ALBERTA SAYS THEY HAVE DONE THEIR PART – HAVE THEY?

Rachel Notley, previous premier of Alberta, released a climate change policy plan and said that Alberta had done its part to gain social licence for a pipeline expansion with the associated tarsands/oilsands expansion.
The plan included “five key pillars:
1) Carbon will be priced economy-wide at $30/tonne by 2018.
2) Coal-fired power plants will be phased out by 2030.
3) Oilsands emissions will be capped at 100 megatonnes (Mt) per year (recent Environment Canada figures predicted a 2020 output of 103 Mt from the sector), which amounts to allowing current construction to go ahead, but that’s it. That means to expand production beyond current projects, per barrel emissions will need to be reduced.
4) Methane emissions from oil and gas operations will be cut by 45 per cent in 2025.
5) 30 per cent of all electricity will be generated by renewables by 2030.”

“Prime Minister Trudeau says Alberta’s 100 million tonne “absolute cap on oilsands emissions” was a key factor in approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion” which will pipe oil from Alberta to B.C.’s coast for export. (b) He is also using this same cap as a reason to “exempt some oilsands projects from environmental assessments”. (c)

So, What has Alberta done?
(1) The carbon price has been removed by new Alberta premier Jason Kenney and Alberta has taken the federal government to court over the federal climate plan. (d) Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reductions (TIER) fund “would target large industrial emitters, requiring them to reduce their emissions intensity — notably, this is different from their total emissions, as it is dependent on economic output — compared to their own recent annual averages”. (i) I suspect this is mostly window-dressing.
(2) “Coal-fired electrical plants which need to close by 2030 under federal law would be allowed to remain open indefinitely if federal rules change. The UCP would require coal facilities after 2030 to be as clean as the most efficient gas-fired plants.” (j)
(3) The 100 Mt limit is “43% above 2015 levels”, so room to expand and pollute. (e) According to a National Observer article the 100 Mt. Limit has very large loopholes. The Electricity co-generation is exempt, the primary oil production is exempt, Upgraders are exempt, all emissions in Saskatchewan are exempt, enhanced recovery is exempt, and experimental schemes are exempt. (h) There are, as yet, no regulations regarding who gets to pollute and who doesn’t when they hit the l00 mt limit. (d) So, as Ian Hussey, research manager at the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta says “Alberta’s oilsands’s emissions cap is not operating in practice”. (i) In other words, so far, it’s just words on paper, a scam “Oil Sands Emissions Limit Act legislating the 100 megatonne emissions cap” is the law` (d) but when the 100 Mt limit has been reached, the “law” can be ignored or changed in a heartbeat. And the emissions numbers can also be “creatively” determined so they stay below 100 Mt.; scientific studies “show that AB oil & gas industry emissions are grossly under-reported”. (d) So, at this point, the “law” is just words on paper. Kenney has said he will remove the cap (j) and has said that he will “rapidly accelerate the approval of new drilling”. (c) But he really has no reason to remove the cap until it reaches the limit. In the meantime it’s a great con to get the pipeline approval and exemptions.
(4) methane gas emission – According to the Pembina Institute if Alberta follows the “federal methane regulations enacted earlier this year by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), they would only reduce methane gas emissions by 36%, not the 45% stated in their climate plan”. (f)
(5) Kenney has said he will “no longer provide subsidies to uneconomic wind and solar power generation”. (f) “Alberta too should get out of the subsidy business to ‘keep the door wide open’ for increasing wind and solar energy projects where they’re affordable.” (g); fine but then quit subsidizing the oil and gas industry because apparently they are not really affordable. (l) The oil and gas subsidies, I suspect, make it harder for renewable projects to be affordable when it’s competing on an uneven playing field. But, maybe that’s intentional.

So, what has Canada really gotten in return for the approval to expand the pipeline: NOTHING
Worse:
(1) We won’t be able to meet our Paris Agreement commitments, and unknown numbers of species, including us, will suffer and many will die
(2) The $4.5 billion cost of the Kinder Morgan pipeline PLUS the unknown billions more for an expansion
(3) Canada’s reputation. Trudeau said “Canada is back my friends”. (k) I thought that we would leaders in carbon emissions reduction and the new economy, exporting our knowledge and technology. Instead, we will be seen as the farcical hypocrites that we are.

