Proportional Representation

I just read an article by a group that want to change our electoral process from a First Past the Post system to one of Proportional Representation. Their primary argument was, among many, that Canada had one of the most unstable governments of the developed democracies. They cite Italy as an example of electoral stability.

I don’t know about you but as soon as I read that comment their argument became as mushy as a wet noodle or an overcooked bowl of pasta without the meat sauce. They point out that because Canada has had 22 elections as opposed to Italy’s 18 since WW2 that somehow Italy’s electoral process is a model of stability. Holy ravioli, it cannot be. Well it isn’t:

 Yes Canada has had 22 elections since WW2 but I would say that this is a reflection of how strong and stable our system of government is.

Canada has a parliamentary system of government based upon Westminster that calls for an election, until Harper’s fixed election date decree, of every 5 years. That alone would require an election every 14.2 years in Canada since 1945 if all governments were majority in nature. But they haven’t been and I would argue that that is also a good thing because the strength of our democracy and parliamentary system of government holds poor governments to account (remember Joe Clark, Meighen) by forcing them to go to the polls for public validation.  Minorities can also provide strong legislative government as reflected by Pearson’s successful minority governments of the mid 1960s.

Our system also prevents potential constitutional crises – Mackenzie King, Bing affair comes to mind – something that Italy could only hope for. By the way, Italy may have had only 18 elections since WW2 but they have had 65 different governments since 1945, and therein lies the problem that can arise with Proportional Representation (PR). Nothing gets done.  Why?  Because governance coalitions are necessary for power and political survival in these countries with their PR systems of government. Unfortunately, by their very nature, they are unstable. Can you imagine the chaos in Canada if the Layton, Dion and Duceppe coalition had taken down Harper’s minority government back in December 2008? Luckily, through our strong and stable system of rules and protocols, Harper was able to prorogue parliament and thus avoid political instability in this country. The Liberals backed down from the coalition early in 2009. Whew! Of course all of the lefties blew a hissy fit and spewed their spaghetti all over their bibs.

As an example of the efficacy of Italy’s PR system, here are some facts about Italy’s 2008 election:

“An early election was called (in Italy) when Romano Prodi resigned as prime minister in January, after the collapse of his centre-left coalition, which had been in power for just 20 months…only one Italian government has lasted a full five-year term in the last 50 years, led by conservative Silvio Berlusconi between 2001-2006 and even he was forced to resign once during that time by fractious allies.”

“Italians blame electoral laws for chronic instability that brought down the 61st government since World War Two in January. The system, still in use, mixes proportional representation with a threshold of 2 percent for parties in a coalition and 4 percent for single parties. It permitted more than 20 parties to take seats in 2006.”

And the real kicker here is:

“Both Berlusconi and Veltroni favoured altering the system to reduce the PR element and push Italy towards a two-party system.” Unfortunately, for Italy, that hasn’t happened yet.

Who knew?

 

Those Dastardly Brits and the Evil British Empire

Watching the Royals yesterday at their welcoming ceremony at the Victoria legislature got me to thinking of some of the hypocrisy of these visits with respect to certain elements of the welcoming committee. It wasn’t too long ago that the Mayor of Victoria and four of the city’s councillors refused to swear allegiance to the Queen. Irrelevant they suggested and the Mayor herself offered her support only to First Nations. Huh, well hey, what about me??

In 2015 the Nanaimo city council cut off funding to the annual Empire Day’s organizing committee, unless they changed their name to something less offensive to First Nations. Oh I know: “Queen and Country Days”

“Times are changing,” said Nanaimo City Councillor Diane Brennan. “The term empire is hurtful. It’s a reminder of colonization and oppression of the indigenous people and it’s caused great suffering.”

 Emmy Manson, a councillor with the local Snuneymuxw First Nation, agrees.

“I guess for me it triggers some old history that really isn’t positive for our people,” said Manson.

That history includes residential schools, loss of language and culture and displacement. (sorry to say but this had nothing to do with the Brits)

 Manson said she and other Snuneymuxw people do not attend the event because of its connotation.

“I get why we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday,” said Manson. “I think that’s what it ought to be called.” (CBC, 22 Jan 2015)

 Well excuse me for a minute Ms Manson but Queen Victoria was the figurehead of that dastardly evil empire that triggers the micro-aggression you refer to.

 My thoughts:

Taking the City of Nanaimo’s lead, perhaps now is the time to change the name of the Victoria Day celebrations to one that is less offensive to local First Nations. After all Queen Victoria, our city’s namesake, represents all that was bad about the British Empire: its colonialism, its trade, economic growth, rule of law, common law, security, individual rights and freedoms, civilization, Magna Carta, infrastructure, semblance of order and, of course, the poor treatment that First Nations people had to endure under the Victorian British brand – as opposed to – the continual inter-tribe warrior raids and inter-band savagery, discrimination and slavery.  Taking Nanaimo’s logic to its proper conclusion, I would suggest that now is also the time that we change the name of Victoria to Camosun, a name which better reflects our First Nation history and heritage. After all those dastardly Brits oversaw Nanaimo and Victoria for a full 17 years from 1853-1871 and 28 years from 1843-1871 respectively. The Canadian government has been responsible for things well after that. How well you may ask?? Well for about 150 years, that’s how well!

