Wednesday, February 15, 2017

So this was a *free vote* then, was it?

From the Liberal Party Platform:

For members of the Liberal Caucus, all votes will be free votes with the exception of:
• those that implement the Liberal electoral platform;
• traditional confidence matters, like the budget; and 
• those that address our shared values and the protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Unless you'd like to argue that *not* implementing anything *is* the Liberal electoral platform.

So which argument from Trudeau was so compelling that all 173 Liberal members in the HoC voted No
The first one where we could not have electoral reform because there was no consensus among Canadians? 
Or the second one where we could not have electoral reform because there was too much consensus for an electoral reform you didn't like because a party like the one which just held power for the last 10 years might win a couple of seats?
Which argument really sold all 173 of you to vote NO and then send out letters explaining how really really disappointed you all were with the way things turned out?

Monday, February 13, 2017

See, first-past-the-post is working again now

In June 2015 the Liberal Party released a position paper :
“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.”
and Justin Trudeau took that campaign promise on the road.

At the time the Liberals were 3rd in the polls :
NDP - 32.6%    CPC - 28.6%   LPC - 26.3%
The Liberal majority now rests on 43 MPs whose margin of victory is less than 5%.

Before the election Fair Vote Canada asked all MPs to pledge that campaign promise. NDP did because it is part of party policy; CPC did not because it is not.
The following list of Liberal MPs, some of whom campaigned aggressively on that issue, answered ‘Yes’ when asked before the election if they feel :
"the number of MPs elected to Parliament from each party should be roughly proportional to the number of votes cast for that party’s candidates.":
Cabinet ministers in bold: 

Candidate                            Riding                                         % Margin of victory 
John Aldag                        Cloverdale-Langley City, B.C.          10.7
Terry Beech                       Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C.          6.5
Ken Hardie                         Fleetwood-Port Kells, B.C.              17.6
Joyce Murray                     Vancouver-Quadra, B.C.                  32.9
Carla Qualtrough              Delta, B.C.                                       16.3
Harjit Sajjan                      Vancouver-South, B.C.                    14.9
Jonathan Wilkinson            North Vancouver, B.C.                     29.8 
Jody Wilson-Raybould     Vancouver-Granville, B.C.               17.0

Omar Alghabra                    Mississauga, Ont.                           21.1
Leon Alleslev                       Aurora-Richmond Hill, Ont.              2.1
Shaun Chen                         Scarborough North, Ont.                20.8
Neil Ellis                               Bay of Quinte, Ont.                         16.4
Nathaniel Erskine Smith      Beaches-East York, Ont.                 18.6
Karina Gould                      Burlington, Ont.                                3.5
Patty Hajdu                         Thunder Bay-Sup North, Ont.         21.8
Andrew Leslie                      Orléans, Ont.                                   28.8
Lloyd Longfield                    Guelph, Ont.                                    22.8
Karen McCrimmon              Kanata-Carleton, Ont.                     12.1
David McGuinty                   Ottawa South, Ont.                         48.5
John McKay                         Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.       33.5
Catherine McKenna           Ottawa-Centre, Ont.                         4.2
Maryam Monsef                 Peterborough-Kawartha, Ont.          8.7
Jennifer O’Connell               Pickering-Uxbridge, Ont.                12.1
Rob Oliphant                        Don Valley West, Ont.                     16.2
John Oliver                           Oakville, Ont.                                    6.9
Anthony Rota                       Nippissing-Timiskaming, Ont.         22.6
Kim Rudd                             Peterborough South, Ont.                 2.9
Raj Saini                               Kitchener Centre, Ont.                    18.4
Sonia Sidhu                         Brampton South, Ont.                     17.1
Marwan Tabbara                  Kitchener South-Hespeler, Ont.        5.6
Anita Vandenbeld                Ottawa West-Nepean, Ont.             25.9
Arif Virani                             Parkdale-High Park, Ont.                  1.8

