Video – Why I’m Running

Canadians deserve to have a support system for human and environmental health, including accessible mental healthcare. We need to implement a #TripleBottomLine accounting system to measure social & environmental values in addition to fiscal economics. The Green Party of Canada platform is supported by science with strategic sustainable solutions and evidence-based policy for People Planet & Prosperity.

3 – Prosperity

Income inequality is rising; wealth is consolidating into the hands of a few.
“Trickle down” economics to the public bottom line is a farce, demonstrated by the
global fallout of 2008, hard-hitting our neighbours to the south; minimal
regulation, on the chopping block, staved off the worst of despair for Canadians.
While rising risk of poverty and homelessness plagues more since, abuse,
addictions and illness can be ruinous; our national debt climbs.
Pervasive since the 1970’s, this strategy has been proven ineffective by leadership
and empirical standards. Yet many remain unaware of it, at least by name; fewer
seem to realize that both big parties, and select individuals in companies legislated
as individuals, have capitalized on the tenets of public asset deregulation,
privatization and corporate welfare for select profit.

The neoliberal ideological agenda entails privatizing the gains by socializing the
losses, exploiting social & environmental resources. Some claim with economic
supremacy that austerity is their only move, yet seems a strategy to weaken us; I see you. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which we tend to measure economic
success upon, not only goes up with consumer consumption, but also catastrophic

Our culture tends to blame the poor for their state of poverty. While Canadians
remain some of the hardest-working in the developed world, too many remain
within a job loss to automation, illness or accident’s reach of financial ruin.
Canada is home to some of the most highly-educated people in the world, but the
cost of this investment is steeply growing out or reach for many, and many
immigrants are not able to practice in their field of expertise. Do we make poor
choices, or over-consume? Sometimes. Are we too distracted by shiny things, and
conditioned to over-spend? Perhaps.
To individualize poverty on these premises is gaslighting the general public. The
challenge is systemic and institutionalized, bordering on circumstances that are
predatory and ethically criminal. Our market systems are being manipulated by
growing private powers.

Do we tend to underestimate the extent of tax avoidance and evasion by those who
can afford to manipulate legislative loopholes, for the gain of few at the expense of
the many? Absolutely.

Do we look closely enough at where government subsidies are directed, such as
fossil fuels? We’re learning to, using an evidence-based lens to develop policy.
The Green Party pledges to level the playing field for the benefit of future
generations over transnational corporations’ short-term profit.
We can do better! By connecting overarching various government portfolios of
industry, with sustainable solutions of evidence-based policy, we can move
forward, together.

GPI: Greens are committed to improving our collective well-being. Greens
recognize that we need new measurements of our societal health and prosperity.
The GPC and I stand to implement a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) for
measuring the contributive value of community & ecological indicator values, to
balance the Triple Bottom Line (TBL).
Even economists lament the shortcomings of hanging our hats on GDP. Shifting
our ideology and policy to include social and environmental values we will
revolutionize our collective priorities. New Zealand has taken such steps,
implemented with their Well-Being Budget, Imagine the value of shade, diversity,
animals, plants and natural spaces; the value of healthcare, education, food
security, altruistic volunteer and poverty indicators to our accounting system for
example, beyond mere fiscal economic benefit.…/vi…/economy/true-cost-accounting
Circular Economy: We waste raw materials, waste water, and waste energy. In
fact, of all the energy used by Canadians, more than half is wasted. Green
economic policies aim to improve the efficiency of resource and energy use by a
factor of four. In their seminal book, Factor Four, Ernst von Weizacker, Amory B.
Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins concluded: “The amount of wealth extracted from
one unit of natural resources can quadruple. Thus we can live twice as well – yet
use half as much.”
Improvements in labour productivity drove economic growth after World War II.
We must now repeat the exercise as we improve the efficiency of resource and
energy use, including innovation in the Circular Economy for Extended Producer
Responsibility (EPR):…/it%E2%80%99s-time-get-

Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI): In the race to the top we seemed to forget our
principles of not leaving anyone behind. The niche economy has exacerbated
precarious work while disruptive technology is replacing repetitive jobs. Social
safety nets have been slashed and too many people are falling through the cracks.
How do we better plan for the future where conditions for safety, wellness,
creativity and innovation are fostered?

