Category Archives: Politics

Canada’s electoral system

Look like a slightly stronger Conservative minority government on the way.  I’m OK with that.

But I’m looking once again at the popular vote statistics and the numbers are out of whack.  I know I do this every election, but bear with me.

Currently a party wins seats in the house of commons based on the number of ridings won by its candidates, regardless of relative populations of those ridings.

So, hypothetical worst-case scenario: there are 3 ridings in Saskanada, Riding 1 has a population of 100,000; Riding 2 has a population of 10,000; and Riding 3 has a population of 5,000.  The Marc Party could form Saskanada’s government by getting 51% of the vote in Ridings 2 and 3, even if the Dixie party won 100% of the popular vote in Riding 1.  It’s more nuanced than that, I’m sure, but that’s the problem in an nutshell.

The problem is strongly evident in the division of seats between the Bloc Quebecois (which really only represents the interests of Quebec and not the nation’s and runs only in Quebec) and the Green Party (which runs nationwide).  The Bloc won (or is currently at) 10% of the popular vote.  The Green Party is very close to the Bloc with 7% of the popular vote.

BUT…because of our electoral system, the Bloc has won 50 seats in the House of Commons and the Green Party has not won a single seat .  In other words, a 3% difference in popular vote but a 5000%+ difference in number of seats won (of course, you can’t really calculate a percentage difference between 0 and 50).

This is why I’m for electoral reform.

Who would benefit from a government bailout?

song chart memes

It’s funny ’cause it’s true.  I’ve been thinking about this $700,000,000,000 since it was announced.  Where did this come from?  Why do the people who caused the crisis in the first place get such a bailout?  And where was this $700,000,000,000 when Bono & Co. were working on Third World debt relief? Why should the U.S. economy (or the Canadian economy for that matter) be bailed out, but not Third World economies.

It bothers me that this money is available, but it is brought out for purely political reasons.  I know there’s probably more to this than I understand: I’m not a finance and investment guy.  But still:  $700,000,000,000 is a lot of money to pull out of your arse just like that.

I guess that’s the perk of being a billion dollar corporation.  You can bring thousands of people and businesses to financial ruin, but the government will bail you out.

I think I’m an idealist—or I should be.  I think that might be my sermon topic this week: should Christians be idealists?  Were Jesus’ commands and way of life simply options for us to accept or reject?

What does the common good look like?

From the Center for Public Justice (via):

The view seems to be that in public life we are essentially identical and must be treated the same. No business may refuse to serve us.  And since government must serve all equally, private groups supported by government also must serve everyone equally.

But this public conformity concept of the common good is unsustainable.  It is a new secular theocracy.  Against it there is a strong commandment.  The commandment is the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects religion from government imposition—protects not only religious belief but also religious exercise.  It protects doctors whose conscience forbids certain procedures and it protects religious charities when they insist that only applicants who share their convictions can join their staffs.

When government honors religious exercise in this way, some citizens will have to go to another doctor’s office instead of this one, and some citizens will find they cannot get jobs with some nonprofits.  Not being welcomed everywhere seems an intolerable imposition to the proponents of uniformity.  But it is the real consequence of protecting religious freedom.  There would be no need for the constitutional protection if religious freedom did not sometimes require some people to give way.

We must face the reality.  America is home to several moral communities.  The government should not be used to enforce a single code of behavior that denies the deep religious convictions of many people and institutions of faith.  The common good that the government must foster and protect is not homogeneous but includes diverse contributions from a diverse civil society.  The common good is comprised of multiple colors. (link)

It’s about the U.S., but I think it applies here, too.

An election must be nigh, take 2 (a.k.a. John Stackhouse says it better)

John Stackhouse says it better than I did:

Mr. Duceppe seems to be unhappy about people running for office who “share an ideology, a narrow ideology.” But surely most people who enter politics do have one or another ideology, and of a quite particular sort, that motivates them so strongly that they undergo the rigors of political life.

Furthermore, one might think that someone who spends most of his political life trying to achieve a single goal–removal of Quebec from the Canadian confederation–could be characterized as having “a narrow ideology.”

