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Time to speak of many things...

The topics just keep multiplying. Below are discussions of; 1) Toronto community housing and tenant elections, 2) The Toronto center by-election 3) The "Democracy Day on Danforth" event 4) The theory of Democratic Legitimacy as it effects voting reform 5) The continuing inadequacy of FVC, 6) the new hire at the FVC shop. Plus other odd occurances and asides.

Several interesting things have recently happened to me. I was walking down the hallway in my apartment and I noticed a door shaking. A voice inside asked "whoever is out there" to open the door. I was out there, so I did.

Inside was one of the building caretakers and his assistant. It seems they were cleaning up an apartment which had been vacated, they installed a new door, and they discovered that somehow they couldn't open the door from the inside. Ah, yes. Only in Toronto Housing.

Totally Corrupt and Hopelessly Confused

TCHC is going through some upheavals again. They have a mandate from the city to involve the tenants in the governance of their buildings, but they are incapable of really doing it. The new manager, Gene Jones, is doing a pretty good job in difficult circumstances.

They have been doing consultations lately. They are talking about letting the tenants form tenant associations again. This is 15 years after they suppressed the tenant associations in the ugliest of ways and imposed this tenant representation system on us.

Gene says that whenever TCHC has tried to do elections it has not worked. He says that somehow it has to be made to work. I was there and I know exactly why the elections did not work.

However, here is the problem for Fair Vote people; how do you run elections for a building full of tenants, to choose a tenants council or association? It seems like this is the thing STV is really made for but what else is possible? Is a preference vote a good idea?

Now, should I try and introduce Gene Jones to Fair Vote Canada? If FVC played it smartly, it could get some sort of consultant fee for doing it. TCHC likes to pay people for such consultation. This is something FVC should be looking to do anyway, to develop a reputation as The Experts on voting methods.

Furious George

But I went out to go over to the new Liberal party campaign office not far from my home. Strolling through the park, who do I run into but the famous retired Liberal George Smitherman. Next to him was his 'husband', who has obviously come back to him after doing some weird things lately. I ignored him; don't want to get personal.

George seemed fairly mellow that day. He said he had thought about going back into politics, but decided against it; for good, he says. He happened to be sitting in that park because he had a business nearby.

So, I am not running for anything, piss off. Not quite like that. I was curious if he remembered the problems I have had with harassment by local political networks. He once seemed interested, but he failed to win the mayor's job. Now he seems to remember but is no longer interested.

So I wished him luck with his new business. He will have to support himself and his kids somehow, now that his hubby appears unable to support....

The Party Line

I went over to Chrystia's place. She was not there. They were still just putting the office together. I was told that the campaign office would be officially opened on Wednesday, October 2nd, when Justin would be there.

I suspect a big crowd would be there too, but I want to talk to Chrystia one on one a bit about electoral reform. Since the joker I was talking to seemed not about to facilitate that, I asked his opinion. He was a typical party apparatchik, who would be just as at home with the Harper conservative party as the Trudeau the second Liberals; very defensive.

He also did not know much about PR, and did not seem to want to hear me explain it to him. He just said that the Liberal party supports preferential voting. I told him that preferential voting is when you have one person to elect. That has nothing to do with PR.

He said that all a proportional system would do is lead to unstable minority governments. I told him there is nothing unstable about proportional government, almost every democracy in the world works that way, and it is how legislatures are supposed to work.

He just did not seem to want to hear it. At least he did not try to tell me that preferential voting was actually a form of PR. The only thing else would have been for him to start calling me a communist. But as far as he knew, I was just some geek in off the street and I would as soon leave him thinking that.

I think we are going to have a serious fight with the liberal party over PR. They seem to want to push it very aggressively and underhandedly. They seem to think it is the way to reestablish their rightful place as the permanent governing party.

Here is the url to the resolution at their last convention, http://convention.liberal.ca/governance/21-electoral-reform/

Some people have been strategizing about how to work the next federal election so as to insure subsequent voting reform. Also, how the Toronto Center by-election works into it. It is time for the local chapter of FVC to rub their heads together and figure out what they want to ask Chrystia and Linda. Then ask it. Then from that, decide the approach.

What I would like to do is hang around the Liberal HQ and explain voting reform to their volunteers, introduce them to "Cooperate for Canada" and FVC. Is there some money somewhere to print up special flyers just for them? Another thing if we could get a team together is to go door knocking along with Chrystia.

It is very important to not allow the Libs to frame us as being a Deeper front. But always make very clear that this preference plan of the Liberals is totally unacceptable as well as the tactics they are using to promote it. The basic weapon that should be used against the Liberals in this issue is shame, because their position is deceptive and dishonest; ignoring the facts, trying to silence any alternative but theirs.

Democracy Day on Danforth

Talk about the Deepers brings me to another subject I should have dealt with some time ago; the event of ten days ago now. My biggest concern about it is it looked too much like an NDP rally. It is important that FVC keep distance from the NDP because a part of the Libs propaganda is to paint it as something thought up by the NDP and the Greens "because it most benefits them, rather than the wishes of Canadians to simply have some form of electoral reform."

Besides, there is a big problem with the NDP in that they seem to think they own everything that is progressive, but will betray anything for expediency. They cannot be trusted to follow through on this principle. They will not engage in electoral alliance with the liberals unless forced to.

Another thing with the NDP is that they are likely to drop back to third party status in the next election, and the Liberals are likely to surge. There is likely to be another Harper minority government. This is very problematic for the voting reform movement.

Actually, the best thing FVC could do is to work on, not within, the Liberals to get them to rethink their policy. Again, shame is the weapon. They are pushing their preference vote nonsense because they think it will wire the electoral system to insure perpetual majorities for them.

