Friday, May 15, 2009

A Dollar a Day Until the Conservative Ads Go Away

Stephen Harper's complete failure to read the mood of Canadians in these trying times will be his undoing. Canadians won't buy his latest attempt to distract from his failings and they will demand better. And Liberals aren't sitting idly by as Steve V noted, donations have flooded in since the Cons desperate ad buy hit the air. But I think we can do one better in making sure that the only purpose these ads serve is to fill our coffers. I'm reminded of a donation campaign started awhile ago in the U.S. to create an incentive for Republicans to give up their futile endless court challenges (which are still ongoing) in the race for the Minnesota Senate seat which Al Franken has won. The campaign is called A Dollar A Day to Make Norm Go Away. The idea is you can sign up to make donations of $1 a day that end the minute Norm Coleman finally concedes. The Democratic Party establishment didn't exactly take on this campaign themselves, but that's no reason the Liberal Party can't launch a similar campaign here.

Surely we can set up a recurring donation system equivalent to donating $1 a day (even if that's $30 a month) that ends the month after the Conservative ads go off the air.

What do you think, would you donate a dollar a day until the Conservative ads go away?

In the meantime, you know where to go.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Instant Run-Off Voting Must the Choice of Electoral Reform Advocates

STV and MMP have been dealt essentially lethal blows in BC and Ontario - I think when it boils down to it people felt they were either too complicated, weren't sure how their vote would translate into who got elected, and/or that the system lacked riding level accountability. Canadians for the most part favour incremental change, and moving from First-the-Post to a PR based system may have been too much for electoral reform advocates to ask. It's unfortunate that electoral reform advocates pegged their hopes to provincial referendums when the case for changing the electoral system in any province is not nearly as persuasive as at the national level. In no province where a referendum took place does their provincial electoral system badly inflate regional divides, is leading to perpetual minorities (and elections every two years), and benefits a separatist party more than any other party. Voters like stability and elections every 4 years and the provincial systems have provided that, while the national system no longer does. But optics being what they are, with STV and MMP systems being dealt such overwhelming defeats at the provincial level they are clearly off the table for any national referendum on this issue. The sooner the electoral reform advocates (including Fair Vote) come to this conclusion the better and I say that as someone who would have voted for STV if I lived in BC.

So I would hope that anyone who wants to change our first-past-the-post system nationally (where the need is greatest) can now come behind the idea of holding a referendum on instant run-off voting. This system is extremely simple to explain and would dramatically empower the value of every vote cast in an election. We would still have 308 MPs, everything would be the same, except you would rank your choices for your riding. If someone doesn't have 50% of the vote, then the bottom candidate drops off and the 2nd, 3rd choices are re-distributed and so on until a candidate can legitimately be said to have 50% support in the riding. No more would someone who is the first choice of 35% of voters and the LAST choice of the other 65% be elected (like a good number of Conservative MPs).

PR advocates should realize that would be a major improvement and that were IRV adopted and Canadians liked it, it would at least open the door to national STV one day, but trying to move directly to a PR system would be doomed to failure.

This should also be easy for supporters of all the major parties to get behind. Liberals just overwhelming approved Instant-Run Off voting for our leadership races and the NDP and Conservatives have the same system in place for electing theirs. This is because it would be deemed unacceptable for a leader (and in the Liberal/Conservative case, potential PM) to win with only 35% of the support in a multi-candidate race. So why would we accept less for the election of each of our MPs?

It's also easily applied to the Westminister model of Parliament. Australia has the political system most similar to us and use Instant-Run Off voting to elect their lower house MPs, so why can't we?

The arguments against MMP and STV simply don't apply - it's not complicated whatsoever, it wouldn't lead to Parliamentary instability (Liberal majorities would actually be FAR MORE likely under IRV), and doesn't affect the riding level accountability we have now.

It will also carry many of the same benefits of STV such as enhancing the power of each person's vote (if you really dislike your MP but really like their party, you could register that view through your rankings), giving a voice to those who support smaller parties or independent candidates (no longer would your vote be irrelevant - a Green MP would have likely been elected in Guelph if we had IRV in place), enhancing accountability to constituent's in close ridings (35% will no longer suffice to win), and forcing candidate's to campaign beyond "getting out their base" and avoid negative campaigning so as to ensure they maximize their second choice votes. Just as importantly, no longer would parties come to power with little representation from some regions of the country. It should also increase voter turnout which become more and more abysmal with each national election.

Everyone knows our national electoral system is the source of major national unity problems (regional divides and being the lifeblood of the Bloc Quebecois) and is giving us unstable minorities as far as the eye can see, so the solution isn't to pretend these problems don't exist, it's to do something about it.

Just because provinces where the need for electoral reform wasn't that pressing rejected the idea, is no reason to ignore the problems our national system creates. What exactly are the counter-arguments against IRV other than using the provincial votes as an excuse not to act?

Want to increase the number of western Liberal MPs in future Liberal governments while simultaneously wiping the Bloc Québecois off the political map? Instant-run-off voting would be guaranteed to make it happen.