And yet, despite the fact that we are getting nothing in return, Trudeau has recently approved the expansion of the pipeline (m). So, when “Prime Minister Trudeau says Alberta’s 100 million tonne “absolute cap on oilsands emissions” was a key factor in approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion” (c) and that the pipeline was necessary to get Alberta into the carbon tax program, he lied, he was conning us; it was just the cover story to get the pipeline expansion built.

Do I think the other parties would do better? NO.

(a) Alberta Climate Announcement Puts End to Infinite Growth of Oilsands – James Wilt, 23 Nov 2015, The Narwhal
(b) ‘Hard cap’ for oilsands climate pollution has loopholes the size of Nova Scotia – Barry Saxifrage, 20 Mar 2018, National Observer
(c) Ottawa will exempt some oilsands projects from environmental assessments – if Alberta keeps its emissions cap – John Paul Tasker, 02 May 2019, CBC News
(d) Alberta’s election platforms compared: Where the NDP and UCP stand on everything from child care to carbon taxes – Justin Giovannetti, 12 Apr 2019, The Globe and Mail
(e) Three years after promising to cap oilsands pollution, Notley government still needs more time – Carl Meyer, 14 Dec 2018, National Observer
(f) Alberta’s methane regulations will fail to meet provincial reduction target – 13 Dec 2018, Pembina Institute
(g) Kenny’s pledge to end wind and solar subsidies would ‘roll back the clock,’ says energy expert – Helen Pike, 22 Feb 2019, CBC News
(h) ‘Hard cap’ for oilsands climate pollution has loopholes the size of Nova Scotia – Barry Saxifrage, 20 Mar 2018, National Observer
(i) Eight environmental issues at stake in the Alberta election (that are not pipelines) – Sharon J. Riley, 10 Apr 2019, The Narwhal
(j) Alberta’s UCP reveal platform that would reduce spending, replace carbon tax with levy on large emitters – Justin Giovannetti, 30 Mar 2019, Globe and Mail
(k) In Paris, Trudeau ‘Here to Help’ but Quiet on New Emissions Targets – Geoff Dembicki, 01 Dec 2015, TheTyee.ca
(l) How Much Are We Paying the Oil and Gas Corporations to Take Our Resources – http://hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org
(m) Eight Hard Questions for the PM of Pipelines and Climate Emergency – Michael Harris, 19 Jun 2019, TheTyee.ca

POLITICIANS, BOOTLICKERS AND GROUPTHINK

I’m sure many people have read about Trudeau mocking a person who raised the issue of Indigenous people suffering from mercury poisoning. (a)(b)  Now we all say things ‘off the cuff’ that we regret and Trudeau apologized and returned the $1,600 fee to the person for attending Trudeau’s fundraiser.

But two problems exist:

  1. The federal government had promised ‘that Ottawa would fund the development and construction of a treatment facility for people exposed to mercury-related illnesses in Grassy Narrows’. So far it’s just been words. The poisoning happened 50 years ago. (c)  But the politicians didn’t have a problem giving Weston/Superstore $12 million for a freezer upgrade (d); a company that made net earnings of $800 million in 2018. (e)(i)

Trudeau had time to attend a fundraiser but no time to visit the Grassy Narrows community.  A profitable corporation, a fundraiser versus sick and dying people – politicians priorities are obvious.

