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

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

Reminder: Discussion Night on Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Discussion Night Hi everyone: Just a quick reminder of the Fair Vote Waterloo Discussion Night tomorrow (Wednesday):

What: FairvoteWRC Discussion Night: Weighted First-Past-The-Post
When: Wednesday, 31 October 2018 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Community Room, Bread and Roses Co-op
Location: 307 Queen Street South, Kitchene Map 1

Larry Kryski will be presenting his solution for proportional representation, a weighted vote in parliament.

Since it’s Hallowe’en some people will be delayed from giving candy to the little monsters, so Larry’s presentation will start sometime after 7:30pm

In the meantime, there are lots of other things worthy of discussion:

  • We just had a municipal election, where ranked ballots became a thing. What can Fair Vote Waterloo do to encourage the adoption of ranked ballots in multi-member wards to achieve proportional representation?
  • Some people from Fair Vote Waterloo spent some time canvassing door-to-door. What were the results? We’ll get a quick report from the participants.
  • Acronyms: Based on a thread in the Discussion mailing list, we’ve been using many acronyms like PR, ER, RB, MMP and so forth. The jargon is obscuring our message. I’ve compiled a short list, but let’s work on creating a more comprehensive glossary of terms that we can post on the Resources page of our website.

    STV – Single Transferable Vote
    MMP – Mixed Member Proportional
    DMP – Dual Member Proportional
    RUP – Rural-Urban Proportional
    AV – Alternative Vote
    IRV – Instant Runoff Voting (same thing as AV)
    PB – Preferential Ballot (same thing as AV)
    FPTP – First Past The Post
    SMP – Single Member Plurality (fancy words for FPTP)
    RB – Ranked Ballot (used by STV, AV, IRV, PB)
    PR – Proportional Representation
    ProRep – Proportional Representation
    ER – Electoral Reform

    MP – Member of Parliament
    MPP – Member of Provincial Parliament

    AMA – Ask Me Anything (online interview on Reddit)

  • How can we help the BC Electoral Reform referendum? Hints on the Fair Vote Canada PR4BC website.

Anything else?

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

See you there!

Bob Jonkman,
Co-Chair, Fair Vote Waterloo
Phone: +1–519–635–9413
E-mail: bjonkman@sobac.com

FairvoteWRC Contact Info:
Phone: +1–519–279–2990
E-mail: info@fairvotewrc.ca

Discussion Night on Referenda with @YesCambridge on Wed, 26 Sept 2018

Yes! Cambridge | Campaign for Ranked Ballots This coming Wednesday we’re holding our Discussion Night at the Blackwing Coffee Bar in Cambridge, one of several places in Canada that’s holding a referendum on Electoral Reform. We’ll meet up with the team from the Yes! Cambridge campaign. Who knows, there may be some people that you recognize!

We’ll discuss what the members of Fair Vote Waterloo can do to help the referendum campaigns in Cambridge, Kingston, and British Columbia happening now, and in PEI with their provincial election in October 2019.

What: FairvoteWRC Discussion Night: Referenda
When: Wednesday, 26 September 2018 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Blackwing Coffee Bar
Location: 135 George Street North, Cambridge, Ontario Map 1

Next month we’re back in Kitchener at Bread & Roses for an explanation of a Proportional Representation system that uses the existing First-Past-The-Post voting system, keeps the existing electoral boundaries, and doesn’t require any more (or fewer) Members of Parliament.

Larry Kryski will suggest an interesting enhancement that adjusts the relative power of an MP based on the number of votes received by that party. His paper on the proposal, Creating a Proportional Representation Electoral System That Works was submitted to the ERRE consultation.

What: FairvoteWRC Discussion Night: Weighted First-Past-The-Post
When: Wednesday, 31 October 2018 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Community Room, Bread and Roses Co-op
Location: 307 Queen Street South, Kitchener Map 2

Bob Jonkman,
Co-Chair, Fair Vote Waterloo
Phone: +1-519-635-9413
E-mail: bjonkman@sobac.com

FairvoteWRC Contact Info:
Phone: +1–519–279–2990
E-mail: info@fairvotewrc.ca

Join the FVC ThunderClap!

