From Tim Rourke, owner of the email@example.com web page and attached mail list, unsuccessful candidate for national council, past member of Toronto chapter executive, and long time advocate of voting and democratic reform.
Most of you should have read my campaign materials and know enough about me. If not, go to my web pages and read them. I have some questions to raise about this next annual general meeting and national council term.
1) You know that vote rigging and voter suppression are starting to become issues in Canada. Given the atmosphere within Fair Vote Canada, and the lack of any system of monitoring and verifying the vote for national council, it is sensible to have some concerns about the veracity of the FVC vote. Of course this is a problem with the STV voting system; the count has to be done by computer and is thus vulnerable to manipulation. Why is it not at least possible to get information about the actual vote count in the national council election?
2) At least now candidates for the Toronto executive must sign a candidate commitment statement confirming that they are not in a conflict of interest before being allowed to run in the election. Candidates for the national council were not required to do this. Several people known to be affiliated with the RaBIT group, the "bullshitters" who have been seeking to take FVC out and push forward the "alternative Vote" system, have run for the national council. At least three have been elected.
After the fiasco of the internal referendum on AV in local government, FVC has issued a statement of principles and a conflict of interest policy. However, there does not seem to be any will to enforce these. The question is; what is going to happen now?
Are those who have shown a conflict of interest going to be removed from the council outright? Or, are we going to have a paralyzed national council for another year as the nincompoops try to find a way to "get along" with the bullshitters?
3) The underlying reason for all the disfunction in FVC in recent years has been the refusal of those on the various councils to get honest about what is going on internally or to take a clear stand against AV and RaBIT. Most outside observers such as myself would have concluded that FVC had become an endorser of AV at all levels. The reason the AV option got so many votes in the recent referendum was that a large part of FVC had no idea what Proportional representation was really about and assumed the AV option was what the council wanted.
This speaks very ill of the leadership which the council has provided to the voting reform movement. If FVC cannot do better in future than it has recently, it is better if it just disappeared and allowed some more competent group to become the rally point for voting reform. The question is; will this new council prove fit to carry out the responsibility entrusted to it, or will it again betray all our confidences?
4) Further to question 3, will the council from now on begin to open up about what is going on within the organization, keep the membership informed through regular newsletters and other means, and get serious about building a mass movement?
5) In promoting the principles of voting reform, will FVC stop getting itself hung up on difference forms of PR, understand what the underlying principles of PR are, and promote those principles? And will it now understand that it is not our right to decide any particular system, but to promote the principles of a valid PR system and the principle of adopting change through a process of study, consultation, and referendum?
6) Will the council withdraw its foolish statement about supporting the idea of an Alternative Vote to fill the office of mayor of Toronto, until it has at least thought through the implications of this statement? These implications; a) continues to give an impression that FVC is supporting AV and RaBIT, b) gives legitimacy to presidentialization of government and not only at municipal levels, a very bad thing, and c) ignores a democratic principle that the executive must be subordinate to the legislative and thus is better appointed by the legislative.
You know that I have been an active citizen for a long time, especially dealing with poverty issues. I have seen over and over again, as soon as some group comes together and begins to try to do anything, somebody comes along and tries to take it over or take it down. It is either somebody from some organization which does not want what the group is trying to do, or some Marxist group which wants to create a new front, or someone who thinks there is some money to grab.
They almost always succeed in ending the group because the people in the group absolutely do not have the mental wherewithal to stand up for anything. However, on a couple of occasions, I have seen such intimidation fail simply because the people involved had the sense to tell the attackers to get lost. Based on this, my theory is that it is not the attackers who are the problem, it is the people within the group who enable them.
Sometimes the enabler is the person who invited the attackers in. Sometimes the enabler is somebody who is in the organization to pursue their self interest and wants to be on both sides at once. Sometimes the enabler is a fool who misunderstands completely what is going on and thinks that there is merely a misunderstand that he or she can mediate. Always, it is the idea that some compromise can be found with somebody who is simply there on a takeover or take down mission, which brings an end to the group and its initiatives.
I have people in the national council and the Toronto executive who keep telling me that they are opposing what the RaBIT group has been doing inside FVC. But I recall that the RaBIT leader, Dave Meslin, was invited to be on the Toronto executive in the first place, against all warnings about his real character, by some of the people who are still on the committee. As well, I notice that the resolution for this referendum on local AV, which has been so damaging to FVC, was passed unanimously, which means it was voted for by the people who nonetheless call themselves the "rabbit fighters".
To conclude, if after this vote, it is not possible to remove those members of the "take over or take down" corps who have gained election, as well as their enablers, then FVC is finished. It will be better if supporters of voting reform start over again.