  1. I have not read anything about the roomful of ‘people’, who laughed and applauded at Trudeau’s comment, apologizing. Not one of them had the courage, the backbone, the common decency to stand up and say to Trudeau something like ‘Excuse me, Mr. Trudeau, but I believe you need to rethink your comment’ or ‘I don’t think you really heard what the commenter was saying’ or ‘I think you misunderstood the seriousness of the comment’. Instead these fawning, bootlicking, sycophants just laughed and applauded at a mocking comment to a very serious issue; apparently, people suffering and dying is humourous to them.  Maybe they and their families should go drink mercury

And this is certainly not the first time that politicians and their friends found the suffering of regular people to be humourous.  George Kerr, Ontario Ministry of the Environment in 1970, “declared that the Wabigoon river would recover on its own, without a cleanup or intervention. He said it would happen naturally in 12 weeks.  Decades later, in a 2010 eulogy for Kerr, the MP Norman W Sterling said Kerr simply made up the 12-week number, and quoted him as saying: ‘“If I had said it was going to be flushed out in one or two years, they would never have believed me.”’ The anecdote was met with laughter in the Ontario parliament.” (c)  The politicians and their friends just don’t change.

This is also called groupthink.  It prevents different points of view from being expressed.  “Janis (1972) said that groupthink is ‘a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures.’ Essentially, people within a group become so consumed with the group, maintaining group cohesiveness, and doing what is important for the group that they themselves lose their ability to think independently and make good, sound judgments.” (f)(g)

The one I recall learning about was the explosion of the U.S. space shuttle Challenger in 1986. “Eager to launch the shuttle on schedule, NASA managers ignored warnings about launching in low temperatures. They also knew of a flaw in the shuttle’s O-rings but did nothing about it. Engineers who first opposed the launch for safety reasons later assented. Seventy-three seconds after the shuttle took off, it burst into pieces, killing all seven of its crew members.” (h)   As I recall, the top bosses didn’t want to hear that there were any problems; they had a ‘window of opportunity’ to launch and they didn’t want to miss it so they weren’t told.  So, what did they gain?  The shuttle blew up, seven people were killed and the U.S. space program was set back a long time because of negative public opinion.  In short, they gained nothing and lost a lot.

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott did not succumb to groupthink (see post Jody Wilson-Raybould and Other Heroes).  They thought independently and made good, sound decisions.  But political leaders, and the handful of people (most not elected) who actually make the decisions, don’t want this, they want sycophants/bootlickers.  And that’s one of the reasons they are soooo good at screwing things up.

And all political parties are the same.

 

(a)  Trudeau to Grassy Narrows Protester:  ‘Thank You Very Much For Your Donation’ – Ryan Maloney, 28 Mar 2019, HuffPost Canada

(b)  Trudeau apologizes to Grassy Narrows protester thanked for ‘donation,’ kicked out of Liberal Party fundraiser – Matt Prokopchuk, 28 Mar 2019, CBC News

(c)  The Warrior Society rises:  how a mercury spill in Canada inspired a movement – Robert Jago, 16 Oct 2018, The Guardian

(d)  Liberals under fire after announcing more than $12M in funding to Loblaw – Mia Rabson, 09 Apr 2019, CTV News

(e)   Loblaws 2018 Annual Report

(f)   Groupthink, Psychology Glossary, Alley Dog.com

(g)  Groupthink, Wikipedia

(h)  What is Groupthink, Definitions and Examples – Communications Studies

 

 

 

 

 

TRUDEAU DOES BUT DOES NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SNC-LAVALIN VIOLATION

Finally, someone in the government determined the obvious.  “Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, contravened Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act through a series of ‘flagrant attempts to influence’ then Justice Minister Jody Wilson‑Raybould to reach an agreement with SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal prosecution.” (Andrej Ivanov/Reuters) (a)  Trudeau said that, in essence, he does but does not take responsibility for wrong-doing.  This is the typical two-facedness of a politician, with a couple of exceptions (see post JWR and Other Heroes).  He does not agree “that any contact with the attorney general on this issue was improper”.  (a)  Excuse me, but isn’t that what the issue is all about.

Also, if Trudeau was going to take responsibility, he should have done so months ago and he would still have two decent politicians in his party.  Now, there is no believability to claim to take responsibility; it’s just a political ploy.  And, he is still using the ‘jobs’ excuse even though it has been shown to be a total scam. (b)   In Trudeau’s continued attempts to demean Jody Wilson-Raybould and to cover for his violations, he only demeans himself more.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the ethics commissioner has no authority “to impose sanctions for such a violation”.  In short, the ethics commissioner and his office is pretty much another ‘do-nothing office’, similar to the privacy commissioner’s office.

