even odder ends

Here are the rest of my correspondances leading up to the FVC national council convention, and invovling my run for the local council. My comments on the outcome of the convention in Vancouver will follow shortly. ( It is still going on)

after the B.C. election

Well, what do you think of the B.C. election, folks? Here is what I think.

For one thing, taken along with the Alberta election, I think you can stop taking opinion polls seriously for awhile. I mean, even less seriously than we take them now. The polling companies need to revise their methods to account for modern communications technology. They have no way of reaching most of the population now, especially the younger part.

I do not know what they will do. What they should do is go to paid respondents. By paid, I mean cold hard cash, not entered in a draw or given points, coupons, etc. That is the only way to insure you are getting a truly random sample of the population.

Of course, that costs more money. However, doing things right usually costs more money initially and pays off later. In the case of polls, when you get reliable information and are able to make correct decisions.

This is, of course, a warning to the "cooperate for Canada" types. If they are going to do polling in key ridings, they have to make sure the polling firm does it right, and that they have the money to get it right. This means getting a pool of paid research subjects in each riding.

It has been awhile since I did that statistics course. I think for a federal riding with about 100 000 eligible voters you would need about 125 clean cases. I can hardly guesstimate what that would cost per riding for the campaign and preparations for the campaign; maybe $25 000.

It might be a better idea to just forget about the polling part of it and either do some sort of primary, or guess based on past results. Doing an ABC-once campaign would not be simple.

Of course, people will note that in 12 of the B.C. ridings, the combined Green and NDP vote were more than the Liberal needed to get elected, and this turned the election. So you see why the Green party gets such a soft ride in the otherwise conservative press? It seems the Liberal supporters even paid for ads for the Greens.

The simplistic response to this would be to say that the Greens should go away. The Liberals have been running this same reasoning for many years about the NDP. This goes nowhere; it leads us back to a two party system and you might as well be talking AV. The voting system must change and the small party spoiler effect is one of the strongest arguments for PR.

So, tomorrow is the last day for voting in the FVC national council. If you did not vote early and often, at least vote once at the last minute.

Once that is done the local chapter is coming up, for those of you in Toronto. It will be May 30th, 7 pm at First Unitarian Unitarian Congregation of Toronto,  175 St. Clair Avenue West (just west of Avenue Road, on the south side of St. Clair Avenue).

It is a little too long to walk from the St. Clair by Yonge station, and a little to short to take the street car. It is a nice space for meetings, though.

from the back channel

I am getting some interesting comments back channel. A couple of people have asked me if I am going to run for the Toronto chapter exec. I have not decided yet. I think I only have an odd chance of getting voted in anyway.

What is it about Meslin?

Someone sent me some interesting information about Meslin. Apparently, he said;

"Honestly, I really don't care if our mayor does cocaine. We all have our vices. But if those quotes in the Star are accurate, he should resign. In other words, we shouldn't expect our leaders to always be sober, or perfect 'law-abiding' citizens. But we should expect them to be respectful and decent."  

Wow. I cannot verify this because I refuse to sign in to Facebook. This is useful information for anyone needing to confront Meslin.

I am pretty sure Meslin is a crack head himself. I have encountered him several times, and on a couple of occasions he seemed to be high on something. I have had a few people hint about this, it seems to be a kind of open secret among his acquaintances that nobody will talk about. No one will come out with specifics.

Rules of Engagement

So, keep your powder dry, all the "foxes" who get elected in this go around. I hope you have seen the video I recommended and are taking its advice to heart. The link again is; http://www.realecontv.com/videos/social-costs/psychopaths-the-market-and-life.html

It is very important that you get together before the first meeting and exchange information. You need to make it very clear that the bullshitters who got elected because people do not know what they are voting for, must go immediately. There is no conflict to "resolve", there is nothing to "compromise about", there is no "quarrel".

Do not allow anything else to be done, election of a chair person, or any item of business whatsoever, until they are gone. Stick to your guns, stick together. Do not let anybody try to pose as an intermediary and try to get you to respond to the bullshitters. Do not address the bullshitters directly. Do not let yourselves be split into "discussion groups"; they always try this when nothing else works for them.

Above all, do not let the bullshitters or any people who try to cover for them get any of you alone. Have witnesses to everything. Record everything. This is very important.

If they manage to turn things against you, make you the bad guys and threaten to remove you if you do not play ball, your ultimate weapon is the threat to start a new group. If you do get purged, carry out that threat. There is no downside to it; if the bullshitters have achieved that degree of control, then the organization is finished. There is nothing to be part of anymore.

This is the key; to recognize that the organization is not the movement. If the bullshitters have really taken it over, then the simple solution is for those who are interested in real voting reform to just start over again. This has been done a couple of times that I am aware of, although unfortunately the trend is for people to get attached to the organization itself rather than the real movement, and to keep trying to take the organization back. It is not worth it. Within a year, the new organization will be thriving and moving on with its purpose and the old one will be a hollow shell.


I am more optimistic than yesterday that the good guys will be able to prevail. I looked back over the candidate statements. I discovered that Trister especially, while still a bit wishy washy, had been a Joyce Murray supporter because of the PR stance. He would likely be fairly strong against disruption tactics.

I do not think he understands the situation because he has the idea that the people who promoted AV were thrown out. It would be great if they had been. He is somebody who it should be possible to get clued in and onside.

In review, I can see why I did not do so well; there was a strong preference for older people with professional backgrounds. I think that is what most of the membership are. I do not fit in with this crowd.

