Your vote doesn’t matter

Did you think Alberta was democratic (considering we have a provincial election coming up)?  You’re probably wrong though.

It turns out over half of the returning officers (the people who break ties, administrate the votes, and count the votes) admit to ties to the conservative party!  And not just ties like they would vote PC in a normal election, ties like people who run campaign offices, have ran in previous elections (as PCs), or similar.  This is the kind of election that used to happen in Iraq.

And what’s worse?  The current response seems to be “so what?”  So what if the ballots are stacked.  So what if the PCs put their buddies in spots to intimidate other parties from demanding recounts.  So what if the recounts can be biased.  So what if the PCs can essentially STEAL an election.

Dammit Alberta, it’s been 37 years, the government is corrupt, and has essentially turned this province against democracy.  Committees are done behind doors, often without public consultation.  The Energy Utility Board spies on citizens.  And there’s likely countless other examples we don’t get to hear about.

If you at all hold any value on the democracy that took so long to achieve you will vote against Ed Stelmach and the PC Tyranny that has been established.  Vote Liberal, NDP, Alliance, Communist, Social Credit, Independent, or whatever, just in this election vote for a change.

Campaigning in the 21st Century

Although a bit cheesy, I do appreciate the fact that the NDP candidate for my riding, Stephen Anderson, has taken the time to make a couple YouTube videos outlining his platform.  I think this is a medium all candidates could make better use of.

[youtube=http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=jaH0v5ttx-4]

[youtube=http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=0KAfN8-BWHE]

In fact, Green Party leader, George Read promises to upload his videos as fast as he can to YouTube during the leadership debate tonight.

Edmonton Strathcona Candidates Forum

Today I attended the Edmonton-Strathcona riding candidate’s forum at the UofA. In attendance were Rachel Notley (NDP), Tim Vant (Liberal), and TJ Keil (PC) (the Green Party candidate, Adrian Cole, was absent). It’s no understatement to say that Notely was the most well spoken of the three candidates. Actually, it’s reasonable to say she was the only one who actually knew his or her party’s actual platform. Vant emphasized his love for the Liberal platform, but failed to give any indication he’d have opinions outside of what Kevin Taft says, and Keil seemed too young and inexperienced (he’s 23) to have any effect on policy. From tonight’s showing Vant and Keil would wind up as silent backbenchers.

Some highlights:

  • Vant did sound a bit like a Barack Obama speech at times, emphasizing the need for “change.”
  • Notley promised that the NDP would push to abolish corporate and union donations to political parties – even though admitting the NDP still accepts union donations presently (I guess they do need to get money from somewhere though).
  • On the environment: Keil promise intensity reductions in 12 years, Vant promised overall reductions in 5 years, and Notley promised emission caps now.
  • Keil reminded us that the PCs would cut health care premiums, to which Notley responded “we’ve been advocating that for 25 years, why wait another 4?”
  • Notley and Vant will enact rent controls now.
  • When asked about government regulations in times of booms and busts, Keil responded that they’ve put so much into building affordable housing, and mentioned a few other places they’ve essentially thrown money at, whereas the Vant and Notley outlined places that needed regulation.
  • Both the Vant and Notley will move to re-regulate the electrical industry.
  • Keil and Vant had similar plans to help develop the Edmonton river valley into a world-class park system.
  • The biggest undiscussed issue for Keil was apathy, for Vant piecemeal ideas (and the need for change again), and for Notley was the fact many government deals are decided behind closed doors.
  • On post-secondary education Vant advocated a rollback to 2001 rates, a $150-300 cash back for “books and tools” to reimburse for textbooks and school supplies, affordable housing and lower municipal taxes for high density areas near universities.
  • On the same issue Notley promised a rollback and freeze at 1999 levels, more faculty, addressing issues with housing, and raising the enrolment at Alberta’s post-secondaries (since we currently have the lowest university participation).
  • Keil promised the creation of 2000 more spots for trades jobs in post-secondary education institutions, more scholarships, and lower rates on student loans.
  • Notley was the only one to sign the “No new approvals for the tar sands” petition during audience questions, although Vant was close to (he wasn’t clear on whether it fell in line with the Liberal platform).
  • When asked by the GEA if they would support a minimum wage of $10.50 and that it rise with the CPI; Neil dodged by spewing party rhetoric (a common theme of his answers), Notley agreed to, and Vant said his party would try to make life affordable.
  • When asked which other candidate/party they would vote for if not their own, Keil couldn’t/didn’t really answer, Vant is in love with Liberals, and Notley would vote Green (but volunteer for NDP elsewhere).
  • The Wildrose Alliance candidate for Edmonton-Riverview asked Notley and Vant that if they capped rent increases wouldn’t that cause many landlords to sell their properties and collapse the market and there would be no where for anyone to rent.  Vant responded adequately, however, Notley explained that currently there is no where to rent, so the danger is absurd, she also mentioned limiting condo conversions and essentially showed how his scenario was absurd.
  • I raised the issue to the candidates to see if they would move to end public funding to faith schools in this province in favour of a single secular board (as has been done in Quebec and Newfoundland, and the rest of Canada except Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan).  Vant promised to check with his party (as he was unclear of the current policy), Notley said we should work on fixing the system we have before looking into this issue, and Keil spewed rhetoric about the PCs commitment to K-12 education (i.e. how they finally settled the pension disputes).
  • Finally, when asked about Alberta’s place in Canada, Notley said she was a federalist, and Vant said Alberta should be a leader (environmentally and economically)

The most consistently, well thought out answers were given by Notley, while Vant would fall behind his platform when he wasn’t sure how to react.  Keil essentially spouted the party line every time he was asked a question (i.e. he’s a tool).