As the party of national unity here's hoping Michael Ignatieff the Liberals take the lead on this issue. We have to trust the intelligence of Canadians that they can see for themselves that the need for eletoral reform at the national level was always greater than it was at the provincial level.

The next election is very likely to give us a Liberal minority and so might the election after that. That would be 5(!) minorities in a row, something that has never even remotely happened provincially. I of course will be hoping and working for two Liberal majorities, but the math to get there is incredibly difficult so we have to consider what our response be to two more minorities.

We can lead in calling for a national referendum ourselves or have Canadians call for it because they have grown tired of the instability created by the current system. I prefer to see us lead.

Pushing for a national referendum on Intant-Run-Off voting is one clear case where the national interest and Liberal partisan interests are one and the same.

UPDATE: Scott Tribe has similar thoughts, Steve V takes an opposing view to mine

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

LPC Biennial Convention in Videos

I knew I wouldn't get to blog all that much at a convention where I was a busy delegate so to make up for that, I had a less busy delegate video tape much of the proceedings to post here when it was all over. So I've compiled about 30 videos from across the 3 days of the convention for your enjoyment. Some of these (like Stéphane's 7.5 minute speech at the reception to retire his leadership debt) were not broadcast by the media. Though only about half of these are original and the other half are poached from other blogs to make for a more complete collection (source indicated in brackets - to give credit where credit is due those videos look much more professional). I haven't been able to upload all the videos I have yet, so please come back to this post later as there are still some really good speeches and debates that will go up. And within the next few days I will be sure to find the time to give my own thoughts on all the major happenings of the weekend of the Vancouver and maybe some other stuff going on on the Hill.

DAY 1: Thursday April 30th

Council of Presidents

John Turner Speech (BC'er in Toronto)

Michael Ignatieff Speech (WAM0)

DAY 2: Friday, May 1st

Young Liberals of Canada (YLC) Biennial

YLC Presidential Candidate (and now President) Sam Lavoie Speech

YLC Presidential Candidate John Lennard Speech

YLC Representative to the National Women's Liberal Commission (NWLC) Monika Drobnicki Speech

Incoming YLC National Director Keith Torrie speaks to YLC delegates

Outgoing YLC President Cory Pike speaks to YLC delegates

Michael Ignatieff's Speech to YLC Delegates (Jennifer Smith)

Paul Martin Speech to YLC and Aboriginal People's Commission (APC) members

TO BE UPLOADED (This was an excellent speech! Come back later to see it)

Canada and the World Thinktank (WAM0)

Reception for Stéphane Dion to Retire His Leadership Debt

Paddy Torsney (former Burlington MP) and Don Boudria (former Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP) Introduce Stéphane Dion
(Not sure why but this video is the only one uploaded that ended up being mostly blurry/choppy, but the audio is fine)

Stéphane Dion Gives Speech to Reception Attendees

Party Officer Elections

VP English Candidate (and eventual winner) Steve Kakucha Speech (Liberal Minute)

Convention Opening Ceremonies

Jean Chretien Speech Pt. 1 (WAM0)

Jean Chretien Speech Pt. 2 (WAM0)

Stephane Dion Tribute Video, Part 1

Paul Martin Tribute to Dion (WAM0)

Stephane Dion's Speech at His Tribute Night

DAY 3: Saturday, May 2nd

Voting for Executive Positions Ended at 11 AM

Policy Plenary

Debate on "Removing the Ban on MSM Organ Donation"
(Very pleased to see this pass so overwhelmingly, but was surprised and saddened by some of the things said by those opposed to this policy)

Debate on "Climate change" Policy

Introduction and Vote on "National Water Policy"

Vote on "Human Rights Commission" Policy
(Closest vote of them all)

Constitutional Plenary

Debate on OMOV

TO BE UPLOADED (Will include entire debate from start to finish)

Debate on YLC amendment to ensure all policies put forth by commissions and PTAs are voted on by delegates before going to the floor (watch for a cameo by a famous former blogger)


Debate on YLC amendment to establish an Outreach Secretary on the National Executive

Leader's Speech

Bob Rae Nominates Michael Ignatieff Speech (Jennifer Smith)

Announcement of Results for Leadership Vote

Michael Ignatieff Makes His Entrance

Ignatieff Intro Video (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 1 (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 2 (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 3 (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 4 (LPC)

New Liberal Party of Canada Logo

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

BC or Bust: Commission Biennials

So I think Liberals woke up yesterday morning, myself included, after getting settled in at the hotel, registered, and saying my hello/what's new's with Liberal friends, and realized that this
convention there are actually a lot of workshops and panels being offered, meaning, there's a bit of work, at least house cleaning to do.

The morning for me started off by seeing the YLC commission biennial and hearing the speeches of mainly the two YLC presidential candidates. I'll hopefully post some video later. The room was packed, the most packed room of all the commission biennials. So the youth, while yes only representing about 12% or so of the delegates, are some
of the most dedicated members of all members in the party, so I do not
begrudge them from them seeking 25% within a weighted-riding OMOV system, which is less than the 33% they get in current convention type events.
Especially considering this very same youth amendment passed last convention, to tell them they couldn't present it again is like
telling someone or a party to give up on a bill that passed 2nd or 3rd reading but died on the order paper.