. . . but it is apparently the correct narrow ideology, one that corresponds with modern times in Quebec–during which, if Mr. Duceppe had his way, only his narrow ideology would count, and anyone else’s would be properly set aside. (Link)

Indeed.

An election must be nigh.

Which means I’ll soon have my hackles up about ridiculous statements about faith and religion from politicians and the media.

I noted this story on CBC Radio One’s noon news: “Quebec Tory candidate is Opus Dei member” (Opus Dei is a conservative Catholic organization, caricatured in Dan Brown’s fictional Da Vinci Code).  Why is this news?  We’re a multi-cultural, multi-faith country, so why is this a surprise?

Why is this newsworthy?  Are we not a multi-cultural and multi-religious society?  If so, why would this candidates affiliation surprise or concern anyone?

From the Montreal Gazette:

[Bloc Québécois leader Gilles] Duceppe seized on the revelation that one of the Conservatives’ candidates in Quebec is a member of the ultra-Catholic group Opus Dei as a candidate saying it is proof that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative party are narrow-minded right wing ideologues who would take away a woman’s right to choose.  (Link)

From the Globe and Mail:

“My problem is that Opus Dei is a rather secret society,” Mr. Duceppe told reporters in Quebec City. “Those people certainly share an ideology, a narrow ideology, that doesn’t correspond at all to the modern times in Quebec…. That candidate said very openly that self-whipping is a sacrifice they have to do. I question myself on such practices.” (Link)

An election must be nigh.

Election

I continue to wallow in an inspirational drought. My humblest apologies are offered. You are, no doubt, going just about mad without your regular dose of biting satire, edgy political punditry, refreshing theology and moving devotional/reflective writing, all of which at one point flowed like honey from this very weblog, out of your monitor and all over your keyboard. Alas, today I can offer you no more than a mild bile (sorry—the extra-tangy stuff is reserved for even darker days).

In the mean time, I offer you my political options, today being the provincial election:

  • The Saskatchewan Party — makes me uneasy, but, since I haven’t read a platform to speak of, I have no logical reason to feel this way.
  • The New Democratic Party — they’ve been in power too long. While I am not unhappy with the way things are, I don’t pay much attention to the effects of politics on the province as a whole, so that ease is based solely on my lot in the province.
  • The Liberals — they won’t win. What’s their policy?
  • The Green Party — are they running in my riding? They won’t win either, obviously. But that’s not the point of voting, is it, to choose the winning party? It’s not a lottery.

I am a horrible citizen. Here I am with the privilege of a vote, something millions, possibly billions, of people around the world wish for, and I don’t bother to take note of what’s what. Of course, politicians have the privilege of running freely in our democracy, with a theoretical chance to make a real difference, to stand up for what is right and just and honest, but they squander it with empty promises and insults. (Yes, yes, I know that bureaucracy sometimes ties a politician’s hands , but then I should be allowed to blame my job and my family for my political apathy.)

There you have it: an unpolished, early morning post to assuage your appetite, dear, sweet, gentle readers.

SO I WENT THROUGH CBC.ca’s platform slideshow to see what I would see.  I kept score of whose policy I liked best for each issue.  The three parties came out more or less the same.  Dang it.

Chomping at the bit.

I left Prince Albert at about 6:30 this morning, catching the provincial news at that time.  Lorne Calvert has called an election.  It was still dark when I set out on the highway.  Just past the turn-off to Saskatoon I noticed a row of bright lights—it was all I could see in the darkness.  Combines, I thought to myself.  Local farmers are working together to get each other’s crops in.  (I’ve always thought that was a nice part of the farming community.)  It wasn’t.  As I passed I could see portions of these machines illuminated and they were highway construction trucks; roadworkers warming up for the coming day.  (I imagined the rattle of the diesel engines idling in the cold, dark morning.)  I was surprised that they would start work so early, but didn’t think much of it.

