2017 September Discussion Night

Guided Discussion for Fair Vote Canada Strategy 2019

These are the resources and meeting notes for the Discussion Night meeting we held on Wednesday, 27 September 2017 at 7:00pm in the Bread & Roses Community Meeting Room.


Host Guide
Fair Vote Canada Strategic Plan
Survey Results
Meeting Announcements

Discussion Night for Fair Voting — an #IDOPAN event

Meeting Notes

Meeting notes taken by Bob Jonkman.


“Why is this issue personally important to you? What makes you care about this issue enough to join us tonight?”

  • 5 MPs have only 29% support in their riding.
  • Furious about numbers. How can we fix it?
  • Last few elections elected a majority with only 39%.
  • Promises are not kept.
    • (participant has been copying letters to Bardish Chagger)
  • Promise broken.
  • Need a collaborative or coalition government .
    • Better social programs, &c.
  • Have been voting Green, but my vote hasn’t been effective.
  • Broken promise.
    • But there’s still time to pass legislation to implement Electoral Reform!
  • Needed to vote strategically because of the promise of Proportional Representation.
  • Need a better system for working together.
  • Started with the 2007 Ontario Referendum.
  • Parties are elected with minuscule numbers.
    • (participant worked with “Vote Together”, “Lead Now”, &c)
  • Annoyed when promises are broken.
  • Promises…
  • Just getting involved in politics, checking out Fair Vote.
  • Wish we had a real representative democracy; instead we have gross distortions
  • False majorities, wrong-way winners.
  • Hate voting strategically.
  • Still hopeful!
  • Impatient — have been voting for decades, still haven’t elected anyone.
  • Change the rules for voting, but we need approval from the politicians to change.
    • Who were elected with the current system, and so are unlikely to want it changed.
  • Had given up on voting, but didn’t understand the problem that made the popular vote not equal to the number of seats.
  • Can’t call ourselves a democracy.
  • Promise broken.
  • Every election things get worse.
  • Working in politics, now understand the wasted vote and wasted effort.
  • Politicians promised PR, didn’t deliver.
  • Heard Brian Tanguay speak.
  • Fed up with Liberal promise: Campaign from the left, govern from the right.
  • Unfair system (First Past The Post)
    • Canada is only one of three FPTP countries.
  • Want local representation.
  • It’s a money game.
    • More $$ means more chance to win the election.

Where are people from?

Cambridge 0
Kitchener–Conestoga 2
Kitchener Centre 5
Kitchener South–Hespeler 2
Waterloo 4

Pro-PR MPs– at risk?

  • Hah! No MP (in Waterloo Region) really supports Proportional Representation!

Bardish Chagger (Liberal, Waterloo)
  • Never said anything in favour.
  • Made election promise “Last FPTP election”
  • Toes the party line.

Marwan Tabbara (Liberal, Kitchener South–Hespeler)
  • Is an animal of the Party.
  • May not have a real opinion.
  • Will back the Party on anything.
  • Wants to be an MP, stay an MP.
    • Will switch his opinion on anything as necessary to stay elected.
  • Marwan’s letter was not personally written.

    • He has very good staff to do that for him, fooled some people into thinking it was genuine.

Raj Saini (Liberal, Kitchener Centre)
  • Toes Party line.
  • Made weak arguments about the Party line (and why he broke his promise)
  • Got into politics because he wanted a National Pharmacare plan
    • But he didn’t bother to show up for the Council of Canadians’ presentation on Pharmacare.
  • When we delivered petitions he seemed afraid of us.
  • He owes his job to the Party.
  • During the campaign he was very well informed on PR, and was in favour.

Miscellaneous Comments
  • We still have years until 2019, we can make existing MPs suffer.
    • But the parliamentary process requires 24 months lead time to enact Electoral Reform.
  • MPs aren’t engaged with us.
    • We need to protest, throw red paint filled balloons at their constituency offices.
    • Civil disobedience!
  • MPs need to own what they say
  • Use #hashtags on social media to coordinate flash mobs to engage in civil disobedience.

Is this a “Safe Riding”?

Kitchener Centre (Raj Saini, Liberal)
  • Kitchener Centre is not a safe riding for Raj Saini.
    • But the chance of electing an NDP or Green MP? Can’t happen.

  • Is speaking with MPs effective?
    • Hasn’t been…
      • Then why continue to do that?
  • Youth wants to do something.
    • Use crowdfunding to activate the youth.
  • General population doesn’t understand our current system, the problems with it, or the solution.
    • Even highly educated people!
  • Focus less on MPs, Fair Vote should concentrate on educating people
    • This gives us the leverage to influence MPs
    • That leverage is the threat of not being re-elected.
  • But Main Stream Media is complicit (in suppressing info on ER)
    • Try to attract media, but keep it completely non-violent.
  • We Are The Media

    • Everyone has cell phone cameras and uses social media.
  • Hold public events to attract the Main Stream Media, and shame the MPs.

Waterloo (Bardish Chagger, Liberal)
  • Safe seat? Waterloo is a swing riding.

