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A better way to vote?
June 28, 2004 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Looks like a minority liberal government for Canada. The entire process will have been completed in a single day. The voters used pencils to mark X's on paper ballots, which were stuffed into ballot boxes then counted by hand. Despite the differences in population, is there a lesson here for our southern neighbours?
posted by Turtles all the way down (91 comments total)

 
AmericaFilter.
posted by sleslie at 9:00 PM on June 28, 2004


i'm with you on this one turtles, though I bumped into a friend coming out of the ballot - she somehow messed up the simple task of marking an 'X' on paper... sigh.
posted by sunexplodes at 9:08 PM on June 28, 2004


A cautionary counterexample would be the 1995 Quebec Referendum. There were many stories of ballot counters throwing out 'no' votes because they went outside the lines, marked a check mark instead of an x, etc. Once again, the important part is teh counting.

But yeah, my ballot today had 4 circles on it, compared with those monstrous american style ballots and voting machines, it was a lot better. Also putting my own ballot into the box instead of having some machine zap it into the ether was much more reassuring.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:08 PM on June 28, 2004


is there a lesson here for our southern neighbours?

Different countries operate in different ways in regards to voting?

(And some countries apparently like to rub other countries' noses in it?)

Exactly what response are you looking for?
posted by dhoyt at 9:09 PM on June 28, 2004


Well, dhoyt, if 'rubbing your noses in it' is a reference to what you do to punish a misbehaving pet, to teach it ont to do it next time, then yes. Get that nose down deep.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:15 PM on June 28, 2004


Snarkness aside, I found our recent Winnipeg Mayoral election to have a perfect system that I couldn't see many flaws with.

1. Sharpie pens to mark your ballot.
2. To choose a candidate, you completed a broken line that was next to the candidate on a sheet of paper much like SAT tests or University exams. Like this, if I was voting for Al Golden...
Sam Katz    ===   ===
Al Golden    ===---===
3. This paper was read on site by a machine. If an error was found (like an incomplete line), the paper was spit out and you voted again.

4. The OCR machine was on top of a locked box. As soon as the vote was read, the vote was sealed.

5. Once read, the paper record of your vote fell into the locked box. An electronic count was tabulated by the OCR machine.
posted by sleslie at 9:16 PM on June 28, 2004


dhoyt, I absolutely do not want to be the smug Canadian. So here's my real point:

Americans, in my experience, tend to think More Democracy=Voting on More Things, e.g. District Attorney, Sheriff, Dog catcher etc. This seems to lead to a great deal of complexity as far as registering one's vote, both in the research that is required of a registered voter and the mechanics of voting. And as we've all seen, if this requires either mechanical or electronic voting machines, this will introduce errors and uncertainty into the process.

I am truly a big fan of America. But I think the current voting process is flawed in that it will not necessarily result in the will of the people being expressed in the areas that matter.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:17 PM on June 28, 2004


C'mon dhoyt...the Canadian way of voting is much simpler and frankly better than the American way. Maybe Gore would have gotten in instead, eh?
posted by ashbury at 9:17 PM on June 28, 2004


Down under, we have an added complexity - preferential voting, where it's not a matter of just marking an "X" or a line, but each candidate has to be numbered in order of preference. If there's 6 candidates for a seat, you have to number them all 1 to 6.

The pieces of paper are then hand-counted.

Despite this, we typically have the result of a full federal election within 6 hours of the polls closing.

Would someone please explain the necessity of electronic voting, OCR, etc.?
posted by Jimbob at 9:19 PM on June 28, 2004


sleslie, that is exactly the way we've voted here in Portland, Maine for ages. I love it. Its very easy and clear, and although there is a machine counting my votes I know (from experience) that its pretty easy to count them by hand, too.

