process…. People are getting phone calls asking how they are voting…. I feel manipulated and I don’t like it. It doesn’t seem transparent or consultative at all. I know a lot of people who are concerned. I am doing a fair bit of reading, asking lots of questions and discussing with multiple people. I will decide in Winnipeg but my gut is leaning towards no. Unfortunately. I was excited about the prospect of a new constitution when they announced it but surprised that it had already been written and was to be voted on with no amendments possible, and no by-laws written yet.

..I don’t like conspiracy theories and I prefer to believe that people have integrity and are doing this for the good of the party but I am struggling. It’s not a nice feeling.

For the record, I still am on the fence on the proposed constitutional amendments.. but I don’t like hearing that delegates may be cast as not team players or not for the Liberal Party if they oppose this.  I’m also a tad concerned that measures as presented are going to be an apparent up or down vote, with no chance for amendments.   I sincerely hope that delegates who are opposed or even just unsure about these amendments are not intimidated into not publicly challenging or questioning the Party brass on this important issue.  The party hierarchy and yes, Justin Trudeau can be wrong on things – (i.e Eve Adams).

Historically, political bloggers have been known as being more partisan and loyal to the political party of their choice then regular voters. but they also are sometimes known for poking their own political party.. if they feel they need to be poked. This is one case where I feel the LPC needs a gentle but persistent poking. Do not bludgeon the delegates into voting for these proposed changes.. or make them feel as if they’re disloyal for not taking everything at face value, or because they feel there are flaws that could be improved.

Recap: Women In Politics Conference in Brantford

13087037_10156763172840461_7607205279357867810_oThis is a bit late in being posted, but I wanted to mention that I was fortunate enough to attend the 2nd annual Women In Politics Conference in Brantford last Thursday – held at St. Andrews United Church in downtown Brantford. It was started by a group of students last year whose focus is to try to encourage young women to consider getting into the political field more and run as candidates for public office – be it federal, provincial or municipal. The keynote speaker here was Andrea Horvath, Ontario provincial leader of the NDP, and there were breakout individual sessions hosted by several guests, including Chief Ava Hill from the Six Nations Confederacy, Kathryn Mcgarry, Liberal MPP for Cambridge, Alex Felsky, school trustee for the Grand Erie District School Board, and Danielle Takacs, past Liberal candidate for the 2015 federal election in Brantford-Brant.

It was a very well attended session by students – approximately 100-150 – listening to some great inspirational speeches. My 1 criticism of the event is reserved for Andrea Horvath, who couldn’t resist bringing Ontario partisan politics into what was supposed to be a non-partisan event. WHen she was asked in her Q & A after her address what her biggest frustration was, her answer went from not being listened to by the government into an attack on policies such as Hydro One and so on. There are plenty of times for a government to be attacked. At an event that is trying to enocurage women and had multi-partisan personalities there, Ms. Horvath should have known better and resisted the urge.

Otherwise, it was a great day, and I hope that this event continues next year and the years ahead.


Liberals have the progressive base on their side – can they keep it?

Liberals are often accused of running (a campaign) on the left and governing right(wing).  but recent polling shows that so far, the voters on the progressive left have been rather happy with the Justin Trudeau Government.

This article here by Eric Grenier highlights an Innovative Research Poll that shows the core groups that are considered left wing voters (“core left,” “left liberals” and the “populist left.” is how Innovative has classified them) abandoned the NDP in droves for the Liberals in October’s election, and that support has deepened. There is also this mention of an Abacus Poll showing a similar trend:

A recent poll by Abacus Data also hints at trouble for the New Democrats on the left flank. The Liberals were leading the NDP by a margin of 51 to 26 per cent among centre-left voters in the Abacus survey, and were also ahead among those who self-identified as being on the left by 47 to 23 per cent.

The Justin Trudeau Liberal government will want (and need) to continue to keep their election promises – or as many as is feasible/possible – to keep the progressive left voters who abandoned the NDP (and is the reason Tom Mulcair is no longer NDP leader) on the Liberals side, and try to resist temptation to slide back to the right where possible. It will help ensure that the progressive left coalition will be back to voting/supporting them in 2019

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