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July 7, about the Toronto Fair Vote Chapter

I wanna get elected

First of all, the vote for the Toronto chapter is finally underway. I think they have seven spots open and only eight people running. Although the vote is done by the same firm, the set up is different. I cannot decline to vote for any of them; have to rank them all. That rankles me.

Here is how I voted. A secret ballot means you can keep it secret if you want. It does not mean you have to keep it secret.

  • Tim Rourke
  • Gerry Hobden
  • June Macdonald
  • Michael Bednarski
  • Skye Sepp
  • Gary Dale
  • Colum Grove-White
  • Michael Sims
  • Of course, I voted for myself. Hobden is probably the most effective member of the board. He was there when I was. So was June MacDonald and I do not think she has been hugely effective, but.... Michael Benarski and Skye Sepp I have not met, but they say the right things in their candidate statements.

    G...you should know what I think about him. He is the other one who was around when I was there. He is not the greatest addition to any board, with his relentless contrarianism, but he does oppose the Mesloids.

    The remaining two are people I absolutely do not want on the board. I do not know what they are doing signing the commitment statement and at the same time talking about how there is a 'conflict' which needs to be 'resolved' within FVC. Basically, they do not get it.

    However, unless the Toronto chapter has become loaded with the kind of people who think I am a really mean and confrontational guy, I should be able to get back in. I will be dealing with pretty much the same deck of jokers as when I left, except for L. S.

    The AGM is June 18 7 PM at the Unitarian Church 175 St. Clair west.

    more on national council AGM

    As for the Vancouver AGM, I got a further comment from one of the board members, saying that "things went okay but inconclusively'" It is not clear if the election has resulted in a "working majority" of people who are "usefully opposed" to the takeover. He thanks us for our support.

    I liked the phrase "usefully opposed". I have seen enough people who claim to be opposed to something but flatly refuse to do anything about it. Or, to go away.

    As I said, it does not look like it is possible to resolve the problems decisively during the term of this committee. FVC is going to remain paralyzed. Well, maybe less paralyzed if some members of the board can put together a group to do some work on their own. It will be hard to do without access to the national council's resources, controlled by Wayne.

    What could be done is to liaise with sympathetic organizations such as Lead Now, Democracy Watch, and Council of Canadians. These could be a source of some working resources, as well as some strong new candidates for the board for next time around.

    Also for the next vote, we need to get partisan. The voters need to know who is for PR and who is not. Run a slate.

    notes on the AGM

    L is being implored from several directions to put her notes in writing and pass them on for posterity. It is also suggested that information which should be openly available, such as the budget and the membership numbers, be brought out.

    Others who were there should also contribute their perspectives in more than two sentences. What I think would be useful would be a rating of the board members; exactly who is proving solid, who is not useful, who is proving to be the leader of the good guys and of the bad guys.

    Oh, yes; and who are the elected officers? Was there any vote on that, any change? I can't find out who they were on the past; it seems that large sections of the FVC web site has been 404ed. I really should have copied that information.

    robocalls

    I got another letter from Aunt Maud in my box this morning. She is not happy with the result of the "robocalls" case. If fraud occurred, why are en't the elections annulled? She wants me to send her some more money to stoke up her anger about this, and even send a return envelope.

    She is not getting more of my precious jungle just yet. But I agree that the elections where the fraud was shown to occur should be annulled, and someone should look into criminal charges. However, that is not how it gets done in avant colonial Canada.

    Judges have their hands tied when dealing with government wrong doing. Even when they are not deciding cases according to secret hand signals, they can only issue opinions; they can't order anything. They can not even do anything about lying cops, unlike just about every other legal jurisdiction on earth.

    There just is no real means in the Canadian system for dealing with government malfeasance, except to throw them out after five years. That is not a very satisfactory solution.

    This is why the country is so overdue for a comprehensive reform of institutions, to bring them up to date with the modern world. This is why a PR voting system is merely a good first step.

    It is also why any attempt to reform anything is going to meet with lots of dirty tricks. Sending "assholes for rent" to try to take over organizations like FVC is just the start of it.

    The solution for voter suppression type behavior is, as any good FVC person will say, to make it possible to remove rogue governments between elections. If there was a robocall scandal in a PR type system, and the party responsible was part of a governing coalition, the coalition would almost certainly collapse as no other party would want to deal with them any longer.

    tr

    Comments on two forwards

    Greetings, FVC ginger people;

    I have just forwarded two posts. I hope they get past the volume setting on GNU. I hope everybody can read them correctly. If not, time for me to set it higher, and time for you to upgrade your mailer program.

