Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Star, The Globe, The Citizen, The National Post, The Straight Goods, The CBC,, and the Oakville Beaver

from The Toronto Star

Stacked vote creates some sure losers
Winner-take-all system also silences urban, left

Jan. 23, 2006. 01:00 AM


OTTAWA On at least one fundamental score, this is, once again, not going to be an election for the record books.

When the votes are counted tonight, women are unlikely to be any closer to achieving parity with men in the House of Commons. Today's vote could even result in fewer female MPs taking their seats in the next Parliament.

The Conservatives, who have enjoyed a lead in the polls since mid-campaign, have recruited fewer women to run in the election than the other parties. But they hardly bear the sole responsibility for the enduring federal gender gap. When it comes to achieving parity within their own ranks, the Liberals have little to brag about.

During the past 12 years of Liberal rule, the proportion of women in the Commons has barely increased, going from 18 per cent when Jean ChrŽtien first became prime minister to 21 per cent under his successor.

In 1993, the number of female candidates was actually higher than in the 2004 and 2006 elections. Back then, two of the five leaders, including the prime minister, were women. That gave every party a stronger incentive to recruit more female candidates. But that collective fervour was as short-lived as Kim Campbell's reign.

There are fewer women on the election ballots and there are precious few future female contenders in sight for federal leadership positions and that is hardly a coincidence.

No party establishment is using this election to groom a female candidate for a future leadership post to the degree that some Liberal powerbrokers have promoted political rookie Michael Ignatieff as a potential successor to Paul Martin.

At this point, the woman most likely to be headed for the federal leadership fast track is ... a Conservative. Chances are there will be plenty of time to see Alberta's Rona Ambrose in action after today.

Quebec federalists are hardly underrepresented in the election itself. For every sovereignist candidate, there are usually at least four federalists contenders in the running. But that is no guarantee of parliamentary representation down the line.

From all indications, at least half of Quebecers are set to vote for federalist candidates today. But that support is almost certain to translate into a seat deficit. The size of the gap between the votes cast for federalist parties in Quebec and the seats they actually earn is the only pending issue.

In the last election, the Bloc secured more than two-thirds of the 75 Quebec seats with less than half the vote, a discrepancy that could become more acute this year if a more even split in the federalist vote allows Gilles Duceppe's candidates to slip through the mesh.

A consequence of this distortion has been a monolithic Quebec parliamentary voice that is out of sync with the province's complex reality as well as a weaker presence at the centre. But the federalist-sovereignist gap in the Commons is hardly the only discrepancy of the current system.

Even if thousands of urban voters in the big cities of Central Canada support Stephen Harper today, they are still unlikely to have much of a voice within the Conservative caucus. A consequence of that could be the absence of significant representation from Montreal and Toronto within the next federal government.

Liberals from Alberta know the problem well. In 2004, 22 per cent of them supported Paul Martin, a vote that resulted in the Liberals taking only two of the province's 28 seats. After this election Liberal voters from Alberta might find themselves at least temporarily reduced to silence in the House of Commons.

And what of the Canadian left? It is ultimately the biggest loser of the current system. With more votes than the Bloc in 2004, the NDP earned one-third of the seats of its sovereignist counterpart. In the last federal election, one in five voters supported the NDP or the Green party, a score that saw a mere 6 per cent of the seats go to New Democrats.

When the votes are counted tonight, one certainty is that the winner-take-all slant of our electoral system will exaggerate fault lines, driving a needlessly bigger wedge between Quebec federalists and sovereignists, urban and rural Canada, the left and the right, and once again leaving Canadian women outside looking in at a male-dominated federal arena.

All that should give fresh ammunition to those who keep arguing it is time to start crafting an electoral system that is more respectful of Canadian political subtleties and less stacked against the advent of more inclusive governments.


I thought that this article from Chantal Hebert would be of particular interest to FVC and those whose primary focus is seeing more women elected. She touches on both in this article and makes it clear that the status why the status quo isn't acceptable.

David-Paul Sip

Mon pays, on thin ice
The Globe & Mail --- Clive Doucet:

“It will take a great deal more this election can deliver. We need real debates about real issues rooted in understanding the new Canada. That means governing with the Bloc Quebecois, not without, the creation of eco-cities, rebuilding a national rail infrastructure and. above all, an electoral system that recognizes we now live in 2006, not the 19th century. Democracy is more than “one person one vote.” One person’s vote has to be equal to another’s and Canadian federal democracy fails the basic text. Two out of three Canadians understand this, Why can’t the federal parties.”

Eleven key issues were selected by the Ottawa Citizen on 22 January to be followed in the election coverage tonight and one of these is 'Democratic Reform'.