I have seen something like that done. A bunch of Trotskite types packed the AGM of an advocacy group for poor people and unseated the group's founders. The old board simply walked out, emptied the bank account, handed the bank book to the takeover crew, and started a new group with the same name. The astonished takeover crew soon dissolved the residual group and found an easier takeover target.
Those who are on the council who get what is going on must demand that people with a conflict of interest be removed forthwith. No business must be done, not even electing officers or deciding the next meeting date, until they are gone. The threat of relaunching on a sounder basis must be explicit.
So, Stuart, Wilf, John, Aamir, Anita, and June, plus whoever else I do not know about or am not sure about; get on with the job. I will be watching.
I also expect to be kept up to date about how it is going on the council.
Well, the shit's going down in a swanky hotel in Vancouver. Are there any flies on the wall there with twitter accounts? It would be very, very useful to have some idea of what is going on there. Hey, Stuart? Hey, John D?
Alas, one of the techniques of sociopaths and their enablers/codependents is that they know how to stop people from talking about them. Of course, people should be talking about them and openly exchanging information. People threatened for reporting the truth should be defended.
If anyone is aware of somebody twittering about the proceedings, be nice and send us the hashtag.
We may get some insider information but I am not optimistic. We will find out sometime later what the result was, but not how the result resulted. If the three stooges, the people who have openly supported RaBIT while running, Skene, Lambert, and the other one, are not gone after this convention, I think we can all conclude that the grass needs to be set on fire.
Another interesting thing I have noticed. Lately, if you search the FVC web site you get lots of 404 errors. I wonder what that is all about? Why are all these pages being removed?
I have one interesting piece of information. It came back from Wayne after I sent out my "open letter" to everyone I knew who might circulate it at the convention. I will not put it on this list just yet. But there was how the vote worked in the national election, and I will send it as a separate message.
I am amazed that only 329 people voted. Didn't about twice that many vote in that referendum? For an organization which has been around as long as FVC and has hold of such a popular issue, we should be doing a lot better than that. It would be interesting to know how many voted last time around.
I am also depressed that I got eliminated before that Smee character. That is a real downer! Even when I ran for mayor of Calgary twenty years ago, I managed to finish ahead of the guy who dressed like Mr. Spock, complete with ears.
Well, I have been staffing a table at a bake sale for by building's garden committee most of the afternoon so I have not got this done until now. I have been getting some responses about the FVC AGM.
Someone who is at the AGM is telling us all to keep our fingers crossed for Sunday. It seems the meeting is going into Sunday. So, tomorrow everybody go around all afternoon with both sets of fingers crossed, a load of shamrocks in your pocket, and keep knocking on wood.
But if that does not work, start thinking about how to most efficiently detach from the failed FVC organization and start over again. This seems to be the most impossible trick for activist types to master. I have seen it plenty of times. For some people, it is almost like a version of the battered wife syndrome. They get into such an emotional attachment to a relationship that has gone sour that they will ruin themselves trying to "work it out" instead of to get out.
If it comes to that, I could do some write ups about some of the organizations I have seen who were able to overcome a hostile takeover and relaunch themselves. But for now I say that the most important thing to understand, before it comes to the point where you have to walk out, is that the real enemy is not the trolls themselves. They would be a joke without some damned fool trying to find some way to compromise with them. It is these sorts of wishing fools or "Judas goats" who you must fight.
Some people have advised me that the biggest problem is Wayne Smith. I have been aware of this problem. I liked Wayne when he was just a board member and volunteer. I still have some empathy for him now that he is in the situation he is in. I have seen this sort of thing before too, and it did not have a very happy ending.
This was when I was still in Calgary. We had a group going which was trying to organize opposition to the Klein government's abuse of welfare recipients. It soon developed into a faction fight between (1) the group's original founders, mainly some people from Elizabeth Fry and other agencies, people with honest but naive motives, (2) a bunch of bullshit artists working for Big Doug Christie at the labor council office, and (3) some total opportunists under the direction of "Bullshit Barb", the notorious " Alderbitch" who somehow had total control over everything 'social' in Calgary at the time.
The group had two things from the start that guaranteed its failure. One was it got some money and a free office for a year. This was like throwing blood into shark infested water. The second thing was a ridiculous mentality among much of this founding group that they had to invite in everybody in the city who claimed to have an interest in relieving poverty. They seemed to think that the more people they drew in the faster they would get a solution, and that finding a solution was simply a matter of keeping everybody talking. This was like advertising for sharks.
