UofW Bridges Lecture on Mathematics and Democracy, 7:30pm on 27 Feb 2015

Hi Waterloo Fair Voters: This coming Friday, 27 February 2015 there’s an interesting lecture on “Mathematics and Democracy” at the University of Waterloo that may interest some of you.

Sometimes I get carried away, and pay more attention to the mechanics of voting systems than the political change we’re trying to effect. I think this lecture will satisfy that craving!

Please note that this is NOT a Fair Vote event.

Here’s the blurb from the University of Waterloo website:

Bridges Lecture – Mathematics and Democracy

Friday, February 27, 2015 – 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Bridges lectures aim to overcome the gap between Mathematics and the Arts. Join Steven J. Brams (Politics) and D. Marc Kilgour (Math) for “Mathematics and Democracy.”

A multitude of election systems have been proposed for choosing both single winners (for mayor, governor, or president) or multiple winners (to a council or committee). Those based on approval voting, which allows voters to vote for more than one candidate or party, are especially appealing. We look at the mathematics behind these systems, and how well they satisfy properties considered important in a democracy. We also analyze the usage of approval voting in electing, among other officials, Catholic popes and UN secretaries general. More recently, approval voting has been adopted by several major professional societies to elect their presidents and advisory councils. Based on this experience, we offer several recommendations for the use of approval voting in public elections.

Steven J. Brams is Professor of Politics at New York University and the author, co-author, or co-editor of 18 books and about 300 articles. His most recent book is Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds (MIT, 2011).

Brams has applied game theory and social-choice theory to voting and elections, bargaining and fairness, international relations, and the Bible, theology, and literature. He is a former president of the Peace Science Society (1990-91) and of the Public Choice Society (2004-2006). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1986), a Guggenheim Fellow (1986-87), and was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (1998-99).

Affiliation: Department of Politics, NYU

D. Marc Kilgour is Professor of Mathematics at Wilfrid Laurier University, Research Director: Conflict Analysis for the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, and Adjunct Professor of Systems Design Engineering at University of Waterloo. His publications include 6 books and nearly 400 articles in journals, conference proceedings, and edited books.

Kilgour’s research lies at the intersection of mathematics, engineering, and social science. He has contributed in arms control, environmental management, negotiation, arbitration, voting, fair division, and coalition formation, and pioneered decision support systems for strategic conflict. President of the Peace Science Society in 2012-13, he is now President of the INFORMS Section on Group Decision and Negotiation.

Affiliation: Department of Mathematics, Wilfrid Laurier

Everyone is welcome to this free public lecture, followed by a reception. Free parking will be available at St. Paul’s. Host

St. Jerome’s University Event website Bridges Lecture- Mathematics and Democracy Cost

Free Location

STJ – St. Jerome’s University Siegfried Hall 290 Westmount Road North Waterloo, ON N2L 3G3 Canada

More info: Bridges Lecture – Mathematics and Democracy: http://sju.ca/news-events/public-events/bridges-lecture-series/mathematics-and-democracy

Federal Candidate Nominees’ Statements on Proportional Representation

There are several nomination meetings for candidates in the next federal election taking place over the next few weeks. The Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter asked local nominees where they stand on Proportional Representation:

Fair Vote Canada is a national, multi-partisan citizens’ campaign for a more proportional voting system. Proportional representation means that if a party gets 30% of the vote, they get roughly 30% of the seats, and a voter’s sincere vote will count.

We would like to let our supporters in Kitchener Centre know where candidates seeking nominations stand on proportional representation. Would you kindly be able to provide us with a short statement outlining your position on this issue? We will be sending out any statements we receive by the middle of next week.

Thank you so much for your attention and I hope to hear from you soon.

Anita Nickerson
Fair Vote Canada Action Coordinator

Sharon Sommerville
Co-chair, FVC Waterloo Region

Here are the nominees’ replies. This post will be updated as more replies are received.

Kitchener-Centre

Liberal

The date for the nomination meeting has not been set, but could be announced anytime. You need to be a member for 14 days before the meeting to vote.

Nominees:

NDP

No candidates have been announced yet.

Green

The nomination meeting is March 1, 4 PM, at the Adult Recreation Centre. You need to have been a member for 30 days to vote, but lapsed members who were members in the last year can renew at the meeting and vote.

Nominees:

Waterloo

Liberal

The Liberal nomination meeting is on February 22. Unfortunately, the
deadline to sign up as a member (Jan 27) has passed.

Nominees:

NDP

No candidates have been announced yet.

Green

The nomination meeting is March 1.

Nominees:

Kitchener-Conestoga

Liberal

The Liberal Party nomination meeting is on Wednesday, 18 February 2015, 7:00pm at the St. Agatha Community Centre.