And well (sic) we are at it I would also suggest and strongly recommend that we change the name of Canada Day to something less offensive. After all the Canadian government, and not Great Britain, has governed Victoria and the Province of B.C., since 20 July, 1871. In that vein the Canadian government and not Great Britain represents: broken aboriginal promises and treaties; the reserve paradigm; repression of Metis during the  Red River / Northwest Rebellion (1870, 1885); the execution of Louis Riel and imprisonment and subsequent death of Poundmaker, Big Bear and many of their of his brethren;  residential schools; the Indian Act; the segregation and discrimination of Chinese immigrants in accordance with the Chinese Immigration and Exclusion Act(s); the sequester and internment of all Japanese Canadians after 1941; internment of Ukranian and Italian Canadians; the refusal to allow refugees of Indian origin entry into Vancouver in 1914 (the Komagata Maru incident); the refusal to accept 900 Jewish refugees into Canada in 1939 (St Louis Incident), which probably ensured their imminent deaths under a Nazi regime; the Chinese Head Tax; the Duplessis Regime; the Orange Order’s anti Catholic movement and religious discrimination; refusal to recognize women as persons from 1867 – 1930; Africville and the segregation of blacks in eastern and central Canada until 1964; and, the Canadian government “black” list goes on and on.

 Oh we can be so smug, can’t we?

 How I hate hypocrisy!

By the way, at yesterday’s welcoming ceremony, the Governor General’s wife reminded me of a Leprechaun in that outfit she was wearing. The Prince’s Equerry seemed to be more of a hindrance than a help.

Will and Kat looked great. With George and Charlotte they make the perfect family. Hope they have a great time.

Note: I am not a rabid monarchist per se. Heck, I used to shoot spit balls from my pea shooter at the Queen’s picture when I was a kid in school. No, but I do respect our heritage and culture and the contributions made by the British over the years. And I do respect the Commonwealth of Nations: an August body of diverse countries and nations that share a common heritage of sorts. And to me that is a lot better than that farcical United Nations. It is something to embrace, not discard.

A Royal Affair

The Royals, William and Kate and their two children, George and Charlotte, have just arrived here in Victoria. I watched the opening ceremonies with interest. I must say that George really stole the show here. What a cute kid he is. And Charlotte could almost be his twin.

Now I do not consider myself to be an ardent monarchist but I do respect our heritage and historical ties and links to Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and our Queen. We fought two World Wars under the monarchy to defend our Judeo Christian values as well as to free the world from tyranny. I am also very proud to have served for Queen and Country in the Royal Canadian Navy. So:

Welcome to Victoria Will, Kate, George and Charlotte.

 

The Sky is Falling

I just re-read a prediction the Sierra Club of Canada made about 10 years ago about how Victoria would look under 75 feet of water and how the various areas around the CRD would be affected. I remember writing a letter to the editor at the time – a time when Global Warming hysteria really began – about this very prediction.  I think it is worth repeating here because much of it is still relevant:

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Victorians are gurgling with excitement over rising sea levels! Alan Lowe (Mayor of Victoria) and the Sierra Club’s dire prediction of Victorian flooding of biblical proportions because of Global Warming got me to thinking:

  • If you thought the leaky condo issue was big news, standby for heavy rolling;
  • Our buildings have already been upgraded for earthquakes.  It’s now time to make them waterproof;
  • Just think, BC Ferries can now depart from downtown Victoria;
  • Kinda brings a whole new meaning to the Colwood crawl, don’t ya think;
  • Forget Light Rapid Transit. Make way for fast water taxis;
  • Getting rid of those “Fast Cat” ferries may have been a wee bit premature;
  • We won’t have to address our sewage treatment issues. Clover and Macaulay Point will be so far underwater that no one will notice. I hear Methane floats though!
  • We could establish a new tourist attraction: The Clover and Macaulay Point “Hot Springs”
  • The Premier and MLAs need not to fret. We can always move the BC legislature up into the dome – that is when they sit of course;
  • How about this for a new marketing strategy for Victoria’s tourist industry: “Venice of the North” 
  • Small businesses shouldn’t worry. A whole new growth industry could be established in gondolas, scuba gear and undersea gardens and shops;
  • Agricultural Land Reserve?? No problem. Just change the name to Aqua-Cultural Land Reserve. After all, Government can do whatever it wants;
  • Unfortunately though, a new building code will require that all existing downtown buildings over 75 ft in height will have to have jetties and bollards installed above the 75 ft level. Buildings under 75 ft????? Well, they’ll be waterproofed won’t they?

Another crazy prediction from the environmentalists that turned out to be all wet.