Discussion Night at @FairvoteWRC: Citizens’ Assemblies

Group discussion Hi everyone! July is almost over, so let’s have another Discussion Night!

In local news, the Civic Hub for Waterloo Region has opened as a pilot project, and Fair Vote Waterloo is one of the partners! This means we can use the space for meetings, presentations, public forums, and Discussion Nights! It’s a shared space, so we’re likely to be joined by people who might not otherwise come to discussion nights on electoral reform, and maybe you’ll find another group having discussions on something more interesting than electoral reform (but I can’t imagine how that would be possible…)

For this month, I propose a discussion topic on Citizens’ Assemblies. This is one of the campaigns that Fair Vote Canada is working on — once the new government is elected in October, what’s the best way to get a fair, non-partisan evaluation and proposal for a different electoral system? Fair Vote Canada believes that a selected group of ordinary citizens are best able to make that decision. Citizens’ Assemblies were set up for the 2007 Ontario electoral reform referendum, as well as the original BC referendum in 2004.

If you’re interested in studying up before Wednesday, Fair Vote Canada has information at National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

What: FairvoteWRC Discussion Night: Citizens’ Assemblies
When: Wednesday, 31 July 2019 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Civic Hub of Waterloo Region
Location: 23 Water Street North, Kitchener Map

Civic Hub WR is in the lower parish hall of The Church of St. John The Evangelist; go to the doors on Duke Street and ring the buzzer for the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region (SDCWR).

If you drive, do not park in the lot beside the church at the corner of Duke and College. It is not for the Civic Hub, SDCWR, or the church. You will almost certainly get a ticket!

Hope to see you at the Hub on Wednesday!

–Bob Jonkman
FairvoteWRC Secretary and Discussion Night Organizer

Email: info@fairvotewrc.ca
Phone: +1–519–279–2990

This Is Your Home

Discussion Night at @FairvoteWRC: Election Results Analysis, Wednesday 26 June 2019



Hi all: It’s time for another Discussion Night, since there is much to discuss.

First, there’s some business from Fair Vote Canada:

  • Report from the Fair Vote Canada Annual General Meeing held in Ottawa last weekend
  • overpass sign
  • meeting with Karina Gould
  • Citizen’s Assembly visits to Liberal MPs. Anita (Fair Vote Canada Executive Director) has asked us to ask Bardish Chagger & Raj Saini to introduce the idea of a CA as a non-partisan, legitimate way forward for electoral reform. We need to ask for volunteers to make a friendly visit.

And there’s some business for the Waterloo Region Chapter:

  • door knocking campaign & federal election strategy
  • meetings with NDP & Green Party candidates in Waterloo Region
  • Volunteers needed to staff info tables for Kultrun (13-14 July) and Nonviolence Day In The Park (20 July); perhaps other events

Finally, some discussion: There have been four by-elections in Canada in the past few months:

  • Three on 25 February 2019, including Burnaby South won by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh with 39% of the vote.
  • One on 6 May 2019 won by Green Party candidate Paul Manly with 37% of the vote.

In total, there have been 21 by-elections since the general election in 2015.

Provincially, there were two elections:

  • Alberta on 16 April 2019, won by the United Conservative Party with 55% of the vote and 52% of the seats (30/87).
  • Prince Edward Island on 23 April 2019, won by the Progressive Conservative party with 37% of the vote and 44% of the seats (12/27). This election was notable for electing eight Green members, who form the Opposition.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador on 16 May 2019, won by the Liberals with 44% of the vote and 50% of the seats (20/40).

Internationally, there were also some elections of interest:

  • 17 April 2019: Indonesian general election, won by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle with 19% of the vote and 22% of the seats (128/575), using an open-list, multi-member system. There is a threshold of 4% for representation. Interestingly, Indonesia has a gender quota for 30% female candidates. Wikipedia: 2019 Indonesian general election
  • 28 April 2019: Spanish general election, resulting in an upset of the previous Congress of Deputies. Spain has a mixture of single member ridings, and multi-member ridings with two to four members, elected with a full block vote, closed list, proportional system. The election was won by the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party) with 29% of the vote and 35% of the seats (123/350). A total of 64 parties participated in the election. There is a threshold of 3% for representation. Electoral system details are at 2019 Spanish general election
  • 19 May 2019: Indian general election, won by the Bharatiya Janata Party with 37% of the vote and 55% of the seats (303/543). India uses a First-Past-The-Post system: 2019 Indian general election
  • 26 May 2019: Belgian general election, using a method of party-list proportional representation, won by the New Flemish Alliance with 16% of the vote and 17% of the seats (25/150). A ruling coalition has not yet been formed, with an extension to 1 July from the original date of 6 June, extended to 17 June. There is a 5% threshold for representation. Electoral system details: 2019 Belgian federal election
  • 26 May 2019: European Parliament election, won by the European People’s Party Group with 21% of the vote and 24% of the seats (179/751). Voting systems differ in various countries, but all must use a proportional system with either Single Transferable Vote or a party-list system. Representation thresholds also vary from country to country. Wikipedia: Election to the European Parliament
  • 5 June 2019: Danish general election, using a party-list proportional system, won by the Social Democrats with 26% of the votes and 27% of the seats (47/129). The ruling coalition “Red Bloc” gained a total of 49% of the vote (slightly more when including Greenland and the Faroe Islands) and 52% of the seats (93/179). There is a 2% threshold for representation. Electoral system details: 2019 Danish general election

If anyone has lots of spare time, it would be interesting to see the Gallagher Index for each of these elections.

What: Fair Vote Waterloo Discussion Night
When: Wednesday, 26 June 2019 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Community Room, Bread and Roses Co-op
Location: 307 Queen Street South, Kitchener Map

As always, if you’re driving please park in the north lot, and place a note in your window:

Meeting in Community Room re Apt 107 from 7-9pm

North Parking Lot Map 2

See you all on Wednesday!

–Bob Jonkman
Fair Vote Waterloo Secretary and Discussion Night Organizer

Mail to: info@fairvotewrc.ca
Phone: +1-519-279-2990

‘Remind Justin Trudeau Rally’ in Cambridge this Tuesday, 16 April 2019

People in the audience


Hello FairVoting Friends,

This Tuesday evening, Justin Trudeau will be hosting a town hall at St. Benedict’s Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge.

Join us to remind the Prime Minister that there are consequences for breaking a promise about democracy. We will rally outside St. Benedict’s at 50 Saginaw Parkway at 5:30pm this Tuesday to let Mr. Trudeau know that Canadians are disappointed that he didn’t keep his commitment to improve our electoral system.

Bring signs, whistles, drums, horns etc. to make a loud point that this is an election year and we haven’t forgotten his broken promise from 2015 to make every vote count.

What: Rally
When: Tuesday, 16 April 2019 at 5:30pm
Where: St. Benedict’s Catholic Secondary School
Location: 50 Saginaw Parkway, Cambridge, Ontario Map
Why: Because it is 2019 and we still don’t have a fair electoral system.

Hope to see you there!

All the best,
Sharon Sommerville for FVC-WR

PS, If you need a ride or can offer a ride, email me at sharonsommerville@gmail.com and we will arrange for car pools to Cambridge.

You can get these announcements by e-mail by subscribing to the Fair Vote Waterloo Announcements mailing list or the Fair Vote Waterloo Discussion mailing list.

Discussion Night: Electoral Systems in Turkey

Discussion Night Happy Spring, Fair Voters! This past week at the Cross Cultures 2019 U N International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Fair Vote Waterloo had an information table, and I attended a session called What is happening now in Turkey: Where is the country heading to just before the Municipal elections on March 31 with Wilfrid Laurier professors Selda Sezen and Engin Sezen. As is typical for these interactive discussions, the topic wandered away from the Turkish election into the history of the greater Anatolian region, the Turkic language, and the state of journalism in Turkey.

We could have continued the discussion for hours… so I’ve invited Selda and Engin to come to our Discussion Night, where we can actually discuss the Turkish election and electoral system.

What: Fair Vote Waterloo Discussion Night
When: Wednesday, 27 March 2019 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm iCal
Where: Community Room, Bread and Roses Co-op
Location: 307 Queen Street South, Kitchener Map

As well, we’ll finally make the decision on funding the web site and mailing list migration to a new server.

As always, if you’re driving please park in the north lot (Map), and place a note in your window:

Meeting in Community Room re Apt 107 from 7-9pm

See you on Wednesday!

Discussion Night at 7pm on Wed, 27 Feb 2019

Group discussion Hi everyone: February is a short month, so the last Wednesday of the month has arrived well before I’m ready for it. But our Discussion Night is on!

