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Old 03-28-2013, 04:30 PM   #1
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Election rules overhaul on the way

On one hand, I'm glad there's an overhaul coming. On the other, I'm not sure it'll come in time for the 2015 election (yay governments that move slower than slugs in frozen molasses). On the gripping hand, I'm worried that it'll fall short of where it should and have some deeper pits than our existing ones do.

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OTTAWA – The Conservative government says it will introduce “comprehensive reforms” to Canada’s election law in response to the complaints of misleading telephone calls in the last election.

On a day Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand warned there will be more deceptive robocalls in the next election unless the government acts, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised an overhaul of election rules was on its way.

Mayrand said Thursday that it is “becoming urgent” for the government to update the Canada Elections Act.

“I’m afraid that what happened in the last election could re-occur,” he said during a briefing for reporters. “And again the same obstacles that exist right now to the investigation will remain in place.

“In Guelph, according to public information, 7,000 calls were placed within 15 minutes at a cost of about $160. It’s very cheap to breach the legislation, undermine public confidence and, honestly, to try to deter or prevent people to cast their ballots.”

On Wednesday, Mayrand tabled a report in Parliament recommending changes to the law to keep pace with new technologies such as automated phone calls and massive voter databases.

It recommended putting new rules for political parties in place, increasing penalties and giving Elections Canada investigators new powers to look into complaints of wrongdoing.

Harper responded during question period Thursday morning.

“These recommendations will be strongly taken into account as the government moves forward in the not-too-distant future with comprehensive reforms on these matters,“ Harper said.

Harper reminded the House that the Liberals are so far the only party to face sanctions over 2011 robocalls, a reference to a CRTC penalty against Guelph MP Frank Valeriote’s riding association for breaching telemarketing rules.

Elections Canada is currently investigating the calls in Guelph and more than 1,400 complaints about misleading calls from voters in 246 other ridings.

At the height of the robocalls scandal in March 2012, the Conservatives supported an NDP motion promising to enact reforms within six months. Now, more than a year later, the government has yet to introduce the promised legislation.

Mayrand said Thursday that the new rules have to be put in place by the end of 2014 in order to give his agency time to prepare for the next federal election, anticipated in October 2015.

“We’re two years and a half or so years away from the next election. Given the time it takes for the parliamentary process to follow its due course, I think we need to act sooner than later.

“It’s becoming urgent that we look at legislation to address the issues that arose during the 41st election,” Mayrand said. “Time is running out.”

Opposition parties expressed skepticism about the Conservatives’ commitment to reform of election rules.

“I really don’t hold out much hope it will be meaningful,” said Liberal MP Ralph Goodale.

The Liberals are considering codifying all of the recommendations in Mayrand’s report and presenting them as amendments to any forthcoming legislation, Goodale said.

New Democrat Craig Scott said he thinks the Tories are simply stalling and don’t really intend to have new legislation passed by the House and Senate in time for the next elections.

“It’s bound to be a bill with some flaws and they’re going to have to be discussed,” Scott said. “Don’t expect it actually will be law in time to actually make a difference in the 2015 elections.”

Scott said he doubts there has even been a draft of the legislation prepared.

Mayrand said the ongoing investigations of allegedly misleading calls would have been easier had Parliament acted on the 55 recommendations for changes to the law that he made in 2010. Most of the revisions were approved by a parliamentary committee but never became law.

If the government had acted on those recommendations, he said, investigators looking into dirty political calls in the 2011 election would have been able to more easily get access to party records.

“Access to documentation, that would have been helpful,” he said.

Mayrand told reporters that the current election rules are so outdated they didn’t even contemplate the Internet when they were last revised.

“The act as it’s written now was largely written before the wave of new technologies that we’ve seen over the last 10 or 15 years. In that sense, it has failed to keep up with the times.”

He also said it’s necessary to update the law to give voters privacy protection. There are now no rules governing party databases.