    Now, as for Leadnow's warning, it is something I think people need to pay attention to and follow up on. We know how they are putting together a police state south of the border and how numbskulled people are about that. It would be easier to set the same thing up in Canada because we have always had fewer civil rights here, fewer controls over government.

    Leadnow takes the lead on this issue as well. The way they do it is the way to do a petition. I wish FVC people would take a look at that group and see what an advocacy group should be like. We need a reorganization.

    paper petition

    Which leads me to the second forwarded message, from ambitious Anita on the FVC national council. I think I have already said this at least once, that most of these projects are a waste of people's time and an abuse of good intentions. They are the kinds of things thought up by people with a great deal of ambition and a great lack of good sense and judgment, who want to be leaders but do not know what they are doing. This is the kind of thing that makes people not want to be civicly engaged.

    Now, as for the petition; first go and look at the Parliament of Canada's web page on petitions. Whoever came up with this petition form has the header right, but is asking for e-mails, which should not be done. Perhaps the idea of this is to get people's emails and addresses, and is never intended to be presented.

    The language of the heading could be considered contentious. Has it ever been vetted with the clerk of parliament? Also, it could be seen as requiring the government to commit itself in advance to something. No government will do that without a study of what is being proposed.

    The petition must be turned in to one member of parliament, who presents it to the clerk. Has any member agreed to do this? In my inquiries about what I am supposed to do with these petition forms, people seem to not know where they go, or think that people just send them to their own PM.

    Nobody can state any deadline for having the petition done. Most legislatures give a specific time limit for a petition campaign. The federal parliament does not seem to do this, but it is a good idea to set one anyway. Is this petition just supposed to go on indefinitely?

    Where are the petition forms handed in? No one can answer that for me. Fair Vote Canada does not have any real administration. There is no one to receive the forms and check them for things that would invalidate them; people signing multiple times or leaving comments.

    what is the point to this?

    The parliament of Canada gets a large volume of petitions. Most are just filed away with perhaps a form letter in response. Without some sort of media campaign around it the petition is pointless. Petitions are not a good way of influencing government, anyway. What you want people to do is to lobby their MPs.

    So, I want this petition push to stop. It is nothing going nowhere, and being pushed by people itching to do something, but without sense to think anything through. To repeat, it is an abuse of people's time, money, and energies, and a diversion from more useful applications of these. Maybe that is its purpose.

    If you want to influence MPs, do it Leadnows way with electronic petitions, e-mail campaigns, and direct lobbying.

    I wish A would take a prozac or something until the internal governance problems of FVC are sorted out, and until there is some basic administrative structure in place so as to manage well thought out initiatives.

    As for the other ideas, what the hell do you think people have been trying to do for years? The problem is, there is little money and other resources with which to do these things.

    think before acting

    As well, encouraging people to just go out and do these things on their own initiative can be dangerous. We have had people claiming to support PR while actually promoting AV. When 45% of the people who voted in that referendum thought that advocating AV locally was a good idea, we must question how well the typical FVC member is qualified to speak about voting reform.

    I have seen other instances where people were speaking about voting reform as spokespersons for FVC, without knowing what they were talking about. During the Ontario provincial referendum there was a group in the "yes" campaign who had PR confused with direct democracy, ie government by referendum.

    Any organization which tells people to just go out and act in their name without any supervision is looking for trouble. It is inviting people with bad motives to hijack the cause for their own bad purposes; con artists, ultra leftists, or the mentally ill.

    To conclude, trying to "will" things to be before there are means of accomplishing them, is the sign of some psychological problems. People like this are attracted to advocacy groups, but can cause a lot of harm and need to be reined in.

    tr

    Hello, fellow ginger snappers;

    This is your moderate moderator. I have had computer trouble for a week. I am pleased that this list I have created is getting along reasonably well without me.

    The hard drive on my mini mac went last saturday. I didn't get down to Carbon computing in time so I had to wait until Monday. Then by about Wednesday I discovered that they were short staffed and could not get it out until Friday. Then we had some further problems because the right operating system was not installed.

    After the snow Leopard had been traded for a Lion on saturday, everything worked. That includes, thank heavens, my back up system. I did not have to reinstall anything and I lost nothing. I have spend the past day catching up on all my net reading and some important stuff I have to do related to my university course.

    Now I can send off an e-mail to relations in Calgary and ask if everyone is above water there. I have had the flood cowtown show going in the background all day. It baffles me that the capital of ignorant redneck assholes has such a sensible person for mayor, while sophisticated and urbane as well as urban Toronto has....