So here’s what it comes down to: if you vote by party, then choose based on their party, if you want someone who isn’t going to be a back bencher, you better vote for Rachel Notley (NDP), because she seemed the only one confident enough to have an opinion.

I’m actually in the Edmonton-Mill Creek riding (which has a Communist Party Candidate – which is pretty cool I think), so I won’t be voting for any of these candidates.  I will however, also attend Monday’s forum for Edmonton-Riverview (where Liberal leader Kevin Taft is running), and write up a similar report on that.  In my own riding I’ve already gotten correspondence from the Green Party candidate that he would not support abolishing the Catholic school board.

Alberta Election

There’s officially going to be an election in Alberta on March 3rd.  Make sure you learn the issues, and get out there and vote.  This is the first chance in a long time to displace the long-lasting Alberta Progressive Conservative party.

American Republican Candidates

Out of all the Republicans running for president, Ron Paul is often stated as the least Evangelical out of all of them.  However I found this poll on Facebook asking “What role should the personal faith of a President play in his/her decision-making?” where Ron Paul states:

Position: It should play a strong role
“Like the Founding Fathers, the core of my political philosophy is grounded in the knowledge that rights come from the Creator, not the government. Since rights do not come from the gov’t, the gov’t cannot violate those rights. Religion has a very important role to play in a limited gov’t philosophy.”

This isn’t to say he’s the scariest (remember what Huckabee has said), but merely to say that all Republican candidates are likely to push an evangelical agenda.

Huckabee WTF?

We all know the Republican candidates have been wearing their evangelism on their sleeve in the US elections recently, but Huckabee (the front-runner) has blown the top, saying it’s time for a “to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards.”  Even if he’s unsuccessful, it’s still scary this man is running for president (and doing pretty well).

If you’re in the US, please do what you can to keep the loonies out, and if you’re not, try to put pressure in anyway you can.  Most liberal, and even many conservatives (theist or not) can see the advantages of keeping church and state separate.

(Via Pharyngula)

Sharia Law

Sharia law is the Islamic way of providing rule and justice. It is based solely off of the Quar’an and for that reason it is unjust and should not be practised in Canada.

Modern Western law has evolved from religious inspired doctrines of the middle ages, to reviving some of the old Greek ideas of democracy, to a modern secular and philosophical form.

Allowing for law from books of revelation, even within small communities leaves people open to persecution, discrimination, and hate crimes.

The Old Testament features many laws which do not hold today – from not eating shellfish, to stoning and death sentences for many crimes. By Old Testament standards slavery and the subjugation of women would be allowed and promoted. Even the New Testament features passages that do not apply to modern law.

One only needs to listen to stories from the Islamic states to hear the sheer appalling gory of Sharia law in action: a British teacher sentenced to forty lashes for allowing her 7-8 year old students to name a teddy bear Mohamed in Sudan, a woman in Saudi Arabia is sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in jail for being in a car with a non-relative man – she was also gang raped that night (the attackers got 2-9 years in jail), and that’s just what I’ve heard in the past couple weeks.

And some feel it’s okay to allow this sort of legal system to be practised in Canada? (The move in Ontario in 2005 was squashed by Premier McGuinty).

Religious law is a 1000-year backwards step for a society.

What’s wrong with democracy

This is one of those things that has been stirring in the back of my mind for a while and I’ve been trying to figure out how it could be realized.

The simple thing is: democracy doesn’t work anymore.

I say anymore because of how society has changed since the ancient Greeks. In their times it was easy for the voting population to remain informed on the issues in an election, and to participate in direct democracy. Although even that may be arguable since many Greeks lacked the right to vote (women, slaves), and about a sixth of their voting population regularly exercised that right (reference).

Regardless, my main issue with modern democracy is a combination of voter apathy and voter ignorance. Apathy bothers me less if the people are not voting because they don’t understand the issues, but what does is people who do vote, but don’t have knowledge of the candidates, their stances, and the issues. This issue is compounded when elections become about image, advertising, and money (to spread the message). Although one might argue that the failure of Alnoor Kassam, the mayoral candidate in Calgary’s recent election, despite a million dollar civic campaign, is a point against me, I respond that he just had a poor image, and people need to be really pissed at the current mayor to elect a different one (since they never really paid attention to what was done or could have been done during his or her term).

The major issue I see is that people who are voting are not taking the time to become informed as to the issues in the election, and are more voting with their gut (or how their peers voted etc.). The conservative Cato Institute even has a fairly nicely written article here outlining the very same issues I am attempting to articulate – note that this mainly uses American examples, but I think the results can be extended to Canada. The solution posed by the Cato Institute is naturally smaller government, but I’m not sure that would be enough.