“Nobody knows what information is maintained by parties on electors,” Mayrand said. “There’s no vehicle for an elector to see what information there is on their account, whether there are errors, whether it can be corrected, and they don’t know how that information is being shared.”
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Old 03-28-2013, 05:28 PM   #2
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The election-related issue that most worries me is the elimination of the per-vote subsidy. The Tories have a huge, devoted af base in the religious right in ON and AB, not to mention the metric fucktonne of oil money that will always vote blue because of the National Energy Program established by the Liberals in the 1970s-and the NDP is against the oilsands as well.

End result is that the Tories will have a big leg up on campaign financing. We'll be on our way to an American style campaign where money talks above all.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:48 AM   #3
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the only election reform we need is a way to make sure people voting know the issues, and can explain the differences in potential outcomes of different policies from different parties.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:10 PM   #4
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I'm wary about what Harper will try to sneak in with this "overhaul"
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:34 PM   #5
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The loss of the per-vote subsidy is a big deal, and it's one that the media didn't really report on which is unfortunate. Since the Tories have a majority, there's no way it'll come back unless the next non-Tory government puts it back...in which case the Tories will instantly jump on the attack claiming a waste of taxpayers' money.

As far as voting on the issues...gods, I wish that people would do that too. But unfortunately, since in most cases things like fiscal policy are mixed in with social policy...it's a bit challenging. As was once said to me by a very intelligent gentleman, "I wish I could vote for a fiscal conservative without getting dragged in to all that extremist social conservatism". I'm a red tory; I believe in social supports and fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately 'fiscal responsibility' for the conservatives seems to mean 'cut taxes and spending' rather than 'focus on reducing the deficit' which means a balance of taxation and spending cuts.


It always disappoints me when conservatives (generally, not specifically The Conservatives) point to other areas which have rock bottom tax rates and say "Look at how much investment and how many companies are there!" but fail to recognize that those companies are willing to jump ship as soon as they can find some kind of advantageous position. The more you lower the bar, the lower the bar will get. Nobody really wins in a fight to the bottom; even the bank of Canada has admitted this by getting annoyed with banks that are cutting their rates.


tl;dr: it's easy to say 'vote for the issues' but when you agree with two parties in different parts...then what?
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Graeme S View Post
The loss of the per-vote subsidy is a big deal, and it's one that the media didn't really report on which is unfortunate. Since the Tories have a majority, there's no way it'll come back unless the next non-Tory government puts it back...in which case the Tories will instantly jump on the attack claiming a waste of taxpayers' money.
I guess that's one positive of JT getting the Liberal leadership...even a National Post poll says that the Liberals would win an election if Justin gets elected.

Too bad he's not willing to reform the Senate or improve telecom competition, though.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:19 PM   #7
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Too bad he's not willing to reform the Senate or improve telecom competition, though.
The Senate serves a purpose, despite the poor examples of recent appointments, such as Patrick Brazeau. I still believe in the idea of having a "check", particularly if it's unelected because legislation can be examined from a different perspective.

Telecom competition, while important to many on RS because of our fetish for the latest and greatest smartphone, is a rather insignificant issue. There are far more important things that the federal government needs to think about such as:

- Improving productivity
- Health care reform/shift to a health care system modeled on prevention
- Diversification of the economy
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:24 PM   #8
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Telecom competition, while important to many on RS because of our fetish for the latest and greatest smartphone, is a rather insignificant issue. There are far more important things that the federal government needs to think about such as:

- Improving productivity
- Health care reform/shift to a health care modeled on prevention
- Diversification of the economy
It's not even about smartphones in my opinion. Canada has some of the highest prices and lowest speeds for broadband in the OECD, and that is directly correlated to the shocking lack of competition in the telecom industry-the broadband infrastructure is owned by the telcos and the CRTC lets regional monopolies run wild. Telus and Shaw in the west, Sasktel and MTS in central Canada, Bell and Rogers in Ontario and Quebec, Eastlink and Bell Aliant in the Maritimes. It's also why cell phone fees are so high.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:28 PM   #9
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They should really make it so we can vote for the who we wont to be Prime Minister as well as the elected offical in our area like the US is able to do. I really hate how we don't have that option.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by BurnoutBinLaden View Post
It's not even about smartphones in my opinion. Canada has some of the highest prices and lowest speeds for broadband in the OECD, and that is directly correlated to the shocking lack of competition in the telecom industry-the broadband infrastructure is owned by the telcos and the CRTC lets regional monopolies run wild. Telus and Shaw in the west, Sasktel and MTS in central Canada, Bell and Rogers in Ontario and Quebec, Eastlink and Bell Aliant in the Maritimes. It's also why cell phone fees are so high.
And we have a market of 34 million people in the second largest country in the world. I'm not defending our telecoms, but even if we were to open our industry to foreign competition, would our prices drop? We simply don't have a large enough market for most companies to invest in.

The mobile phone business is one area, but what about internet services? How many companies out there are willing to lay thousands of kilometres of fibre optic cable to serve our market? And, if you're in a major urban centre, there is already competition for internet and cable (Novus, Teksavvy, etc.) Would you want the government to subsidize companies for laying down cable? Maybe, but I bet most taxpayers wouldn't.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:33 PM   #11
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They should really make it so we can vote for the who we wont to be Prime Minister as well as the elected offical in our area like the US is able to do. I really hate how we don't have that option.
I want to see a proportional voting system, like every other industrialized country other than the US, Canada and Great Britain has. Plurality/FPTP/50%+1/whatever you want to call it is a medieval way of selecting representatives.

In the British election in 2010, Labour won 29% of the vote but 40% of the seats in the House of Commons. The third party got 23% of the vote but 8% of the seats.
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tapioca View Post
And we have a market of 34 million people in the second largest country in the world. I'm not defending our telecoms, but even if we were to open our industry to foreign competition, would our prices drop? We simply don't have a large enough market for most companies to invest in.

The mobile phone business is one area, but what about internet services? How many companies out there are willing to lay thousands of kilometres of fibre optic cable to serve our market? And, if you're in a major urban centre, there is already competition for internet and cable (Novus, Teksavvy, etc.) Would you want the government to subsidize companies for laying down cable? Maybe, but I bet most taxpayers wouldn't.
Not to derail the thread further, but this is why I approve of the government investing in research for things like wimax and whatnot; large-scale wireless or distant-connection systems will greatly benefit Canada on the whole since companies will no longer have to wire each and every house, and while the boonies might not get the same level of service as those living in Downtown Vancouver or Toronto, they'll at least escape decade-old DSL for nearly a hundred dollars (which is what my Aunt pays in Mackenzie)



Proportional voting would be a great step in the right direction. A selection of regional representatives, and an assortment of appointed (by the party) proportional delegates. Or something. Because first past the post is proving to be problematic.
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Old 04-01-2013, 02:11 PM   #13
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Not to derail the thread further, but this is why I approve of the government investing in research for things like wimax and whatnot; large-scale wireless or distant-connection systems will greatly benefit Canada on the whole since companies will no longer have to wire each and every house, and while the boonies might not get the same level of service as those living in Downtown Vancouver or Toronto, they'll at least escape decade-old DSL for nearly a hundred dollars (which is what my Aunt pays in Mackenzie)



Proportional voting would be a great step in the right direction. A selection of regional representatives, and an assortment of appointed (by the party) proportional delegates. Or something. Because first past the post is proving to be problematic.
Yeah I don't like the argument of "Canada is too big" to explain low broadband speeds. Big cities have similar densities to that of Norway, South Korea and Japan, where you can get 100Mbit up/down for about $30 per month. I think it also stifles business and innovation if you want to telecommute or run a home business.

Back when UBB was making the news, one of the big papers suggested nationalizing the last mile of internet infrastructure. Public investment is a option to bring down speeds and increase competition. The big telcos are gatekeepers, plain and simple

As for the subject of proportional representation, BC almost had PR in the 2009 election (STV) but the voters shot it down. A similar measure (the "Alternative Vote") was also shot down in Great Britain.

Fuck politics!
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