There are some things humans do better than machines. I wish we, here in the US, would spend less time thinking up complex and technical ways to count people's votes and more time thinking up ways to get people to actually go and vote.
posted by anastasiav at 9:22 PM on June 28, 2004


Today's contentious Canadian election,
with scandal bruised Liberals accusing Conservative Party contender
Stephen Harper of trying to make Canada more like the United States,
will likely come down to a photo
finish
. Results will be counted by the highly
esteemed and efficient
Canadian paper-ballot voting system
: "Pierre Blain, a spokesman for Elections Canada, said the
system stresses transparency." US opponents of proprietary
software driven electronic voting machines - who "fear an
"electoral train wreck" worse than Florida 2000"
- claim
a victory
, reports the UK Independent.


posted by troutfishing at 9:28 PM on June 28, 2004


Things go smoother in Canada because elections.ca has it's act together, assuring the same system everywhere, unlike the U.S. where every single county has their own (sometimes poorly thought out) method for voting. Things would go smoother if each state set up a single entity for handling elections.

The marking X on the ballot could have some problems, if someone loses by just a few votes it could mean lots of trouble deciding what constitutes a spoiled ballot. You'll always have a few ballots where it's debatable whether something is an X or not.

And sleslie, we had the same method in Toronto's mayorial election I think, quite a nice system, looks fast, verifiable and nearly flawless. Diebold should just go with that style of system.
posted by bobo123 at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2004


Tip o' the hat troutfishing: that would have been a more fully realized FPP. But it's my first real one ;-)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:32 PM on June 28, 2004


... oh, from what I've read a check mark is now perfectly acceptable on a ballot, which is a relief considering it's ubiquitous use in election-related logos.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:34 PM on June 28, 2004


I worked the election earlier and things went very smoothly. Unfortunately there was an extremely poor voter turnout. The local electorate was almost entirely senior/retired citizens with some middle-aged/young voters topping off the day.

Our counting system, however, is not perfect. It can be a real hassle for the people counting because a simple mistake (like forgetting to cross off the name of 1 out of 1000 electors) could mean 3 or 4 manual recounts until things are sorted out.

And yes, Space Coyote, and clear marking in any one circle will be counted. As soon as noticeable markings are made in another circle the ballot is grounds for rejection.
posted by Evstar at 9:36 PM on June 28, 2004


Machine or hand-drawn X, all I can say is: Liberal minority with NDP holding balance of power. Thank God.

Really. The alternative, in the form of a Harper majority government, doesn't bear thinking of.

[/lefty rant]
posted by jokeefe at 9:37 PM on June 28, 2004


I'm not sure if my last couple sentences were straightforward. We will count ANY significant marking. Be it an X, a check-mark, (concentric) circles, shading. As long as it's clear which candidate the elector has chosen. Each ballot is raised in plain view during counting so that attending scrutineer from any party can move to reject a ballot. When this happens, the ballot is re-examined and the Deputy Returning Officer of this particular polling station has the final say.

Letting representatives from each party attend the counting process helps to ensure fairness for each party and prevents any tomfoolery.
posted by Evstar at 9:42 PM on June 28, 2004


I still get the feeling Florida would screw-it-up...
posted by Elim at 9:51 PM on June 28, 2004


I'll drink to that jokeefe.
posted by Quartermass at 9:52 PM on June 28, 2004


.. In reference to the trouble with ballot counting in the 1995 Quebec referendum, the reason the ballot miscounting was allowed to occur was that the scrutineers were appointed by the (then separatist) government.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:52 PM on June 28, 2004


Good result for Canada (if you're a leftist). The minority government will have to listen to the left-leaning NDP in order to form a government or face being dissolved.

The NDP were also the only party to improve their standing, increasing their populace vote tally by nearly 7% and their seats from 14 to the low 20s.

