Here, on one place, is the stuff I have written in support of my campaign for the board of FVC. So far I have statement short, statement long, and answers to questions. No, if you are not already an FVC member, you cannot vote for me.
There are nine positions open because so many have resigned, and here are nineteen running. From the statements of many of these nineteen, most have no idea what they are getting into. But I think this election is a last chance for FVC. It has got to do something to restructure itself to be able to lead a movement instead of just be a debating society.
Tim Rourke. Born in Alberta in 1954. Lived in B.C. Arrived in Toronto in 1994 to get better medical care and a safer environment. Medical disabilities not diagnosed and treated until later in life. About to graduate from University of Toronto with a B.A. in Political Science.
Many years of involvement in activism, mainly anti poverty issues and guaranteed incomes, reduced work times, democratic reform including voting reform, rights of tenants particularly in social housing, and civil liberties. Maintain several web sites on these issues and on exposing those who exploit them for personal gain. Member of Basic Income Canada Network.
I and associates of mine have been subject to harassment and intimidation campaigns to try to shut us up. Have represented myself in many legal actions, often successfully. Have no tolerance for those who cannot tell the truth and who will not stand with those under attack for telling the truth.
Member and observer of FVC since its founding. Member of Toronto chapter executive 2008-2009. Interest in proportional representation is that such polities correlate with stronger social structures, thus a safer and healthier environment for the poor and disabled. No preference between MMP and STV as both achieve the same result.
District magnitude must be large enough to ensure true proportionality.
Very offended by disruption in the Toronto chapter and the referendum on Alternative Vote, and that the AV option got so many votes due to poor education and communication. The problem with FVC has been poor leadership, especially in the face of intimidation and disruption by opponents of voting reform. I am concerned that FVC is becoming an impediment to voting reform, not a vehicle. This is my motive to seek office at this time.
If you have not already read my brief campaign statement, with biographical information, go here.
The statements of the other candidates are here.
my answers to campaign questions are herecontact me
Of the other candidates running, the only ones I would endorse are Stuart Parker, Wilf Day, Aamir Hussain, and John Deverell. I can say that the following should definitely not be allowed to run; Katherine Skene, Sarah Lambert, and Desmond Cole. As for the rest, it is hard to gauge them on the limited information they provide. I do not think most of them understand what they are getting into.
Here are several articles expanding on what I say about the realities of the voting reform movement in Canada. Proportional Representation makes sense and is the key to solving the systemic problems we have now with democratic governance. But there are very powerful people who like things the way they are.
These people have done some very nasty things to defeat any voting reform and to intimidate whoever promotes it. We have seen some referenda on voting reform which were set up to fail by the tried and true method of suppressing the "yes" argument and pouring the "no" case into the information vacuum.
That has not worked. Most people now have some idea of what proportional representation is all about. So now the tactics are to send professional "activists" to set up a phony reform and present it as the "easier" solution, and to destroy from within any organizations promoting PR.
The phony reform of choice is the "Alternative Vote" system, which has been adopted as official policy by the Liberal party. This is no reform at all, but a way of trying to restore a two party system and locking it in place for good. A basic principle of PR is that one person cannot represent a whole area, and multimember districts are necessary for real democracy.
In Toronto, a group called "Rank Ballot Initiative Toronto" (RaBIT) was set up to try to establish AV at a local level. Its members also joined the local chapter of FVC and worked to take it over or to prevent it from criticizing AV at the local level. They did not succeed in the first goal, but have been effective at the second one.
It is hard to be sure what went on from outside the loop, but that is a part of the problem with Fair Vote; it has been too closed off and elitist. The members of the local chapter in the past three years say that the national council has failed to support them in dealing with RaBIT. It seems part of this board wanted to find some compromise.
This reached a climax when the national council ordered a referendum on whether to advocate for voting reform at the local level. It was not a referendum on AV as such, though the AV promoters treated it as one. The option to promote PR in local government passed, but not by much.
It seems that much of the membership had the idea that what the council wanted was a way out of advocating for PR in local government. This seems to be an accurate perception. However, to do that would be the end of FVC.
The RaBIT group left the Toronto chapter after a conflict of interest policy was published. But now some of them are running for national council; the three I cited as unacceptable and perhaps others I do not know. They are energetically spreading misinformation, and seem to have deluded a lot of people into thinking that AV and PR are the same thing, that RaBIT were supporters of FVC, and they have been banned from attending meetings due to racism, sexism or whatever "ism" serves.
They are also threatening the national council with lawsuits, a good way to intimidate middle class career people. Many of the candidates seem to be such people. Thus, the primary issue is the need for people on the board of FVC who can provide much tougher leadership.
After the leadership issue, there are three other priorities which FVC must address; building up a member and funding base, a better public education campaign, and restructuring for more openness and resilience.
1) Membership and Funding. This is necessary to the success of the other two priorities. I think FVC had 2000 members recently. I think some have dropped out over the referendum debacle. The goal should be 100,000 members. We need to open many more local chapters.
To achieve that, FVC really needs to get serious about engaging people outside narrow circles of those who want to debate the intricacies of various voting systems, or who are only interested in high level lobbying. People keen to do ground level organizing seem to be passively discouraged.
There is a need for a regular electronic newsletter that keeps people informed about and connected to the movement, and that counters misinformation and gives people good talking points.
Those opposing us have a lot of money. We will never match their funding, but we have to have some funding. We need more paid staff, and we need an office, which should be in Ottawa.