David Lametti                      LaSalle-Émard-Verdun, Que.          14.9
Alexandra Mendès              Brossard-Saint-Lambert, Que.        25.7
Greg Fergus                        Hull-Aylmer, Que.                            19.9

Wayne Easter                      Malpeque, P.E.I.                               44.5
Lawrence MacAulay          Cardigan, P.E.I.                                48.8
Bobby Morrissey                 Egmont, P.E.I.                                  20.3

Amarjeet Sohi                     Edmonton Mill Woods, Alta.             0.1
Robert-Falcon Ouellette      Winnipeg Centre, Man.                    26.5
Jim Carr                              Winnipeg South Centre, Man.         31.5
Matt DeCourcey                  Fredericton, N.B.                              20.9
Darrell Samson                    Sackville-Chezzetcook, N.S.           13.6

Ironically, it is first-past-the-post that allows these MPs to now ignore that campaign promise.
h/t Anita Nickerson and Kelly Carmichael at FairVote for poster and stats respectively.
Hill Times : Liberal MPs concerned about PMO’s handling of electoral reform and cash-for-access issues, say Grit sources

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Emperor has no shirt

Today, after sending out his new rookie Minister of Democratic Institutions to deliver the news his electoral reform promise was officially dead , Justin Trudeau stood in the HoC and said
 "As people in this House know, I have long preferred preferential ballot..."
Yes. Here he is in 2014 explaining that preference at length. Jump to the 24:09 mark.

Excerpted : 
"First of all on first-past-the-post, you’re absolutely right that it doesn’t matter if someone gets 31 percent of the vote, and the other parties only get you know 26 and 20 percent, and it’s all divided up, then they get to represent one 100 percent of the community, and that’s why I entirely agree that it has to move beyond first past the post.

“But how we do that is very important. I personally and the Liberal Party has adopted a format of a preferential ballot, where the person who would be elected gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the community, so they represent the majority of the community.

I think that a ranked ballot, a preferential ballot, is a strong way of changing our electoral system that I’ve been pushing and I’ve committed to look at once we form government.”
The problem with preferential or ranked ballot, also known as Alternative Vote, is that it's the only electoral system worse for voters than what we have now. As the second party of choice for supporters of the Cons, NDP, and Greens, the Liberal Party would be the obvious benefactor of a ranked ballot in a single member riding and would likely form the government in perpetuity. This point was driven home by expert after expert to the ERRE committee, some 88% of them, despite hopeful entreaties by the Liberal MPs to the 4% of experts they could cobble together in support of it.

We had some earlier inkling the choice would be between preferential ballot or nothing.

On December 1 2016 after Monsef's math meltdown, the four Liberal MPs on the ERRE committee announced at their presser that they believed any change to our electoral system would be too "radical". Liberal Chair Francis Scarpaleggia explained :
"Perhaps if we chose preferential ranked ballot we could do that tomorrow. 
Yes, the PM made that commitment but a lot of people thought he was talking about a ranked ballot. You could do a ranked ballot like that. [Snaps fingers] Nobody wants ranked ballot, so what does that leave us?" 
Apparently nothing.

Two weeks later on December 13 2016, an ERRE motion was up for a vote in the House. Approved by Scarpaleggia, it proposed to add the committee's own previous electoral reform e-consultation, which included specific questions on voting systems preferences including proportional representation, on to the Liberals absurdly vague and misdirecting MyDemocracy VoxPops quiz : 
That, in relation to the questions on democratic values that the Minister of Democratic Institution intends to make available for Canadians' response on the, the Committee encourages the Minister to reproduce and include in its entirety the questions within this Committee's e-consultation survey, either as a replacement for the other planned questions, or in addition to any other questions that the Minister wishes to include; 
Five minutes later, all 173 Liberal MPs in the House had unanimously voted it down, including the four Liberals on the ERRE committee - Ruby Sahota, John Aldag, Matt DeCourcey, and Sherry Romanado, plus the Liberal Chair Francis Scarpaleggia - while the Cons, NDP, Bloc, and Green all voted in favour.
Final vote : 173 No to 131 Yea.    Justin Trudeau was not present.

