Hello my fellow Canadians.  Let’s talk election counting systems.  Not because it’s Sunday night, and you need help falling asleep, but because there’s some traction starting to form around reforming our existing First Past the Post (FPTP) elections that occur in each riding across the country.  While the government seems to have shelved election reform for the moment, I wonder if it is because many of us, when asked, were wary about it because we didn’t know the ramifications, and that wariness sounded like disinterest to opinion gatherers.

But there’s some rather glaring issues and downsides to FTPT, and it we can benefit greatly from a different system to determine our MPs.

Fortunately, CGP Grey has us covered with an excellent series of videos that do a great job of breaking down both the pitfalls but also the workings and the boons of three different potential replacements.

Start here with a reflection on how out of whack the FPTP system can be, with a look at the last UK parliamentary election:

Then begin watching the full series here:

It’ll take you less than an hour.

Note that I’m not talking about replacing the concept behind the House of Commons, just altering the process and tally by which each MP gets elected.

The Senate, and how we might use it to be a more beneficial second chamber, is a whole other post.

Note too that I’m not keen on a purely proportional representational system, at least not as the main chamber of parliament, for it has its own, perhaps even worse, issues and failures.

So please, view the videos, and let’s get the conversation started again about reforming our electoral process to phase out FPTP.


Side note, there are some great footnote videos linked to in the description of the last video, also quite worthwhile checking out:

Action Wednesday

The time has come, if you live in the USA, to contact your senators and ask them to decline the nominations of both Ryan Zinke for Secretary of the Interior and of Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator.

If you have never contacted your senators before, it is easy.  Go to either http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ to find your senator’s phone number, or simply call the  US Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 to be connected.  Once you’ve got a hold of their office, tell the staff person you are a constituent, you want your senator to oppose the nominations of Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt, and that if they do, you have your senator’s back.  If the staff member tells you that the senator does oppose Pruitt, pass along your thanks, and encourage them to hold the line!

It’s that simple.  Remember to call both of your state senators and ask the same from both of them.  Phone calls are the most effective means of communicating with your Senators, they are what garner the most attention.  And, with the clock ticking, it is the fastest means as well.

If you’d like to go more in depth, Hank Green has a great video introducing how to write  a letter, which can easily be translated into a phone call.

Why to oppose these two?

Ryan Zinke will preside over the Endangered Species Act, the access to public lands for exploitative resource extraction, offshore oil and gas drilling, and the relationships with first nations tribal governments and people.  Zinke’s record shows he does not lean towards stewardship, human or environmental health, or social growth.

Scott Pruitt is most known for suing the EPA to gut their provisions.  The EPA is literally a health and safety organization – it’s charge is to protect the very basic fundamental operating systems of our planet so that we can lead full, joyous, and fruitful lives.  This includes clean air, water, and soil.  It prevents companies from dumping toxins everywhere, be it in products or waste.  Pruitt has fought legal battles to undermine the EPA’s role in protecting human health and the legacy of the country, meaning the person being nominated to lead the EPA has actively worked to destroy the EPA.

Neither of these picks is what the USA needs, nor do they honor what the country for what it was and where we can go.

Please, take a moment to call and let your voice be heard.  The Senate is split 52-48, and a few extra “no”s can make all the difference.  It was calls to our representatives that put the brakes on the House’s plan to eliminate the ethics board that oversees them.  Calls work.

Please call.  Be the bulwark.


In great news, Earthjustice will be one of the recipients of donations from this year’s Project for Awesome!  Woooo!

Thank you all who viewed my video and voted, and equally large thank you to all those who donated to Earthjustice and to the NRDC.  Thank you for taking action and standing up for life.

My Shadow Ballot

There are 17 ballot initiatives for this election in California.  At this rate, California needs to change its flag, not only because it completely violates rule number 4 of good flag design, but also because that writing is becoming completely false.  A republic, as you all know, is a type of governmental system wherein the public elect individuals to go to create laws in their stead.  In other words, I vote that you, someone whom I trust and who I know will dedicate the time and effort to do the job properly,  and who has the knowledge to do just that, to go create the laws that will govern this land.  Ballot initiatives are doing an end run around this.

I am not a fan on the whole of ballot initiatives.  One, because they undermine the idea of a Republic.  Two, because often they cannot be amended except by another ballot initiative – meaning they become inflexible bits of the system.  Three, they are ripe for trickery and hoodwinking.  And four, and most importantly, is their isolationism.  Something may sound good in isolation, but once it gets into the complex system that is our society and our governance, they may and often do not play well.  They have unintended consequences, unbalance things, and worst of all can tie the hand of the legislators.  If you have four ballot initiatives all saying “X% of revenues must go to this/these specific things”, then next thing you realize most of the $ is allocated and can’t be adjusted to account for changing situations.

And when you have both trickery and hand tying, they can get really deleterious fast (and then you’re stuck because of needing another initiative to change it).

With that said, there are 17 ballot initiatives this election.  So here’s my shadow ballot.

“Since I can’t vote, please allow me to tell you how to vote instead…”

Also, needless to say, this will be a long post… Continue reading


A message for my Canadian brethren as you travel towards the polls for #elxn42 on October 19th (for which you are planning to vote, oui?). I would like to bring my experience as a current expat to this conversation (click here for the TL;DR version), and talk specifically about one of the parties currently vying for your vote, that of the Conservative Party of Canada. Living as I am right now in a country that, at the federal level, has for many years been pursuing the policies favoured by the Conservative Party (or, more so I would say that the Conservative Party of Canada is feverishly trying to copy these policies), I have seen and continue to see, with great clarity, the end results of these policies. Spoiler alert: they do not end well. Continue reading