Thursday, November 29, 2012

Worth Reading – November 29, 2012

This week’s two big news stories were the by-elections in Victoria, Calgary Centre and Durham, which I blogged about on Tuesday, and the other was Mayor Rob Ford being removed from office by a judge’s ruling in a conflict of interest case.

With the strong performance of the Greens in the Calgary Centre and Victoria by-elections the party has taken some heat for “causing the Liberals to lose.” I think the Liberals did enough to lose the race all by themselves, but that’s the charge. The Green candidate from Calgary Centre offered this response in the Globe and Mail

Emmett MacFarlane helps us understand the court case which will likely have removed Mayor Rob Ford from power. MacFarlane is largely responding to charges of judicial activism and overreach, which he says is totally baseless. Blame the heavy-handedness of the law, not the judge, if you disagree with the ruling.

Related, the Toronto Star has the four possible outcomes following the trial

Earl Washburn at Canadian Election Atlas offered superb analysis of the three by-elections before the results came in. He was just as surprised at the results from Victoria as anyone else, but he definitely set the stage perfectly. Here you can read about Calgary Centre, Durham, and Victoria.

This piece drips with sarcasm and explains (in part) why the ousting of Mayor Ford has been met with cheers and not very much outrage. The long list of Ford’s embarrassments surely makes him a difficult man to defend.

Huffington Post Canada has joined in the bandwagon and authored a very interesting piece about millennials in Canada (those born between 1980-2000, I believe). I thought the Huffington Post did an excellent job in elaborating who the millenials are and what issues they are confronting. However, I was disappointed in the cheery end note. It did not fit at all with the rest of the article and undermined the fundamental point, in my opinion.

This piece in the Globe and Mail was more than a little shocking. It turns out the membership of the Liberal Party of Ontario is dismally low. As a result a few thousand people will select the next premier of the province. Furthermore, most of the membership is in the two ridings, Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo, that just held by-elections. Each riding in Ontario gets an equal say, and most likely have less than a hundred voting members. Welcome to Ontario’s grand democracy. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Five Lessons from the By-Elections

Last night voters in Durham, ON, Calgary Centre, AB and Victoria, BC voted to replace their outgoing MPs. While the outcomes of the three by-elections were expected the vote totals were surprising. After reviewing the result and reading way too many columnists opine on the topic here are five lessons I think we can take away from last night.

Lesson 1 – By-Elections Don’t NECESSARILY Portend Future Events

By-elections are normally aberrations. They are a microcosm of political life taken in a snapshot. To begin with, turnout is dismally low. In each by-election less than half of the population voted. Averaging out all three and I believe you end up with a number in the mid-30% range. When the next general election comes around and that other (sadly only) 20% more of the public shows up it is unlikely to repeat in the same proportions.

Voters are not like political junkies and pundits. The provincial parties and federal parties blur in their minds, they are not always clear what the outcome of their by-election will be, nor do they recognize the political spectrum so sacred to obsessives. Unless a strong campaign is run, coupled with prominent local media the issues and the fact that there is an election may not permeate people’s everyday concerns about bills, work and the Grey Cup. For example, the provincial Liberals are in very different situations in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Could that have played some role in the outcome? I think it may have.

Lesson 2 – The Left is Not Rallying Behind a Single Party

In the 2011 federal election Stephen Harper (CPC – Calgary Southwest) and the Conservatives won about 39% of the popular vote. Left-wing, or progressive voters saw that and with understandable disgust wondered how 61% of the population could vote for cente, left-of-centre or left-wing parties and yet we ended up with a right-wing government. I am not about to decry vote-splitting, fear not.

It is both the NDP and Liberal’s (and presumably Greens as well) dream to unite about 40% of the left-of-centre vote, as the Liberals did in the 1990s and 2000s, and form government again. It does not appear that the NDP and Liberals are making much headway on that goal if you study last night’s results. Instead it seems like they are building strength in respective regions and fighting for dominance in others. The NDP can win seats in Edmonton, and the Liberals can win seats in Calgary. BC looks like Orange country, while Ontario seems to be slipping into the Red zone.

Lesson 3 – The Greens May be the New NDP

The Greens are a small party with dispersed support across the country with a popular and effective leader. They are motivated by clear goals and are dedicated to the cause. This also describes the NDP before 2011. The other similarity is that the NDP was (and remains) very good at by-elections. Smaller, more cash-strapped parties like the old NDP and the Greens have trouble during general elections. They do not have the finances to do big events, and support local candidates as much as their big rivals. During a by-election though they can turn all their die-hards to a singular goal, pour money in and fight tooth and nail to win over votes. The NDP have two great examples of that. The Ontario NDP elected Catharine Fife (ONDP – Kitchener-Waterloo) in a long-held Tory seat, and Tom Mulcair (NDP – Outremont, QC) won his seat in a by-election in 2007 ending a NDP drought there for decades. The Greens have done, and will continue to do the same.

There’s something else here though, and I realized it when I was talking to a friend about voting. She lives in Durham and so I was busy nagging her to vote. She said she had a hard time choosing and I quipped, “When in doubt, vote Green”. It’s a simple answer but it also signals an important shift. The NDP used to be the party of protest and I think the Greens are steadily usurping that title from the Loyal Opposition. The NDP is now part of the establishment, and the Liberals still do not feel like outsiders. The Greens are a great place to park one’s vote and show displeasure in the status quo.

Lesson 4 – The Greens have Fertile Ground in Western Canada

While the Greens do not like to talk about whether or not they are a left- or right-of-centre party they do propose a number of reforms that would be put on the right side of the political spectrum. I think socially progressive, fiscal conservatives would find it easier to jump from Conservative to Green. The Greens’ positioning probably offers an appeal to the old Red Tories. Remember, Ms. May began her career in Brian Mulroney’s government. I think the Greens also offer a fresh alternative to British Columbians and Albertans. Over the past year environmental issues have been very prominent in Western Canada and Elizabeth May (GPC – Saanich – Gulf Islands, BC) has acted as a highly-skilled opposition politician. Both the NDP and Liberals are trying to straddle the line of appealing to a broader Alberta base and maintaining their green/environmental roots.

The Greens may adopt a similar strategy to the Conservatives while they were building towards their majority. The Greens can target ridings with constituencies that are attracted to their brand and establish “beachhead ridings”. Once they are won they can use them to expand outwards and repeat until a number of seats are considered “Safe Green seats”. This is how the Conservatives pushed into the 905 suburbs and broke into fortress Toronto. May’s seat borders Victoria, where the Greens nearly won last night. I would not be surprised if the Greens continue to make a strong showing there and elsewhere on Vancouver Island.

Lesson 5 – Urban Alberta Cannot be Counted on to Stay Blue

The addition of six new seats to Alberta in the redistribution process means that there are now ridings that are less rural and generally more urban. If you took a riding of Calgary Centre’s composition and put it in Ontario it would not be a safe Conservative seat. From my reading on the topic Calgary Centre sounds a lot like ridings in Mississauga to me. Those ridings recently flipped to Conservative but have a long history of voting Liberal before then.

The seat redistribution offers real targets in Edmonton and Calgary for the NDP, Liberals and perhaps now the Greens. Without the more right-wing influence of rural areas or suburbs they may start to break towards the progressive parties. If in 2015 the Conservatives win with 40+% of the popular vote almost all those Alberta seats are safe (perhaps Linda Duncan (NDP – Edmonton-Strathcona, AB) will survive), but if the Tories begin to slip a few seats will flip.


As I used to tell my students when I was teaching Civics, Canada does not have one election, we have 308 elections. In 2015 we will have 338. Each community is unique and though patterns can be identified the composition of local interests, demographics, candidates, political histories, and provincial forces will shape the outcome. If in 2015 Ontarians are experiencing bad times under a Hudak government the Harper Conservatives will suffer as a result, likewise for New Democrats in BC under Adrian Dix, or the inverse could be true.

In politics anything can happen. It’s that uncertainty that compels political junkies, pundits and ‘experts’ to try to find patterns. Ultimately we know nothing for certain, but I think those five lessons might have a little more permanence beyond last night.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Worth Reading – November 22, 2012

Another week, another batch of news articles.

Recently Mayor Rob Ford marked his second anniversary. Therefore it is officially time for the rumour mills to begin to speculate who will challenge the embattled mayor. The Agenda offers some ideas of who may run. The Toronto Star published an article with a poll which features Olivia Chow, Rob Ford and Adam Vaughan. Surprisingly, Ms. Chow beats Mr. Ford by a narrow margin.

Martin Regg Cohn has six of questions the next Premier (winner of the Liberal leadership contest) should be made to answer. I could not agree more. These questions will definitely show the next government and Premiership.

The by-election in Calgary Centre may be surprisingly close. I frankly don’t buy it.

Andrew Coyne offers some advice to how the next federal Liberal leader. The first step is to accept being a third party, at least in the medium-term. 

I am not familiar with Cap’n Transit, this article came up on my twitterfeed. The author dissects an article from the guys at Freakonomics and suggests how transit can save the environment

The Globe and Mail has an excellent piece on the video game Assassins Creed III. The treatment of history in the video game is cringe worthy, I must admit. In particular, the allegiance of Aboriginal people and the realities of the American Revolution are questionable. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Canada’s Political Centre

One of the consistent talking points in any discussion of Canadian politics is the battle over the ‘political centre’. You will often hear phrases like, “The NDP is moving to the centre”, or “the Liberals are pressured in the centre,” etc. etc. The term is highly nebulous and in reality has very little meaning in Canadian political discourse.

The centre historically was composed of those swing voters somewhere between the Liberals and Conservatives (in their various forms). They are non-partisan for the post part. Parties fight to appeal to this swath of voters to win elections and carry key ridings and build their mandates. The “centre” has an ideological angle, in theory there is an imaginary line of politics where parties are arranged from left to right. Where they fall is based on the particular historical moment. For the most part it is safe to assume that the NDP were a left (or left-of-centre) political party, with the Liberals being left-of-centre, or centre, or sometimes centre-right and Conservatives being a right-wing, or centre-right party.

Political watchers assume that voters arrange themselves in this sort of spectrum as well. There were Liberal-NDP swing voters, or Liberal-Conservative swing voters and that shaped our national conversation. This analysis is very limited. It ignores the central problem that voters don’t think of themselves so narrowly. Believe it or not, there are NDP-Conservative swing voters, as I used to be.

I am writing about this because there seems to be a sort of realignment afoot that the media is only paying cursory attention to.

Recently the federal NDP announced that they are in support of several free trade deals. The Globe and Mail characterized this as a clear sign of the NDP’s move towards the centre. I suppose that analysis is fair. The NDP federally is joining the consensus that equitable trade deals between relatively similar countries can have real benefits. I have no doubt the NDP will continue to criticize trade deals that do not serve Canada’s interest, but the party is now expressing, in principle, a positive view of trade.

I feel this is related, in part, to a piece I read in the National Post today. Michael Den Tandt argues that Martha Hall Findlay’s entrance into the federal Liberal leadership race will compel the Justin Trudeau to come up with meaningful answers on policy. While I like Ms. Hall Findlay’s zeal for reform and interesting policy, I sincerely doubt she could overcome the momentum that seems to be building behind the Trudeau campaign. However, as John Ivison commented on Twitter today – where is the left-wing of the Liberal party? Instead they chose to present the "progressive face of conservatism". Martha Hall Findlay clearly comes from the fiscal right of the Liberals and Trudeau has endorsed policies to build pipelines and approve foreign takeovers, putting him closer to the Conservative base than the NDP’s. At the moment there is not a passionate defender of left-wing ideals in the leadership race - no Sheila Copps, or Pierre Elliot Trudeau. It seems the Liberals wills perhaps abandon the notion of being centre-left altogether and switch to being a centre or perhaps even centre-right party.

Meanwhile fiscal conservatives, such as Gerry Nichols continue to grumble about how the governing Conservatives have failed to live up to their names. They accuse them of spending like Liberals, and leaving their supporters and beliefs in the dust in a pursuit of power.

When you examine the totality of Canadian federal political parties, I think it’s clear that the sentiment about the so-called centre makes very little sense. The centre of Canadian political thought is constantly moving, and there isn’t one centre, but probably many around which the population gathers. However, another interpretation is that Canadian politics is moving to the right, much like other Western democracies since the end of the Cold War.

I frequently think that Canada’s political landscape may soon resemble Britain’s more than it has for decades; a powerful left-centre Labour/NDP, a rival Conservative party, and a centrist Liberal Democrat/Liberal Party critical in forming governments and difficult to identify politically. With the various nationalists parties it is almost a perfect fit. Or maybe Andrew Coyne already provided us the answer, a couple of weeks ago I shared a talk he gave where he argued that the debate over economics is almost over. Therefore our debate about left-centre-right may be coming to a close.

Fear not though, our political parties will find something new to fight over.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Worth Reading – November 16, 2012

Apologies for the delay in this week’s Worth Reading. Couldn’t be helped really, but I hope it was worth the wait.

This is a great piece in the Torontoist. Patrick Metzger bluntly assesses Toronto’s transit prospects, he appears quite optimistic on some fronts, but obviously roadblocks exist. He argues (as does polling) that Torontonians are willing and ready to spend on transit. He compares Toronto’s dismal recent performance to that of Los Angeles from which, perhaps, we can glean lessons.

There are three federal by-elections on November 26th. The Globe and Mail has helpfully put together all you need to know about them

This article has made quite the stir. A poll has shown the race for Calgary Centre might be dramatically tighter than initially assumed. Conservative candidate Joan Crockett, according to this poll, only has 32% support, compared to Lee Richardson, former CPC MP for the riding who won between 50-60%. With those types of numbers if progressive support rallies behind one candidate it could be an embarrassing defeat for the Harper Conservatives. That being said, I’m not holding my breath.

Ten days from now Brampton Transit will be improving its service! As a person who now relies on Brampton Transit nearly every working day this is a big plus to me. The highlights include the commencement of line 511, or the Züm Steeles line, the opening of the Gateway Terminal at Shoppers’ World, and increased frequency for the Main/502 Züm line.

Last week I shared Rafe Mair’s about the disturbing concentration of power within the office of the Prime Minister. Reassuringly, Mr. Mair has written a follow-up column about possible solutions. To summarize, he offers two solutions – first, is a fairly standard application of proportional representation, and second is an idea I’ve never heard before. He proposes using secret ballots in the House of Commons to empower backbenchers. I am intrigued to say the least at the possible implications.

I first heard this opinion expressed post-2012 election by David Frum, but Jonathan Martin does an excellent job of underlining one of the fundamental problems confronting Republicans – they are currently living in a media cocoon. What’s fascinating here is the implications for the broader culture. It is now possible for ideologues to consume media that reinforces their values, speak only to those who agree with them, and live in homogenous areas. The result is a massive echo-chamber and a growing radicalization of the right.

Trust for our political leaders and our Parliament is on a steep decline. According to a survey by Environics, Mr. Harper is now one of the least trusted leaders in the world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brampton's Bigger Council

The federal government is not the only one thinking about boundary changes. The City of Brampton is considering boundary adjustments to account for the rapid population growth over the last decade. The city council has approved one map for the community to comment on. Before I describe the proposal I wanted to briefly comment that it is unfortunate that the council is only presenting one proposals. The council was given four different options, and is, in a way, limiting choices to the public.

The council has endorsed a map to add two more wards to Brampton and therefore elect one city councillor and one regional councillor. This will bring the total to 12 members of the council, with the mayor being the 13th. The additional two councillors are in response to the Ontario government awarding Brampton an extra seat at Peel Regional Council. Brampton elects its regional councillors, but over the last year or so the city council has selected a member from its ranks to represent the seat at Peel. The position comes with additional pay, and according to the Brampton Guardian, has resulted in some internal conflict at City Hall

In terms of representation Brampton is about average in Canada. Currently Brampton has one councillor for 52,000 residents, the addition of two more seats would bring the per capita representation to 44,000. Toronto sits at 59,000 and neighbouring Mississauga is at 65,000. The city councillors argue that additional councillors are needed due to growing constituent needs, and the fact that office staff is shared between two councillors. Therefore the cost of the increase will result in the expense of two councillors’ salaries, and one full-time executive assistant.

All four proposed maps can be found here and the final one being offered to the public here. I have no issue with the boundaries. It should be remembered that in Brampton wards are paired together and each elect a city and regional councillor. Any population imbalance is likely solved by joining together its pairing ward. If there is a community interest at stake then I’m sure someone can express it.

The city is holding public consultation in November. The dates of the consultations can be found here.

Mayor Fennell and other members of Brampton’s council have come out against the proposal. The suggestion to add two councillors makes sense to me, and addresses a simple problem in allocating that new seat and maintaining the balance between city and regional councillors. However, Brampton’s city council is somewhat of an opaque institution. While they are not necessarily hiding anything the public knows very little of what their representatives are up to. In addition incumbency is rampant at city hall. In the 2010 elections all eleven politicians at city hall were returned to office.

Whether or not there are eleven or thirteen councillors in 2014 will make very little difference. I think it is time to start considering reforms. I am not sure what they might be but such a static cast of leadership cannot be healthy for a city in such profound need of reform.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Worth Reading – November 8, 2012

With the American elections over they can now get down to the serious business of governing... Yeah, I didn’t believe that while I was writing it either. American politics will change now from the horserace to the struggle over power, and soon to the next horserace. I have already listened to considerable speculation in regards to the 2016 presidential elections. Before jumping four years into the future let’s consider the past week.

The Slate published an interesting response to Sergei Brin’s critique of political parties. No doubt political parties can be very unpopular institutions. Their narrow, partisan interests seem a perpetual road blog to governing. However, Slate explains the necessary function they play for governing

In local news, there is a proposal to create a grant program to help downtown businesses in Brampton renovate their facades to become more attractive. The plan seems worthwhile on face value. There are plenty of tired and worn down buildings in Brampton’s downtown that could use a touch-up. I am not sure of the fiscal wisdom or necessity for government intervention.

The Globe and Mail estimates that the U.S. election cost$6 billion. As a response this author says it’s time to enact regulations. I think as long as the most powerful nation on Earth is a democracy there is a heavy temptation to use money to gain influence and leverage. The amounts involved are simply proportional to the power of the United States government. Regardless, it is madness.

Speaking of money and politics, Martin Regg Cohn provides lovely insight into Ontario’s political fundraising. Liberal leadership candidates are not restricted in how much they take in per donor, nor how much they spend. It’s a pretty dirty little loophole. Ontario’s election financing is well overdue for an overhaul.

John Lorinc, an increasingly favourite writer of mine, authored this piece questioning Toronto’s short-sighted leadership. Juxtaposing Toronto to New York is not encouraging, but Lorinc offers poignant questions that must be considered before the next mayoral election.

Emmet MacFarlane, professor at the University of Waterloo, analyzes the decision by the Supreme Court in regards to the Etobicoke Centre case. The issue was complicated and my knowledge of the law is preliminary at best. MacFarlane nicely breaks down the matter and why the court made the correct choice.

My former home Niagara recently had its Boundary Commission hearing. The proposed changes in the region are quite dramatic and have sparked considerable debate. Local politicians, MPs, and MPPs have come out against various elements of the changes, which largely surround the transferring of Thorold out of the riding of Welland and adding the city of Fort Erie into the Welland riding. If the proposed map is enacted it will have profound consequences for the political composition of Niagara.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Brampton’s Boundaries and America Votes

It is election day in the U.S. Normally I follow American elections very closely and come up with my own complicated predictions and rationalizations. However, about midway through the Republican primaries I lost all interest in the proceedings. Perhaps it is because I would rather invest more time in Canadian, Ontarian and GTA issues, or that the tired race between Obama and Romney has been going on for nearly two years. Frankly, I am not entirely sure who I would vote for in this election if I were an American citizen. It seems like a fine time to focus on other races (Senate, House, state-level), or implement the none-of-the-above choice.

Regardless of who ultimately wins I simply hope we know soon. The worst case scenario is that the election has an unclear result for days or weeks. Several states are actually incapable of a recount, namely Virginia. I hope we know by tomorrow morning who won. Anything else would be very worrying. There is also a slight chance Obama and Romney will tie in the Electoral College, or one will win the popular vote, but lose the election. All of these results would be very damaging to the health of America’s politics and democracy.

If it was demanded of me I would predict President Barack Obama will be re-elected. I have prepared a map from David Leip’s US Elections website for my map.

On Thursday and Friday of last week the Ontario Boundary Commission was in Brampton to hear the testimony from citizens in the area on their proposed map for the future federal ridings in this province. As I mentioned previously there are serious problems in the map, the most prominent of which was the inattention the Commission gave to the issue of voter equality. The proposed map respects the borders of the municipalities and regions in the province.

To address my concerns I mentioned that the Brampton ridings should be made smaller and closer to the ideal quotient size of 106,213. I was the fourth person to offer testimony to the Commission on Friday. The first was a presentation by the Mayor, Susan Fennel, on behalf of the city government. The main argument of the city was that the small portion of Malton (a community in Mississauga) joined to Brampton-Gore should be removed to create Brampton-only ridings. The removal would cause a fairly large population imbalance, but that was not addressed.

When I spoke I stated that I strongly disagreed with the Mayor’s presentation. Leave it to me to make enemies in high places. Below are the remarks I made to the commission.

The changes proposed for Brampton West, and the Region of Peel as a whole are insufficient to address problems in regard to voter equality. The proposed ridings in Brampton and Mississauga are all oversized. Most of the ridings are about 5-10% above the Ontario quota. While this fits within the tolerances as outlined in the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act I feel these considerations fail to account for the conditions and peculiarities of Peel.

Census projections state that the rapid growth in these cities will continue. Planning documents from the Regional Municipality and municipalities suggest development of agricultural and vacant lands into residential areas and intensification of existing zones will continue causing dramatic increases in population in coming years.

As these riding adjustments will be locked in for ten years these inequalities will only become more extreme over time. As a result any issues now will only be magnified in time. Past may prove prologue in Brampton where Brampton West eventually grew to be the second most populous riding in the country.

In my proposed riding, Brampton South, the old southern core is attached to vast western areas of the city. Driving westward on Steeles Avenue it is very easy to see that Brampton South will soon exceed the population in the commission’s report. The result will be my voice as a citizen will be weaker and more diffuse than my peers in Toronto’s downtown or in the many rural ridings in the province.

While community continuity and integrity is beneficial it is not an absolute good, especially weighed against the relative power of votes. Is it so important that Brampton’s five ridings not stray into neighbouring jurisdictions? Shouldn’t the greater concern be whether or not citizens in Brampton are heard as clearly as those in other ridings?

In British Columbia their boundary commission created ridings that were below the population quota in booming suburbs and within Vancouver. Their stated reason was that they wanted to account for projected growth in the area. The data the Ontario Boundary Commission used is based upon the 2011census. Even in that short time Brampton has grown in population. The 7.74% total over-quota in Brampton South is an underestimation of the true gap. If these ridings are already overpopulated now, where will they be when the next commission meets after 2021? Will Brampton voters once again be faced with having votes that count less than half as much as their fellow Ontarians?

From what I understand the Commission tried to preserve municipalities and worked within regions to establish these boundaries. The result has been to disempower certain voters at the expense of others for the sake of preserving civic boundaries that have little to do with federal representation. I am confident as a voter that residents of places like Mississauga and Brampton would much prefer to have an equal voice than not share their riding with those in Halton, or Caledon.

I cannot offer any concrete solutions, but perhaps parts of western Brampton should be joined to ridings in Halton, or northern Brampton joined with Caledon to bring the city’s ridings closer to equal distribution internally and compared to the provincial quota.

Boundary commissions in the other provinces have committed to the value of voter equality. Only 52% of ridings in Ontario are within the 0-4.99% deviation range from the quota of 106,213. Other provinces, particularly in western Canada, have much more equal ridings. In Saskatchewan, Quebec, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have all strived to achieve a high level of voter equality; in Alberta 100% of their ridings fit within the 0-4.99% range. The 15 seats were added to Ontario to address voter inequality, the other large provinces have worked to achieve this outcome. It would be a shame if these new seats failed to actually address the problem they were created to correct due to poor boundary implementation.

While voter equality is problematic on its own, I am more concerned about the logic behind these decisions. In my new riding, Brampton South, we are already 7.74% over the provincial quota. The new Brampton West is worse off with a population 8.64% over-quota. Over the next decade (when boundaries will be reconsidered again) a tremendous amount of western Brampton is due to be developed. Which means the current 7.74% or 8.64% surplus may be more like 75, or 100% in ten years time. Therefore I ask the commission to reconsider the proposed boundaries in Brampton and Mississauga. Recognize the fact that this is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. These ridings will only become more disproportionately overpopulated in time undermining the principle of one person, one vote. Ridings that more closely meet the 106,213 person quota, or perhaps slightly below it, would help ensure that voters in Peel are as well represented as those elsewhere in the province.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Worth Reading - November 1, 2012

Yesterday was my favourite holiday on the calendar – Hallowe’en. I could list all the reasons why I love Hallowe’en but I sincerely doubt that A) anyone cares and B) that it makes much sense to do so here However, there are things I hate about Hallowe’en. The Toronto Standard highlighted one of those major issues last week – racist costumes. It is a poisonous thing. A 20-something guy throws on a beard and ‘brown-face’ and straps plastic rods around himself and ha ha, he’s a Muslim terrorist. I get it. The other component of this is the sexualized nature of women’s costumes. I won’t go into that now, maybe next year.

I had an interview today for a new job. I am optimistic about my chances to get the position. That puts me in a minority among my peer group, or so it feels. Tavia Grant and Janet MacFarland wrote an amazing piece about the state of young people in Canada. Grant and MacFarland present the argument that young people are being squeezed by a number of factors placing middle class lifestyles and a stable future further outside their reach. Excellent piece, if slightly depressing.

John Ivison has written a piece recently that could be titled, ‘Not Your Father’s NDP’. Ivison highlights the growing pragmatism (and perhaps centrism) within the NDP. Their approach to policies in Ottawa may badly damage the Conservative’s attacks on their economic positions and ideological nature.

These last three posts are at least somewhat related to each other. Surprise, the theme is democracy in Canada.

Barbara Yaffe says that if Canada’s democracy is in decline it is the voters’ fault. It’s hard to disagree with that central point. There is no struggle within the national consciousness over the centralization of power and the continual erosion of parliamentary privilege.

Related to the above point is this piece. Rafe Mair wants Canadians, particularly educators, to be more honest about the system of government we actually have. The type of system you learn in Civics class is not really how Canada operates, tragically.

Finally, Michael Den Tandt joins the chorus of voices decrying the state of Canada’s democracy. Den Tandt argues that the seemingly normal operation of the country merely hides the prolific deterioration.