Yet out on the hustings the past few weeks, he continued to reassure us that he had stated in 2015 that "our electoral system is broken", alongside a promise to make that election the last one under First Past the Post, and he was fully committed to keeping that promise.

So it looks like this was just a vote-grabbing campaign promise borrowed from the NDP and Green platforms to outflank them when the Libs were the third party in the House. 

Vote strategically for us this one last time, they said, and we'll make sure you never have to vote strategically again. Desperate to ditch Harper and excited at the prospect of an end to cynical party politics, Canadians did.
When the Liberals got a majority in 2015, it looked like they could both keep that promise and control of parliament as long as electoral reform was restricted to their preferred preferential or ranked ballot option, but when that was no longer a credible choice, they scuttled the whole thing.

I wonder if they'll promise it all over again in 2019. This page below is still up on the Liberal Party website.

Excellent satire piece from Andrew Coyne: It’s not the Liberals’ fault for lying about electoral reform, it’s yours for believing them.

Liberal’s abandoned electoral reform

And congrats to Liberal ERRE committee obstructionists Matt DeCourcey and Sherry Romanado on your recent appointments as parliamentary secretaries at an additional $16,800 a year.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Kellie Leitch and friends, unplugged, on the Quebec Mosque Shooting

Ms Leitch on Facebook, 10 hours ago : 

"Last night people in Quebec City were murdered as they prayed. This outrageous act of violence is an attack not just on those gathered in a house of worship but on the very fabric of Canadian society, on the values of freedom and tolerance. There is no excuse and no justification for this terrorist attack. I condemn the act, the people who carried it out, and any who might try to justify, rationalize, or support it unreservedly and in the harshest possible terms."

And the responses to that post from her Friends : 

Shane St-Croix Justin Trudeau is responsible for this attack as Canadians are starting to reap the fruit of his determination to turn Canada into an Islamic state. The chickens of 'un-vetted' Canadian diversity have come home to roost. There is blood on the hands of everyone that voted for Trudeau.

Dan Bjorklund It was those peaceful motherfuckers that turdeau and the rest of you idiots want to bring wasnt some local white guys.

Trevor Sydorenko Considering they have 2 people in custody.. and they arent releasing names.. im going to go with "Coulters Law" on this one.

Kevin Hackett This was likely an 'inside job' to inflame the anti Muslim narrative being forced upon us by Trudeau & State media CBC. Sadly, we will likely never know the truth due to the hyper Political Correctness environment we're surrounded by ! Do not allow them to soften your Principled positions Kellie Leitch !

Lyn Wood Trudeau is relocating the Muslim wars here. Why do we need to be tolerant of that? Our politicians are making our Canada dangerous with their 'tolerance'. Close our borders. Bring in Christians. What is wrong with Christians from Iceland, Poland, Australia......? No common sense left anywhere.

Tim Johnson I wonder how trudeau is gonna spin this if these attackers were muslims themselves ?

Duane Mousseau Some are assuming that this was committed by Christians. Strange how when other acts of terror took place we had to wait and see and were very careful not to imply that it was done by Muslims. Even after the officials were tootsie footing around actually saying it was an act of terror. I believe there is some evidence here that the perpetrators were Muslims and they recently immigrated here from Morocco. Muslims kill Muslims and would love to leave evidence that a Christian did it of course.

Thomas Clayton Maybe they were Jews who converted to Islam and then back again & therefore they were all supposed to be killed as per the 84th Hadith - dealing with Apostates. Sure hope Justin Trudeau never converts back to Catholicism because his punishment would be death.

Cecil Crocker And it is going to get worst if Trudeau don't stop this bringing is Muslim ...he is doing this for to get more votes ..Trudeau don't care about Canadians ....We are not allow to say our Lord Paryer in school .PUT THE MUSLIM GOT THERE OWN ROOM FOR PRAYERS ...SO HOW COME WE CAN'T SAY OUR LORD PEYERS IN SCHOOL ....TRUDEAU HAVE TO GO ...CANADA IS GONE SO HE HAVE TO GO .