What: Fair Vote Waterloo Discussion Night
When: Wednesday, 27 February 2019 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm iCal
Where: Community Room, Bread and Roses Co-op
Location: 307 Queen Street South, Kitchener Map

Last month we had a combination Executive and Strategy meeting. If you weren’t able to be there you can read the meeting notes.

And what to discuss? For those of you into Social Media, you may have seen some discussion on Electoral Reform vs. Proportional Representation. While the mandate for Fair Vote Canada is strictly to advocate for proportional representation, there are many other aspects to our electoral system that could stand improvement, eg. term limits, abolishing whipped votes, or reducing the power of the PMO.

As always, if you’re driving please park in the north lot (Map), and place a note in your window:

Meeting in Community Room re Apt 107 from 7-9pm

See you on Wednesday!

Jason Kenney on Proportional Representation

“Does he have any regard at all for the fact that Canada is now the only multiparty advanced democracy in the world that has a system of voting designed in and for 16th century England when candidates really were non-partisan candidates elected for the purpose of representation?”
Jason Kenney, Alliance MP for Calgary Southeast, AB
February 20th, 2001 / 4:15 p.m.

The other night at the annual Fair Vote Waterloo Holiday Get-Together, there was some speculation about the upcoming Alberta election in which Jason Kenney seeks to reclaim the Alberta Government for his new incarnation of that province’s provincial Conservatives. I was surprised to discover not everyone was aware of Mr Kenney’s strong support of Proportional Representation back in 2001.  [Read Jason Kenney’s whole statement here.]

Proportional Representation is not and has never been a partisan issue.  It only becomes so when a party championing PR gets elected to disproportional power in a winner-take-all political system.  When that happens, the party starts to rethink the wisdom of adopting electoral reform to a voting system that will limit their future power to what they can earn in votes.

At the time Mr Kenney demonstrated his considerable understanding of Canada’s need for Proportional Representation in the Parliamentary debate referenced above, he was an elected Member of Parliament from a regional Alberta party that didn’t (and wasn’t likely to) achieve winner-take-all false majority power any time soon with First Past The Post.

Mr Kenney was initially elected as a federal Reform Party of Canada candidate. Until the Reform Party morphed into a the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. That’s where he was when he spoke in that 2001 debate. But although the Alliance was able to gain regional traction and win disproportional power in Alberta in a First Past The Post System (much as the Bloc Québécois could in Québéc) he understood that before his party could hope to form government, Canada would need Proportional Representation.

Naturally, the Liberals who held phony majority power under PM Chrétien at the time did not like the idea of Proportional Representation, which would prevent future false majority power by limiting their power in government to what they could actually earn in votes.  Jason Kenney was not alone, in this, there was a lot of support for PR within the Canadian Alliance, up to and including Stephen Harper.  But the parties enjoying disproportional power are never very likely to make voting fair.

The Canadian Alliance had the power of regional concentration without much hope of forming government, while the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada could barely win any seats yet owned the name of one of Canada’s alternating governing parties, so the two merged into the Conservative Party of Canada.  Naturally with its own false majority, suddenly electoral reform was no longer something this new/old party wanted any party of.

During the Harper Government’s decade in power, Canada’s federal Liberals slipped to third place for the first time in history.  So Justin Trudeau ran on a platform of Electoral Reform, but Mr Trudeau’s appetite for electoral reform evaporated with his own false majority.  The BC Referendum was lost by the BC NDP who are convinced they’ll be re-elected, this time with a false majority of their own.

This may sound like bad news, and indeed it is in the short term, but the reality is that more and more Canadians are learning what Proportional Representation is, and just as important, why we need it. And because of this, Proportional Representation just isn’t going away.

Defenders of the Status Quo have been able to stave off Proportional Representation for so very long is because most of us have little experience or understanding of anything but winner-take-all politics.   The fact that 90+ countries use some form of PR is a blessing because there is so much information about how Proportional Representation works.  But it’s also a curse, because detractors can cherry pick the elements or examples of the application  of PR that will make it look the worst.  Because Canadians have so little or no understanding or experience of PR, when they spread misinformation most of us don’t even know they’re talking nonsense.  The moment any province adopts PR, we will see for ourselves that the sky doesn’t fall, and suddenly it will become much harder to sell us misinformation.

The issue is very much alive in Quebec and PEI, (soon to hold another Proportional Representation Referendum)  and Ontario’s Premier Ford is reminding Ontarians why a fair voting system is so important.