However, that is a problem with FVC, and a reason why it has trouble with outreach and with expanding its membership. And of course, why it has been so vulnerable to takeover tactics like we have been seeing.

political scientists

One other interesting thing; I started a new university course the other day, and it involves some community learning. I have to spend a little time with a community organization over the summer. It seems one of the organizations participating in this is Meslin's merry little band. Wouldn't it be cute if my placement was with him? A fox among the rabbits? No, racoon among the rabbits, and a racoon can give a rabbit some trouble too. We just can't catch the buggers.

The professor and I got into a little talk about voting reform. He has been reading someone called Cameron, who I am about to read a fair bit of if I want to pass. From this he has the idea that proportional representation does not work. He thinks the aim is more turnover of government.

He is more into process than substance and thinks "responsible government" is important, meaning that there should be complete changes of government regularly. PR leads to coalitions of middle of the road parties which never change much from one election to the next.

Well, I pointed out that changing government does not seem to force old government to take responsibility for what they did while in office. What our system tends to lead to is polarization, with the far right taking over and trying to undo everything the previous "left" governments had done, and when people begin to be seriously hurt by this the left comes back in and starts to rebuild the social base again.

The type of system we have actually favors right wing government, because the right is usually united while the left likes to argue. So the right is able to corner power. But this is bad for the economy and society over the long run. It also leads to occasional abrupt lurches to the left which often do not lead to the most logical policies, either.

When you have PR, you tend to get governments of the center to left which are stable and at least tend to do no harm. The idea of "responsible government" is a nineteenth century idea that did not even work well back then. What we need is a way to make the government accountable while it is in office. My that I mean accountable to the public.

But that is as far as we got with our talk and this is as far as I can go with this.


Well, something happened at the No Frills that does not happen every day. I found a ten dollar bill laying on the floor. So I picked it up and bought some extra goodies with it.

Since I am such a superstitious type, I took it as an omen that I should do something while my lucky magical particle field or whatever is still hanging around, and put my name in to run for the Toronto chapter of FVC. I am sure to win, now. While I am at this I might even buy one of those lottery tickets. For some reason I have never felt like doing that.

So, my candidate statement and answers to questions are much the same as before. I will have them up on my revised website by the 20th. If you are in Toronto I will see you at the AGM.

One innovation the local chapter has is to require candidates to sign a candidate commitment statement. My copy, signed, is attached for all of you to see. I question why I and all the others were not required to sign this for the national council vote.

This idea should be extended to public government. Candidates really should be required to sign a commitment that they will act in the public interest and only in the public interest, and they should be liable to prosecution if they make any decision which cannot be shown to be in the public interest, and not favoring any special interest. for no good or obvious reason.

I wonder what the folks at Democracy Watch think of that one?

Anyway, vote early and vote often. tr

"If at first you don't succeed..."

Well, I did not get elected at national council. Now I am running for the Toronto council. I do not think I have any great chance of getting elected here either, for reasons I will get into below. But at least it gives me some chance of getting out what I think needs to be said about FCV.

For brevity, I will assume that those reading this have already read my campaign statement and my long statement for the national council. FVC is an organization of Middle Class Professionals, usually retired or semi retired, who only want to deal with other people like themselves. This is why I am unlikely to get elected this go round, but if the people who come in this time can heed what I am saying, they could build up and diversify the group's membership.

It could be a long, hard road to get a more effective local executive, while issues it should be dealing with are coming to a head now. There is an aggressive campaign building up to get an Alternative Vote system established in Toronto before opposition can develop. There are now some opportunities to reintroduce PR into provincial discourse and they are being ignored. The Leadnow organization is starting to take the lead in forming a campaign for voting cooperation and PR nationally.

There are some problems with Leadnow. In the same way that FVC has been too open to destructive manipulation from Liberals, Leadnow is vulnerable to being taken over by leftist types. It is important that voting reform be led by people who understand that political parties need to decline in importance. Fair Vote people have at least started to understand the importance of the concept of conflict of interests; you join a group to work for its agenda, not to try to "align" it with some other agenda.

However, to reiterate, FVC is at a turning point. If it does not soon start to be more effective, some other group is going to take the lead in promoting voting reform. It also remains vulnerable to being taken over and used by people who are trying to stop proportional representation.

The Toronto executive still does not understand why the Ranked Ballot Initiative group has been so effective. They keep claiming that the national council would not back them up. The problem is they refused to tell the membership what was going on. For three years meetings were only held sporadically, and it was very hard for members to find out when and where they were being held.

Most local FVC supporters would have come to the conclusion, with no statements from anyone on the committee to the contrary, that the local chapter had become aligned with RaBIT and supported its aims. Thus it was not hard to understand why so many people voted for the AV candidates.

So, if it is possible to get a better group of people elected to this committee, three things have to be done quickly.

1) A proper web site and electronic newsletter must be set up, to keep the membership honestly and fully informed of what is going on within the committee and the national council.

2) The local council must start to focus on the issue of local voting reform, and let the national council deal with the federal government. There must be a campaign to educate the public and councillors about how city councils are elected all over the world.

3) The RaBIT group of AV advocates must be specifically targeted as a phony organization pushing a phony reform for spurious reasons. This is very important as these people are going to keep at it as long as they are paid to.

One thing I would love to do if I had support is to be the coordinator of an annual local democracy fair. People should be able to hear about how cities are governed in other countries, and informed about such developments as participatory budgeting, planning circles, and citizen's consultative assemblies.

There is a lot I would love to do, whether on the local exec or not, but I cannot do it without the collaboration of the other board members, or without the support of local FVC members. Now that the Meslin crew has finally been stood up to, we will see after this May 30th what happens on this committee. Elected or not, I will be watching closely. tr