As for the other eleven people who tried to influence Wilson-Raybould, the “ethics commissioner said he would not investigate them because they “acted in accordance with the general direction set by Mr. Trudeau in September 2018 …”.  So, if a hit man/woman gets caught she/he is not guilty because he/she took direction from the person who hired her/him?  If four thieves rob a store and get caught, only the leader of the four is guilty because the others took direction?   I find this very ‘odd’ and concerning.  Somehow I don’t think a court would agree.

 

 

 

(a)  ‘I take responsibility,’ Trudeau says in wake of damning report on SNC-Lavalin ethics violation – John Paul Tasker, 14 Aug 2019, CBC News

(b) Jody Wilson-Raybould and Other Heroeshttp://Hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org     

 

 

 

JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD AND OTHER HEROES

What the SNC-Lavalin scandal revealed was Jody Wilson-Raybould and other heroes but it also clearly exposed how the government works, who works for whom and the non-existent accountability of politicians, at least in a majority government.

I see a light of ethics, morals, and integrity flicker in politics.  Thank you to Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR), Dr. Jane Philpott, Kathleen Roussel (director of public prosecutions), and Louis De Jaeger (p) for working for the people.  There are other heroes I have written about on past posts, John Doyle, former auditor general of British Columbia, and Alana James, a lawyer who formerly was a British Columbia Senior health information advisor and whistleblower (see posts re B.C. Health Ministry Scandal), Mary-Ellen Turpel, former B.C. Representative for Children and Youth, and a former judge (see posts re The Children), Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers .

I did not think it would be possible to have decent human beings, who actually represent us, the regular people, in politics.  I thought the whole system would have to be torn down and rebuilt and it still may have to be.  But these people have shown that ethics, morals, and integrity can happen if only for a brief moment.  They are leading the way; if enough others would follow we could have a government system that is truly democratic, one the people could trust and respect, not the farce that we currently have.

It speaks to who the politicians are, and who they serve, that they would regurgitate this loss of 9,000 jobs when there appears to be no substance to it.

– Gerald Butts (former principal secretary to the PM) and Carla Qualtrough (Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility) could not name a source for the 9,000 jobs (n).  How could Butts or Qualtrough not know who gave them the information?  Did they just get together and make up a number?  Would the source have been embarrassing?  Did they just LIE because they have such contempt for the people?  They just used this number as a reason for issuing a DPA and kept stating it to the press.  Seriously disgusting.
– SNL-Lavalin stated that they never claimed that 9,000 jobs would be lost (s) and then backtracked (t) presumably after they got a call from the PMO’s office.
– SNC-Lavalin has current jobs to last several years (g) and skilled engineers are in high demand, (c)
– The ban would only be on federal projects, not provincial or municipal projects (g)
– The government contracts will be awarded to other companies who will hire employees.
– Jules Bourgeois – ‘province is dealing with an acute labour shortage…; in a situation of full employment….everyone’s looking for good employees (b)
– Around 2012 approximately 10,000 employees have left the company, many voluntarily. (g)(m) Apparently, most or all got other jobs.

So, why are the politicians lying/blackmailing Canadians, AGAIN?

– Possibilities:

  1. Trudeau is buddies with SNC-Lavalin management and didn’t want to see them go to court even when they didn’t qualify for a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).
  2. Trudeau wanted a made-up crisis so he could fake being the saviour and get Quebec votes in the next provincial and federal elections. “He also acknowledged that during his Sept. 17 meeting with Wilson-Raybould, he pointed out that he was the MP for Papineau, a riding in Quebec — where SNC-Lavalin is based — but denied he was pressuring her for partisan interests.” (i)
  3. SNC-Lavalin is still handing out bribes
  4. All of the above

But any way you look at it, the partisan reasons are, I understand, illegal in obtaining a DPA.  Martyn Brown said ‘“But if the public interest argument is based on a lie, and they knew that, then all that you’re left with is a political motive, an electoral motive that would be self-serving. And that to me would raise questions of obstruction of justice, breach of trust, all sorts of things that the RCMP would suddenly be concerned with.”’ (u)

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Kathleen Roussel were doing their jobs, serving the people of Canada (and trying to protect the Prime Minister from his own follies), which is what they were hired to do.  Jane Philpott was doing the same by standing up, and being counted, in the defense of the people of Canada and what’s left of our democracy, our freedom, our rights.

