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What do you want to see?

Proportional Commons & Elected Senate
Proportional Commons & Appointed Senate
Constituency based Commons & Elected Senate
Constituency based Commons & Appointed Senate
Proportional Commons, Elected Senate & Elected Governor General
Constituency based Commons, Elected Senate, and Elected Governor General
Something Else
Proportional Commons & no Senate
Constituency based Commons & no Senate

Author Topic: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)  (Read 325141 times)

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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2004, 21:33:41 »
>ie: what do they [provincial governments] do that the Federal Government can't?)

Except for defending and securing the nation and promoting its interests abroad, everything - if efficiency is a consideration.  If we can spare no expense, then we are free to indulge in federally crafted one-size-fits-all solutions; no community need worry, for example, about deciding between whether to employ finite financial resources to build schools or roads.

But financial resources are finite, you say?  Well, then let's devolve the decision-making power down to the lowest level: province before nation, regional district before province, municipality or community before regional district, and family before community.  That way each group can decide at its respective level of responsibility how to meet its most pressing needs instead of its peers' most pressing needs.  If my community needs a walk-in family clinic rather than a MRI clinic, we aren't likely to be well-served if big government buys us a MRI clinic.

Everyone has problems they believe they could solve if only they had enough money and power.  Unfortunately the problems are different.  So, it is best to let people solve problems at the lowest possible levels.

The number of senators need not be identical for each province.  Unless the Senate has legislative power of its own, short terms should suffice for a role as a watchdog of legislation passed by Parliament.  Even with party cronyism, I would expect the Senate to have a more interesting and useful balance of ideological representation than Parliament.
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2004, 04:15:25 »
Yeesh, I sure opened a can of worms with this one.

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Other then to mitigate its effects. Therefore the proportional system (I not a great fan either) would counter the "first past the post. Your MP is accountable to you, the constituent. The Senate would be accountable to something else [province (?)]. The province would pick from the slate of candidates based on the portion of the vote, so an NDP   province couldn't select 10 NDPers unless they had 100% of the vote.

What would happen if I wanted to run for the Senate as an Independent because I felt the NDP was to socialistic, the Liberals had too much entrenched cronyism, and the Conservatives had too many regressive skeletons in the closet?   Should I be denied my chance to represent my province in the Senate because don't want to submit myself to party politics?

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Or you break the province into areas, broken how ever, as long as the # of Senators are even and don't go over 10 (or 12 or 15 whatever). Example, Manitoba   - 5 from Winnipeg, 5 from the rest of MB, Ontario - 5 for Southern On, and 5 from Northern On.

That might be necessary.   Take BC for example.   How is a senator supposed to express regional interests as defined by someone living in downtown Vancouver (multiculturalism, environmental issues) as opposed to regional issues as defined by someone in a small Northern forestry town (International trade, health of the forestry industry).   Although I would argue that this may fall upon the Member of Parliament in the House to deal with, we probably wouldn't go wrong by giving "areas of responsibility" for Senators elected from a province.

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You have a strong dislike for provincial governments (my guess an extra layer) but they are necessary in a country our size, because we are regional by nature. A solution that works in the Maritimes, won't necessarily work on the Paraires.

As for doing away with provincial governments, the main line of my reasoning is that I think they are no different then the Federal government in the sense that they are macro-political identities.   My MLA, in far away Victoria, does about as good of a job as my MP, far away in Ottawa.   The fact that I need a representative to manage my political matters at two distinct levels is redundant.   I would prefer to see Canada built upon a dual system, a macro-political level where representatives work as part of the greater whole for national issues, and a micro-political level where citizens take a more direct role in determining local politics.

I'm looking at provincial roles, and I just don't see how giving them to a provincial government, with its own codes and laws, makes things more efficient or democratic.   For example:

Health Care:   Government management of Health Care has proved to be a farce, no matter what large bureaucracy manages it.   If health care was given to the local level to manage (starting with the individual citizen managing his own universal health care dollars with a Medical Service Account system), solutions could be tailored to meet local health care needs, rather than some large government bureaucracy deciding what is best.

Highways and Motor Vehicles:   Do the laws of physics change from province to province, requiring different laws and driving standards, as well as different requirements for road maintenance?

Education:   As with Health Care, does giving the responsibility to one big bureaucracy or another really affect the quality of education that a young Canadian can receive?   Do the provinces hold a monopoly on the truth that the Federal government could never exercise?   Let's face it, we need to increase the level of education for all Canadians.   All my provincially specialized education really taught me is that the Royal Engineers and Judge Begbie hung a few Natives in the mid 1800's and that White people suck for coming to Canada and oppressing the Metis pursuit for freedom....

