123 Barrie! A new campaign in Ontario.

Seven months ago, Toronto City Council voted in favour of a proposal to abandon First Past the Post for local municipal elections.   This was a historic moment for our movement, and a huge step towards bringing proportional representation to Canada and our provinces.

After four failed referenda (Ontario, PEI, and two in BC), it's nice to finally see a positive campaign WIN for the movement.  So we're thrilled to announce that a sister campaign has now been launched in Barrie, Ontario called "123 Barrie"!

123barrie.jpgThe campaign's goal is to introduce ranked ballots for their local City Council elections.  If you live in the Barrie/Orillia area, you can join Fair Vote Simcoe County Chapter for their "Annual Winter Social", to learn more about the new campaign.

Ranked Ballots make local elections more fair, diverse, inclusive and friendly.  We're excited to see a new campaign get off the ground.  Good luck Barrie!!

GET INVOLVED!  You can connect with 123 Barrie through their website, newsletter, Facebook, or Twitter!

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ACT LOCAL: Campus Democracy Project!!



Toronto UnConference • January 24th • Hart House

Canada uses a broken voting system called “First-Past-the-Post”.  It’s a terrible system because it pushes out new voices, forces voters to choose ‘strategically’, encourages negative campaigns and often delivers us the exact opposite result of what we actually voted for.

But we don’t just use this voting system to choose our national parliament, we also use First-Past-the-Post to choose our provincial parliaments and all of our mayors and City Councillors.  And it doesn’t stop there!  Every week, across Canada, there are hundreds - if not thousands - of elections:  Condo boards, residents groups, non-profit boards, labour elections, high school student councils, tenant boards, credit unions, and post-secondary student unions.  And with few exceptions, almost ALL of these groups use First-Past-The-Post. 

You’ve heard the phrase “Think Global, Act Local”.   We think that’s good advice for the voting reform movement!  It might be a long time before our federal government is ready to embrace real substantial voting reform.  In the meantime, let’s start at home!  There are elections all around us, and we can help plant seeds of change by reforming local elections in our own communities.   The best way to teach voters about alternative voting methods, isn’t through textbooks and leaflets.  The best teaching method is to get them to actually use alternative methods, in their own personal and professional lives.

If we can convince hundreds of boards, councils and unions to abandon First-Past-The-Post, we’ll have taken a huge leap towards reforming our provincial and federal elections. 

Campus unions can lead by example, and be a catalyst for change!

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Michael Chong's Reform Act. What do YOU think?

The dChongMichaelD_CPC.jpgiscussion around electoral reform in Canada takes many forms; most recently, it’s been introduced in the form of a private member’s bill from Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong.

Chong’s bill, titled The Reform Act, takes aim at what many see as too much control of party leaders over how MPs vote—and even say—as elected representatives by removing the requirement that party leaders must sign off on individual nominations in every riding, and giving power to MPs to remove the party leader via a caucus vote. As recently as the November by-election, we’ve seen how riding nominations can become controversial and divisive when party leaders handpick candidates.

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UPDATE: Pushing the Liberals towards PR

Four weeks ago, I wrote a post about members of the Liberal party who are trying to push the party towards a policy position that favours proportional representation - or at least opens the door to PR.

It looks like their efforts have paid off!  The Liberal Caucus has approved a motion to be sent to the upcoming Montreal policy convention, with the following wording:

"AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, the Liberal Party of Canada institute an all-Party process, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with analysis and recommendations for an electoral system including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent all Canadians more fairly and to allow Parliament to serve Canada better."

Of course, this is just the first hurdle.  The next step is to WIN the vote at the convention!

Here's how you can help:

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TORONTO EVENT: "It's About Time!! Action on Climate Change through Electoral Reform"

We're proud to be a co-sponsor of this great event happening in Toronto, on Thursday November 28th:

"It's About Time!! Action on Climate Change through Electoral Reform"

Featuring Craig Scott, Elizabeth May & Stéphane Dion!

Doors open at 6:45pm; Event starts at 7pm sharp 
Ralph Thornton Community Centre, 2nd Floor Auditorium, 765 Queen St. E

Learn more on the event webpage and the Facebook event!



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Pushing the Liberals towards PR

For those who have been advocating for voting reform in Canada for many years, it's exciting to see Liberal Leader publicly saying that he wants to get rid of our existing "First Past the Post" system.


But there is a growing movement within the Liberal Party, of members who are strongly pushing the Liberal Party to go even further.  I agree with them. 

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Should Canadian voters have the power to recall politicians?


Drug, alcohol, and sex allegations continue to rock Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, with mounting calls for him to resign, and Toronto City Council going so far as to hold a vote, overwhelmingly asking Mr. Ford to step down.  Yet unlike cities in the United States, Ontario city councils and municipal voters do not have the power to ask politicians to resign - the Toronto City Council vote was purely symbolic.  In fact, the only way Rob Ford or any other mayor can be removed from office is if he is charged and arrested, breaks conflict-of-interest rules or the provincial government steps in and removes him.  This leads to a rather interesting question about our democracy: Should Canadians be able to recall their politicians between elections?

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Don't walk away from your vote Russell Brand

 ...Make politicians earn it.

“Disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent” that’s Russell Brand in his interview with Jeremy Paxman that went viral last week. He’s describing a population grappling with a global and national political structure that he describes as destroying the planet, creating massive economic disparity and ignoring the needs of the people.

We won’t argue with Russell Brand’s diagnosis. We agree that “genuine changes and genuine alternatives” are needed.

But then we come to his call for a ballot boycott on the road to revolution, and that’s when we start feeling he’s doing more harm than good...Encouraging people not to vote sticks in our craw in the worst way.

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What makes a good democracy? A visit to the UK gets us thinking

In which we mull over how a Scottish project might translate to Canada

Recently, two of us found ourselves in the country that brought us First Past the Post (the UK for those that weren’t sure ;) and figured we should meet our counterparts who are working hard to replace that archaic voting system there.

In other words, we met with the lovely folks at the Electoral Reform Society. Our discussions covered political party culture, voter cynicism, youth engagement, whither the Upper House, campaign finance, spending scandals and of course, voting systems. 

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Mixed Member Proportional or Proportional-Preferential-Personalized?


Last Thursday night, Liberal MP Frank Valeriote hosted a discussion on voting reform in Guelph with MP Stéphane Dion, former leader of the Liberal Party, and Professor Brian Tanguay, of Laurier University.  While all participants agreed about the benefits of proportional representation (PR), there is still considerable debate as to which specific voting system Canada should adopt.

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