However, on the road between Prince Albert and Saskatoon—150km stretch of highway in a huge province with a network of roads totalling thousands of kilometres, much of which is delapitated—I saw at least 4 or 5 large crews at work on twinning the highway between the cities: graders, earth movers, front-end loaders, bulldozers, hauling trucks, and so on, multiples of each at every site.

I haven’t travelled to Saskatoon in several months, but this seems a little too obvious: all these road crews on a relatively short stretch of highway less than 12 hours after the premiere called an election.  I wonder if a call went out early this morning: “Get all your crews working on Highway 2!”  If telling us about future features of online submissions breaks the Elections Act, then this rips it to shreds, I would say.

In Saskatoon at the Tim Hortons on Warman Road, there was a crowd of Liberal supporters holding up signs along the road cheering and waving at the passing cars.  At 7:15 this evening the doorbell rings and it’s some people from the Saskatchewan Party.(I thought it was the NDP because their literature is green.  Doesn’t colour mean anything anymore?)  They’re already going door to door with literature.  These politicians must have been chomping at the bit like race horses behind the starting gate, which was opened by Mr. Calvert last night.  Hop to it!

Incidentally, Lorne Calvert sounds a lot like Harry Shearer’s character in A Mighty Wind. (Harry Shearer is also the voice of Principal Skinner and other characters on The Simpsons.)  He was on CBC’s The Morning Edition at 7:15 this morning (Hop to it!) and he was vague as all get out.  He blantantly refused to directly answer any questions about platform specifics.  It’s not because he doesn’t know what his platform is yet, either, because he kept telling the host, Sheila Coles, that he would answer that question (about the “biggest” social benefit to be announced in a decade) at the press conference at 9:30 this morning and that he invites and welcomes “all her colleagues” to come to the press conference.  He could have said something, for heaven’s sake.  Not a peep.

And like I said in the previous post, the NDP are going to try to claim Saskatchewan’s recent boom as their doing.  They have something to do with it, I’m sure, but I think the boom is more about people running away from something than running to something.  Saskatchewan’s a great province—I love it—but I think more people are intending their move as an emigration out of Alberta, away from the prices and the hustle and bustle, than immigrating into Saskatchewan.  If you know what I mean.

I’d try to balance this out with some negatives about the Saskatchewan Party, but I forgot to tune in to the 7:45 interview with Brad Wall.  For what it’s worth, I’m undecided.

In School

I’m at an all-day work related course at the SIAST Kelsey Campus.  Back in the hallowed halls of academe. I was dreading it, butI’m enjoying the atmostphere.  Going back to school, if I ever make that choice, wouldn’t be so bad.

I thought I’d have to hunt down a computer lab to do this, but as it happens we are doing this course in a computer lab.  It’s a training course for online land titles submissions.  It has limited capabilities at this point, but those capabilities are what we specialize in.

I keep trying to squeeze stuff in here, but I can never find a moment after coffee or lunch.  Go go go.  I will update as I can.  I should have sat in the back.

* * *

Just finished my exercise…

I was up at 6a.m., on the road by 6:35ish and at the Kelsey Campus by 7:50.  I drove by it.  Quick U-turn.  Between locating a parking space and finding the room it was another 20 minutes.  Someone told me, “Always go to the information desk.”

“I don’t know where that is,” says I.  Catch-22.

* * *

At each of our computer stations there is a “Tangle” stress reliever, a highlighter/pen, a small Post-it Notes pad, and a sticky page marker pad.  The Tangle and highligher/pen are mine.  The Post-its and page-markers must remain.  Dang.

I’ve been taking a few notes with the felt-tip pen on the highlighter/pen.  It has nearly run dry already.

* * *

There was also a blue Sharpie on the desk.  It stays, too.  I used it to write my name on this desk’s place card.

* * *

tickety tickety tick…  We all work with keyboards.

* * *

If the Saskatchewan election had been called any earlier they would have cancelled this class.  I guess it could be seen as unfair partisan promotion or propaganda, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The election was called too late to make cancellation reasonable.

* * *

One more thing on my computer desk: a lunch voucher.  We took an early lunch at 11:30 (only an hour after coffee break).  In the line-up I asked one of the course leaders what this lunch voucher gets me.