The other politicians in the Liberal party kept repeating that she had to be loyal to the party, they had to serve the leader of the party and the handful of others, most not elected, who run the party/country (w, x); this is also called Groupthink. (see future post Politicians, bootlickers and groupthink)  They didn’t care about the people of Canada, just the party which includes themselves.  If a politician asks for my vote so he/she can represent me I will call them what they are – LIARS; they represent the party, not me.  And maybe I will tell them and their families to go drink mercury (see future post Politicians, bootlickers and groupthink)

And the people of Canada cannot hold the politicians accountable.  The justice committee and ethics committee are both Liberal dominated so they “reviewed” in a manner beneficial to the Liberal party.  Andrew Coyne said “In our system, the prime minister decides whether the prime minister should be held to account. Virtually all of the mechanisms by which he might theoretically be required to answer to credible charges of serious wrongdoing — and meddling with a prosecution is about as serious as it gets — are under his control. That certainly includes the committee, whatever pretense of independence might be maintained”; and (o) “Got a complaint, likewise, about the government’s obvious lack of enthusiasm for investigating itself? Great: take it up with the government.” (o)  The results will be same as the ‘do nothing’ office of the privacy commissioner.

The politicians have people who will write op-eds without identifying that op-ed is being written on behalf of a political party, as stated by Katie Telford    Ms. Telford, chief of staff to the prime minister, also offered to line up “all kinds of people to write op-eds saying that what (Ms. Wilson-Raybould) is doing is proper”; in other words they will say whatever the politicians want them to say.   Isn’t this propaganda/brainwashing/indoctrination/newspeak?    Is Susan Delacourt one of them? (v)  And I suspect all political parties do this.  People judge what they read, at least partly, based on the source of the article.   The people have a right to know if, for all intents and purposes, the source of the article is the prime minister’s office, at least in a real democracy.

And yet, Philippe Lagasse claims “We know our system is working when the safeguards we’ve put in place to address government chicanery kick in and do their job”.  (y)  What safeguards, a ruling party-controlled committees fake “investigations”?  Two people who had to quit the party because one of them dared to speak the truth?  It’s a healthy democracy when two people can have a difference of “opinion” without one losing their job.  Gerald Butts and Michael Wernick, while culpable, were the fall guys so the Prime Minister was protected, the party was protected and nothing had to change.

He also states “But our constitution has mechanisms to hold governments to account”. (y) Perhaps he could explain those mechanisms, and how they are operating in this case because I don’t see them happening here, quite the opposite.  What the SNC-Lavalin scandal demonstrates is that we not only do NOT have “a healthy democratic immune system at work” but that, we don’t have much, if any, of a democracy.

Are the other political parties any different?  Not that I can see.  In fact, they don’t even have one, much less two, politicians that work for the people of Canada.

If I was in the riding of JWR or Dr. Philpott I would vote for them.  But since I’m not I will not be voting for someone who does not represent me; I will not willingly be their sucker. (q)

The system we have doesn’t work for the regular people of Canada.   JWR wants to change the party system: “Wilson-Raybould believes that the party system as it now exists has to be re-invented. It is not parties per se that are the problem, but the way in which they have evolved. They are too leader-centric, and far too partisan. In her view, both the PM and other party leaders have to be responsive to parliament, not the other way around.

‘I don’t believe in blind loyalty or blind partisanship. I do not believe in making decisions that set aside important public policy for the sake of political power. I do not believe that the best public policy is just getting re-elected. I believe in doing good public policy, regardless of what party is in power.”’  (z)  I hope she, and Jane Philpott, get the opportunity to change the party system and, if we’re lucky, it might work.