This morning's National Post also listed the issue under the title Government/Electoral Reform as one of the key items to watch in this election.

Chantal Hebert's endorsement in the Toronto Star is the icing.

This is a tremendous tribute to our collective efforts over the past few years in staying on top of what has now finally been identified as important to the future we are building for the next generation.

Patricia Marsden-Dole

From: Straight Goods
Subject: E-Day Election Goods, Jan. 23

LET'S DUMP "MAJORITY RULES," by Richard Shillington. What Canada really
needs is electoral reform.

"Look at the 2004 election results. . . . The message here is, for electoral success, to concentrate your effort in ridings you could win and forget the rest. Be more regional. Balkanize the country. Be like the Bloc."

from the Star:

Voting system gives us what we want

Richard Gwyn suggests that our old and creaky voting system may just manage to produce the result Canadians want — a minority Conservative government with some representation in Quebec to weaken the separatist movement. I agree this is what Canadians want. What puzzles me is why Gwyn does not acknowledge a proportional representation system would much more assuredly yield this. Many of us fear our current system may flub up and transmute a 38 per cent Conservative vote into a majority in Parliament.

Jerry Ginsburg, Thornhill

from CBC Votes 2006 Election Day Analysis

Tonight is all about winners and losers. The winners will celebrate, the losers will put on a brave face, but under their breaths, some will be muttering “we wuz robbed”. That’s because in our “first past the post” electoral system, winners sometimes take home more of the spoils than they possibly deserve. The key to success is making every vote count. The party that wins the most seats tonight will be the party that is able to distribute its vote most efficiently. Look at this table from the 2004 election…

The Bloc Québécois elected one MP for every 31,113 votes.
The Liberals elected one MP for every 36,905 votes.
The Conservatives elected one MP for every 40,601 votes.
The NDP elected one MP for every 111,969 votes.
The Green party elected zero MPs for 582,247 votes.

After looking at that, it’s not surprising that smaller parties like the NDP and the Greens favour proportional representation, while “efficient” parties like the Liberals and Conservatives think the current system works just fine.

Of course, it doesn’t take much for the tables to turn. In 2004, the NDP lost twelve races by fewer than 1,000 votes; seven to the Conservatives, and five to the Liberals. Small swings in those ridings tonight, and the NDP seat total could improve considerably over last time when the party won 19 seats with 15.7% of the vote. In 1988, the NDP’s best year ever, it won 43 seats with 20.4%. That translates into a highly efficient rate of one seat for every 38,645 votes. Another result like that, and proportional representation could suddenly start looking a lot less attractive.


Our news release is the lead news item on


Below is a letter to the editor to our local paper.

I threw this together this morning, hoping that it would make the Wednesday Oakville Beaver's letters to the editor. Rod Jarred replied to me that he needed my phone number and address to publish it. So I hope that means he's considering publishing it. I will let you know.

He also was curious about who the 12 green party MPs would be; and how that would be determined and who determines it? I replied explaining how it would work with MMP and STV.

It's great that we are now getting those kinds of questions.

Here's hoping that the letter to the editor gets in the paper, and that the editor's curiosity will be a springboard for another article in the paper. Time will tell.

Thanks for all the statistics. It made my job easier, putting together a letter with an impending deadline.


As a followup to the article on January 14, 2006 - Youth opting out for vote is symptomatic.

Yet again, Canada's 12th century voting system brought in a House of Commons that was not reflective of Canadian voters. If a form of proportional representation was our voting system, the national results would have looked very different. The Conservatives would have still lead with 113 seats (not 124), the Liberals would have been the official opposition with 93 seats (not 103), but the other opposition parties numbers would be as follows NDP - 59 seats (not 29), Bloc - 31 seats (not 51), and the Green Party - 12 seats (not zero).

This antiquated First Past the Post system rewarded separatists, but punished Western Liberals, Urban Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens.

As expected, in both the Oakville riding and Halton riding, it was a very close race between the Liberal Party candidates and the Conservative Party candidates. Unfortunately some residents of Oakville felt that they were forced to vote strategically, and not with their heart. In a proportional representation voting system, there would be no necessity for strategic voting practices because all votes would count.

At my daughter's high school, the Green Party won, with the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP's in opposition. It tells you a little bit about what our young voters are thinking. However, their results were based on popularity votes. Unfortunately, they will enter the real world of voting and find that their vote will not count, just like millions of other Canadian voters.

We need to encourage our local MP's to support a citizen's assembly to look into proportional representation voting systems for our Canada. If brought in, it would make more of us feel that we live in a democracy.

Bronwen Bruch
Fair Vote Canada - Halton Chapter


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