Kitchener South — Hespeler

Conservative

Nominees:

  • Chad Bernard
  • Marian Meinen
  • Ken Zelazny

Statements by Nominees

Cathy Maclellan, nominee for Liberal candidate in Waterloo
Nominee website: http://www.votecathy.ca/

Cathy has been a long time supporter of Fair Vote Canada and a frequent participant or speaker at Fair Vote Canada Waterloo events.

Dan Herman, nominee for Liberal candidate in Waterloo
Nominee website: http://www.danherman.ca

Dan supports proportional representation.

Nicholas Wendler, nominee for Green candidate in Kitchener-Centre
Nicholas Wendler is planning to seek the nomination for the Greens. There
is no nomination meeting set yet.

I do support Proportional Representation. As a person with a physical disability which is a form of diversity with which I live, I feel everyone should count in Canada and therefore be represented in the House of Commons. In order to speak to the various issues Canadians face, we need representation from the various voices in Canada to reach a full understanding of, and response to the issues. If buildings are designed by people who go through life on their two legs instead of including people who have visual or hearing impairments or people who roll around via wheelchairs, you’re going to have very different results between the two alternatives. One would likely include a few more staircases. Depending on needs, people of other forms of diversity may have varying designs due to the way they would use features of the building. The best design is one that includes the input of all involved to achieve the best from each perspective.

In terms of the electoral system, proportional representation allows each party to be represented as a reflection of how the voters cast their ballot. The current system allows only the person with the most votes (and the party they represent) to gain voice in the House of Commons. Issues addressed by the other parties and candidates in a given riding may gain votes, but if the votes for those issues and candidates are fewer than another, they do not have a voice unless the winning candidate also addresses those issues. Elected members of Parliament need to work together to move toward a system of proportional representation and allow all voices to be heard and counted in future elections.

Betsey Daub, nominee for Liberal candidate in Kitchener-Conestoga
Nominee website: http://betseydaub.com

I support electoral reform to implement proportional representation. If elected, I will advocate within the Liberal Party and the House of Commons for proprotional representation at all levels of government.

Tony Maas, nominee for Liberal candidate in Kitchener-Centre
Nominee website: http://tonymaas.ca

Campaign to Nominate Tony Maas
Liberal Party of Canada Candidate for
Kitchener Centre in 2015

February 12, 2015

Dear Anita and Sharon:

I would like to express my personal thanks to you and to Fair Vote Canada for reaching out regarding my position on proportional representation, and for the important work you are doing to raise awareness about and advocate for electoral reform in Canada.

I have long believed that Canada’s electoral system is out of date. It is troubling to me, as it is to a growing number of people, that 37% of the popular vote can return a majority government: this, in my view, is not a reflection of a modern democracy.

I am happy to share with you that I fully support moving to an electoral system based on proportional representation. I support the Liberal Party of Canada’s policy resolution on the issue, which indicates that, immediately following the next election an all-party process will be initiated to engage experts and citizens to report to Parliament with recommendations on voting system reform, including consideration of proportional representation.

I commit, personally, that if elected to Parliament I will advocate for electoral reform and a system of proportional representation both within the Liberal Party caucus and in Parliament. It is time for a federal government in Canada to show leadership and to take action on rebuilding trust in our democracy; that must include bringing our voting system into the 21st century. I believe that for us to flourish as a country – economically, social, culturally and environmentally – we need revitalize our democracy through electoral reform and proportional representation.

Please feel free to share my perspective, in whole or in part, with your organization’s supporters and others. And thanks again for the amazing work you are doing on this issue.

Sincerely,

Tony Maas
Qualified Nomination Contestant for
Liberal Party of Canada in Kitchener Centre
tony@tonymaas.ca
@TonyMaas

Richard Walsh-Bowers, nominee for Green candidate in Waterloo
Nominee website: http://www.richardwalsh.ca

Statement for Fair Vote Canada – Waterloo Region [18/1/15]

Ever since my first federal election campaign (Fall 2000 when I ran in Waterloo for the New Democrats) I have explicitly supported democratic reform and proportional representation in the House of Commons. The Law Reform Commission of Canada (LRCC), which was rendered defunct early in the Harper government’s tenure, released a report on Canada’s electoral system prior to the 2004 election. When I ran in that election in Kitchener Centre as the NDP candidate, I supported the LRCC’s recommendation that Canada make the transition from our first-past-the-post (FPTP) system to the mixed method of proportional representation (MMPR), which is successfully employed in Germany and many other nations. I reiterated my position during the 2006 election, when I again was the NDP candidate in Kitchener Centre. During the last federal election, when I ran as an independent candidate in Waterloo, I made democratic reform generally and advocacy for MMPR specifically integral features of my campaign. (My 2011 platform is available at www.richardwalsh.ca .) My view then – and now – is that the Canadian parliamentary system is fundamentally undemocratic but its transformation through MMPR could salvage it. Alas, the need for MMPR is even more acute, because the Conservative government instituted changes to the election laws that make detection of voter fraud very unlikely.