Other trivial things: I find it absurd that an 18 year old Canadian soldier can drink in his mess in Alberta, but if is on exercise in BC, he is considered a minor.   Is important for the Province of Quebec that they avoid a "one-size-fits-all" Legal Age and go with 18, despite what the people of Ontario have across the river?   This is just an example of the many little silly discrepancies that divide the nation and exacerbate provincial differences, rather then promoting the notion of a Canadian standard.

I recognize that many of these functions may be to placate Quebec Nationalists and the like.   I would argue that the job of the Government is to ensure that we have efficient and good government, not to placate separatists and other sorts of regional chauvinism's.

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Seriously though, the provincial governments are there to prevent people in one region from being screwed over because a federal government is more interested in the other side of the country (note that unfortunately this does nothing to prevent people from being screwed over in general). Feelings of alienation (e.g. Quebec and western provinces) would go through the roof if there was only a federal level.

You don't think people feel screwed by the federal government for overrepresenting certain regions right now under the current system?   We suffer from a antiquated federal system that does no effort in attempting to alleviate regional tensions and provincial governments that are too busy trying to fight for their piece of the pie to really offer any solution.   When is the last time you ever heard of Provincial and Federal governments working together?

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Except for defending and securing the nation and promoting its interests abroad, everything - if efficiency is a consideration.   If we can spare no expense, then we are free to indulge in federally crafted one-size-fits-all solutions; no community need worry, for example, about deciding between whether to employ finite financial resources to build schools or roads.

I would argue that "one-size-fits-all" solutions are the only results of federally directed programs.   Perhaps we may need to tweek things to ensure that they run well, but I think the principle can work.   Take policing for example.   Rather then have a hodge-podge of different provincial and municipal police forces, with varying levels of capabilities and resources, why don't we better organize the RCMP to operate with the regional or municipal governments (which seems to be a big complaint these days), ensuring that local needs are just as prominant as national directives.

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But financial resources are finite, you say?   Well, then let's devolve the decision-making power down to the lowest level: province before nation, regional district before province, municipality or community before regional district, and family before community.   That way each group can decide at its respective level of responsibility how to meet its most pressing needs instead of its peers' most pressing needs.   If my community needs a walk-in family clinic rather than a MRI clinic, we aren't likely to be well-served if big government buys us a MRI clinic.

I totally agree.   Let the micro-political level handle the requisite issues, sending large scale stuff up to the macro level.   Why have two jurisdictions to fight over who gets what part of the macro-political pie, only increasing the level of duplication and redundancy?

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Everyone has problems they believe they could solve if only they had enough money and power.   Unfortunately the problems are different.   So, it is best to let people solve problems at the lowest possible levels.

My bottom line is that provincial governments are no better then the Federal governments at delivering services.   Either one just gobbles up public funds in the massive bureaucracies they span.   I'd rather have 1 massive bureaucracy in Canada then the current 11.   If effective regional representation could be found in the federal government (a Triple E Senate seems to be one method of moving towards this goal) I just don't see how keeping a provincial government with a hundred or so politicians and a couple tens of thousand additional bureaucrats would be necessary.

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The number of senators need not be identical for each province.   Unless the Senate has legislative power of its own, short terms should suffice for a role as a watchdog of legislation passed by Parliament.   Even with party cronyism, I would expect the Senate to have a more interesting and useful balance of ideological representation than Parliament.

Back to the topic of senators, I would demand that each province be given an equal number of Senate seats.   If we don't, we are in danger of lapsing the Upper House back towards a representative of population-based constituencies (ie: like the House of Commons), rather then a representative of regional issues.   Sadly this is how it is today; how can a province such as Nova Scotia or British Columbia expect any effective regional representation when Ontario and Quebec possess over 50% of the Commons seats and a little under 50% of the Senate seats?


----


Well, anyways, it's getting late and I'm starting to ramble on.
Hopefully some of this will get filtered out into a more coherent set of ideas in the ensuing scrum.

Cheers,
Infanteer
« Last Edit: August 04, 2004, 04:21:50 by Infanteer »
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2004, 13:19:54 »
You are not missing the boat on anything Hoser.

The G-G has real powers.  The only thing constraining the G-G is that in a P*ssing contest with the PM she would lose because he can always say "I have the support of my cabinet and/or my caucus and/or my party and/or the House of Commons and/or my constituents".  The one thing he can never actually claim is the support of the people of Canada because they never vote for him/her directly.  The G-G has no such backing.  If she were elected (by anybody - general vote, provincial legislatures, premiers, the Privy Council) then she could challenge the PM on decisions.

Welcome to the US.

Personally I like the notion of a one-term G-G (about 7 years) so that they are not tempted to run for re-election.  Also I like the notion of the G-G essentially being an arbiter deciding if the government should fall or if the opposition should be given a chance to govern.  She shouldn't be involved in executive decisions, I like the PM for that job.

