Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2011 Fair Vote Canada Newsletter

(received via email today)
August 2011

http://www.fairvote.ca/en/newsletter-august-2011

In this issue:

* Election outcome sparks renewed interest in electoral reform.
* Chapters active at local events
* Democracy Week in Canada, September 12 – 18, 2011

Election outcome sparks renewed interest in electoral reform

Many Canadian voters were recently startled to discover that a single political party can form a “majority” government with less than forty percent of the votes cast (never mind the forty percent who don’t even bother to vote).

These voters would be too young or too inattentive to remember the “majority” governments of Jean Chretien and Bob Rae, each of whom claimed absolute power on the strength of less than 39% of the votes cast.

Of course, almost all “majority” governments in Canada receive less than 50% of the votes cast in an election. We consider this “normal”, although people from most developed countries, who use proportional voting systems, are more likely to consider it “bizarre”, if not “inconceivable”.

In any case, a remarkable degree of dissatisfaction among the electorate is causing booming business for the electoral reform movement.

Signatures on Fair Vote Canada’s Declaration of Voters’ Rights stood at 9,767 when the writ was dropped. As I write, the number of signers is 18,255.

On election day in 2008, our Web site at http://FairVote.Ca got about 3,000 hits. On election day in 2011 we got 43,000 hits.

Each of these numbers represents a Canadian voter who has realized that the game is rigged and the reason we are so dissatisfied with our politics and our politicians is that these are not the people we voted for.

Once you get it, it’s hard to forget it.

We will not have government policy that truly reflects the will of the people until we have a voting system that accurately translates the will of the people, as expressed by the votes we cast, into effective representation in the House of Commons.

Fair Vote Canada has experienced a wave of new members and donors. New and newly active chapters are arising in Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax, Winnipeg, York Region, and Yukon.

Chapters active at local events

With Parliament out of session, Canadians’ attention turns to the beach and away from politics, but summer provides lots of opportunities to reach out through community events, festivals, and fairs.

Waterloo

June 25/26: We had a table again this year for two full days at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival - a huge festival in Victoria Park with thousands of visitors.

July 9: Had a table again this year at the Non Violence Festival in Victoria Park, August 13. Will have a table at the Tribute to Woodstock Festival in Waterloo Public Square, possible chance to speak again this year

August 28: Will have a table at the LINK festival in Victoria Park - our first year there - celebrating African and Caribbean culture

National Capital Region

We are planning for our biggest event of the year, the Capital Pride Parade on Sunday, August 28th, 2011. At the parade and the accompanying information fair, we talk to hundreds of people and hand out hundreds of pamphlets.

Toronto

July 5, 2011: FVC Toronto chapter hosted a table at Toronto Pride community fair on Sunday. The chapter has had a table for most of the past 6 or 7 years. This year was exceptional because we did not have to explain as much what we meant by voting system reform or proportional representation. In fact at times the 8 volunteers had four clipboards on the go collecting 599 signatures on the Declaration of Voters’ Rights. At one point we ran out of Declarations and had to run to a local convenience store to run off 20 more sheets!

Pride is an exceptional event -- it draws Canadians from all parts of the country so the reach is not just the city. To see more info and pictures check out www.facebook.com/fairvotetoronto

It is immensely gratifying when people thank you for what you are doing. We remind them that joining might be an option, but if not, telling friends, family and most of all their local politicians that we need some form of PR.

Greater Victoria

We had a great pub night on July 19 - eight people showed up for a beer and lots of great discussion. We are hoping to promote Democracy Week in this area. We have now reinstated a Fair Vote Club at UVic and have started a new one at Camosun College. UVic Clubs day should be during Democracy Week and we'll have a table there.

Simcoe County

We held our AGM in early May, with excellent turnout. This led to the formation of a sub-committee on Outreach, as well as renewed efforts to increase our online presence. We held an information booth over 2 days at Barrie's Eco-Fest the weekend of June 12th, gathering more supporters. We have recently ordered a larger banner for our chapter, in preparation for fall provincial election events. Our outreach committee is currently revising a PowerPoint presentation to use in approaching local service clubs and community groups for presentation opportunities. We are also putting renewed attention into fundraising projects.

Democracy Week in Canada, September 12 – 18

September 15 is the official the United Nations International Day of Democracy. Why just one day?

Fair Vote Canada is initiating the first annual Democracy Week in Canada, September 12-18, 2011.

We believe that this is a great time to remind Canadians that our own democracy needs a better voting system.

Democracy Week will provide us with an annual focal point to engage Canadians in a discussion of democracy in Canada, to mobilize our volunteers, to raise the profile of Fair Vote Canada, and to connect with national and local community groups.

The theme of Democracy Week is understanding, improving, and celebrating our democracy. It includes, but is not limited to, the issue of electoral reform.

For our first annual Democracy Week in Canada, we are encouraging all of our chapters to organize activities during the week of September 12-18.

We will make this a truly national event, with events happening in many cities across Canada.

Fair Vote Canada chapters across the country will host events in their own community. Big or small, every effort helps! They will invite a speaker or a panel, host a debate or a "democracy cafe". Events will be done alone or in conjunction with other local groups.

With provincial elections coming up in Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Ontario, and the Northwest Territories, many groups are looking for opportunities to get their issue in front of the public.

This is a great opportunity for us to get out the message that we need a new voting system!

Keep watching http://FairVote.Ca for Democracy Week events in your neighbourhood. Or create one!

Contact your local Fair Vote Canada chapter, or the Democracy Week team at DemocracyWeek@FairVote.Ca.

Democracy remains a do-it-yourself project.

Wayne Smith
Executive Director

With files from Eleanor Alexander, Wendy Bergerud, Jamie Deith, June Macdonald, Anita Nickerson, and Kelsey Wagner.
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