Hello FairVoting Friends,

Feb. 1st is the anniversary of the Liberal government breaking its promise to make 2015 the last election using First Past The Post (FPTP).

There is a lot we can do to let PM Trudeau know that we aren’t going to forget his broken promise and disinterest in ensuring that our electoral system works for every Canadian.

Fair Vote Canada is organizing a ThunderClap for 1 February 2018 and an online pledge in support of a press conference by Nathan Cullen (NDP Democratic Reform Critic) and Elizabeth May (leader of the Green Party of Canada) to mark the first anniversary of our government’s broken promise.

Discussion NightAnd, tomorrow night Fair Vote Waterloo is hosting an “Unhappy First Anniversary Party.” Join us to have cake and tweet lots of “Unhappy Anniversary” pictures to our local Liberal MPs and PM.

After the cake & pics, Dave Arthur will discuss the impact of thresholds in Proportional Representation systems.

We will meet Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 7:00pm in the Community Room at the Bread and Roses Housing Co-op, 307 Queen Street South, at Courtland in Kitchener. Map 1 If you are coming by car, 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

Unhappy about the broken electoral reform promise? Join the ThunderClap, sign the online pledge, eat cake!

All the best,

Sharon for FVC-WR

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.

Our meeting with Minister Chagger and a letter in The Record

Meeting with Minister Chagger in 2016

Good Morning FairVoting Friends,

On Thursday, seven supporters of proportional representation met with The Honourable Bardish Chagger to express our support for electoral reform. Our goal was to keep the conversation about electoral reform going despite the government’s decision not to reform our electoral system.

The meeting was respectful and positive. Everyone had an opportunity to express their views and Minister Chagger promised to send our comments to The Hon. Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions.

Minister Chagger also said it is always worthwhile to come to talk with her so please take her up on it! If you would like to help keep the issue on the table, live in the riding of Waterloo and would like to speak with Minister Chagger, please contact her office to book an appointment. She can be reached at: bardish.chagger@parl.gc.ca

There is a letter to the editor in today’s Record which you might be interested in. It is a response to last Saturday’s article by Luisa D’Amato.

Letter to the Editor: Broken Promises (Mirror)

And, the one year anniversary of the government reneging on their promise to reform our electoral system is coming up on February 1st. Join us for an Unhappy First Anniversary Party on Wed. Jan. 31st at the Bread & Roses Co-Op, 307 Queen St. S, Kitchener Map in the Community Room at 7 p.m. More on that later!

Till then,

Sharon for FVC-WR

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.

Reminder: Discussion Night, 7pm on Wed, 29 Nov 2017 at Bread and Roses

Group discussion Hi all: Just a quick reminder of tonight’s Discussion Night:

What: Fair Vote Waterloo November 2017 Discussion Night
When: Wednesday, 29 November 2017 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Community Meeting Room, Bread & Roses Co-op
Location: 307 Queen Street South, Kitchener, Ontario Map 1


1 February 2018

The first of February marks the anniversary of the Liberals’ broken promise on Electoral Reform. What should we do to remind them that this is unacceptable? Another rally? A march from one MP’s office to another? Let’s make some plans!

BC Referendum

The BC provincial government will be holding a referendum on proportional representation in 2018, and it is not without opposition. BC Liberal MLA Todd Stone pulls out the usual argument of “We’ll be having perpetual coalition governments like we have right now, where you have the tail wagging the dog” — If the Liberals had been open to a collaborative government with the Greens then they could have been the whole dog!

