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b2ap3_thumbnail_Ranked-Ballot.jpgIn the last election the Liberals campaigned on bringing in electoral reform, and are now looking to make good on that promise.

But what exactly are they trying to fix? What’s wrong with our current electoral system? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of their alternatives they are looking through? 

The case against FPTP

The common complaint with our current First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system is that it doesn’t seem to reflect voters’ wishes. Under it a candidate doesn’t need a majority of the vote to get elected; he only needs one vote more than the second place finisher. So, for example, in the 2015 Federal election that meant one candidate – the NDP’s Brigette Sansoucy – was able to win a seat in the House of Commons even though she received only 28.7 per cent of the vote. In her riding almost three quarters of voters picked someone else, and yet she is still their elected representative. 

The FPTP system also allowed the Liberals to win a decided majority of the seats (54.4 per cent) even though they had a decided minority of the votes (just 39.5 per cent). 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Electronic-voting.jpgAs Canada's Liberal government considers how they are going to change Canada's electoral system, there is going to be an increased push to have voting go from paper to digital, with voting done on, and tabulated by, computers.

Part of this push comes from those who just think it a natural progression. After all, isn't everything going digital? Others think it will increase voter turnout, especially if we open things up by allowing voting over the Internet (then you could vote from your own home). 

But another reason for this push to digital comes from the complicated ways that other countries do elections. In Australia, with their ranked ballot, it took more than a week for the country to find out who had won and who had lost. If voting had been done electronically this could have been resolved almost right after voting concluded.

But there is a problem with electronic voting that makes Canada's present paper and pen voting method vastly superior. If we want people to be involved and invested in the democratic process, then the one thing we need them to know is that the results reported at the end are, without a shadow of a doubt, legitimate. That’s true of the Canada’s present federal system…and in a way that should be the envy of every other country. Our paper ballots leave a paper trail that can be checked and double check and triple checked too. In fact, in most ridings there are people with at least 3 different perspectives counting each vote:

1) the (hopefully neutral) Elections Canada staff
2) a Liberal scrutineer
3) a Conservative scrutineer

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Posted by on in Elections and voting

b2ap3_thumbnail_Or-else.jpgCanada's Liberal government wants to remake our electoral system, and among the changes they're considering is one that would make voting mandatory.

Why would anyone consider compulsory voting? Advocates argue that higher voter turnouts give a government a higher degree of political legitimacy - if more people vote, then, in effect, more people are "buying into" and agreeing to be governed by this process.

But does compulsory voting work? In Australia, where voting is required, the 2013 election saw roughly 80% of the voting age population cast a ballot. Now, officials will brag about a 93% figure, but that number doesn't factor in that, despite the law, 10% of Australians aren’t registered to vote, and when we consider all the people of voting age, then we get the much lower 80% total. (See the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, IDEA, www.idea.int/vt/ for more.) However, to put that number in context, in the last couple of Canadian federal elections we’ve averaged about 65% of the electorate casting a ballot. It would seem then that compulsory voting could increase those totals at least a little.

Where would this increase come from? It's here where compulsory voting's fundamental flaw is exposed. The increase would come from the apathetic: those too lazy to get educated about their choices, or those who know and hate their choices, but who are too sluggish to step up and offer voters an alternative. Why would we want to force these folks to eenie, meenie, miney, mo their way through the slate of candidates? Are we really making democracy better when your thoughtful choice can be countered by a guy who made his selection based on his favorite number: “I’m going with lucky number 4!”? 

Making voting mandatory can inflate the vote total, but that’s really only a sham: it's just for show. Requiring someone to vote doesn’t mean they are any more involved. Do we think compulsory voting will motivate the I-won’t–vote-unless-you make-me sort to also spend time studying the issues and researching the various candidate’s positions?

The very last thing we need to do is force people who don’t care, who haven’t done their research, and who otherwise wouldn’t vote, to now go down and mark their utterly random “x” on the ballot.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Politician-shows-foolishness.jpgThis summer the Brandenburg State Parliament (in Germany) debated whether to create an action plan for, among other things, the acceptance of gender diversity.  Now as every good storyteller knows, the key to a gripping yarn is to show, rather than tell. So when parliamentarian Steffen Königer spoke out against the proposal he made his point by giving a demonstration of the sort of foolishness the bill would promote. It was as if he said, “You want diversity? I’ll give you diversity!” So he began by giving a greeting to more than 50 supposed genders. 