So, why do I support MMPR? The FPTP system rewards political parties for focusing on particular regions and constituencies, while virtually ignoring other regions and constituencies, which distorts representation in the House; furthermore, FPTP diminishes the chances of smaller parties to win seats. In short, it is blatantly undemocratic. The “preferential ballot” system has the advantage of reaching across the extant (i.e., narrow) political spectrum but the decided disadvantage of diminishing the chances of smaller parties. Thus, it is unacceptable. MMPR, on the other hand, combines local and party representation. It likely is imperfect, but it’s the best option to renew and preserve electoral democracy across Canada.

Fair Vote Guelph: The Robocall Scandal ~ Town Hall (January 2015)

Guelph was the “epicenter” of the 2011 Canadian Robocall Voter Suppression Scandal. Citizens all across Canada received harassment calls as well as calls misdirecting them to the wrong polling station. Finally the trial is over, and Guelph citizens gathered to hold a Town Hall where they could share their experiences and talk about what we can do to guard against similar voter suppression campaigns in the future.

NOTE: My video is Public Domain CC0

Fair Vote Guelph Presents
The Robocall Scandal
A Community Town Hall
January 25, 2015

Appearing in this video:

Jason Blokhuis moderator – read the absent Guelph Liberal MP Frank Valeriote’s Letter

Kelly McCullough – Guelph resident victim impact statement

Sue Campbell – victim impact statement – wife of the Green Party Candidate 2011 Federal Election John Lawson

Magee Maguire – Guelph Resident – victim impact statement

John Dennis, Council of Canadians, Guelph Chapter

Bobbi Stewart – NDP Candidate 2011 Federal Election

John Lawson – Green Party Candidate 2011 Federal Election

Sharon Sommerville, Fair Vote Canada WRC

Elizabeth Macrae, who had been a Guelph Scrutineer during the 2011 Federal Election, attended Sona trial. She explained what happened to the 2011 Elections Canada Returning Officer for Guelph, Ann Budra. Ms Budra, a featured guest on the program, had planned to read the Victim Impact Statement she had read into the public record at the Sona Trial.

Susan Watson, Citizen Observer, Sona Trial

Michael Keefer, Professor Emeritis, University of Guelph

Steve Dyck, Fair Vote Canada, Guelph Chapter

Due to technical difficulties, Brian De Alwis, Communications Vice President, for the Guelph Liberal EDA does not appear on this video. Mr. De Alwis explained that their office had been fines $4,900 in August 2012 by the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television Teleccommunications Commission) for a robocall violation during the 2011 Federal Election.

Although Guelph MP Frank Valeriote’s Liberal EDA (Electoral District Association) robocalls were not engaged in voter suppression, their robocalls failed to correctly identify the source of the calls and to give a correct callback number. The technical evidence in the Sona Trial established the exact same CRTC rules were violated by the Guelph Conservative EDA for which Michael Sona was the Communications Director.

In this video, Susan Watson asks, “Why were no sanctions ever imposed by the CRTC against them [the Guelph Conservative EDA]?”

Also not appearing on this video are the opening remarks of The Reverend Owen Ash of St. John The Apostle’s Church, and event co-ordinator Ken McKay.

ORGANIZED AND HOSTED BY:

Fair Vote Guelph
The Environment and Social Justice Committeee of St. James The Apostle Church

Council of Canadians, Guelph Chapter

Guelph Solar

CO-SPONSORED BY:

Fair Vote Waterloo Region

Guelph Wellington Coalition for Social Justice

Social Development Studies, Renison University College

St. James the Apostle is supporting this event by making the church available and, in addition, the members of the Church are providing the refreshments.

Photos from the event on Flickr

Recommendations:

Michael Sona’s Conviction
Before Justice G.F. Hearn
Reasons for Judgment released on August 14, 2014

The judge’s summary of the technical evidence and witness evidence… the next best thing to being at the trial

Michael Sona’s Sentencing
Before Justice G.F. Hearn
Reasons for Sentence released on November 19, 2014

McEwing v. Canada (Attorney General), 2013 FC 183 (CanLII)
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

The Eday Film: The Script & Film Co. is currently in production filming “Election Day In Canada: When Voter Suppression Comes Calling”.
Voter Suppression Doc Film Has New Site On IGG
The Dramatic Rise of Voter Suppression in Canada

Party of One by Michael Harris