They soon decided they needed to hire one staff person. Somebody I will call Larry Grief got the job. He had been unemployed for some time before this, and was very committed to the cause. So were some other people involved. Unfortunately nobody figured out exactly what the cause was before they got themselves deeply committed to it.
The founders could not figure out why they were not getting anywhere. I and a few others tried to explain to them that they needed to get rid of some people. I got treated like a total lunatic. I had one of them rave at me in an exasperated tone that "These are the people who are there. We have to deal with them".
Says I; "They are only 'there' because you keep bringing them on." Soon they had frozen me out of the group by just refusing to tell me when the meetings were taking place and refusing to talk to me. However, I kept track of them through the staff at Elizabeth Fry, who had provided the office space, and were increasing concerned about how this was going.
However, it was Larry who was caught in a triple bind. To make the story short, he ended up in the hospital with a nervous breakdown. His job was about to end anyway, because Mad Marilyn Sealey, the Alderbitch's agent, had been made co-treasurer and started accusing everybody else of stealing money.
I and a few alumni of this group started working on our own things, with some help from Elizabeth Fry, and the founders were told they were not getting any more money. Some of them became frustrated enough to speak to me again, mostly to whine that they just could not understand why it is so impossible for people to just be reasonable, or words to that effect.
Meanwhile, Stealy Sealey kept accusing everyone around, including me, when it was perfectly obvious that this money had gone into her pocket. Some people wanted her charged with fraud, but there were frantic efforts to block that. The rationale was something like; that will only create disharmony, everybody needs to forgive and forget and get back together again.
Larry got out of hospital. At first he was convinced I was an enemy. Some good counseling got him to see who his real enemies had been and I was able to have a talk with him.
He had started out very idealistic, but as things went sour he became obsessed with holding onto his income. He was manipulated into believing that all this trouble was because of a few bad people like me, who made the politicians and most social agencies not want to talk to this poverty issues group. He got very paranoid. He also ended up working twenty hours a day.
The end of this was that Larry left town. Most of the people I was able to work with also found themselves being harassed by the police and left as well. I think I was the last of that small circle who formed out of the corrupted group to leave. But I will bet Mad Marilyn and her cronies are still around, looking for groups to hijack.
But what could Larry have done about his situation, and what can Wayne do about it, other than quit? Has Wayne betrayed FVC, or has FVC betrayed Wayne? In a way, it is the latter, by failing utterly to provide leadership. It was the same thing with Larry; at least he knew what he had to do to satisfy the opportunists. It was the "reasonable" people who made his job impossible by changing priorities almost daily in order to try to accommodate every loudmouth who wandered into their meetings.
Wayne has few other employment opportunities and that makes him very vulnerable. That may be exactly why he was chosen for this job over other candidates who were better qualified but therefore had other options and were thus less open to intimidation. And there was something very fishy about how he was chosen for the job, and how he is protected despite being plainly not up to it.
That the replacement of Larry Gordon would have been manipulated implies that this "hostile takeover" of FVC has been in the works for some time. This implies that it is going to be very hard to dig out. As one of my off the list correspondents tells me, FVC is in very big trouble.
We do not really have years to spend digging the bastards out. We have work to do. The idea of serious voting reform people just walking away from the mess and starting over again, sorry but wiser, has attraction.
And that is it for tonight.
So here is my reply personally to your "note". You have been "entertaining" my uninvited e-mails. Well, you have been getting them because you are entertaining an involvement with Fair Vote Canada. If you severed connections with it you would no longer be getting the e-mails.
You either want to be involved in FVC or you don't. I am determined that those who want to be involved are going to hear the dissenting voices within FVC as well as the voices of the bullshit co-optation artists and the ineffectual leadership.
However, you do not seem to be paying very good attention to what is going across on this ginger group list I am maintaining. I have talked volubly, and even excessively, about my runs for elective office within that organization. I failed at national council. The local chapter, I mean the Toronto chapter, where I live, has postponed the election because they cannot get the internet voting system working. I have an uphill battle getting elected there too, although I have been on that board before.
I think the big reason I and a few other potentially useful people cannot get elected is because we do not fit in well with the run of FVC members, who seem to be middle class professional people, mostly retired. I don't fit in well.
But as for approaching the advisory council, I wonder what this advisory council has been doing. What kind of advice have they been giving these jokers on national council? I think most of them are on this list anyway. Whatever may be, the list of advisory council members is another page of the FVC web site that has suddenly gone "404".
As for organizing a meeting, what would I organize this meeting for? It takes some resources to organize a meeting. Where would I hold this meeting? Holding meetings is what local chapters are supposed to do.
A study group of learners? What would they learn that they could not learn just as well off the net?