However, the G-G as figurehead for the country, the Commander in Chief, head of the Civil Service and the Privy Council, I like that notion.  Something that attempts to set those agencies outside of Party Politics.

I also like the notion of a Provincial/Regional Senate for I believe, like many on this board apparently, and like Tip O'Neill that "All politics are local".   Or put another way my loyalties run outward, from my family, through my friends and communities to the world at large.  The farther you get away from me and mine the less claim you have to my charity.

As to representation in the Senate, I think that equal weighting for the provinces and territories is possible.  The Council of the Provinces? set up by the premiers gives one premier one vote.  All provinces and territories equal. The have thus already recognized the inherent equality of province. The council is effective - the premiers have powers - and the council is elected - all the premiers are elected.
 
A triple E council.   A model for the senate.

Keep the commons the way it is, although single vote transferrable might be better than first past the post.  You are still electing an individual to represent you and your rights, not a party.

Cheers.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #28 on: August 04, 2004, 15:35:17 »
>How is a senator supposed to express regional interests

The question is: whose interests should the senators serve and represent?  If elected by the people at large, they are simply another form of parliament with a slightly different balance of power (in my view only marginally useful).  If appointed by the PM or Parliament, they evolve to serve Parliament (an unnecessary function).  If appointed or elected by provincial legislatures, they serve provincial governments.

Having the senators serve the provincial governments as a check above Parliament suits my view.

The idea that all-powerful federal government should exist to set equal standards everywhere is seductive to people who believe their ideas are sensible and would, or should, be embraced by everyone else.  That is quite a conceit, isn't it?  I certainly do not believe that what I would like is what everyone else would like, or should have imposed upon them.  That is why I prefer a system under which people can - if they wish - agree collectively on different standards in different parts of the country, different communities, etc.  Rather than worry about what a majority might impose on a minority, I would severely restrict the power of the majority to impose in the first place.  That eastern Canadians can impose their social views on western Canadians, or that urban Canadians can impose their social views on rural Canadians merely contributes to alienation and frustration.  It is possible, and I think for the long-term political and social stability of a country necessary, to elect governments democratically while restricting the scope of power of governments.
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2004, 17:11:11 »
I'd be agreeing with you Brad.  I like the idea of Senators as creatures of the provinces and in particular the legislatures.  Having terms that outlast the legislatures would, I think, tend to mellow out some of the more partisan aspects.
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #30 on: August 04, 2004, 19:40:32 »
Quote
The question is: whose interests should the senators serve and represent?   If elected by the people at large, they are simply another form of parliament with a slightly different balance of power (in my view only marginally useful).   If appointed by the PM or Parliament, they evolve to serve Parliament (an unnecessary function).   If appointed or elected by provincial legislatures, they serve provincial governments.

This is an issue that we can see-saw over.   I just happen to feel that the provincial governments don't properly represent the issues of their provincial constituants enough; they are at too large of a level to be effective.   Can you say that you've been pleased with the performance of your government living in BC in the last 12 or so years?   I'd prefer to be able to have a direct say in who I send to a Senate seat, rather then letting a politician perform another duty for me.

Yes, an elected senate is simply another "form of Parliament" in that it is representatives elected by constituents.   However, I think the fundamental issue is that a properly balanced Senate serves as a check-and-balance to the population based Commons.   If structured properly, it shouldn't allow politicians on the 401   beltway to gang up and dictate terms to the other provinces.

Hmm...I'm going back to the Federalist Papers....

(As an aside, Brad; would you happen to know why the US abandoned the state appointment of Senators?   Perhaps that event can inject a new viewpoint into the discussion; I'll look it up.)

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The idea that all-powerful federal government should exist to set equal standards everywhere is seductive to people who believe their ideas are sensible and would, or should, be embraced by everyone else.   That is quite a conceit, isn't it?

I think the idea is just as good as one of a split in powers between an all powerful federal government and all powerful provincial governments should exist to bicker over the resources of the state.   As I stated before, the existence of only two levels of government does not automatically require that all government policies be "cookie-cutter" in nature (ie; regional bureaucracies should be given the ability to modify policies within the government mandated parameters).

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Rather than worry about what a majority might impose on a minority, I would severely restrict the power of the majority to impose in the first place.   That eastern Canadians can impose their social views on western Canadians, or that urban Canadians can impose their social views on rural Canadians merely contributes to alienation and frustration.   It is possible, and I think for the long-term political and social stability of a country necessary, to elect governments democratically while restricting the scope of power of governments.