    The Toronto Fair Vote Chapter AGM

    I did not get word that the FVC-T election had been cancelled although I suspected that something like that would happen. There was a meeting anyway.

    However, they forgot to put out signage. So when I got there I did not find the right room and no signs or anyone who could give me other information, so I thought it was called off and went down to Robarts library to try using the computers there to get into my accounts. I also checked the FVC-T Facebook page which seemed to be saying the meeting was still on.

    I decided to go up there and check again and found somebody at the door who could tell me what was going on. It was a very subdued meeting with only about 15 people. They had engaged a security guard and it appears some "nasty rabbits" had showed up earlier but had left, except for Desmond Cole.

    G does not seem to like me very much. He claims I have blocked him on this list. I have checked with GNU and he is definitely only on "Moderate post". I took him off that.

    the twister

    It seems there was some discussion of whether to "decertify" the chapter from FVC in order to have freedom of action. That would likely be a good idea. What has happened is that the national council ordered them to call off the election because they had required people to submit a statement of ability to act for the chapter without any conflict of interest.

    I had to ask repeatedly who exactly on the national council was responsible for this resolution. I was told that it was from an emergency session of the national council and driven by Ben Trister. That was really depressing to hear. I had him down as a "wishy washy" who might become a useful opponent of the troll bullshitters. Now I hear he is a hard core member of them. Damn!

    What I suggested to the people there was that it might be time for serious voting reform people to move away from FVC and start over, sadder but wiser. There was no time or opportunity for me to go into this subject in any greater depth. But what somebody really needs to do now is a canvas of the local chapters, to find out which are "usefully opposed" to the take over.

    J said that they tried to broach the subject of changing the voting rules to insure that people who are in a conflict of interest cannot run for the council, and especially cannot pack it. The hijackers are blocking this, saying the group must be "democratic".

    This shows a flawed understanding of democracy, but it is the same reasoning used by the founders of FVC when they started it. The thing is, FVC is not a government. We are not representing an entire population of a given area. There is no opposition or higher level of government, no senate, to keep us in check.

    learn how it works

    I have seen exactly this problem over and over again; people try to start some new initiative but cannot get it that the membership in it must be restricted to those who support the aims. Over and over, I have seen people with a kindergarden view of civics who find themselves leveraged out of groups they started, most often by ultra leftist groups, and just can't understand what happened.

    Here is how democracy works for advocacy groups. People vote with money and volunteer time. These days it is more often with money. They vote for people who are doing what they cannot do themselves because they do not have the time and money.

    If an organization fails to effectively do what they would like to see done, or it becomes apparent it has been subject to a successful takeover/take down attack, then its constituency takes its money and time elsewhere to some group that is competent to carry the issue forward. This is clearly what is happening with FVC already. It also seems that the vehicle of choice for promoting voting reform is becoming Lead Now and its subsidiary, Cooperate for Canada.

    Of course, Lead Now has some problems, especially in being exclusively federal and oriented to ending the Harper government's cornering power by dividing the opposition, and only secondarily about election reform. There could still be a place for FVC or a successor group if we get our shit together.

    One thing donors and volunteers will not tolerate is a prolonged power struggle with the interlopers. We either take the mother organization back or we relaunch and we have to do it within a year.

    strategies

    If we succeed in taking it back it will not be by posturing and maneuvering on the national council. This take over has obviously been prepared for some time. The people behind it have the resources and organization to pack the council. The pro PR faction has already determined they do not have the votes to reassert control.

    I know of one solution for this problem that has been used successfully. That was, for the loyalists to call an emergency meeting of the full membership of the group, read out the interlopers, confront them with their duplicity, and warn them to quit. When it became clear they were not going on their own, they were literally thrown out of the meeting room by the angry, betrayed membership.

    In this situation someone had retained control of a membership list so an emergency meeting could be convened. Also the group was located in one city, so the full membership could come together. We cannot do this with FVC.

    Nonetheless, it is disappointing that the loyal core failed to simply read out the bullshit faction who were there with bad motives, and demand that they leave. They had at least a third of the council and could have defeated an attempt by the hijackers to vote them out. But nobody has a membership list, even a list of people who have recently been members, thus no way to mobilize the membership.

    Another avenue for taking back the mother organization is through the chapters. Do the chapters even have control over the membership lists in their own areas? As I said, somebody needs to canvass them and find out where they stand.