Working more, working poor? Guaranteed Livable Income for Health, Education,
Innovation & Social Justice.
Among the countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD), Canada ranks 25th out of 37 when it comes to public
spending on social services as a share of GDP. That’s below that of the United

I support a Guaranteed Livable Income for minimalist lifestyles with dignity, and
so do 112 Ontario-based CEO’s:

The early signs are that the Guaranteed Livable Income project was working.
People were returning to school, finding work, and living in decent housing; they
deserve minimalism with dignity:

Clean Economy: Pipelines export wealth & jobs while tar sands productions
pollute water & air. We must plan to leave fossil carbon fuel as the source of
emissions & virgin-petroleum plastics in the ground.
The 2010 report of the International Energy Agency called for the removal of fossil
fuel subsidies. Globally, they amount to over $300 billion a year, while renewables
received approximately $30 billion. These perverse subsidies must be removed. It
makes sense to reduce taxes on things we want – income and employment – while
increasing taxes on things we do not want, like greenhouse gases (GHGs) and
pollution. We must transition to the $26T clean economy:…/vis…/economy/corporate-subsidies

1 – People

Canada has been built on a variety of cultures, religions, and ethnic backgrounds.
One of the global Green Party values is Respect for Diversity, another
Participatory Democracy; we strive to progress our culture with an inclusive
attitude of solidarity.

It only makes sense that a well-educated population, thriving from a sense of
wellness, is beneficial to our society and economy. Our social safety nets can
modernize along with technology, including a Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI).
We are strongest when we support the most vulnerable among us.
The most important resource of a country is its people. To reach their full potential,
citizens need an environment where they can grow, mature and innovate within
safe, healthy, and secure communities. We have much work to do for truth and
reconciliation so all can heal for the next phase of our human evolution, together.

Mental Health: Greens subscribe to the World Health Organization’s definition of
health as “a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not
merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Our present health care system
addresses only one dimension – the treatment of disease and/or trauma by qualified
professionals in publicly-funded medical facilities.

Greens applaud the creation in 2007 of the Mental Health Commission of Canada
(MHCC). The MHCC has estimated that mental illness costs the Canadian
economy $50 billion per year. We support the call from the Canadian Alliance ofStudent Associations that the MHCC’s mandate be extended for another ten years
(2015-2025) and to ensure a focus on the mental health of youth.
Preventive Wellness:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”– Benjamin Franklin

Prevention and health promotion save lives and money.

A significant proportion of illnesses and deaths in this country are preventable.
Many Canadians do not have the necessary information, tools, or the
encouragement to lead healthier lives. Much needless suffering, premature loss of
life, and considerable healthcare costs can be avoided through improved lifestyles
(nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation), dental care, health research, screening
programs, more timely diagnosis, earlier treatment, healthier public policies and
environments. For example, it is estimated that at least 50% of cancers are
Yet funding allocated for health promotion has fluctuated in the vicinity of 1% of
overall health system funding, despite the demonstrated cost-effectiveness of many
disease prevention and health promotion programs.

Health promotion is about more than health care or health education. It is about
recognizing the profound health impacts of determinants of health outside the
formal healthcare system and working with many stakeholders (policy-makers,
NGOs, health agencies, multiple levels of government, the private sector, and most
important, affected communities themselves) to reduce, eliminate, or overcome
those factors that harm health or act as barriers to health enhancement. We must
promote factors which enhance the health, well-being, and quality of life of all

The number one determinant of health is poverty. Ending poverty is not only a
moral imperative, it will reduce burdens on our health care system.
The Green Party of Canada recognizes the value of good health as a fundamental
human right, and also the key to the most vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable
Canadian society possible.

Greens want to move Canada towards being the world’s healthiest country by
making improved and sustainable health for all a national priority.
To make this vision a reality will require a long journey, a comprehensive effort
touching many aspects of Canadian society. In the short term, we recommend the following actions to begin this journey. These recommendations can have an
immediate, positive, and measurable impact on Canadian’s health, and turn us
away from a health system focused on disease treatment to one where disease
prevention and good health promotion are the priority.
Green Party MPs will:

● Push for renewed Canadian leadership in health promotion both nationally
and on the international stage. We have some of the best minds, training
programs, experienced practitioners, and progressive health promotion
coalitions in the world. These can be key building blocks in a renewed
federal leadership in health promotion;

● Specifically, we recommend the following actions to take place

  1. Restore funding for the Canadian Health Network, a key national resource for
    individuals and health professionals across the country;
  2. Create a Federal Healthy Community Initiatives Fund to which community
    organizations can apply for innovative local projects utilizing community
    development principles and practices to address both human and ecosystem
    health at the local level;
  3. Protect children from inappropriate exposure to marketing, especially of junk
    foods and soft drinks (see development of a National Food Policy below, and
    as in Agriculture and Food policy in section 1.15);
  4. Create a Canadian Healthy Living Guide, similar to the recently revised
    Canada’s Food Guide but more comprehensive in scope;
  5. Work with provincial stakeholders to better compensate family physicians
    and other health professionals for health education and health promotion
    services work with key stakeholders such as the Chronic Disease Prevention
    Alliance of Canada (CDPAC), the Canadian Lung Association, Canadian
    Diabetes Foundation, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and others to promote
    integrated, innovative, evidence-based, inter-sectoral, and comprehensive
    approaches to disease prevention and health promotion;
  6. Institute a GST Health Benefit Exemption for those products/services deemed
    to have significant health benefit such as sports equipment, fitness centre
    fees, and some health-promoting health services;
  7. Institute a Corporate Health Tax Reduction for workplaces that institute a
    qualified workplace health model or comprehensive healthy workplace
    settings approach such as that offered by the National Quality Institute;
  8. Work to reduce the use of pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and other
    chemical and pharmaceutical agents in agriculture;
  9. Seek a Canadian ban on all forms and applications of Genetic Use Restriction
    Technologies through legislation;
  10. Promote environmentally sustainable, organic farming practices that protect
    the health of the land, farmers, and consumers;
  11. Restore funding for critical food safety testing and new product approvals
  12. Institute a National Junk Food Tax for non-essential, empty calorie foods and
    beverages including high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt snack foods;
  13. Support the development and adoption of a comprehensive national set of
    protective helmet standards for different sport and vehicle use and the
    allocation of federal funding for a national education program to encourage
    protective helmet use;
  14. Develop a federal Health Impact Assessment Board to incorporate health
    impact assessment as part of all federal government policy reviews, similar to
    the current Environmental Assessment Board;
  15. Support the development of initiatives to reduce the use of psychoactive
    drugs through better rehabilitation and prevention programs, especially for
  16. Restructure education of health care professionals to incorporate adequate
    training in health promotion;
  17. Provide computerized health promotion aids and make them accessible freely
    to all Canadians;
  18. Expand healthcare coverage to include basic preventive dental care;
  19. Establish a minimum budget for health promotion at 1.5% of the total federal
    healthcare budget.

In order to keep health care spending from continuing to skyrocket,
we must find a way to control the cost of drugs. Currently, 20% of our health care
budget is spent on pharmaceuticals – and this is the area of health care in which
costs are rising most quickly.
Pharmaceutical use must be more rigorously assessed on an evidence-based
approach. Used as directed, it is estimated that prescription drug use leads to
150,000 deaths every year in North America. Health Canada has not performed
adequately in assessing risks. Canada still lacks any requirement for mandatory
reporting of side-effects from prescribed drugs. Far too often, conflict of interest in
the relationship between those who advise government agencies, and even
physicians who accept trips and promotions from the pharmaceutical industry, can
influence decisions. There are two and a half drug sales representatives for every
physician in Canada.
Getting a handle on the use of prescription drugs can both save lives and cut costs.
The best way to accomplish both life-saving and cost-cutting goals is through a
universal Pharmacare program, a bulk drug purchasing agency, and make new drug
patent protection times shorter. This national agency would follow the principles of
the gold-standard for evidence-based assessment of the risks and benefits of
pharmaceuticals – the Therapeutics Initiative at University of British Columbia. It
is critical that no conflict of interest corrupt the drug assessment process. Drugs
showing a greater harmful than beneficial effect will not be part of a national
Pharmacare program. The Therapeutic Initiative (TI) approach identified Vioxx as
such a drug, when Health Canada missed the risks. It is estimated that the TI
assessment, and the willingness of the British Columbia Health Department to
accept that advice, saved 500 lives in B.C. Advice to physicians from TI saved the
provincial health care system approximately $700 million/year. These kinds of
savings – in lives and health care costs – must be pursued across Canada.
By bulk buying prescription drugs, based on a strong evidence-based assessment,
costs will come down for the provincial delivery of health care.
As well, we used to have a successful generic drug market in Canada, but changes
to the patent laws have almost wiped it out. As patents for a number of commonly
prescribed drugs are set to expire in the near future, this presents a great
opportunity for the government to step in and provide less expensive generic drugs.
The Green Party accepts the principle advocated by the Canadian Diabetes
Association that no Canadian should spend more than 3% of his or her total after
tax earnings on necessary prescribed medications and other treatments.

Adopt Real Justice, Truth & Reconciliation.