In addition to member fees, we need to look at other funding, at least in the short term. It is not hard to arrange things so as not to become dependent on one funding source.
2) Public Education. FVC needs a much better web site that is a real resource for those who want to learn about voting systems. I would like to see a printed handbook on voting systems published. As well, a regular newsletter needs to be established. People are not going to remain members of a group they rarely hear anything from.
In past, FVC has been hamstrung in public education work by internal disputes over what is a valid voting system. For example, we had the cat fights between STV and MPP supporters than only now seems to be dying down. The thing that people need to understand is that the public should decide democratically what form of PR we will have.
It is not for a little group of voting systems nerds to decide and then "enlighten" politicians, who until now were in darkness and will then carry out the designs of the wise ones. It is not about debating an ideal system at all; the form of PR should be worked out in a "citizen's assembly" according to the model established for this, and approved by the public in a referendum. The purpose of public education is to explain what are the basic principles of PR, so that the public will not be taken in by phony reforms.
In short, the members of FVC and of the general public must start to be treated with respect by those who take leadership positions.
3) Restructuring. The present structure of FVC is too closed, centralized, and bloated in proportion to actual resources and membership base. In any nation wide organization which must be democratically run but whose members cannot afford to travel to functions, direct elections do not really work. As you can see in this election, it is hard for the members to know who they are voting for, or what the real issues are.
When FVC started, the founders were hostile to the idea of local chapters. The chapters were gradually forced upon them. Now we need to be reorganized by chapters.
Each chapter should have one delegate and be responsible for sending that delegate to a once yearly council, which will appoint an executive for that year. The executive should be only three to five people who are able to meet frequently and do extensive work for the organization.
As the number of members and chapters grows, we will need to establish regional or provincial councils as well.
The criterion for membership must be made clear. The basic principles of any PR system must be spelled out, as well as the operating principles of FVC. It must be made very clear that no conflicts of interest will be allowed.
This means that if you are a member of FVC, and particularly if you hold an official position, the aims of FVC are number one for you. If those aims conflict with any other group or political party you are involved with, you decide whether to leave it or to leave FVC. Given the reality of the way in which many political actors operate in this country, such rules are essential to the success of FVC and to the dignity and peace of mind of its members.
This is what I can say about what I see as the primary issue in this campaign for the national council of FVC, and the three secondary issues. I encourage electors to contact me and to try to contact and question the other candidates.
I live in Toronto. I am originally from Alberta. I have been a member of FVC off and on since about 2000. I have been interested in the idea of democratic reform for much longer. I have found FVC a bit closed in and hard to work with, but over the years I have done a fair bit for them. I was on the local board one year. I have done plenty of envelope stuffing for FVC. I made presentations to the citizen's assembly of 2008 and did a lot of leafletting during the referendum.
In this last year, after standing back from it for awhile, I became involved in FVC again. I looked for ways to find out the problem and possible remedies. I participated in the e-mail discussion list and provided some well thought out positions on several topics. I then set up a web site and a separate discussion list so that members who are concerned about what is going on with FVC can learn about the problem and talk about it without being censored.
My time, energy, and financial resources are limited, as I live on a disability pension. However, I do not think it needs a lot of any of these to be an effective board member. I do not fetishize volunteerism. To be effective, FVC needs members, money, and staff. What is needed on the board are people who can think and communicate clearly, and therefore utilize members, money and staff effectively.
If there is one thing I can do well, it is to think and communicate clearly. I also have a lot of experience with social organizations at the grassroots level. I have seen how they work and how they fail.
As for campaigns and projects, what are these? I am not aware that FVC has been doing anything at all in recent years. This seems to be part of the problem; nobody knows what is going on inside FVC.
I have no patience with the fake group RaBIT and the people pushing for AV. This is the exact opposite of fair voting principles; that the results of elections reflect the range of opinion as closely as possible, and that as many people as possible have a legislator who they voted for. The conflict over this issue is caused by bad leadership; the mental muscles to confront and expel "hijack artists" is the most basic requirement of a board member of any non profit organization. Educating membership about FVC principles, and informing them of what FVC is doing, has been abysmal.
I have objections to groups who abuse their followers by wasting their time and energy and money because they do not know what they are doing, and are not clear and honest about their aims. I think this is one reason why it is so hard these days to get anyone to volunteer for anything, or take any initiative. To motivate people, be clear about what you want them to do and why.
To communicate effectively, first of all you have to have something to say. FVC needs to perfect what it is trying to say to people, and get it out there. Then the membership will come. There has been this tendency to get bogged down in the details of voting systems. This is irrelevant to FVC's purpose, because it is the public which must decide which form of proportional representation is used, not us.
People who are too obsessed about a particular vote counting system are a drag on us and should either drop it or be dropped.
"Cooperate for Canada" is a new group. It could be very effective if it develops in the right way, and a good ally for FVC. Right now it is filling a leadership void which FVC has left, of getting the opposition parties to cooperate and to commit to PR. However, it only works federally. It may displace FVC altogether if we do not soon get our act together.
The best way FVC can help to achieve democratic reform in the next parliament is to let the "leadnow/cooperate" group lead, because they are so far ahead in forming a united front against the Conservatives. However, we also have provincial and local governments in Canada.
FVC needs to place more emphasis on public education about not just voting systems, but democratic systems. This includes direct and participatory democracy, such as citizen's assemblies. As has been shown in Toronto, if no one leads on democratic reform, those pushing false reforms will move into the vacuum.