As for that petition; that sounds like a diversion, something to keep people busy and distracted while other things are going on. I cannot find out whose idea this petition was, who is in charge of it, where to send completed petitions, when the petition drive is finished. For a petition to be effective, to be read into the parliamentary record, the signatures all have to be collected within a certain length of time, all have to be presented at once, and it has to be introduced by one sitting member of parliament.
Now I wonder who your acquaintances are? Do they have special connections to the Liberal party orto RaBIT? Why are you running the same old "Richelieu riff" that I have often heard from bullshitters?
What do I mean by that? Well, Cardinal Richelieu lived in France back in the 1600s. He spent his time eliminating opposition to Royal absolutism and any checks on the King's power. This involved killing and imprisoning lots of people without "due process". Someone once asked him what it felt like to have so many enemies. His famous reply was "I have no enemies, France has enemies".
In other words, I am hiding behind the state and the King. If you oppose me you are opposing these. This is a technique of political type creeps in all centuries and even in the smallest organizations; to wrap themselves inside something that is respected, and use it as a shield for their misbehaviors even as they work to destroy it.
But Fair Vote Canada is not the voting reform movement. FVC is something set up by proponents of voting reform and can be remade or abandoned by them if it ceases to serve their purposes. The problem right now is that there is what is being described as a "hostile takeover attempt" going on, directed by people who want to prevent voting reform. This weekend an Annual General Meeting is going on in Vancouver, and we are waiting to see if a slate of candidates who ran to clean up FVC can prevail over these bullshit artists.
So that is how the land lies. Now, tell us who you are, Jean. Where do you get your information about FVC from? What do you know about the basic principles of proportional representation?
Who are you?
I suggest you check out the archives of this list. You will also find my web site about these issues, and my personal information regarding the elections, at http://www.fairvoteginger.qaz.ca/
P.S. Anybody not a Fvcginger list member who sends messages to this list, I sub into the list so I do not have to keep approving messages from them.
Well, now. The FVC AGM must be wrapped up by now, with the combatants heading home. I have had one comment from one of the said participants; "stalemate, much jockeying for the next move."
That says a lot in few words. I can make some good guesses about what kind of tactics and arguments the bullshitters are using, but it would be better to get them confirmed.
Unfortunately, it also tells me that they do not have the numbers. I suspected this. That only about 300 people cast votes to elect this new board tells me that something is happening to the membership. Either people with commitment to PR are leaving, or anti-PR elements are signing up members, or both. As well, with the creeps in control of information, even well motivated people have little idea of who to vote for, or even what is going on. So the creeps have stacked the council.
The way to get around the bullshitters control of information would be to go directly to the chapters.That may be what the good guys are trying to do. It is why I have put every chapter onto this list. If it is not possible to prevail on the national council, the next step would be to try reconstructing FVC using the chapters as a base.
As for tactics, I suspect the bullshitters are doing everything they possibly can to try to divide their opposition against each other and against the wishie washies. They will try to get people apart so they can work on them and learn where their weak points are, where the "wedges" are. This is why you keep together when confronted with such people, and absolutely do not engage them directly.
I also predict that the arguments being used by the bullshitters to confuse the wishie washies are on two levels. The first will be something like, well those are bad people, all the good people say so, nobody will listen to you if you go with them; kindergarten level relational bullying but very effective with people who are on the board for the status; the resume polishers.
The second level will be the "false middle" fallacy. We have to get along, there has to be some compromise made. We have to find a middle ground. These people do not want to meet us halfway. This works with people who are mentally soft; people who have been too sheltered in life and have never learned how to defend themselves or others. There are lots of such people among the older middle classes in Canada.
Perhaps I am speculating too much here. I do not really have much hard information to go on. I guess it is up to the people actually in the battle to figure out how to fight it. I do know that the times I have seen this type of battle won against takeover people, it is when the people defending the integrity of the group convinced the wishie washies that they were not backing down.
This is why I advise making clear that there will be a fight until the people with the improper motives go away. If the defenders of FVC's integrity are forced out, they will simply start over again, taking the best activists with them, and leave the interlopers with a hollow shell. Also, and this is very important, that those who helped to destroy FVC mark one will be red flagged as people involved in the co-optation and destruction of a good organization.
If you read my cause pimps web site you will notice that I put a lot of effort into not only marking out rent-an-activist/ attack dog types, but encouraging people to establish their own alert networks. By the way, when I get some more time I am going to completely relaunch that project in a much more effective way. ( www. causepimps.ca )
But as for FVC, for now all we can do is wait and see what the "next move" will be. It is frustrating, having a big emotional stake in a fight you cannot see into.