The Green Party of Canada affirms
that all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities have the right to determine
their own membership, govern according to traditional governance structures, hold
sovereignty over their traditional territories, practice their cultures and traditions,
speak, retain, and reclaim their languages, and fully participate in guiding and
directing any and all legal and policy decisions regarding their livelihoods. The
Greens further affirm that Indigenous peoples have a right to access sufficient
high-quality and culturally appropriate education, healthcare, employment, and
other services to achieve a healthy standard of living. Therefore, in accordance with the recommendations made within the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), the Green Party of Canada will
support First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in rebuilding, self-defining and self-
identifying their own citizenship. We will support Indigenous peoples and follow
their lead as they implement their own strategies for rebuilding Indigenous nations
and measures to reclaim Indigenous nationhood. We will support measures to
promote cultural revitalization and healing processes. We will support Indigenous
peoples in building consensus on the basic composition of their Indigenous nation
and its political structures and processes undertaken by individual communities
and by groups of communities that may share Indigenous nationhood.
Indigenous justice also requires eliminating the vestiges of oppression and
colonialism. Greens are committed to end the provisions of the Indian Act. This
monumental task requires us to work in full partnership with First Nations.

Eleanor Hayward recognizes the challenge of balancing the present moment with
future interests.
We must stop placing a debt on future generations opportunities for a peaceful and
healthy life, as we have been taking more from our planet than it can give us.
If we make the analogy or our ecological system to our economic system: What are
we doing? In an economic system we strive not to draw down our capital, and
continually build our reserve, living off the interest as much as we can. Compare
this to what we are doing in our ecological systems – we are drawing down out
ecological reserves and eating far into its capital – this has to stop.
Tired/Bored of the Ping Pong Politics? Vote PEOPLE PLANET PROSPERITY!

Natural Health Products in Canada

The Natural Health Products Protection Association (NHPPA) is federally incorporated as a non-profit company with the sole objective of protecting access to Natural Health Products and Dietary Supplements. Health Canada has published and is looking to move forward with a time-table which dramatically changes the way in which Natural Health Products will be regulated for the public and Natural Health Practitioners. Essentially, this would mean that Natural Health Products would be treated the same way as chemical drugs are in the Food and Drugs Act.

To combat this, the NHPPA has a 3-step plan of action for stopping Health Canada’s changes to the NHP product regulation. Firstly, stopping Health Canada’s proposed plan to regulate natural health products as “Self-Care Products” under the same set of regulations as chemical nonprescription drugs. Secondly, to add the definition of Natural Health Product to the Food and Drugs Act. Lastly, to adopt the Charter of Health Freedom as Law. Categorizing Natural Health Products under self-care products such as drugs is clearly unwarranted because of their obvious differences and Canadians have been fighting against this regulation for the last 20 years. Freedom of choice on how we choose to manage and prevent disease within our bodies is our right. Adding a definition of a Natural Health Product in the Food and Drugs Act is extremely necessary in this approach. With this impending regulation the consumer will be affected in multiple ways, such as having little to no information on labels, censorship of scientific evidence of therapeutic usage and success, and no information on the efficacy and quality of the specific product.

The Charter of Health Freedom is a piece of proposed legislation that protects your constitutional rights by giving natural health products and traditional medicines their own Act. The Charter would protect access to NHPs and traditional medicines by creating a separate legal category for them that is neither foods nor drugs. Instead of being treated as dangerous drugs under the Food and Drugs Act, the Charter would deem NHPs and traditional medicines to be safe unless there is evidence of harm. The Charter of Health Freedom enables the definition and regulation of NHPs as a true third category with foods and drugs, a move that Canadians have specifically demanded of their government. The Charter reaffirms in law the long-standing relationship citizens of our great nation have enjoyed with the government as a servant, rather than a master in our affairs.

As Canadians have increasingly incorporated alternative approaches to their health, their practitioners will be greatly affected by this proposal. Naturopathic doctors, Traditional Chinese medicine doctors, Ayurvedic doctors, Nutritionists and Herbalists have become integral parts of keeping our citizens in good health using holistic approaches. This regulation serves to strip away jobs from these hard working Natural Health Practitioners and Canadian citizens. As censorship is enforced, increased fines and administrative penalties will be issued for telling the truth. By imposing the same Good Manufacturing Practices used by Chemical Drug companies to Natural Health Product companies there is a further increase of costs on the NHP community as a whole. Access to NHP’s will be reduced due the costly model of manufacturing drugs in turn causing prices to increase. Accessibility will further decrease to many Canadians as low-income families and citizens can no longer reason their natural health products as affordable. Small and medium manufacturers will go out of business reducing competition and access to innovative products.

This regulation affects all of us. Visit the NHPPA website and take action today on how to protect access to Natural Health Products.

The Green Party of Canada recognizes the value of good health as a fundamental human right, and also the key to the most vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable Canadian society possible. Greens want to move Canada towards being the world’s healthiest country by making improved and sustainable health for all a national priority. I advocate for increasing wellness promotion & prevention services; see our platform on the Social Contract for Health Care.
#ProtectAndEnhanceHealthCare #HealthPromotion #Pharmacare #PreventiveWellness

Why and How Canada’s Electoral System Affects the Strategic Voting Effect

Eleanor Hayward submitted the following Research Essay for McMaster University Political Science 2D03: Canadian Democracy on November 20th, 2017 to Professor Peter Graefe & Teaching Assistant Rachael Barnett.

Figure 1:

Source: (CBC, 2015)

Election policy is an essential component of representative liberal democracies, providing a system to select citizens’ best delegates for the lower bicameral legislature. In Ottawa, Ontario the institutional House of Commons (HoC) stands as an arena for 338 Members of Parliament (MP) to debate significant issues and create policy for our nation state. From the campaigning candidate pool of various parties, more than 35.9 million eligible Canadians (Population Pyramid, 2015), select politicians to embody the people’s will. The legal mechanism we employ is a legitimately fundamental element which measures public opinion, translating votes into representative governing shares to execute political power creating law in the name of the public’s greater good. This is the foundation for each bill proposed and amended, each with proponents and opponents discussing pros and cons to negotiate and manufacture the will of Canada’s free electorate across ridings from coast, to coast, to coast.

Significant research and consultation has been undertaken to explore free and fair voting processes. This paper descriptively examines the pros and cons of Canada’s current federal electoral system, and alternately forms of more Proportional Representation (PR) with examples from international experience. A pertinent summary of Canada’s history and present position aims to brings the reader to date on this vital topic of democratic representation. In addition, reflection through the framework of information gleaned from McMaster University’s political science curriculum is explored with analysis of data from various reputable resources plus popular social media in assessment of public opinion contrasting the official government narrative. Themes of power in discourse and extent of minority inclusion are strung throughout from a perspective of democratic service.

Existing Institution—Single Member Plurality by First Past The Post

The electoral system currently employed is referred to as a First Past The Post (FPTP) race of Single Member Plurality (SMP). Proponents claim it provides constituents with localized support to efficiently usher along parliamentary matters, especially with majority governments. Elected representatives are reportedly transparent and accountable to the mercy of voters’ pen-strokes against them next election.

This “winner takes all” approach is sufficiently democratic in principle having served since Confederation and many Canadians accept this account; this perspective is questionable considering a minority of voters regularly manifests “false majority” governments. It’s downright confusing why a plurality counts as an applied expression of a majoritarian system. A plurality means that whichever party gets the most votes wins the contest, not actually by winning a race to fifty-plus-one percent as the common preconception of the term “majority” suggests.

By distorting election results, FPTP creates both over and under-representation of particular parties. The party leader with platform politics elected is First among Members and responsible to appoint colleagues in service as Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, with the Governor General’s (GG) blessing. Under the responsible government model, this Cabinet is held to a convention of collective responsibility in presenting legislation; all caucus members are strongly encouraged to toe the party line, as long as the Prime Minister (PM) holds confidence of the HoC. While the significance of this will be expanded upon with a specific example in reflection and analysis, suffice it to say that power is consolidated in this executive, requiring checks and balances to maintain democracy.

Opponents of the SMP system consider Duverger’s Law (Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p.307), with both mechanical and psychological effects, which argues a disproportionally-powerful two-party system is bound to emerge and perpetuate with one party holding control (Pappalardo, 2007).

Psychologically, eligible voters are left holding their noses in ballot boxes and strategically select their representatives by striking their ballot against the candidate they do not want, instead of going with their morals to choose a candidate who truly reflects their values. By mechanical effect “wrong winners” can occur, for example two candidates in different districts can receive the same share of votes, one wins a seat while the other doesn’t. Moreover, many votes are systematically disregarded by FPTP. This set of factors attributed to FPTP marginalizes minority representation, namely of women and indigenous peoples in the HoC, when parties tend to select candidates who are more electable, potentially instead of the best qualified person for the job (Niagara Council of Women, 2017).

These challenges are summed up by rational theorists, explaining there is no rational reason for people to participate with time or money in political activity, because there is little significant influence on outcome. These characteristics collectively lower voter turnout, aggravating a collective action problem among the distracted electorate. When actions have little or no effect, all may then fail to act and all may suffer adverse consequences which may entail losing control to the elite (Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p. 284), affecting democratic representation. 

FPTP is known to inflame partisan differences, aggravating an adversarial forum for contentious politics. Meanwhile proponents of PR suggest this alternate system penalizes politics of division, as candidates court second and third choice preferences from voters. Cross-party dialogue is given impetus, furthering legislative civility and collaboration [All Votes Count literature]

Proposed Reform—Proportional Representation

Let us explore the various options of PR first from its’ opponents’ perspective, noting they are often proponents of FPTP. It can be argued PR is a hopelessly complex approach which may needlessly confuse the voting public in ballot boxes. Results lead to inefficient minority governments and often the need for coalition support, which can blur the lines for public accountability. Government would be inherently fractured and therefore more likely to be unstable. It is argued the HoC becomes vulnerable to divisive extremist parties given a more powerful voice where negotiations may necessitate concession detrimental to leading party values. Proponents of FPTP argue change in the direction of PR is irresponsible and risky since democracy is already being served, public consultation demonstrates interest for electoral reform does not exist, and other parliamentary issues are more pressing.

Opponents of FPTP are often alternately proponents of a more proportionally representative system, which offers improved access for minority voices, creating opportunity for shared political power with reinforced cooperation to achieve consensus. In comparison to plurality systems, PR is likely to produce characteristic multiparty systems, often broad and inclusive coalition governments, with more equitable executive-legislative power relations. [ ]  

Examples include open and closed-list systems, from moderate to extreme implementation, with hybrid models available in between. Italy and Isreal are represented with closed-list extreme PR systems most dissimilar to SMP. Parties present a ranked sequence of preferred candidates, and voters select their preferred party as a whole. The pre-decided elected MP’s will receive seats in proportion to their share of the votes, where candidates at the top of the list are selected, while those at the bottom are not at the water mark number, calculating by vote percentages to distribution of seats the party is expected to receive.

Open party list systems scale along several variations from relatively closed, to more moderate or most open, all the way to free/panachage perspective by implementation in principle. These assorted approaches allow voters influence to elect individual candidates from the spectrum of party choices more than closed-list systems do. In some nations, voters may be allowed several votes each to rank individuals and/or their party of preference. Hybrid versions have been crafted between FPTP and PR are often referred to as Semi-proportional or Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) systems. Examples have been evaluated, selected and are commonly employed widely across Europe, while also in Japan and Brazil among other democracies.

Under PR even small parties can gain seats, often with a standard minimal electoral threshold of 3-5% [(Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p. 288) applied. With fewer wasted votes, participation rates are higher in turn. Data from the International institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance show that voter turn out per voting age population in PR systems are significantly higher at 68% to MMP’s 60% and SMD at 59% on average (Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p. 290). Analysis of the World Values Survey demonstrates nations with PR are more tolerant of diversity as well as more likely to adopt progressive social policies including same-sex marriage and those reducing inequality. Proponents argue PR is more democratic and more broadly representative. Canadians in the twenty-first generally consider themselves progressive for women’s rights, yet in 2016 only represent 26% of elected legislature (Orvis & Drogus, 2018). Varying hypotheses suggest political culture and longer lengths of official national democracy can not be discounted, although analysis of the World Classification Table reviewing statistics on women in international legislatures also suggests PR systems are more conducive to electing women than SMP. [comp poli text] Other large-scale quantitative analysis shows higher overall human well-being, when more issues are brought into multiparty arenas creating greater competitiveness, giving incentives for better party performance when in power. (Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p.291)

There is obvious complexity in evaluating and selecting a fair PR system. Early in the twentieth century it was too difficult to manually count ballots (Pilon & Stephenson, 2016, p.12), now the modern advantage of transportation and communication technologies greatly enhance their successful implementation. If public education campaigns are specially crafted to present a clear, simplified process, the argument of complexity is negated. However, the legitimate debate continues, and some history of electoral institutions is presented next.

Canada’s Brief History of Equitable Elections

A concentrated chronological sequence is captured here with effort to facilitate the reader’s comprehension of this complex issue to date. First of all, election systems are not a constitutional issue. Although multi-member districts did exist SMP was the early electoral process of choice as inherited from Great Britain’s Westminster parliamentary model.

