Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thoughts about the Canadian Election


My former college roommate, Marius Marsh, wrote the following editorial, which I include without alteration.  At the end, though, I added an interesting assessment of the fairness of Canadian democracy, which I just stumbled across, called:  "On the quality of Canada's electoral system."




Dear Friends


    I am urging you to consider an extremely serious issue regarding the upcoming election that is being almost completely missed in the election coverage.  This issue is described in the following piece.  I ask that you read the following with an unbiased eye and that, in the spirit of open democratic discussion disseminate the material as widely as possible.  I ask that you keep the piece in its entirety wherever possible to maintain its coherence.

The piece is included below in the body of this email, but is also attached as a text file.




To the People of Canada


    We, the voters of Canada, have been called to exercise our democratic right to vote due to a unique event in the 140 plus year history of our British parliamentary system. How we choose to vote is likely to have consequences that will continue to reverberate through the democratic history of Canada and the 54 countries of the British Commonwealth for decades, if not centuries to come. This unique and crucial event is becoming lost in the clouds of rhetoric and campaigning that surround this election. There is a critical need for all Canadians who are eligible to vote to drop all their prejudices that result from affiliation to any particular political party in order to reflect deeply on the meaning of the term “Contempt of Parliament.” It is due to the finding that a particular party was in contempt of parliament that this election was called.


    The dictionary definition of “contempt” is: “A feeling that a person or thing is beneath consideration or worthless, or deserving of scorn or extreme reproach” (Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd Ed.).


    Parliament includes the House of Commons, which is the only portion of the Canadian Government that is democratically elected by the people of Canada.


This means that a political party has been found to be acting toward Parliament as if the only democratically elected portion of our federal government is beneath consideration or worthless. As a result, Parliament lost confidence in the governing party.   A few moments of reflection on the above in an unbiased manner should provoke a realization of the extreme severity of the situation, and of the potential immense consequences of the upcoming election on future parliaments.  Before voting, Canadians of all political stripes must ask themselves what message they would be giving to all future governments by giving their support, through their vote, to the practice of being in contempt of parliament.  To re-elect a party after it had been found to be in contempt of parliament would be actively encouraging future governments to;


  • withhold from Parliament, and hence from the Canadian public, crucial information requested by parliament and needed to make intelligent and informed decisions
  • withhold documents needed to initiate public enquiries
  • ignore rulings of the Speaker of the House
  • alter conclusions of signed documents provided by civil servants, without taking responsibility for the alterations


This could be a severe blow to vital systems that maintain democracy.


    For those of you who may feel that the vote of non-confidence was a result of a biased or weak Speaker of the House, you should be aware that Peter Milliken is highly respected by all parties in the House, and, indeed, the Conservative House leader has stated, prior to the election being called, his feeling that Peter Milliken would “go down in history as, if not one of the best Speakers, the best Speaker the House of Commons ever had”.


    The people of Canada should be aware that, since this is the first time in the history of the British Commonwealth that a governing party has fallen due to being in contempt of Parliament, this is not a normal election. We may choose to remain ignorant of the situation, of the importance of our vote, and of the long term implications, but, our ignorance may not be forgiven easily by future generations who may have to suffer the consequences of our re-electing a political party that has been found to view Parliament as “beneath consideration or worthless”.



On the quality of Canada's electoral system


Canada's overall score of 25.75% for electoral fairness means that Canada's electoral system is significantly more unfair than fair.


In consideration of the research and findings, the source of the electoral unfairness is severe inequality in the media and severe favoring of candidates and parties which were successful in the previous election. The success in the previous election and control of the media are mutually reinforcing forces. It should be noted that in principal, a person who wins for example a marathon, is not given a significant head start in the next marathon simply because he won the previous. He starts at the same place as the other competitors. In Canada's electoral system, candidates and parties successful in the previous election are given inexplicably a very significant head start or advantage in the next election and throughout it.


In contrast to Egypt (under Mubarak) which received a 0% overall score for electoral fairness and Tunisia (under Ben Ali) which received a 10% overall score, Canada is from 15.75% to 25.75% better. Yet Canada is still significantly in the failing zone for electoral fairness. (A passing grade is 50%.) Moreover, in Egypt and Tunisia, the source of electoral unfairness stems from state control, whereas in Canada, the source of electoral unfairness stems from media dominance and favoring of dominant parties.


To put Canada's failing score into further perspective, Finland received an overall score of 40.75% for electoral fairness. This score means that the Finish electoral system is more unfair than fair, while Canada's electoral system, as mentioned, is significantly more unfair than fair.


The source of Canada's failing grade for electoral fairness stems likely from the fact that the majority of the Parliament determines the election rules, and the majority of Canada's parliamentarians have the support of Canada's mainstream media and broadcasters. Basically and inexplicably, the majority of Canada's federal politicians are making the rules of their own game. It is a self-perpetuating system favoring particular political parties who have the support of the mainstream media, in a never ending cycle of electoral unfairness.


Pasted from <>





No comments: