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Thread: Brainstorming session pushes for democratic reform

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    Default Brainstorming session pushes for democratic reform

    Brainstorming session pushes for democratic reform

    Jeff Holubitsky, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: Sunday, March 18, 2007


    The high cost of running for office should somehow be made more affordable so more people can participate in the democratic process, a public advocacy group was told Saturday.

    "There should be more women, minority groups and culturally diverse groups involved in politics," University of Alberta professor Mary Jane Buchanan said during a brainstorming session organized by the group Public Interest Alberta.

    "If you could lower the financial barriers, then more people could take part."

    About 110 people, including social activists, teachers and opposition MLAs, attended the afternoon meeting. The wide-ranging discussions in Edmonton were the fifth of eight similar meetings planned throughout Alberta.

    "Democratic reform touches on everything from electoral finance to the way in which we vote, to the role of the legislature, to the interconnection with local institutions and communities," said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of a group that advocates and educates on public interest issues.

    Larry Booi, the group's president, is hopeful the province will listen to some of its recommendations with Premier Ed Stelmach at the helm of the ruling Conservatives. "They are starting to breathe again," Booi said. "They are starting to look around at possibilities. Before there was no change."

    Booi believes the timing is right for the group to make suggestions.

    Neil Evans, a building inspector and retired teacher, wanted to discuss some type of proportional representation.

    He said smaller political groups, such as the Green Party, could attract as much as 10 per cent of the popular vote in a federal election without putting anyone in office. "That causes people to feel disenfranchised," Evans said.

    Student Janis Bent, 30, said more young people must be encouraged to get involved in politics. "There aren't a lot of young people involved anymore to say, 'Hey, our voices do matter, because we're the next generation, we are the ones who are going to be taking over to look after this country.' "

    [email protected]
    The Edmonton Journal 2007

    --30--

  2. #2
    grish
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    fixed election dates may allow people to plan better to get into politics by arranging time off work from their employer in advance in case they want to run for office or help someone do that. that may also go towards affordability as one isn't affraid of losing one's job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grish
    fixed election dates may allow people to plan better to get into politics by arranging time off work from their employer in advance in case they want to run for office or help someone do that. that may also go towards affordability as one isn't affraid of losing one's job.
    I like the idea of fixed election dates - without the option of dissolving the house prior to that date. I feel that minority governments are more respectful of the public.

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    Without the option to dissolve the house, a perpetual minority government could also become a quagmire of inaction - a la the Edmonton region.

    The option to call an election is still a good thing to keep the other parties honest.

    ...but yes, get the fixed election dates up there. Another thing is to remove the snobbery and elitism in politics. I know several experienced people out there who could run this city a lot better that don't have an MBA, or hold some amazing amoung of volunteer hours and is a clergyman. If you can sell your point, and if you can get the job done, I have no problem with a HS grad after he/she gathers a few years of experience entering a council race or an MLA race and not have the lack of a degree thrown in his/her face. We lose a few good candidates that way.

    ...and as for mudslinging...BAN IT. That stops 99% of the people form even entering. Yeah, like I want to enter a race where my job will pay me far less than the private sector, demand I am on call 24X7, please no one all of the time, and basically be sneered at, drawn in political cartoons, and insulted regularly. Oh, and don't even ASK for a raise, you no good useless bum. No wonder politics only attracts "politicians" - the honest people don't want 24X7 ridicule.

    The fund raising is the easy part.
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    Without the option to dissolve the house, a perpetual minority government could also become a quagmire of inaction - a la the Edmonton region.
    This could become a debate over whether no action is better than passage of bills without opposition.

    However, a minority government need not be ineffective if its bills recognize the needs of the citizenry and have support from opposition members.

    Do we really need members arguing against reason and sense just because an idea was brought forward by another party?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwells
    Do we really need members arguing against reason and sense just because an idea was brought forward by another party?
    Not really, we already sort of have the c2e site to fulfill that role.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kcantor
    Not really, we already sort of have the c2e site to fulfill that role.
    EXACTLY!!

    With the self-appointed genius-sses on C2E offering suggestions and the critical onslaught from the media you'd think the bright-lights under the cone and under the dome would learn to start working together as a means of self-preservation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    Another thing is to remove the snobbery and elitism in politics. I know several experienced people out there who could run this city a lot better that don't have an MBA, or hold some amazing amoung of volunteer hours and is a clergyman. If you can sell your point, and if you can get the job done, I have no problem with a HS grad after he/she gathers a few years of experience entering a council race or an MLA race and not have the lack of a degree thrown in his/her face. We lose a few good candidates that way.
    I guess things have really have changed that much since Calgary elected a high school drop-out as mayor - what, 26 years ago? Could it be that his lack of education may have preserved his common sense.

    Hey, wait a minute!! I remember there was talk of tightening up eligibility requirements, but I wasn't aware that democracy had been killed already.

    I think you can still run for mayor!!

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    It is not "eligibility requirements", but public perception and campaign snobbery/dirt attacks by other candidates...

    ...and note that King Ralph didn't go past Premier, and barely made that at all until the rules around the party vote were changed? Even he knew he'd run into the elitest wall w/o grassroots support.

    ...plus note the time King Ralph came to be...NEP anyone. Calgary down and out? Dare a drop out to run for Edmonton's mayor...good ideas or not, and please no Buffalo Terminations...
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

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    I like fixed election dates, but I think there has to be an opportunity for early elections in the event a minority government becomes dysfunctional. I'd also like to see the fixed dates set every 3.5 years - 4 years of majority dictatorship is a little too long and the half year would result in alternate spring (April) and fall (October) elections for a little variety. In the event of an early election the next date would be set to the whichever designated month is closest to 3.5 years from the previous election.

    I also like the idea of some form of proportional representation. My favorite scheme is the "top up mixed member" system. Under that system, we would elect 80% of out MPs using the current first past the post system, with the remainder allocated to underrepresented parties on a province by province basis.

    For example, Alberta's 28 MPs would be divided into 22 FPTP constituancies and 6 "top up" seats which would be divided on a "largest quotient" basis. Each party's vote total would be divided by their seat total plus 1 and the party with the largest quotient would get the next seat. The process would be repeated untill all of the top up seats are allocated.

    Lets say Albertans voted 50% Conservative, 25% Liberal, 15% NDP, 8% Green and 2% "other". Chances are the Conservatives would sweep all 22 constituancies, but the remaining seats would be allocated as follows: Liberal, NDP, Liberal, Liberal, Green, NDP. The final count of 22 Conservatives, 3 Liberals, 2 NDP and a Green is still somewhat nonrepresentative of the actual vote but it is a lot closer than the current situation. The results would also be much more proportional in other provinces where the local politics are a little less one sided and most of the parties win at least a few constituancy seats. Considering the country as a whole, the system would almost always produce minority governments unless one party achieved close to true majority of the vote.

    The system could be implemented in either a single ballot or double ballot form. Single ballot is simpler, but double ballot would allow voters to pick an independant local candidate or one representing a party they would not normally support while still being able to express their party preference for allocating the top up seats.

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    If this topic at all interests you, I would strongly recommend going directly to Public Interest Alberta's website at http://www.pialberta.org/ (Scroll down to "Democratic Renewal in Alberta")

    From there, you can download PIA's excellent discussion paper - the precursor to the event written about in the Journal article above - check out the media release, and other good stuff.

    It's cool that djgirl posted the Journal article here, and it would be even better if you could check out PIA's info first-hand.

    ~A*
    Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations

    www.ecvo.ca

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    Last edited by KC; 31-08-2016 at 10:33 AM.

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