I refuse to cut Canada up into "Maritime Socialists" and "Toronto Urbanites", and "Western Farmers".   As I said earlier, I believe the province is still to large to present a significantly different level of government then the federal on in Ottawa.   A person in Thunder Bay probably has more in common with some from Brandon rather then someone in metro Toronto; even more extreme; some downtown Vancouverite probably has more in common with a fellow urbanizte in Seattle then with a logger in Northern BC or a fisherman in Newfoundland.

I refuse to cut Canada up into "Maritime Socialists" and "Toronto Urbanites", and "Western Farmers".  As I said earlier, I believe the province is still to large to present a significantly different level of government then the federal on in Ottawa.  A citizen in Thunder Bay probably has more in common with some from Brandon rather then someone in metro Toronto; even more extreme; some downtown Vancouverite probably has more in common with a fellow urbanite in Seattle then with a forestry worker in Northern BC or a fisherman in Newfoundland.

I'd rather not see Canada broken up into a patchwork of socio-political experiments; this is why I oppose the "third level" of Native self government as well, but that's another issue.  If I, as a Canadian, happen to lean to either socialist or free market tendencies, I shouldn't have to move to an area of Canada to fit with my ideology.  I'd prefer a more vigerous democracy that engages as many Canadians as possible, commited to compromise and determining the best solution for Canadian's as a whole.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2004, 19:49:19 by Infanteer »
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Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2004, 01:08:36 »
     I might say I am a little more inclined towards having a "US Style" system of civilian appointment followed by Parliamentary confirmation.   You could avoid conflict of interest issues in that a MP happens to be at both times a representative of his riding and of his Ministry.   If I am a citizen of riding X, I want my minister to focus on the local issues and dealing with pertinent legislation, not trying to manage the budget and deal with the nightmare bureaucracy that is the Department of National Defence.  
What about a system in which the executive was chiefly in the Senate?  People could elect an MP to represent their riding in the commons, while they could elect to Senate the people they want to see in the executive (and as the check/balance to the commons).  I think I would prefer the current location of the executive, but this is an alternative that keeps it with elected officials.

On the issue of provincially appointed senators, I agree with Infanteer.  A province with a majority government could see its legislature stack the Senate with members of the dominate party.  Better to let the people decide.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2004, 03:53:51 »
Quote
What about a system in which the executive was chiefly in the Senate?  People could elect an MP to represent their riding in the commons, while they could elect to Senate the people they want to see in the executive (and as the check/balance to the commons).  I think I would prefer the current location of the executive, but this is an alternative that keeps it with elected officials.

Interesting idea McG.  A Prime Minister is selected to lead the House of Commons while a Governor General is selected to lead the Senate.  Perhaps powers would be split between the two, with one acting as a check and balance to the other.  It would be a binary system; akin to the dual consulship of the Roman Republic.  Maybe it can be a senior/junior relationship; something akin to the relationship between a CO and his DCO or a Platoon Commander to his Warrant (ie: clear boundries of control and support).
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #33 on: August 05, 2004, 16:08:13 »
A search for information about the US 17th Amendment may find articles which discuss why US Senate elections changed to a popular vote.  Some of the pros and cons may not be as valid in the information age as they were when the amendment passed.

If a province is too large for disparate interests to be adequately represented by a provincial government, I fail to see how a federal government could do better and can not reasonably accept that it can even be "just as good as" provincial government.  All it means is the provincial governments should in turn devolve power to regional districts and municipalities.  To move power and authority to continually higher levels of government responsible for every-increasing masses of land and people is merely a recipe for inertia, waste, and dissatisfaction among those forced to "compromise" (ie. cede their rights to others).  People will naturally find their own cultural divisions regardless whether you care to partition and name them or not.  The issue is whether cultural differences should be respected.

On compromise and best solution as a whole: these are not the same.  Communism represents the gold standard of compromise, but I do not consider it the best solution for the structure of an economy.  To seek compromise may result in a total measure of achievement which is less than that obtained if people are freer to pursue different objectives in different regions.  The "best solution on the whole" may be to allow provinces and communities more freedom to chart their own courses.

If we don't conduct "socio-political experiments", or rather permit governments the freedom to pursue them, how can we learn what the best solutions are?  Publicly funded and delivered health care is endlessly advertised as the best solution for Canadians as a whole.  Is that true, or is it merely an article of ideological faith?  What information exists to prove conclusively that we could not have more access and greater quality under something less than complete public ownership?
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #34 on: August 05, 2004, 18:26:32 »
Quote
If a province is too large for disparate interests to be adequately represented by a provincial government, I fail to see how a federal government could do better and can not reasonably accept that it can even be "just as good as" provincial government.  All it means is the provincial governments should in turn devolve power to regional districts and municipalities.  To move power and authority to continually higher levels of government responsible for every-increasing masses of land and people is merely a recipe for inertia, waste, and dissatisfaction among those forced to "compromise" (ie. cede their rights to others).  People will naturally find their own cultural divisions regardless whether you care to partition and name them or not.  The issue is whether cultural differences should be respected.