John Wood Muslims killing Muslims then others, we must elect Leitch for conservative party leader and prime minister to stop these horrendous Muslim nonsense actions.

Tyler Dockendorff Why don't you acknowledge that they were muslim? Suspicious.

Marty Smith Why aren't they releasing names. I will bet there not Tim Smith, Jacques lacriox.

Penny Labrecque One of the shooters is apparently named mahammed Khadir???

David Pacho Just send them all back where they came from, funny how all problems start when these animals are involved.

Kym Mychelle KellieLeitch this is a false flag and thank "GOD" we still have common sense to know what truth is

William Wolfgang-Steven Litz It was Muslim refugees that killed these people.
CBC is blaming trump and white racism...don't believe the fake news.

LaPresse : Published January 30, 2017 at 15:52    Auto-translate

Mohamed Belkhadir, the engineering student arrested by mistake in the wake of the terrorist attack at the mosque in Sainte-Foy, was helping the victims when he was wrongly mistaken for a suspect.
Freshly returned home, the young man of 29 years was interviewed in La Presse to indicate it does not want all the police of Quebec, who was "very nice" with him.
"I went in to try to give first aid to my friend on the ground, and I saw someone with a weapon. I did not know that he was a policeman, I thought he was coming back to shoot. So I fled outside, on the parking side, "he said.
"I understand, I respect that they caught me. They saw me flee, they thought I was suspicious, that's normal. For them, someone who flees is a suspect, "he insists.
The student of Moroccan origin had attended the prayer on Sunday evening, then went out to clear the stairs of the mosque.Soon after, he heard several shots, for 15 to 20 seconds, he said.
He entered, called 9-1-1, gave the address to the emergency services, and then used his coat to warm a wounded man on the ground. It was then that he panicked when a policeman came in

Friday, December 16, 2016

JT's "fun little questionnaire"

VoxPopLabs, the same folks who brought you Vote Compass, has taken something of a beating in public opinion for their electoral reform quiz

Originally introduced by Justin Trudeau as "a fun little questionnaire that gets into values rather than models", Andrew Coyne referred to it as "a dippy pop quiz or botched push-poll", soundly mocked for the obvious slant of the questions with "two thirds of the “values” questions and over half of those probing respondents’ “preferences” having nothing to do with electoral reform". 

Or as I like to call it, a 'what kind of animal are you?' quiz.

Asked about this on CBC, Mark Holland was at pains to point out that the government didn't pick the questions. 
No, but you did choose the parameter of the questions; VoxPops merely did the job you asked them to do.

From the government tender awarding the contract to VoxPopLabs in September :
"The key tasks include:
Provide a draft of questions for review by the Project Authority;"
The Project Authority here is presumably the Privy Council Office, described in the bid as the "End user entity".
"Conduct a robust scientific survey in advance of the launch of the interactive online application in order to identify key themes and develop classifications based on responses;
.... determine segments and develop narratives for each cluster based on the profiles that emerge from the survey; 
VoxPopLabs says they developed a large survey, field-tested it, and then asked a panel of 3,000 Canadians "the remaining questions and used their responses to generate a cluster analysis".
This is where those five much-mocked archetype categories come from.
Develop a robust model ...  to instantaneously classify participants to the interactive online digital consultation platform into segments uncovered in the survey
Ok, so your answers slot you into one of the five predetermined archetype categories.

My complaint with the above approach is that the archetypes were built on different questions asked than those asked in the final survey, and that of the five, there is no category for people who are both in favour of some version of proportional representation but against online voting. And did we really need five direct questions about online voting and mandatory voting but none on proportional representation?

So what will the Project Authority learn from all this?
Provide categories of customized user feedback and data visualization for review by the Project Authority;
This is, I grant you, more scientific than the five categories of Heathers and Zoes and Dougies and Steves and Eunices that conservative strategist Patrick Muttart categorized Canadians into for Stephen Harper back in 2005, but I don't see it getting us any closer to electoral reform. 