From Confederation in 1867, only land-owning Caucasian men were permitted to vote in contribution to this democratic institution, with racial and gendered exclusions (Women’s Suffrage in Canada, n.d.). Eligible voter qualifications changed over time; with some earlier exceptions, women struggled to earn enfranchisement and succeeded with federal legislative changes to include most women in 1918 for example. Individuals living in poverty, men and women of ethnic ancestries then First Nation’s peoples eventually followed. Youth vote expanded when voting age was lowered from twenty-one to eighteen in 1970. The right to franchise was hard-won by many; in each of these achievements there existed divisive opposition (Women’s Suffrage in Canada, n.d.). Franchise reforms strengthened bonds between the people and the government instilling trust that Canadians were more inclusively represented by democratic institutions. (Gould, 2016) The next phase of enhanced democracy comes not with voting eligibility, but rather how cast votes are translated into representative shares of power.

Mackenzie King promised voting reforms while campaigning for the 1935 election, however dispatched the issue to a committee and was forgotten once he was safely back in power (Pilon & Stephenson, 2016, p.13).

Fast forward to the twenty-first century when Liberal leader Justin Trudeau apparently recognized this ongoing inequality by campaigning passionately for federal election since June 2015, originally from a third-place polling position, creating a standard of his party platform promising “We will make every vote count. We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the FPTP voting system…within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.” (Liberal Party of Canada, 2017)

Meanwhile, Ms. Karina Gould campaigned for a seat as MP in her constituency of Burlington, Ontario. Running on the Liberal platform, she was publicly recorded by interest-group Fair Vote Canada (FVC) as supporting proportional representation (2017).

Many citizens were optimistic in turn and supported the Liberal platform. The final results of the 2015 Canadian federal election awarded Justin Trudeau’s Liberals 38.5% of the 17.5 million popular voters, inflated by FPTP to represent a false-majority of 54% for a total of 184 seats. Conversely the Green Party (GP) received 3.5% of the popular vote, yet distorted by FPTP the election awarded GP only one seat. This ineffectively wasted 51% of all votes, which under PR would have translated more democratically represented eleven seats for GP, see Figure 1 for a visual (CBC News, 2015).

Once elected on a crimson tide with a surprising majority government, the new PM was welcomed by the GG with Speech from the Throne on behalf of the monarch: “Let us not forget, however, that Canadians have been clear and unambiguous in their desire for real change. Canadians want their government to do different things, and to do things differently…They want to be able to trust their government,” (Johnston, 2015) In return the PM acknowledged this and pledged: “The government is committed to open and transparent government…The trust Canadians have in public intuitions – including Parliament – has, at times, been compromised… [and] Parliament can restore it,” again specifically stating reform of Canada’s electoral system so that 2015 is the last federal election conducted under the FPTP system (Curry & Galloway, 2015).

Also elected on the red wave, MP Gould readily spoke to the NDP opposition motion of creating the special all-party parliamentary committee on electoral reform on June 2, 2016, she is quoted:

“Electoral reform is the next step in this evolution toward a more inclusive system. We can build a better system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and the election results, one that motivates Canadians to take part, one that reflects our collective values of fairness, inclusiveness, gender equity, openness, and mutual respect…I strongly believe [in] stepping away from the [FPTP] system and embracing a new system that can reflect these values.”

This motion passed, and the committee was launched. Numerous expert hearings, town hall round-table meetings, and website/email questionnaires from consulted more than 360, 000 Canadians under supervision of Minister of Democratic Institutions, MP Maryam Monsef. She was freshly replaced at this Cabinet post by MP Gould, and promises from a third-place platform were abandoned eight months later on February 1, 2017 when, standing in front of media alone without visible PM support, she made her first announcement as Minister presenting her official mandate. Gould concluded that clear preference and necessary consensus on how or whether to change the electoral system did not exist referring to results from the 300-page committee report, stating it would be irresponsible to move ahead on this issue without consensus, so it was not included on her first-place agenda.

This particular example of collective responsibility and party discipline manifested as betrayal to smaller parties namely the third-place NDP and fifth-place GP. These parties arguably lost loyal supporters to strategic votes, believing 2015 would indeed be the last year FPTP was implemented as promised repeatedly, which had evidently back-fired. The survey was criticized as uninformative and vague, not even designed to reach consensus, followed by scathing accusations ensued of intentional blatant deception; when the NDP opposition asked what would be sufficient to continue, the question was largely avoided. The Burlington GP candidate weighed in, commenting from local media that consensus is determined when all parties agree, often with two-thirds majority, after working together to find a solution to an issue underlining it’s not where we start (Fiorito, 2017).

Yet considering both British Columbia and Prince Edward Island are currently moving forwards with PR assessment, electoral reform may not be permanently off the table. Provinces are often incubators to gauge success of pilot projects, for example universal health care initiated by Saskatchewan, which may later be implemented nationally.