Dear Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Homosexuals, dear Lesbians, dear Androgynes, dear Bi-genders, dear Female-to-males, dear Male-to-females, dear Gender-variables, dear Gender-queers, dear Intersexuals, dear “Neither”-genders, dear Asexuals, dear Non-binaries, dear Pan-genders and Pansexuals, dear Trans-males and Trans-men, dear Trans-females and Trans women, dear Trans-humans, dear Trans-with-*(gender star), dear Trans *females and Trans*women, dear Trans *males and Trans*men, dear Trans-humans, dear-Trans-feminines, dear Transsexual persons, dear Inter*females, dear Inter*males…

At this point the Parliament’s president interrupted: “Would you allow an interposed question?” Königer replied, “But I’m not done with my introduction yet Mr. President. Sorry, no.” And he continued:

Dear Inter*men, dear Inter*women, dear Inter*humans, dear Inter-genders, dear Inter-sexuals, dear Dual-genders, dear Androgynes, dear Hermaphrodites, dear Two-spirit third genders, dear 4th genders, dear XY-women, dear Bartsch (the German seems untranslatable), dear Gender-absent, dear Transvestites, dear Cross-gender, dear Zero-gender, and of course a warm welcome to all the “Other” genders….dear (male_ or female_) Mrs. or Mr. Nonnemacher, dear (male_ or female_) Mrs. or Mr. Baader, Dear (male_ or female_) Mrs. or Mr. Mus… 

[My] party rejects your proposal.

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Reformed Perspective's annual "Always Reforming" Conference is here again. This year our theme is "Praising God through the Cultural Catastrophe." The Western world is making its hatred of God ever more apparent, so can the Church do anything beyond hunkering down and waiting for the end? Most certainly - yes, yes, and again yes! Join us as we discuss how the Bible shows us the way to fight our cultural rot and proclaim the royal claims of Jesus Christ.

WHEN: Oct 13-15
WHERE: Willoughby CanRC in Langley, BC
WHAT: "Praising God through the Cultural Catastrophe"
WHO: Ken Kok, Jeff Meyers, Tim Edwards, Jason Van Vliet
HOW MUCH: $30 single/$40 couples / $20 students / or join us any time for $10 a day

For more information, and to register early and get a free book, go to www.always-reforming.com. And please share this to help us spread the word!


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Posted by on in Economics

b2ap3_thumbnail_VIA-Rail.jpgFewer people are using VIA Rail, more trains are behind schedule, and the Crown corporation continues to bleed money by the millions: that’s what Canada’s Auditor General found when he took a close look at the passenger service this spring.

In 2014 VIA had revenues of $280 million, but spent $597 million in operating costs, plus another $82 million in capital projects (putting down tracks, etc.). That works out to a loss of $399 million, all of it covered by the government. 

So what did taxpayers get for their money?

Well, an economy ticket for a four-day trip from Vancouver to Toronto is roughly $500, but the true cost is $1,100, with the government chipping in the difference of $600.  Even with government subsidies of $55 million for the Vancouver-Toronto route, VIA Rail can’t compete on speed or price. In comparison an economy ticket for a flight on WestJet for the same route can be had for $300 and will take five hours. A bus ticket for a three-day Vancouver-Toronto trip is as little as $250. 

Government intrusion into the marketplace has left us with a business that is slower, more expensive, and costs hundreds of millions of Canadian tax dollars each year. Why, then, does VIA Rail still exist? Because every time they cut service on unprofitable routes, ticket buyers – those who get the bulk of their ticket price paid for by taxpayers – protest. And these squeaky wheels continue to get greased. 

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  • "The Journalist."

    "In the past, he had to 'pay dues'
    And develop 'a nose for the news.'
    Well, he still has a nose,
    But, my, how it grows
    When the facts must conform to his views."
    –    F.R. DUPLANTIER