Not completing the survey will result in a repeat of the ERRE Liberal MPs' contention that no one is interested. However if you do the survey, game the questions by figuring out which ones give a glimmer of support to the idea of proportional representation and mark them "strongly agree", you possibly run the risk of being disqualified because, as the ERRE Liberals also complained, everyone who showed up to townhalls or answered the much superior ERRE survey was self-selective and already had an opinion.

Filling in this survey is quite a bit like strategic voting, a reason many of us want rid of FPtP in the first place. FairVote has provided a guide to answering it.

Fun fact : VoxPopLabs mydemocracy survey cost $326K. 
The entire budget for the now disbanded ERRE committee, their five months of witness testimony, their travels across Canada, and their online survey on electoral reform systems, was $300K.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

BC gov letter on Site C

Back in August, BC Hydro applied for a "Licence of Occupation" to log crown land above the Site C dam - land that had been previously slated for provincial park status.

The only public notice I could find about it was in the Alaska Highway News - and in, which noted that the government ad in the back of Alaska Highway News did not even mention Site C.

I ran into the deadline for public input quite by accident in September three days before it was closing. I contacted all the news media, environmental watchdogs, Site C opponents, and MPs I could think of - to no avail, despite considerable signal boost from facebookies and the twitterati.

The previous Tuesday, having recently issued permits via Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans to allow the Site C dam to proceed even as the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nation were challenging the previous government's approval of it in the courts, the Trudeau government told the House of Commons "it is now up to B.C. Hydro to conduct any further public consultations"

So I wrote to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, to whom BC Hydro had made the logging application, and asked how an ad in the back of Alaska Highway News that didn't even mention Site C qualified as public consultation. 
Today, 80 days later, I received their reply.

Dear Alison Creekside

Thank you for your comments and concerns regarding the application for crown land use, file number 8015830 (BC Hydro). Your comments and concerns have been used in the decision making process for this application. In direct response to your specific correspondence regarding the above file, please be aware of the following information.

The decision made by government to move forward with the Site “C” Project was made December 16, 2014. Public and other stakeholder input was gathered for the period of the Environmental Assessment Process conducted by the Environmental Assessment Office beginning in January 2012. The applicant was granted an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC#14-02) on October 14, 2014. The Environmental Assessment was given consideration to the project level decision on December 16, 2014. The project level decision was based on many factors, including but not limited to, the public and stakeholder input, the Environmental Assessment process and all the associated studies and conditions recommended, current land status and future land status (i.e. Agriculture Land Reserve, potential parks areas and Old Growth Areas), project level management plans, environmental plans, other risk mitigation plans, geotechnical studies for slope stability and viability, and archaeological studies.

All applications for crown land use at the Licence/Permit level must be consistent with the construction schedule of the approved project level decision. All applications packages for specific area Licence/Permit for consideration by the decision maker, must contain area specific detailed management plans, area specific detailed risk avoidance and mitigation strategies for values at risk, and any other information the decision maker requests to aid in the decision making process.

At this time, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations is considering public and other stakeholder comments and concerns at the Licence/Permit specific area level. The processes used to make decisions at the Licence/Permit level are transparent and implemented using practices found in policy and law (for example, the minimum time an application must be advertised in the newspaper is legislated). In the case of this application, the advertisement period was for 14 days in the local newspaper the Alaska Highway News. Even though the time period for receiving public and stakeholder input had passed, comments and concerns continued to be received up to the date of decision for this application.

Appeals through the judicial system on the Project Decision do not interrupt the adjudication of applications for the area specific Licence/Permit. No injunctions to halt the project or the associated Licences/Permits due to recent appeals have been granted by the courts to date.


Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
#100, 10003-110th Avenue
Fort St John, BC   V1J 6M7

Today agrologist and journalist Wendy Holm reported the BC NDP sent out a pre-election survey to supporters and members of the public "to help guide the strategies of the NDP".
It did not mention Site C.

The BC NDP survey : 15 questions, one of them a multiple choice of 17 issues to prioritize.

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