  • How would “Vote Together” work?
    • People won’t do it again.
  • Fair Vote should just get people to vote!
    • but wasted votes…
  • With education people are more inclined to vote.
  • Get together with other groups.
    • eg. Anti-poverty groups (Basic Income Waterloo, ALIVe, Social Development Centre)
    • Faith Groups
  • Fair Vote Waterloo has an Outreach Strategy
    • Last year Outreach Committee targeted Antipoverty groups, gave presentations
    • This year they’re targeting Faith groups and Social Action groups

Kitchener South–Hespeler (Marwan Tabbara, Liberal)
  • Redistributed results (from riding boundary change) indicates the area would have voted for the Conservatives
  • Neighbourhood Association held an All Party Candidates Meeting.
    • Marwan Tabbara was the weakest candidate.
    • But he won because of Strategic Voting to unseat the Conservatives.
    • People vote for the Prime Minister, not the local candidate.

  • Six weeks before the 2019 Election Campaign start awareness of “Last election under FPTP”

Cambridge (Bryan May, Liberal)
  • is not recognized as a candidate, eg. at grocery store
  • Cambridge is a potential swing riding

Kitchener–Conestoga (Harold Albrecht, Conservative)
  • Had a small plurality in 2015 election.
    • But had true majority in previous elections.
  • Liberal candidate Tim Louis won’t promote PR if elected.

How well-liked is your MP?

  • Afraid that Raj Saini is well-liked.
  • No-one knows who Marwan Tabbara is.
  • Bardish Chagger is very popular.
  • Bryan May is neutral.
  • Harold Albrecht is popular.

  • NAFTA issue takes precedence
    • Other issues are more important to voters
      • But those other issues depend on PR to get done

  • Fair Vote should raise money and raise profile of the Proporational Representation issue.
  • Get people together
    • Barbeques, social media
  • Work with University groups
  • Spend money on radio ads

Advice for the campaigns of other candidates

  • Need more money.
  • Be stronger in your message.
    • Don’t be a centrist!
  • Need more volunteers
  • Start knocking on doors.
    • Liberal MPs and candidates are already knocking on doors.
  • Operate on principle!
    • (candidates should stick to their principles, not sway to popular opinion)
  • Can the NDP and Green Party cooperate?
    • “Cooperate For Canada” was a movement to get two pro-PR parties to run only one candidate to avoid splitting the vote.
    • But neither NDP nor Green Party were too keen on resigning their candidate.
  • Hire Rick Mercer to promote cooperation.
    • Crowdfund $5 to hear him speak.
  • Raise more money! (for opposition candidates)
  • Want a candidate who wins without money, who wins on merit.
  • Martin Luther King quote “Peace is not just a goal, but the means to a goal”.
    • Apply the same to cooperation.
  • Advice to Fair Voters: Learn from Bernie Sanders.
  • Opposition candidates should start their campaign sooner.
  • Use pyramid techniques: A friend calls two friends, and so on.
  • The Waterloo NDP campaign: The “star” candidate wasn’t stellar.
  • Parties need to prop up their candidates. Needs $$$
  • Debates are engineered (don’t provide real info, but soundbites; favour incumbents)
  • Bardish Chagger was groomed for the position
    • Knew how to schmooze
  • Candidates need to learn to schmooze
  • Green Party candidates need a higher profile since they don’t run attack ads
    • “Feisty isn’t the same as attacking.”
  • Have a strong candidate who is good at public speaking.
    • But that didn’t matter for Liberal candidates.
  • Prediction: Incumbents (Liberals) will have two key issues
    • Maybe opposition candidates need to rally around these issues.
    • NAFTA? Not sexy, maybe something else will come up before 2019.
  • Candidate’s success is dependent on the charisma of the leader.
  • The “soft coalition” of Indigenous votes, youth, and Green + NDP who voted strategically for Liberals
    • worked for Liberals, but no more.
  • Show the voters they didn’t get what they want.
Advice for Fair Vote
  • Fair Vote should focus on Waterloo
    • Split between NDP and PR supporters
    • Best chance to get a Pro-PR candidate


  • Fair Vote should focus on Kitchener South–Hespeler
    • Marwan Tabbara is a weak candidate
    • Lorne Bruce (NDP) is a strong candidate


  • General discussion on Proporational Representation is too general.
    • Need a specific strategy (voting system), eg. MMPPR (Mixed Member Preferential Proportional Representation), or STV (Single Transferable Vote).
    • Fair Vote Canada gets behind (endorses) one (or two) voting system(s).
  • PR makes intuitive sense, but specific systems can’t be proven to work in Canada.
    • People poke holes in any proposed system.
  • Use a local model.
    • Use Waterloo Region examples to illustrate PR to Waterloo Region voters.
    • For people who want details, give them international examples.
  • Fair Vote Canada should focus on the Ontario 2018 Provincial Election as well.
    • PR is more likely to be achieved provincially (following BC’s success).
    • Ontario Provincial election is an excuse to talk about PR.
  • Have people moved past favouring a specific system?
    • Everyone has a pet system.
    • FVC needs to say “We’ll support a system with these criteria: 1) 2) 3)”
    • But FVC should stop short of endorsing a specific system
  • FVC should use the phrase “Election Reform”, not “Electoral Reform”
    • Use the words that people already know.