    If there are enough chapters who have it together, call a meeting of delegates of the chapters, produce a joint declaration of some kind, "deposing" the national council, and ordering them to hand everything over. J notes how courts have tended to strongly support the founding group in court actions about hostile takeovers, so it would likely be a good idea to go to court.

    That is, if there are even any resources, any money, to engage lawyers. As I have noted, this takeover seems to have been very well planned and they have likely taken control of all the key elements of FVC. If there are not people still in position who have the head muscles to act quickly and in concert to get FVC back, I recommend just starting a new organization.

    This new group, too, would be best built around chapters of the old organization. This is the one thing that may save FVC from total calamity. I know that the original founders, the political cretins who set up the voting reform movement for this disaster, did not want local chapters. The chapters developed in spite of the national organization. But that is the logical way you would set up a group like FVC; as a confederation of local groups.

    A group that is totally national tends to get trapped in Ottawa. A group with open elections for its governance group gets hijacked. A group whose core members are chosen by invitation is largely immune to being hijacked. If it is built up out of local "cells" it does not get trapped by "Ottawaism" and can mobilize support all across the country, and simultaneously deal with provincial and local issues.

    But enough on that line. I will send as separate messages some scans of documents I picked up at the FVC-T meeting. Discussion later.

    What I have here would make a good rough draft for a report to be circulated to all FVC membership. How do I get the time to do it? Right now, I need to get back to more mundane matters of my mailing list. And, to not failing my latest university course. The mundane matters....

    Sly Stuart

    So, Stuart Parker does not understand what the problem is with what he wrote in the press release which was published on FVC website. http://www.fairvote.ca/fair-vote-canada-takes-toronto-reform-fight-to-queens-park-representation-equitable-au-canada-amene-la-lutte-pour-la-reforme-a-toronto-a-queens-park/

    He says I need to take a closer look at what he is actually saying. Yes, I know he thinks he is being a real smoothie. However, in this type of conflict, people trying to be subtle usually outsmart themselves.

    Most people reading it would miss his little clevernesses and assume that FVC is now working with RaBIT. It really works well with the RaBIT strategy of keeping the issues mixed up in people's minds. What FVC spokespersons need to be doing is making clear that X is what FVC is proposing, and Y is what the RaBIT people are after, and there is no congruence between them. Subtlety does not work well here.

    learning beyond the classroom

    I need to get back to some coursework soon. Much of what I am studying has strong tie ins for FVC. It is a 400 level course, entitled "Democracy in Decline Renewing Civic Engagement" and it involves some outside learning with some "civic society" groups.

    One of the groups which we could choose to work with for a few weeks is something run by Dave Meslin. It is not clear exactly what this Meslin lead group does. However, we had a pair of speakers last Thursday who had passed this course a couple of years ago and both are now working with Meslin. They think the AV initiative is a really great idea. A couple of other people in the class think so, too.

    I really did not want to start the jihad right then and there. We got to ask questions and oi arsked perlitely whether they thought that Meslin's activities pointed out a problem in "civic engagement" of professional activists appropriating the public voice to promote causes the public is often not interested in or that is even against the public interest.

    One of them asked me to give a "for instance" but the prof knew where this was going and cut it off. It seems that in the next session we will get to some political scientists with some ideas about that, such as Habermas and Montpetit.

    After class he joked that he might invite Meslin to speak to the class. I said I would like to wring Meslin's neck and I was in a room full of people last Tuesday who felt the same way.

    He knew about this because I had to explain to him why I was not at the class on Tuesday. I said that we had inaugurated "The Coyote Club." He understood the meaning and was amused. It sounds more dramatic than that some old ladies in FVC-Toronto have called themselves "The Foxes".

    Gnu business

    But I must wrap this up. Here is some administrative business from the administrator of this list. It puzzles me that with about 15 plus years of experience of Homo Sapiens with e-mail discussion lists, this species still has not mastered sending off replies to items on a thread. I have had to go into the GNU interface three times in 24 hours to deal with an oversized message.

    The messages are oversized because people do not cut off the long tails of past postings, so you have these huge messages with six or seven rows of stitches down the right side. All people have to do is either compose a new message and copy the list header onto it, which most e-mail programs will do automatically these days, or simply select and delete the stale verbiage before hitting "send". The mailer I have now even does this task automatically, sort of. It separates out the older messages.

    So, I will have to either let the GNU send messages back to the sender with instructions to "chop, chop," or do the chopping myself. Also, getting your messages sent in digest form greatly aggravates the problem.

    Why don't you folks at least gnow what a gnu gnows?

    there is supposed to be a picture of a GNU  here. If there isn't sorry.