I do, however, find it disconcerting that this has been posted and framed as "should america use pencils?!" instead of as a discussion of what changes this could cause in Canadian policy (further swing to the left would be my hopeful guess) and how this may effect relations with the U.S. if Kerry wins of if Bush holds on to office. The way it's framed now is frankly rather boring and especially American-centric. Personally, I think there dozens of more interesting things to come out of this than simply a rehashing of the American voting system.
posted by The God Complex at 9:53 PM on June 28, 2004


So far the Elections Canada site has voter turnout at an utterly pathetic 57.7%. Even granting that this number doesn't include voters who registered on election day, that's an absolutely miserable number.

I voted. Where the hell did everyone else go? This means that I have to smack 4 out of 10 people of voting age who complain about the government that they got without doing a damn thing about it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:54 PM on June 28, 2004


By all means, God Complex, open up the discussion for us.

Maybe I will: I would certainly like to hear what the election was like today from the perspective of a scrutineer. I was personally very frustrated with some of the scrutineers in my riding who were constantly testing my limits on purpose; trying to see what they could get away with. It's especially annoying when they try to halt the counting process by rejecting far too many votes against their own party.
posted by Evstar at 9:58 PM on June 28, 2004


Machine or hand-drawn X, all I can say is: Liberal minority with NDP holding balance of power. Thank God.

Really. The alternative, in the form of a Harper majority government, doesn't bear thinking of.


Yep, sounds like no thinking at all on behalf of Canada this election. Perhaps when the last professionals and businesses have been driven out by the obscene levels of taxation (that nonetheless fail to stop the decline in the quality of social services), and when Canada has become a kind home to more unapologetic terrorists and their supporters... perhaps then I'll need to find a new place to live. Sadly, having lived in Canada when it truly was the best country in the world, I'm not quite sure where to go.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:59 PM on June 28, 2004


The God Complex: fair enough, but as a Canadian, I wouldn't presume to engage the USAians in a discussion of Canadian politics. But I'd love to see it, in particular with respect to your theoretical example of Kerry winning.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:03 PM on June 28, 2004


Turtles all the way down - Well, I'm embarassingly ignorant of Canadian politics.

Good ( non-yank centered ) first post!

But, would those be turtles....or tortoises? ( turtles could be less structurally stable)
posted by troutfishing at 10:06 PM on June 28, 2004


You really endear yourself, Krrrlson, by showing so much respect for the free and democratic decisions of other countries. Clearly, in your view, the only democratic freedoms people should have is the freedom to vote for whoever the fuck you tell them to.
posted by Jimbob at 10:07 PM on June 28, 2004


jokeefe, amen. I'm watching the stats now to make sure the numbers don't slip. But it is a good day.
posted by chunking express at 10:07 PM on June 28, 2004


So far the Elections Canada site has voter turnout at an utterly pathetic 57.7%.

I was surprised and disappointed by these numbers. I expected a higher turnout with such a close race. It will be interesting to see how this breaks down by demographics.
posted by btwillig at 10:08 PM on June 28, 2004


Liberal minority with NDP holding balance of power. Thank God.

I'll add my sigh of relief to that.
posted by btwillig at 10:10 PM on June 28, 2004


troutfishing: I don't want to suck up, but yours would have been a more purely MeFi post. Thanks for the props. And it's definitely *turtles*: see my profile.

I'm glad to be aboard.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:14 PM on June 28, 2004


Why krrlson is full of shit about personal income taxes:
So the lure of lower U.S. taxes depends very much on who you are and where you are going. Tax calculations on actual tax rates paid, after social security deductions in Ontario and, say, New York state, show surprisingly little difference even in the middle income range.

Using Statistics Canada's measure of "purchasing power parity'' in the two jurisdictions ($1.25 Canadian can purchase as much as $1 American, even after GST and other sales taxes are added at the till), we compared the proportion of income going in taxes and social deductions. (see accompanying chart)

Result: A two-earner family with two children making $50,000 a year in Canada would pay 15.2 per cent in taxes and deductions. An American family of four making a comparable $40,000 in U.S. dollars would pay 15.9 per cent.