Reflection & Analysis

Citizen participation is key to liberally democratic institutions and power can be deceptive. Political theorist Luke categorizes three dimensions of power; first of persuasively influencing someone to do something, second to prevent someone from doing something, and third, power to influence someone to think in ways contrary to their own interests (Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p.8). Giovanni Sartori succinctly referred to electoral systems as “the most specific manipulative instrument of politics.” (Pappalardo, 2007)

Dennis Pilon suggests the public has never been in control of institutions, which have been designed and maintained by the nation’s elite (2016, p.13). Elite theorists suggest this is an obvious challenge for democracy, as elite members of society have much greater access to key decision makers and can therefore more likely to influence policy (Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p.284).

The second dimension of power is applied by pluralist systems with tendencies toward fewer parties holding more representative power, preventing fair participation. This makes democratic opposition more difficult as holding government to account is less likely with fewer parties represented in the HoC (Pilon & Stephenson, 2016, p.13). Perhaps a majoritarian plurality of seats in contrast to percentage of voters’ wishes does present opportunity for efficiencies in the system by allowing the governing party to bring legislation along with less time and debate. However, arguably accomplished in the name of the free people as established by fair elections. Artificial concentration of power can have decidedly undemocratic effects, when the agenda of the majority power passes over the voices of party representatives in minority positions.

The third dimension of power may be less apparent; an informal review of social media websites may reveal where this lies. When MP Gould spoke to electoral form in June 2016, she posted the video to YouTube herself, which received more “likes” at nine thumbs-up, with fewer “dislikes” with only one thumbs-down, suggesting public support for change. Consider another example on YouTube (CTV News, 2017) with Minister Gould’s press conference announcing her new mandate not including electoral reform, which has received thirty-three thumbs-down, and less-than-half as many thumbs-up with fourteen votes. It is assumed by this student these low numbers are unadulterated and generally representative of the public’s opinions, interpreted as disappointment at the government’s official narrative.

In contrast, another video posted (CBC News, 2016) shows footage from the HoC of PM Trudeau’s defense to accusations of abandoning his promise received 28,528 views overall, with 260 thumbs-up and half as many thumbs-down with 125 votes. Why the flip-flop? Although acknowledging this small informal sample, it could be perceived that more partisan interests viewed the latter video of Question Period, and have self-interest invested to keep FPTP as the status quo electoral system in Canada’s HoC. Perhaps Canadians were deceived by the official committee consultation and confused by lack of clear educational materials even if they were in support of more democratic PR, which may exemplify the third dimension of power. Personally, this student cares about the issue, but did create an especially informed opinion feeling unqualified to contribute to the survey in time, while naively believing the leading party’s rhetoric that electoral reform would take place either way. Now a bit wiser, the issue of collective action seems more obviously in existence also considering experience that few people engage with their elected representatives day-to-day.

The first dimension of power seems to be present in the official narrative that the government will take care of the people without them having to do anything, other than vote of course, meanwhile presenting the public weaponized information, with this most easily manipulated instrument of politics. On the up side, in the name of democracy, interest-groups FVC and Democracy Watch have filed a Joint Ethics Complaint against the Prime Minister (FVC, 2017); claiming 88% of expert witnesses to the committee called for a proportional system, according to a detailed FVC compilation. Results are to be determined.

In conclusion, the formal legal electoral mechanism selected provided by Canada’s institutions give distinct incentives to political parties, their leaders and individual voters, so understanding the various opportunities will affect citizen participation (Orvis & Drogus, 2018, p.284). The SMP system of FPTP has been utilized since Confederation; proponents suggest this simple system presents clear vertical accountability, and although ‘winner takes all’, a stable and efficient government is secured to power, and the electorate may vote them out next time if they are not happy with the results. In response, opponents sometimes refer to FPTP to as antiquated notion due for refreshment. They suggest Duverger’s Laws applies with both psychological and mechanical effects leading to strategic voting, wasted and distorted votes, aggravating a collective action problem. Alternately they suggest a more PR system where more, if not all, votes count. Also, governments under PR systems are more diversely representative of women and other minorities with better opportunity to collaborate and cooperate in coalitions. Opponents of complex PR systems press these fractured coalition minority governments are inefficient and unstable, where extremist parties may find voice. Proponents suggest a minimal electoral threshold mitigates this possibility while easing the divisive rhetoric of elite parties in power.

History demonstrates the power of democratic elections. Canadians through time have fought for minority representation, first with access to voting at all, and now reforming the electoral system itself with more proportional representation provides a solution for Canadians’ growing disenchantment with Parliament and apathy to their civic duty. Many people seem oblivious that free and fair democratic representation is on the line, with trust instilled in our national government.


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