I think we are both arguing for the same endstate (ie: devolution of power), we only disagree on the delivery (ie: should local authority flow from a strong national government or a strong provincial government).  We could probably exhaust ourselves running in circles with this issue.

Quote
On compromise and best solution as a whole: these are not the same.  Communism represents the gold standard of compromise, but I do not consider it the best solution for the structure of an economy.  To seek compromise may result in a total measure of achievement which is less than that obtained if people are freer to pursue different objectives in different regions.

Don't you think that some measure of compromise is required to sustain a viable democracy?  In Athens, where every citizen was a landowning male Athenian, the lack of diversity allowed for less divisiveness amongst the citizens (although a good portion of intrigue still existed)  Regardless of regional location, the diverse nature of the average Canadian's ethnic and socio-economic background is bound to lead to many opinions, requiring a level of compromise within the public sphere.

Quote
The "best solution on the whole" may be to allow provinces and communities more freedom to chart their own courses.

What is the point of having a federal government in Canada at all then?  If we are going to give most decision making capabilities to provincial governments, should we not just break things up into 13 independent states, leaving extra-provincial matters to ad-hoc arrangements between provinces as they see fit.

Quote
If we don't conduct "socio-political experiments", or rather permit governments the freedom to pursue them, how can we learn what the best solutions are?  Publicly funded and delivered health care is endlessly advertised as the best solution for Canadians as a whole.  Is that true, or is it merely an article of ideological faith?  What information exists to prove conclusively that we could not have more access and greater quality under something less than complete public ownership?

I would argue that this is a matter of raising the level of understanding and participation of the average Canadian citizen.  Anyone who's looked into the issue at all understands that the current system is fraught with problems.  Even the most ardent socialist cannot deny waiting lists and scarcity of medical resources and technology that is increasing in cost.  If more Canadians bothered to look at their health care system and understand how it works, I think you would see a greater debate in the public sphere.

My guess is the answer to the question lies in a stronger grounding in civics and responsibility rather then a matter of dealing with federal-provincial relations.  Time to send the kids to Mr Dubois' "Moral and Political Philosophy" class.... :)
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Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #35 on: August 05, 2004, 18:34:49 »
Quote
The "best solution on the whole" may be to allow provinces and communities more freedom to chart their own courses.

What is the point of having a federal government in Canada at all then?  If we are going to give most decision making capabilities to provincial governments, should we not just break things up into 13 independent states, leaving extra-provincial matters to ad-hoc arrangements between provinces as they see fit.
Because as a federation we have a stronger international voice.  As a federation we can afford the tiny military that we do have.  The country has a larger (& more open) economy than would exist if it were 10 smaller countries.

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #36 on: August 05, 2004, 18:56:28 »
>requiring a level of compromise within the public sphere.

Yes; the question is how large the sphere should be on any issue.

>What is the point of having a federal government in Canada at all then?

For some people (apparently not very many in Canada any more), the point is to defend the essential interests of the nation among other nations and guarantee the essential liberties of people ("negative" rights) so that they can pursue their own lives.   For other people, the point is to ensure all Canadians are the same and to arbitrarily pursue social outcomes ("positive" rights), which in turn necessitates erosion of essential liberties (aka "compromise").   The worship of sameness is not, contrary to recent portrayals, a Canadian value - it defies the whole spirit of "confederation", "two founding nations", etc.   Who is qualified to decide what is best for others?   Who has an inherent right to impose their view of what is best upon others?

A confederation of provinces (sound familiar?) with nearly all of the authority residing with the provinces would suit me fine. Why does federal government have to be big government, or bigger than provincial government?

Simply increasing Canadians' awareness of political process and specific policies will not yield best outcomes.   Different approaches to problems must be tried.   This is impossible unless the power to impose policy is removed from higher levels of government.
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #37 on: August 05, 2004, 19:07:30 »
>Because as a federation we have a stronger international voice.  As a federation we can afford the tiny military that we do have.  The country has a larger (& more open) economy than would exist if it were 10 smaller countries.

Then surely we would be better off joined to the United States.  We would share in the benefits of a more powerful shared military, a larger economy, and a stronger international voice.

If you have reasons to believe Canada should remain distinct, then you should be able to defend distinctiveness with those reasons; and if you do, you must either:

1) Accept that there is no reason that distinction should not be extended to interprovincial relations and provincial powers within a federated government of limited authority;

2) Demonstrate why that distinction should be reserved for the 49th Parallel; or

3) Admit that your line of reasoning is intellectually inconsistent.
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Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #38 on: August 05, 2004, 21:19:24 »
Then surely we would be better off joined to the United States.   We would share in the benefits of a more powerful shared military, a larger economy, and a stronger international voice.