Not long ago the UK’s electoral reform referendum failed to even offer Proportional Representation as a choice. When it failed, the powers that be claimed this meant citizens were happy with the way things worked.  And the next referendum gave them BRexit.  Except the people didn’t think so.  Which is why Proportional Representation is back on the table there, too.   And why there is a new John Cleese Proportional Representation video.  Enjoy.

Laurel L. Russwurm

Holiday Greetings from @FairvoteWRC

Star sculptures suspended from the ceiling in the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda

Stars at Kitchener City Hall

Hello FairVoting Friends,

On behalf of the board of directors of the Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter, I would like to take this time to wish you and the ones you love all the very best for the holiday season and a very Happy New Year.

Best wishes,
Sharon Sommerville
for FVC-WR

Results from the BC referendum on electoral reform

Fair Vote Canada BCHello FairVoting Friends,

The results from BC’s referendum were announced this afternoon. Sadly, the outcome is not what we were hoping for; below is a link to a CBC report on the results. Changing our electoral system is long & vital process. Fair Vote Canada will continue to work toward instituting a more fair and equitable electoral system which ensures that every vote cast influences the election results.

CBC News: B.C. votes to keep first-past-the-post electoral system

B.C. votes to keep first-past-the-post electoral system

For the third time, British Columbians have voted to keep the first-past-the-post system for provincial elections.

‘I think electoral reform is finished,’ says deputy premier Carole James

CBC News

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 12:05 PM PT

B.C.’s deputy premier Carole James says the people have spoken and the issue of electoral reform is finished.

For the third time, British Columbians have voted to keep the first-past-the-post system for provincial elections.

Elections BC announced the results Thursday, saying 61.3 per cent of ballots had been cast in favour of the status quo, while proportional representation got 38.7 per cent.


Wishing you all the very best of the season,

Sharon Sommerville
for FVC-WR

Holiday Get-Together for 2018

All I Want For Christmas Is Proportional Representation Happy Upcoming Holidays, everyone! Instead of holding our regular Discussion Night on the last Wednesday of the month (which is Boxing Day), we’re going to hold a Holiday Get-Together on Thursday, 27 December 2018!

Cathy and John Scott have kindly volunteered to host. We’ll gather at their home at 6:30pm. If you can, please bring a potluck dish to share: appetizer, savoury snack, substantial entree, dessert, or even that potluck staple, potato salad. Let us know on the Discussion List what you’re bringing so we can avoid duplicates. And when you come, please label your dish if it contains wheat, nuts, eggs, dairy, meat, &c.

What: Fair Vote Waterloo Holiday Get-Together for 2018
When: Thursday, 27 December 2018 from 6:30pm to late at night
Where: Cathy and John Scott’s home
Location: 213 Sheldon Avenue North, Kitchener, Ontario Map

Hope to see you there!

–Bob Jonkman
Fair Vote Waterloo Co-Chair and Holiday Organizer

@FairvoteWRC this week

Hello Everyone,

Just in case you missed Dave Arthur’s excellent letter about PR published in Wednesday’s Record, here is the online link:

The Record logoElectoral system undemocratic | The Record

On Wednesday afternoon, Bob Jonkman and I gave a presentation to about 40 Laurier students about activism and electoral reform. The students were interested and raised many good questions. Our thanks to Professor Andrea Perrella for the invitation to address his students. We appreciate all opportunities to speak with community groups; if you have connections to community groups that would like a presentation on any aspect of electoral reform, please let us know.

Our monthly meeting is next People with speech bubblesWednesday, 28 November 2018 at 7:00pm in the community room at the Bread & Roses Housing Co-op, 307 Queen Street South (corner of Courtland) in Kitchener. It should be a very interesting evening as Evan Rosamond will present a synopsis of David Van Reybrouck’s Against Elections: The Case for Democracy. Van Reybrouck makes a compelling argument to end elections in favour of selecting legislators as we choose jury members; randomly from the voters list. We are anticipating an engaging discussion!

Hope to see you soon,

Sharon Sommerville
for FVC-WR

What: FairvoteWRC Discussion Night
When: Wednesday, 28 November 2018 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Community Room, Bread and Roses Co-op
Location: 307 Queen Street South, Kitchene Map 1

If you’re driving to Bread And Roses, please park in the north parking lot Map 2 and place a note on the dashboard of your vehicle:

Meeting in Community Room re Apt 107 from 7-9pm