It would also be interesting to see what would happen if independents held the balance of power or formed a minority government.  Would the people of Canada actually be represented and would we get good public policy?

a. A closer look at SNC-Lavalin’s somewhat murky past–  Kathleen Blaze Baum, Tavia Grant and Wendy Stueck, 08 Feb 2019, CBC News
b.  Why many Quebecers want SNC-Lavalin to Stand Trial – Simone Nakonechny, 09 Mar 2016, CBC News
c. Four questions without answers about the SNC-Lavalin scandal – David Thurton, 12 Mar 2019, CBC News
d.  Liberal MP Who Led Committee Shutdown Denies Coverup, Says It’s Time For ‘Shift’ in SNC-Lavalin Debate – Kathleen Harris, 14 Mar 2019, CBC News
e.  Butts Sinks Trudeau Government Deeper into the Muck –  Michael Harris, 08 Mar 2019, TheTyee.ca
f.  A closer look at SNC-Lavalin’s somewhat murky past – Kathryn Blaze Baum, Tavia Grant and Wendy Stueck, 08 Feb 2019, CBC News
g.  An economic reality check on SNC-Lavalin:  Are 9,000 jobs really at stake? – Diana Swain, 08 Mar 2019, CBC News
h.  Here’s what a 10-year ban on federal contract bids would mean for SNC-Lavalin – The Canadian Press, 17 Mar 2019, CBC News
i.  What you need to know about the SNC-Lavalin affair – Mark Gollom, 13 Feb 2019, CBC News
j.  Budget documents show widespread use of ‘consultancy cost’ code – Dave Seglins, 15 May 2013, CBC News
k. Wilson-Raybould’s SNC-Lavalin claims set ‘all alarms sounding’ at OECD: spokesman – Joran Gowling, Vassy Kapelos, 13 Mar 2019, CBC News
l. World Bank Debars SNC-Lavalin Inc. And it’s Affiliates for 10 years – The World Bank, 17 Apr 2013
m.  SNC-Lavalin Affair –Wikipedia
n.  Trudeau’s No Good, Very Bad Week –  David Beers, 14 Mar 2019, TheTyee.ca
o.  Andrew Coyne: Sooner or later the truth comes out.  But in our system, not so much –  Andrew Coyne, 13 Mar 2019, National Post
p. B.C. Riding association leader quits after Trudeau ousts ex-ministers from caucus – Jessica Peters, 03 Apr 2019, Cloverdale Reporter
q.  Why I Don’t Vote – Update
http://Hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org
r.  A Closer Look:  The 11 People Wilson-Raybould Said Were Involved in the SNC-Lavalin Affair –  Kathryn Blaze Baum, Tavia Grant and Wendy Stueck, 01 Mar 2019, Globe and Mail
s.  SNC-Lavalin CEO says firm never cited 9,000 jobs as reason for deserving DPA – Canadian Press, 20 Mar 2019, CBC News
t.  SNC-Lavalin backtracks on CEO’s comments surrounding potential job losses – Canadian Press, 25 Mar 2019, National Newswatch
u.
Trudeau a Threat to Liberal Chances, Must Go:  Martyn Brown –  David Beers, 25 Mar 2019, TheTyee.ca
v.  SNC-Lavalin affair:  Philpott and Wilson-Raybould aren’t lifelong Liberals, and some say that’s the problem – CBC Radio transcript, 05 Mar 2019

w.  Trudeau defends actions as Philpott asks if Wilson-Raybould was sidelined over SNC-Lavalin – Kathleen Harris, 21 Mar 2019, CBC News
x.  Jody Wilson-Raybould:  ‘The Liberal party is not something I understand anymore’ – John Geddes, 04 Apr 2019, Maclean’s
y.  The SNC-Lavalin scandal is proof our system of government is working.  Seriously –  Philippe Lagasse, 05 Mar 2019, Maclean’s
z.  Jody Wilson-Raybould on Her Path to Independence –  Michael Harris, 10 Jun 2019, TheTyee.ca              

STUDENTS AND ELECTORAL EDUCATION

I suspect Trudeau will keep this platform promise:

“We will engage with first-time voters and encourage more Canadians to vote.