Electoral reform an attack on democracy, Stone says — Alberni Valley News

We can discuss how we can provide support for the BC referendum. Fair Vote Canada has just launched a campaign, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter and soon on Instagram:

Facebook: Fair Vote Canada-BC

Twitter: @fvc_BC

Holiday Get-Together

The regular Discussion Night (last Wednesday of the month) falls on 27 December 2017 next month. Since that’s right in the middle of the holidays, perhaps we should have a Holiday Get-Together instead! Save the date, plans for a social night are in the works!


If you’re driving to tonight’s Discussion Night at Bread And Roses, place a note on the dashboard of your vehicle:

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

and park in the north lot, on the other side of the Morrison-Reist building Map 2

See you Wednesday!


Reminding Raj Saini about Electoral Reform

Fair Vote WRC visits Raj

Friday’s Petition Crew

To encourage the Liberals to keep their promise to reform our electoral system,on Friday afternoon (November 10th, 2017) we delivered our 500+ signature Fair Vote petition to Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini.  We had a brief opportunity to meet with Mr. Saini to explain our frustrations with his government’s failure to deliver on their oft repeated Electoral Reform Promise.

Mr Saini told us the only reason he voted against accepting the ERRE report was the inclusion of a referendum.  (Of course, had the Liberals on the ERRE Committee had been willing to work across party lines with the Greens and NDP there would have been no need for the inclusion of a referendum in the report.)  He did, however, promise to submit the Petition to the House of Commons.

In case you’ve forgotten, this is what Mr. Saini had to say about electoral reform before he was elected MP.

Watch the UK PR Petition Parliamentary Debate online

Canada’s E-616 petition garnered more than 130,000 signatures.  More than any other Parliamentary e-Petition in Canadian history.  There was some thought that this would lead to an actual Parliamentary Debate on the Electoral Reform process promised by the Trudeau Government.

When a Parliamentary e-petition in the UK exceeds 100,000 signatures. it triggers an actual Parliamentary Debate.  Recently an Electoral Reform Petition resulted in just such a debate.

To make votes matter, adopt Proportional Representation for UK General Elections

Proportional Representation for WestminsterThe vast majority wants PR. Our FPTP voting system makes Parliament unrepresentative. One party got 37% of the vote and 51% of seats, while 3 parties got 24% of the vote but share 1.5% of seats. FPTP violates the democratic principle of majority rule and causes problems like costly policy reversals.

The UK has never had a say on PR. As David Cameron himself said, the AV Referendum was on a system that is often less proportional than FPTP, so the rejection of AV could not possibly be a rejection of PR. In fact, so few voters wanted either system on offer that the turnout was just 42%.

There are tried and tested PR systems that keep the constituency link. They would make every vote matter equally, rather than allowing a minority of swing voters in a few marginal seats to pick the government.
UK Parliament e-petition 168657

This petition ran for 6 months and achieved 103,495 signatures.  The debate was quite interesting, and if you’re interested in taking a look, it is still online. (although I am not sure for how long).  For now at least you can see it here http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c52f8c49-55ac-44c8-bf23-b1705afadaf8 or download the mp3 to watch later.

But even if the video is no longer online, you’ll still be able to read it in Hansard here:
[Of course you won’t get to see the Minister squirm in the text version.]

UK Parliamentary Debate

Both the PR for Westminster and the UK Parliament PR Debate miniposters are Public Domain images..

Volunteers needed for info table at Cambridge International Festival

Hello FairVoting Friends,

Hope everyone has had a great summer.

FVC-WR has had a fabulous summer festival season; spoken with hundreds of people in our community, 50 pages of petitions have been signed and many postcards have been sent. Thank you all, for your continued support and work so that Canadians can have a fair electoral system.

Our last summer event, the Cambridge International FestivalCambridge International Festival, is coming up on Saturday, 23 September 2017. It is a fun day and the weather promises to be perfect.

If anyone has a couple of hours to share, volunteers are needed and greatly appreciated! The shifts are: 11:00am–1:30pm, 1:30pm–4:00pm & 4:00pm–6:00pm. Previous experience at a community information table isn’t needed. If you want to help, let us know!

Best wishes,
for FVC-WR

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.