If you have reasons to believe Canada should remain distinct, then you should be able to defend distinctiveness with those reasons;
I was not defending Canada being distinct.   I was arguing against dissolution (Infanteer asked why not rip the country appart, he did not ask why not merge with the US).  In that respect, my line of reasoning  is not intellectually inconsistent.  It just never attempted to address the issues you later raised.

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #39 on: August 06, 2004, 01:52:27 »
Seen.  I perceived your remark incorrectly.
That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

Omnia praesidia vestra capta sunt nobis.

"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

"Yet another in a long line of books about how libertarians are plotting to enslave you by devolving power to the individual and leaving you alone" - Warren Meyer, author of Coyote Blog

Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2004, 18:00:50 »
It seems that Ralph is ready to push ahead in Alberta and hold another Senator election.  While I think it is a waste of money doing this without an agreement between the provinces and federal government, maybe this will inspire our new PM to take a closer look at the issue.

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2004, 19:31:53 »
I could see this idea getting more steam under the minority government.  I think two parties, the Bloc and the Conservatives (which have over half the seats), would like to move towards an elected senate in order for their traditional regional support base to gain more say in a Parliament dominated by Ontario and could possibly pressure Martin into allowing this to move forward.
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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2004, 20:01:39 »
I could see this idea getting more steam under the minority government.  I think two parties, the Bloc and the Conservatives (which have over half the seats), would like to move towards an elected senate in order for their traditional regional support base to gain more say in a Parliament dominated by Ontario and could possibly pressure Martin into allowing this to move forward.

You've got that right.  If you look and CDN history, minority governments, while not lasting more than 2 years (on average) do seem to get more things done...  And in regards to the bloc & the conservatives, I was surprised that there hasn't been more collaboration between the two.  I know that there has been a shift in the Bloc to a more liberal-esque platform, but I believe you've got a point that if the conservatives & bloc align on these issues, they may force martin to actually do something about it.

McG - Alberta has done it before, and Mulroney appointed the elected Senator in 1990, but that was a political consideration in return for support with the Meech Lake Accords. Stan Waters was the senator, a one-time Reform party member, who (unfortunately) served for only a short time until his death in 1991.  Alberta still has two standing "elected" senators (Bert Brown & Ted Morton) for the seat vacancy from 1999 (which was filled as a patronage appointment by Cretién)  Given that we still have two senators-in-waiting (not sure how long they retain that particular title) I wonder if Paulie will do anything, except in the methods stated by Infanteer.

T

Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #43 on: October 11, 2004, 01:29:36 »
Well, the Conservative/Bloc Throne Speech amendments call for â Å“a citizens assembly to review electoral reform.â ?  I had hoped they might have put forward an amendment calling for the government to explore an elected Senate.  This would be consistent with the Conservative's western support base, and the Bloc must be cognizant of the fact that any move toward proportional representation would see their seats drop.  Even a more vague call for Senate reform would have fit with the NDP platform.

I think the way we elect our members of parliament works (no electoral reform needed), but it needs to be complimented with an elected Senate.

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #44 on: October 11, 2004, 03:32:44 »
Yep.  I don't think we need to invent any new mechanisms to strengthen democracy in this country; within the Offices of the GG and the Senate we have offices that can be retooled if necessary.  The key is to find a PM who has the cojones to loosen the iron grip of the PMO on policy making (and hence losing his own power) and put government function over personal ego.
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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #45 on: October 11, 2004, 17:14:36 »
I think the PM is going to get a lot of "encouragement" from the opposition to give up some powers.  And once powers have been lost the PMO will face an uphill battle to get them back.

On the other hand the struggle for power to control the agenda is neverending.

Cheers.

By the way, I am with those that think our instutions and their constitutional powers are largely in balance.  I wouldn't change the institutions.

I do think that a  combination of the Aussie Rules (single vote transferrable Commons and a split appointed/Proportional Rep Senate) combined with and elected GG would make for a nice balance.
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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #46 on: October 23, 2004, 21:46:21 »
My two cents:

#1 - House of Commons.  Elected based strictly on population, with no "grandfather" or "balancing" adjustments.  That means that the 7 million people in BC and Alberta get the same amount of seats as the 7 million in Quebec, unlike now, where Quebec has 75 and BC/Alberta have 64.  One vote must be equal in every part of the confederation.  I refuse to accept any system that values ones person's vote over another simply because of where they live.