The Liberals big weapon is misinformation and the vague understanding of PR by most of the public. Getting back to the Danforth meeting, we saw that in action there. Many old FVC types were surprised at this, but should not have been.

I am just relieved that I did not have to listen to some retard say that she thinks PR is terrific, each MP gets elected by over 50%, no more minority governments. Why didn't somebody think of this years ago. Maybe there was one and I did not notice; I tend to go comatose in response to yet another explanation of voting systems.

One thing that briefly interested me was another crack-a-doodle megagenius voting reform idea. This guy wanted to weight the votes which members of parliament could cast, instead of the actual seats. For example, the Greens have one vote, deserve twelve, so give the one Green twelve votes. And of course the Tories together would cast a vote worth, what is it 135 seats?

It is loony in way too many ways to go into but the real question was, why was he allowed to speak? This kind of thing puts people off even being involved with FVC; it is embarrassing.

Democratic Legitimacy

One of the speakers said something which woke me up. He said the problem he has with FVC is that we are not clear on exactly what we want. He is another one who does not get it; it is not about any exact method of PR, there are many ways to do it that achieve pretty much the same result, the aim is to create a process for achieving strong public legitimization of whatever system is decided on.

And this is why I get a little concerned about people who are very concerned that the next election could become a de facto referendum on PR. It is very important that the vote not become a referendum. A referendum in a subject like this must be held separately from a general election.

What we are doing is pushing a process of reforming the voting system, not any one form of PR. We do have to make clear that all valid voting systems are PR. Anything single seat is a nonsense and not of the discussion.

And as someone fussed about here, a referendum cannot be about putting the voting system "up for grabs". But it has to be done by a Citizen's Assembly and referendum. Yes, we noticed that a couple of provincial governments messed around with this process. But some of us also noticed that FVC utterly failed to call it out, and to act to keep the process honest. This is 90% of the job of a group like FVC and it has been a miserable failure at it so far.

A big part of the course I took over the summer was about achieving legitimate decisions. If anyone on this list wants some interesting readings on the subject, I can send some links and PDFs. A problem is that a lot of the stuff was academic and controlled by these publishing cartels. This means access is restricted, I could only read it off the screen, or print it out, and it disappeared the day the course ended. This is another problem with democratic deficit; restriction of information and discussion to an elite, even discussion of how to overthrow them. How is that for irony?

If politicians colluded together and decided to pass any kind of voting reform, the opposition parties will be on the outside of it and will keep attacking it. It will be seen as one group rigging the rules in their favor. But if the reform was developed by a process seen to be fair and objective, then there will be little basis for attacking it.

To reiterate, the role of FVC must not be to advocate for any particular form of PR, although it must be made clear that proportionality and multi seat districts are the parameters of legitimacy. Anything that continues single member districts is out of the question.

It must advocate a process for reform and needs to research that more. This of course is a fairly new science, unlike PR. But the people who set up the citizen's assembly in Ontario did it very well and that should be the model. However, it fell down at the referendum stage due to political interference from elitists.

FVC needs to advocate for that assembly model but also for proper referenda. Consistently, the voting reform movement fails to step up to the line when the process is sandbagged. The problem with Fair Vote is that it is made up mostly of people from a generation which still has this undue deference to authority, who think politics is about pleading dispensation from power on high.

This is another chestnut from the course. It is mostly older people who have the time to participate in politics. The younger generation, the post 1980s people, are much more politically sophisticated but are mostly too busy making a living and raising families. But they are the people behind things such as Leadnow and Democracy Watch.

If there was the time for a voting reform movement to fully nature, we would eventually have PR. But the screwheads are moving rapidly to consolidate their power. The single member preference voting is a device to cut off reform. It would make it very much more difficult to finally achieve voting reform.

To sum up, what FVC really ought to be doing is not to advocate any one form of PR, but to set up PR as the parameter for reform and to promote, and in fact police, an unbiased and legitimate process of reform. The problem is that right now FVC seems to be incapable of doing this.

reforming the voting reformers.

How can it be made capable? One possibility is to give up on it and start over, this time getting the structure right. But the problem with this is that what will likely happen is the anti-PR interlopers who FVC has so much trouble getting rid of will almost certainly take it over.

This is the tactic the Alternative Vote people are using; to try to appropriate the term and turn it to mean its opposite. This is a common tactic among "rule by cooptation" elites. They will try to coopt the entire organization and turn it upside down. "We are supporters of Proportional Representation and we have decided that the best form of it is the single member, alternative vote".

This is probably the single biggest reason why I have decided to put some time into FVC. But at some point I have to decide whether the cause is hopeless and put my energy somewhere else. The bastards are very close to seizing FVC. Much will depend on the new staff which is being hired.

the new girl

So now we know who that is. There is not much real information about Kelly Carmichael in the official announcements. I have looked up a bit more about her.

She is from MacGill University and has some art studies. She worked as a marketer for various clothing retailers. Lately she has been working for a charity clothing store.

She lives in Lesliville and has been part of the community organization there, often as a spokesperson. She took a lead in keeping some big box retail out of the area, and protecting and developing the bike pathways around here. I use those bikeways quite a bit, so I already have reasons to like Kelly. But when do we meet Her?

However, she is a bit underqualified. I think the pool of people interested in this job would be limited. Much of it will be dealing with the federal government and federal parties, and federally oriented political organizations. Her experience is local.

The people sophisticated enough to do this job would likely be sophisticated enough not to risk themselves in a situation like FVC, which has a hostile takeover problem that most of the "leadership" simply have not got the mental capacity to deal with. Also, we probably do not pay enough to attract the best talent.

I will continue to assert that it is stupid, and unfair to the new employee, to hire any staff until the hostile takeover has been repelled and the organization restructured so that it is fit for its purpose.

And here is a good place to end this.