I then walked into the Senior's commission - I did a quick count and I think there was about 35 people in there. Maybe they forgot about
the meeting and had a "senior's moment" because there are a lot of the
65+ crowd here, I just don't know where they were at that time. Maybe they're a little bit proud and consider themselves to be of "regular membership". The joke I hear about them is that they're a "skeletal
commission" - pun intended I don't know, that's up for you to decide. I believe in commissions and their purpose, but it's sad to see them not utilized to their full potential, especially when their numbers are there.

I was then off to the Women's Commission biennial. I didn't expect much conflict or negativity from that one - there were some common sense proposals on the floor and a panel scheduled, but I was in for a big surprise. There was some new updates to the NWLC commission on the floor, and I didn't think they were going to cause debate or controversy, but indeed they did. So much so, that that part of the proceedings went 1.5 hours over time, much to the dislike of the next workshop attendees. And even still, we were not able to discuss the meat and potatoes of the biennial as it took so long to discuss the appetizer.

I was quite disappointed in the attitude of some of the attendees, very clique-like among of those who were against the amendments on the table. After debate to one of the NWLC constitutional amendments was finished, and the vote was being conducted, these individuals stared down those voting in favour of it, and yelled out "Shame! Shame on all of you! You're taking away representation of the provinces!?" (in reality, we were proposing to keep the provincial women's commission presidents, and add additional regional representatives with 6 task based positions (VP Policy, VP Org, etc) - every province would have still have strong rep at the table via their provincial women's commission ).

The proposal didn't have 2/3 support (it had 65% - so close!), so it failed, and I guess in support of it failing, these women who voted it down left the room. So now the NWLC will remain with an exec of the national President, all the provincial commission Presidents, and 6 additional regional representatives (one from each designated region).

The NWLC is very effective as a commission and very supportive of women candidates and promoting women in politics, but for some of these ladies, time to get our act together, treat each other with a bit of respectful boundaries. Am I supposed to feel "shameful" for having an opinion and voting on it? Thanks for making me feel like my
voice mattered or that I was intelligent enough to grasp the issues like you clearly were.

There is a lot of events/workshops taking place, and for a convention that is seen as "only 2 days" perhaps we could have had 3 to space things out a bit more and to give us the opportunity to attend everything and not feel so rushed.

One thing I would like to attend but may not have the time, is attending the much hyped Liberalist (voter software) info session.
This is the new technology program that will be used across the party, across the country via ridings from the party. Some people are
hopeful, some people are doubtful. I'd just like to see for myself, even though it will be a demo and can't make a realistic impression -to judge for myself - to see if there is perhaps the magic there that we are hoping for. We all know we need better comms if we want to compete with the CPC.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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BC or bust: attendance/policy thoughts and night one

So I heard that the word on the street last night - literally the word on the street - was that the Liberals had a pretty sad turn out to this event (I heard 1700 by that point). The media line was that no
one really cared - there is no leader choices, there is only about 3 exec positions contested, the location was pretty far for most of the
delegates (coming from Ont, Quebec, NS, etc.) and some people have honestly just thrown interest away in this convention as they feel that the policy was removed from this policy conference.

On the policy process there were some obvious problems with the way the policies got here - by a riding President vote that followed after
a "non-binding" vote on En Famille of whatever Liberal members happened to have an account. In reality, most people just don't care
enough to get engaged on En Famille (and some provinces are totally underrepresented), either they're not computer literate, feel its not
perfected or the debate never ends as every day someone will say the opposite of your point. As well, Liberal members didn't get a binding vote on what resolutions would be here, authors didn't hear if their policy was blended with others, authors didn't hear what happened with their policies, etc. Bottom line is, whatever you hear, most people aren't on En Famille - they may have an account, but some have never used it. So I think the policy process will need to be done a lot different next time around. There's an amendment on the floor Saturday at least that would ensure that it would be delegate workshops and not
riding President votes that would determine which policies would get to the convention floor.

I felt last night was a perfectly good opportunity for the Liberal Convention to kick off the 11 o'clock news. However, the Liberals did
have to compete with some pretty stiff competition. Instead, the 11 o'clock news kicked off with the Canuck's Round 2 victory.

Ok so on with the night's events:
Who ever decided to have a hospitality suite at the Lion's Gate pub and advertise it, was out of their mind! It was advertised in the
agenda that there was a Liberal meet & greet there at 8pm, and yet there was no room. They had a capacity of 150, and yet we know we
have at least 1700 delegates. Maybe they thought the majority was youth under 19 lol.

I also didn't quite understand what was up with the Equal Voice Experience Program social. I didn't see any prizes as was advertised,
and it was just like going to a restaurant as for any occasion. We got to pick our table, and got menus, and a bill. Didn't they just get
$1.2 million from the government and they're trying to find ways to
spend it? My martini cost $15! Very worthwhile program and I'm a
strong supporter of the organization, but to be frank the event was a let down.

I also made my way off to some of the youth hospitality suites which were fun enough to meet my expectations.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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