If we use Quebec as a template number of 93,333 for each MP, then the seat distribution looks like this:

British Columbia - 43, up from 36
Alberta - 32 seats, up from 28
Saskatchewan - 11, down from 14
Manitoba - 12, down from 14
Ontario - 122, up from 106
Quebec - 75, unchanged.
New Brunswick - 8, down from 10
Nova Scotia - 10, down from 11
Newfoundland & Labrador - 6, down from 7
Yukon - 1, unchanged.
NWT - 1, unchanged.
Nunavut - 1, unchanged.
PEI - 0, down from 4(I'll get to this in a bit, but fear not, oh great potato farmers by the sea)
Total: 322, up from 308

The seat totals would be adjusted by the most recent census in every "zero" year.

#2 - Senate.  Equal, "selected" and effective.  Each province gets 5 senators and each territory gets 1 senator.  Instead of fighting over if they should be elected, appointed, chosen by lot or whatever, each province selects it's own method for how it comes up with the 5 people they send.  If Quebec and Ontario want appointed ones, they appoint. If BC and Alberta want elected, they elect.  Simple, no?

The Senate becomes the check on tyranny of the majority.

#3 - Governor General.  I mentioned this in another thread, but the GG position is disbanded and replaced in function by the provincial LG's.

#4 - Prince Edward Island.  In blunt terms, it's too small in geography and population to be a province.  It skews seat totals and representation, which leads to the current circumstances where a vote in PEI is worth three times as much as a vote in BC.  Either PEI ends up under or over represented as a result, most often over.

On the other hand, the idea of scrapping provinces due to inconvienience is not a practice that I'd support or want to create a history of doing.  The other nine provinces shouldn't be able to vote a tenth out of existence and I won't even dignify the idea of the confederal government being given such an authority(The provinces make up the confederation:  Without the confederation, the provinces are still there, but without the provinces, the confederation is nothing.).  The next Trudeau or Cretin would have the confederation reduced to Ontario, Quebec and "dem other places" in no time.

As a one off suggestion, I'd say move the confederal "seat of government" to PEI from Ottawa.  Just like the US and Australia, the "seat of government" would have no local representation beyond municipal government, instead relying on the obvious economicl benefits of having the confederal government located there.

It would neatly remove the problem of a small municipality sized province, but in such a fashion that would prevent future abuse by confederal or ganging up by the other provinces.

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #47 on: October 23, 2004, 22:49:17 »
My thanks to Boydfish for crunching the numbers, since it was one of the issues I wanted to address.

I feel for PEI, however ... it has a population roughly the size of Scarborough, Ontario ...
(i.e.sorry spudsters, but ... size does matter).

Also - I'm against the NDP brainfart idea of proportional representation in the House of Commons, simply because of the instability it has caused in other national governments (e.g. Italy - how many governments since 1945 ... ?)

Presently the Senate consists of patronage appointments, stacked by whichever party was in power ... pathetic, in other words.  Similarly, the ridings seem to be divided whenever it suits the governing party ... instead of an impartial, transparent system.

We do need a system of checks and balances - the unadulterated arrogance of "Papa Doc Crouton" must not be allowed to repeat itself (can you believe it?  He spent $15 million of our tax dollars on travel during his last two years in office ... plus the Challenger jets that were ram-rodded through at the end of the fiscal year ... plus the billion dollar boondoggle gun registry ... and our Navy STILL doesn't have replacements for the SeaThings ... simply because some snot-nosed Liberal party pollster fartcatcher who wears red suspenders to bed at night came up with the catchphrase "... Me, I drives a Chevrolet, nots a Cadillac ..." instead of admitting that the North Atlantic is just a teeny bit more dangerous than taking the taxpayers for a ride ...)
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Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #48 on: November 17, 2004, 21:07:54 »
More movement in the wrong direction:

Quote
Ottawa may open debate on electoral reforms
By BRIAN LAGHI
From Monday's Globe and Mail
15 Nov 04


A federal plan is being developed that could lead to the launch of a sweeping review of the electoral system by opening up a national debate on everything from the first-past-the-post system to voter malaise.

Sources have told The Globe and Mail that Liberal deputy House leader Mauril Belanger is preparing a blueprint that would provide the public with a forum where it could express its views about the system, including the first-past-the-post structure under which the House of Commons is elected. Crucial issues like declining voter participation, youth engagement, fixed-date elections and political finance reform would also be open to discussion.

The minister has yet, however, to have his idea approved by Prime Minister Paul Martin, who has not seen Mr. Belanger's proposal. Approving the plan is fraught with risks for Mr. Martin, because, once he starts the process he would be bound to seriously consider its recommendations, which may not play to the Liberals' political advantage.

If it goes ahead, Ottawa would be following in the footsteps of several Canadian provinces, which are deep into their own deliberations over how to change their systems.

