Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Rants

I'm so conflicted. On the one hand, Jamaican rap music constitutes my own personal vision of hell, but on the other hand....

I've changed my mind. We can leave now....

I'm sorry, I thought we motorists paid for the %$#@ing roads?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Choose Change in Ontario

UPDATE: Amazing how two people can have identical reasoning on this issue, yet arrive at opposite conclusions, viz Urquhart in today's Star:

And, of course, existing fringe parties like the Greens (quirky environmentalists), the Freedom Party (for abolition of income and property taxes and introduction of two-tier medicare), and the Family Coalition Party (pro-life and anti-gay marriage) could also meet that threshold. Then, after the election, the major parties would have to bargain with some or all of these lesser parties for support in order to form a government.

So we might end up with another Mike Harris who becomes premier with the support of a pro-life party and/or a northern party that is against gun control and for logging in provincial parks.

That's why I'll be voting against MMP in the referendum.

And that's precisely why I'm voting for it. Thanks Ian.

My original post and reasoning is here:
I’ll be voting in the next Ontario election, but not the way you think; I’m not particularly enthralled right now with either of the two main parties or their leaders for reasons I won’t bore you with, so no vote from me for any of them will be forthcoming. That said, there’s another reason I will make the trip to the polls:

Ontario, you see, will also be holding a referendum on our electoral system.

Voters will be asked whether they wish to keep their current system (person will the most votes wins the riding), or opt for a new proposal called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). In MMP, as proposed in Ontario anyway (there are many versions of it worldwide), our Legislature would be made up of MPPs chosen like this:

Voters would vote twice: once for the local candidate of their choice (just as they do now), and again for their favourite political party. It is possible, for example, for you to really like a particular candidate, but not their party, and you could then vote for the person, but not the party they represent. Or perhaps you know that locally it is a tight race between A and B, and while you personally support candidate C and his/her party, the local reality is that they simply don’t stand a chance. Under the new system, you would be free to help tip the balance in favour of A or B (choosing the lesser of two evils) while also voting for Party C. This would allow your votes for Party C to be be added together with all the other votes for Party C to help elect more Party C candidates, notwithstanding the fact that Party C’s local candidate will have lost in your riding.

Here’s why: Most MPPs in the Legislature will still be locally elected members, but some would now be from Party lists. If a party wins fewer seats in the legislature than its percentage of the popular vote, it will get extra seats to make up the difference. If a Party ends up with 35% of the vote, it should end up with about the same representation in the Legislature.

So, why is this a good thing? Well, as you’ll know from my previous posts, I am not a lukewarm kind of voter. I hold to be true certain moral staples that, while they have stood the test of time, are not currently in fashion. The result is that mainstream political parties tend to gravitate towards the middle and run campaigns based not on what they believe to be true, so much as what they believe to be least offensive. This leads to what I call “tyranny of the squeaky wheel”, ably abetted by their Charter-chuckling lackeys on the bench and the Op Ed pages.

Under the new system, voters like me could for the first time vote for a party that truly speaks to them, and for them – or at least comes closer to doing so than other parties. For example, the
Family Coalition Party of Ontario is a pro-life, pro-family political party. It has never won a seat in any election, and under the current system it never will. So I, and others, never vote for them. A nasty, self-fulfilling prophesy, n’est-ce pas? Under the new system, if just 3% of Ontario’s voters voted for that party, it would automatically be allotted about 4 seats in the legislature. Think about it – a tiny caucus of militant pro-life, pro-family MPPs that could tip the balance in minority parliaments one way or the other in exchange for small concessions of great import to voters like me. The same, of course, could be said of the Green Party and others who would also win leverage on behalf of voters currently on the outside of the electoral process, looking in.

So go the polls this October and, to borrow a phrase, “choose change.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Catholic Voters Guide: Ontario Election 2007

Ok, Ok, so it's not a voter's guide, per se. The Ontario Bishop's have, however, put together a number of resources to assist Ontarians at the polls in a few weeks. As expected they are a bit heavy on the social justice stuff, and tip toe around harder issues like criminal justice.

Worth a read though, especially if you're a old school type like me who needs a few edges smoothed off. Here they are:

Election 2007: Counting on Your Vote

Taking Stock 2007

Choosing a Government

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not all Conservative Candidates are Rocket Scientists

[Willowdale PC Candidate David Shiner] pointed out Zimmer presented a petition to the legislature in June 2006, titled Petition to Ontario Legislature to End Discrimination, in which he calls for government funding for all faith-based schools. "He presents a petition to the legislature in support of faith-based education and then speaks against it," Shiner said. "My question is, where does my opponent stand? He tells his constituents one thing and others something else. It takes away the integrity we all have as representatives."

I thought MPPs were required to submit petitions they receive to the Legislature as part of their duties, and that tabling a petition from one's constituents does not necessarily mean that the MPP personally supports its contents. Why is such a basic democratic touchpoint like petitions being spun is such an underhanded way? Is this seriously Shiner's best attack on his Liberal opponent? If so, perhaps Mr. Zimmer ought to be returned. At least we know our petitions would get tabled....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Reality Check: De-funding Ontario's Catholic Schools

Here’s a few things nobody’s talking about when it comes to the whole funding for faith based schools / end funding of Catholic schools debate raging in Ontario:

"Why can’t Ontario do what Newfoundland did and pass a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Catholic school system?"
Because it won’t work here. Newfoundland, pre-amendment, had two systems: Protestant and Catholic. There was no secular, publicly funded alternative, and this was a key rationale for acting at the time. Ontario’s Protestant system self-immolated years ago, and has now morphed into what we call the public system – sort of a lowest common denominator education system. Another key difference is that Newfoundland doesn’t have a middle class – at least not in the same sense as Ontario does. In Ontario, a very significant proportion of parents already send their kids to some form of private or independent school, whereas in Newfoundland that opportunity is simply not there in any comparable sense. The new secular system works in Newfoundland, therefore, because parents have no choice; they have to send their kids there. In Ontario, where private education is a thriving, mature enterprise, parents could more easily pull their kids out of a secular system and find a mature, privately funded parallel system ready to expand and absorb them at all price points. De-funding Catholic schools in Ontario, therefore, would mean that parents seeking a Catholic education could simply withdraw entirely from the public system.

"But where would Catholic kids go if their schools were secularized? There’d really be no capacity anywhere else that quickly."
Not true. Do you know who owns the schools in Ontario – bricks, mortar and land? In the public system, schools are owned by public school boards. In the Catholic system, however, it’s a mix: some are owned by Catholic boards, but many others are only run by the Board under a lease. These schools are, in fact, owned lock, stock and barrel by religious orders of the Roman Catholic Church. If a constitutional amendment were to be enacted on Monday, on Tuesday all of this educational capacity (schools, land, textbooks, and many teachers) would become de facto private schools as leases were ripped up all over Ontario. The point not to be missed here is that de-funding Catholic schools would have the immediate effect of shrinking the public system. Fewer, not more, students would be in public schools in a post-constitutional amendment Ontario.

Just a few things to think over before October 10, or while reading anything the CCLU prints.