Every young person should be registered to vote when they turn 18. We will work with interested provinces and territories, and Elections Canada, to register young Canadians as a part of their high school or CEGEP curriculum.”

“To ensure that no young person loses the opportunity to vote, we will mandate Elections Canada to stay in contact with them if they change addresses after graduation.

Finally, to encourage more voter participation, we will support Elections Canada in proactively registering Canadians from groups that historically have lower turnout, such as students.” (1)

Trudeau attacks the sympton, not the cause. He disillusions voters, including young voters, by lying. R​​​eal Lavergne, president of Fair Vote Canada, said young people “appear to be particularly outraged” by the government’s electoral reform backtrack, (2) and then Trudeau tries to force the young people into voting. Why should they vote? Instead of being honest with voters, the politicians need to try to force/manipulate students into voting to try to make up for all the votes I suspect they will lose in future elections. And isn’t “forcing” or “coercing” the students into registering anti-democratic; the decision to vote or to register to vote should be an individual decision. Not voting, for many people, is a means of protesting. What will be the penalty if they don’t register and vote; will they fail high school, will they be denied jobs, etc.?

How will Elections Canada track the students after graduation? What method(s) will Elections Canada use to “stay in touch” when students change address; what method(s) will be used to “proactively” register students?   Will a tracking device be attached to the students on graduation day? Will Canada Post forward any change of address to Elections Canada? Will all government/crown corporations be required to forward information to Elections Canada (Revenue Canada, etc.), taking away the taxpayers choice?   Will there be a database tracing their every move? Wherever they go, will the student’s information be shared with political parties (and all the political parties friends) so the politicians can harass them into voting and contributing to their party’s funds? Will the students not have a choice? It is interesting that the methods to be used were not mentioned.

Wouldn’t it be better to teach the students about the various electoral systems around the world, how they work and discussing, truthfully, the pros and cons of each system? This could be a course starting in the first year of high school and continuing each year. This is already being done to varying degrees but in some cases they just look at the major ideologies and political systems. I think it would be useful to have an understanding of other systems. I would also hope that the discussion would open the minds of the students to the possibility of a system without politicians, more citizens assemblies, a horizontal and integrated system instead of a top-down system, a made-in Canada system, and so on; in essence, thinking outside the box.

I would also like to see a similar course(s) offered through evening/weekend/online programs to the rest of the citizens; this course(s) should be free. And it should be designed, and taught, by qualified teachers who are non-partisan. Each electoral option should answer the same questions, for example how do independent politicians fit into each option; are the potential politicians selected by the parties and beholden to them or, as in the case of STV, do the parties select several possible candidates and the people select the one they like which means the candidate must work for the people, as well as the party, to win the vote. [Disclaimer: my preferred system, to date, is the single transferable vote (STV), as recommended by the citizens committee in British Columbia].

Fair Vote Canada has put on small seminars to explain three forms of electoral systems. However, while in many respects a good effort, the seminars were not long enough, did not appear to be prepared by qualified teachers, did not have enough examples, and left some people confused. In addition, Fair Vote seemed to be ‘pushing’ their preferred choice. Fair Vote also calls itself a multi-partisan organization and has politicians such as David Merner, Vice-President of Fair Vote Canada and a Liberal candidate in last year’s federal election, (3) and Bob Rae, on the national advisory board of Fair Vote Canada (3), was an Ontario NDP leader and was interim leader of the Liberals (Wikipedia). I think the involvement of politicians taints the organization.

How can people vote for an electoral system if they don’t know/understand the choices? I suspect the politicians would like to keep the citizens ignorant so the politicians can “advise” the people on how to vote; and the politicians would advise the people to vote for the system that benefits the politicians not the citizens. And that usually means no change at all.

 

  1. Liberal election platform – Liberal Party of Canada, 2015
  2. Voting reform groups ‘disappointed’ by abandoned Liberal promise – Brendan Burke, 02 Feb 2017, CBC News
  3. Some Liberals join NDP in push for ‘fairer’ voting system – Leslie MacKinnon, 21 Sept 2013, CBC News