Sources said one notion being considered by the minister is for a series of five or so regional town-hall meetings, where citizens, academics and other groups would be asked to provide their views and suggest changes.

"It's an idea to take the pulse of the nation," said a source, who asked not be identified.

"The curve has been set by the provinces. We're simply following it."

A citizens assembly in British Columbia, for example, has already suggested that the province's traditional voting structure, which sees members elected in riding-by-riding competitions, be replaced by the single transferable ballot, a system that allows for multiple members to be elected from much larger geographical constituencies.

Residents will vote on the idea in a provincial referendum next spring.

Sources said the deliberations could be fashioned along the lines of those featured during the recent commission on health care, led by former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow. Mr. Romanow held public meetings as well as a massive focus group exercise, which presented participants with specific choices on what they wanted to see in a reformed health system.

The results of the work would be simply presented as information to Mr. Martin, and could conceivably become part of the government's platform for the next election.

The NDP â ” which would be warm to the idea of a review â ” has been in the forefront of the discussion on electoral reform and supports introducing proportional representation to the system. PR, as it is known, is a system under which the number of seats a party wins is fixed by the percentage of popular vote it garners. In other words, a party receiving 15 per cent of the votes would receive 15 per cent of the seats to the House of Commons.

PR would help smaller parties like the NDP, while reducing the seats of parties like the Liberals. The government, for example, earned 45 per cent of the votes in Ontario in the previous election, and came away with 75 per cent of the seats.

Mr. Belanger was given his mandate to look into reform issues when appointed by Mr. Martin in the summer. Sources said the fact that the PM has kept up a running interest in the issue could make it difficult for him to reject some sort of a public process. Mr. Martin also could have done away with the portfolio in the summer cabinet shuffle.

The Prime Minister also gave democratic transformation a boost in the recent Throne Speech when he bound his government to examine "the need and options for reform of our democratic institutions, including electoral reform."

The House of Commons standing committee on procedure and house affairs has also been asked to develop a process to study the issue.

If Mr. Belanger gets the nod, he could kick off the process as early as January.

Later this week, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is expected to announce the formation of a citizens assembly to look into the issue. Other provinces dealing with the issue include New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #49 on: November 18, 2004, 19:45:09 »
Quote
PM vetoes Alberta's Senate proposal
By BRIAN LAGHI and KATHERINE HARDING
From Thursday's Globe and Mail (19 Noc 04)


Ottawa and Edmonton â ” Ralph Klein's hopes to have elected senators from Alberta sit in the Red Chamber were dashed by Paul Martin yesterday, despite what the Premier took to be a pledge from the Prime Minister to act on the issue.

Mr. Martin, who is charged with appointing senators, told the House of Commons yesterday that Senate reform cannot be done on a one-off basis. Three of Alberta's six seats in the 105-member Senate are vacant.

â Å“I have long been an advocate of Senate reform. However, I do not believe that doing Senate reform piecemeal would really bring us the desired result,â ? the Prime Minister said in Question Period.

â Å“What it could quite well do is simply exacerbate a number of the problems. What I think we should do is look at Senate reform but look at it in its entirety.â ?

His comments came as a surprise to Mr. Klein, who said this week that the Prime Minister had told him privately a year ago that he would look favourably on making such appointments.

â Å“He's very disappointed. . . . This is unexpected,â ? said Marisa Etmanski, Mr. Klein's spokeswoman.

â Å“[Mr. Martin] is also not giving us a good reason.â ?

She said Mr. Klein viewed the idea of an elected Senate as an â Å“opportunity for the Prime Minister to prove he's serious about listening to Western Canada issues.â ?

The Prime Minister was answering criticisms yesterday from Opposition Leader Stephen Harper, who asked Mr. Martin to drop his long-standing opposition to naming elected senators.

Mr. Harper has said that, if elected, he would appoint elected senators.

Conservative MP Dave Chatters added his voice to those calling for the appointments, telling Mr. Martin that it would be a good way to address western anger.

â Å“The time has come for this Prime Minister to listen to Albertans,â ? said Mr. Chatters.

â Å“If he really wants to address western alienation, the time is now.â ?

The party's critic for intergovernmental affairs, Rona Ambrose, also noted that appointing a member to the Senate does not require a constitutional amendment.

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney appointed the late Stan Waters in the early 1990s after a similar Alberta vote.

However, other nominees have not been, while the Liberal government refuses to reopen the debate.

Next Monday, Albertans will go to the polls in a special Senate election taking place alongside the provincial vote.

Ten people, including Link Byfield, the former publisher of the defunct Alberta Report magazine, are candidates in the contest, which will cost the province $3-million to run.