Ideally an oligarchy of intellectual elites could rule a country, but “absolute power corrupts absolutely” would assure that a system like that would fall into a dictatorship very quickly.  So I can’t really say that is the right way to go.

I’ve thought that a simple current events quiz before voting could help, but such a test would always fall to bias and discrimination of some sort.

Perhaps electoral reforms to preferential ballots would help (each persons vote would be worth something) and/or proportional representation would help in killing some apathy, and hey, if you get to rank candidates you’re probably going to care about more than just one of them (I really hope).

Regardless, I don’t see much changing in Alberta or Canada for a while – at least not until a government in power wants to change it (which they wouldn’t want to since it takes the current system to get unfair majorities).

What’s wrong with democracy

This is one of those things that has been stirring in the back of my mind for a while and I’ve been trying to figure out how it could be realized.

The simple thing is: democracy doesn’t work anymore.

I say anymore because of how society has changed since the ancient Greeks. In their times it was easy for the voting population to remain informed on the issues in an election, and to participate in direct democracy. Although even that may be arguable since many Greeks lacked the right to vote (women, slaves), and about a sixth of their voting population regularly exercised that right (reference).

Regardless, my main issue with modern democracy is a combination of voter apathy and voter ignorance. Apathy bothers me less if the people are not voting because they don’t understand the issues, but what does is people who do vote, but don’t have knowledge of the candidates, their stances, and the issues. This issue is compounded when elections become about image, advertising, and money (to spread the message). Although one might argue that the failure of Alnoor Kassam, the mayoral candidate in Calgary’s recent election, despite a million dollar civic campaign, is a point against me, I respond that he just had a poor image, and people need to be really pissed at the current mayor to elect a different one (since they never really paid attention to what was done or could have been done during his or her term).

The major issue I see is that people who are voting are not taking the time to become informed as to the issues in the election, and are more voting with their gut (or how their peers voted etc.). The conservative Cato Institute even has a fairly nicely written article here outlining the very same issues I am attempting to articulate – note that this mainly uses American examples, but I think the results can be extended to Canada. The solution posed by the Cato Institute is naturally smaller government, but I’m not sure that would be enough.

Ideally an oligarchy of intellectual elites could rule a country, but “absolute power corrupts absolutely” would assure that a system like that would fall into a dictatorship very quickly.  So I can’t really say that is the right way to go.

I’ve thought that a simple current events quiz before voting could help, but such a test would always fall to bias and discrimination of some sort.

Perhaps electoral reforms to preferential ballots would help (each persons vote would be worth something) and/or proportional representation would help in killing some apathy, and hey, if you get to rank candidates you’re probably going to care about more than just one of them (I really hope).

Regardless, I don’t see much changing in Alberta or Canada for a while – at least not until a government in power wants to change it (which they wouldn’t want to since it takes the current system to get unfair majorities).

What’s wrong with democracy

This is one of those things that has been stirring in the back of my mind for a while and I’ve been trying to figure out how it could be realized.

The simple thing is: democracy doesn’t work anymore.

I say anymore because of how society has changed since the ancient Greeks. In their times it was easy for the voting population to remain informed on the issues in an election, and to participate in direct democracy. Although even that may be arguable since many Greeks lacked the right to vote (women, slaves), and about a sixth of their voting population regularly exercised that right (reference).

Regardless, my main issue with modern democracy is a combination of voter apathy and voter ignorance. Apathy bothers me less if the people are not voting because they don’t understand the issues, but what does is people who do vote, but don’t have knowledge of the candidates, their stances, and the issues. This issue is compounded when elections become about image, advertising, and money (to spread the message). Although one might argue that the failure of Alnoor Kassam, the mayoral candidate in Calgary’s recent election, despite a million dollar civic campaign, is a point against me, I respond that he just had a poor image, and people need to be really pissed at the current mayor to elect a different one (since they never really paid attention to what was done or could have been done during his or her term).

The major issue I see is that people who are voting are not taking the time to become informed as to the issues in the election, and are more voting with their gut (or how their peers voted etc.). The conservative Cato Institute even has a fairly nicely written article here outlining the very same issues I am attempting to articulate – note that this mainly uses American examples, but I think the results can be extended to Canada. The solution posed by the Cato Institute is naturally smaller government, but I’m not sure that would be enough.

Ideally an oligarchy of intellectual elites could rule a country, but “absolute power corrupts absolutely” would assure that a system like that would fall into a dictatorship very quickly.  So I can’t really say that is the right way to go.

I’ve thought that a simple current events quiz before voting could help, but such a test would always fall to bias and discrimination of some sort.

Perhaps electoral reforms to preferential ballots would help (each persons vote would be worth something) and/or proportional representation would help in killing some apathy, and hey, if you get to rank candidates you’re probably going to care about more than just one of them (I really hope).

Regardless, I don’t see much changing in Alberta or Canada for a while – at least not until a government in power wants to change it (which they wouldn’t want to since it takes the current system to get unfair majorities).