“Anything you want.”

“Anything?!  Wow.”  I looked up in wonder.  There was a large glass-doored fridge stocked with a 7-11 variety of drinks plus sandwiches and salads.  There were soups, buns, muffins and other treats, chips, entrees, various coffees and teas, bagels and so on.  My instincts would drive me to load up my tray and take full advantage of our tax dollars at work—take enough for lunch and then some.  I chose to ignore my instincts; get this: I selected a bowl of some kind of corn chowder, a coffee, a small caesar salad (it was actually called “Caesar Salad – SMALL”), a fruit salad and a bagel.  Well done, me.

It occurred to me that future online submission features won’t sway my vote, but they can’t say a thing about them.  What is more likely to sway me is the free items on my desk and this lavish free lunch (along with muffins and tea/coffee/juice for coffee break), but they can spend as much on that as they want.

* * *

I was listening to the news on the way to Saskatoon.  Lorn Calvert, our premiere, is sending out this message: Things are booming in the province, so this is a bad time to vote for change for the sake of change.  (The NDP has been in power for 16 years.)  The problem with this is that people are not rushing into Saskatchewan not because it’s so economically wonderful here now (at least that’s not the only reason).  It seems to me, from talking to some of this summer’s clients, that what a lot of people are doing is running away from something.  Specifically, people are running from the prices and hustle and bustle of Alberta.

I’m not telling you to vote out the NDP.  But it’s something to consider when listening to campaign propaganda.

 Now for coffee before it’s over… 

* * *

I just remembered that blogging standards have the newest items at the top of the page, so I should have done that with this post.  I started fixing it, but I can’t squeeze it in between stuff.  Sorry.

* * *

Just read Dixie’s new post, which backtracks here.  If I think about it too much, it could make me cry or at least choke me up, because I know what’s she’s talking about specifically.  No crying at this workshop, please.

* * *

I was thinking the other day that maybe I should find a career where there will be more testosterone in the work environment.  There’s nothing wrong with working with women, mind you, but it’d be nice to interact with a variety of genders over the course of a work-week.  Here I am at the course—me and 12 other women.

I continue to blaze the trail in the fight against gender stereotypes.

* * *

Of all the questions asked today—and there have been many—I’ve asked at least half of them.  I was worried that this would annoy everyone, but it turns out that questions are a good thing.

* * *

I’m also helping the people in front of me.  I wonder if that’s annoying?

* * *

4:06p.m.  Done.  And none too soon.  I’m tired.  Now for a quick stop at the bookstore and then home.

‘Non-white’?

While doing the crossword puzzle in a local newspaper I noticed a Crimestoppers “Most Wanted” list on the bottom of the page.  It had three people listed, a picture and short description accompanying each.

One has no skin description, as one might expect in such a posting, but the other two are described as “non-white”.  Non-white?  That doesn’t strike me as  a particularly helpful description when asking for help in locating someone.  It could mean anyone…er…not white.  And that’s a lot of people.

But…there are pictures included in the list, which rule out a number of ancestry/nationality options.  One of the wanted men, if his name is any indication, is definitely Metis, if not aboriginal (I know someone with the same last name who is Metis).  The wanted woman has no skin description, but is noted as having “tribal art” tattooed on her back, which, unless I’m missing something, is a strong indication that she is aboriginal.  The second wanted gentleman is also described as “non-white”.  His photograph isn’t a good tell, but if this wanted list is local and he’s non-white, there’s a good chance he’s aboriginal as well.

Now, on a relational level it makes no difference to me what these people are—white, non-white, aboriginal, Norwegian, what have you.  We are all equal and equally loved by God, as far as I’m concerned.  But from the perspective of a search for criminals, it would be much more helpful to the public to say “aboriginal” if they are, in fact, aboriginal; Indian or Middle Eastern, if their nationality is such; white or African-Canadian.

I’m guessing that this is just a politically correct gesture.  It wouldn’t look good—to whom, I don’t know—if all individuals on the Most Wanted list have the same nationality.