A Canadian family with two earners and two children making $75,000 would pay 23.6 per cent. A similar American family making a comparable $60,000 (U.S.) would pay 21.6 per cent.

At the $75,000 Canadian level, an American advantage is starting to emerge, but hardly big enough to make a move to New York for economic reasons alone.
Why krrlson is full of shit about corporate taxes:
Corporations operating in Ontario are generally taxed at a rate of 36.12 per cent. However, Ontario's manufacturing and resource industries are subject to a lower 12.12 per cent provincial tax rate. When combined with the federal Manufacturing & Processing (M&P) rate of 22.12 per cent, a corporation earning manufacturing income in Ontario is taxed at a rate of only 34.12 per cent. By way of comparison, this combined rate is generally less than the combined statutory U.S. federal and state tax rates


Now with that derail over with, I am very hopeful that this current government will continue long enough for the NDp to keep the Liberals to their promises. Also, Jack Layton said that the biggest condition for his suppor tin a minority government will be a referendum on proportional representation in Canada. This will be a big, long-needed change, and will help reduce some of the regionalism in Canadian federal politics these days.

posted by Space Coyote at 10:15 PM on June 28, 2004


pleasePleasePLEASE say YES to proportional representation.
posted by Evstar at 10:26 PM on June 28, 2004


Yep, sounds like no thinking at all on behalf of Canada this election. Perhaps when the last professionals and businesses have been driven out by the obscene levels of taxation (that nonetheless fail to stop the decline in the quality of social services), and when Canada has become a kind home to more unapologetic terrorists and their supporters... perhaps then I'll need to find a new place to live. Sadly, having lived in Canada when it truly was the best country in the world, I'm not quite sure where to go.

By all means, if us swinging further to the left instead of following the current American model--rolling back civil rights for homosexuals, giving tax breaks to the wealthy citizens and large conglomerates, and gutting social services--would result in you leaving, by all means do so. Canada would be a much better place with the Liberals and NDP competing as the top two parties and conservatives fragmenting itself again and (hopefully) failing to reform.
posted by The God Complex at 10:27 PM on June 28, 2004


pleasePleasePLEASE say YES to proportional representation.

That would be nice, wouldn't it? Instead of 20-22 seats the NDP would have in the neighbourhood of 50-60 seats with the exact same voting structure.
posted by The God Complex at 10:28 PM on June 28, 2004


Interestingly, the combined Conservative party's popular vote hasn't gained a notch from the marriage between the Tories and the Aliance. Liberal popular support is about where it was, while the NDP has gained the most ground.

Stephen Harper's speech tonight tried to spin tonight's result as a success, but this only flies if you accept his premise that he's really only talking about the party as if it were still the Reform / Alliance, which we're all supposed to pretend it's not.

As for the low voter turnout, this campaign was almost completely negative between the two main parties. The liberals were being attacked for the sponsorship scandal and arrogance, and the Conservatives were attacked for Harper's remarks about the Iraq and the social conservativism among their Western base. All in all the perfect recipe to drive support away from both of them.

One last surprise this election was the gap in popular vote which seemingly came out of nowhere. The Globe and Mail ran a big, expensive poll on the weekend that showed the Liberals and Conservatives nearly tied. The end result was a gap of 7%.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:35 PM on June 28, 2004


I'm relatively happy about the results. The Liberals have been chastened, and we'll have a do-over in a year or so, AFTER our beloved neighbors to the south pick their leader.

This is important because with Kerry as president, Harper couldn't really do too much damage; with Bush as president, though, we might see our boys in, lets say, Iran or Syria. I don't think most Canadians would be too happy with that. I know I wouldn't be.

And Dipsomaniac, you gonna smack me down? I didn't vote. There is literally no one in my riding (Edmonton Strathcona) I liked. I could have gone in and spoiled my ballot, but I elected not to waste my time.
posted by alex_reno at 10:42 PM on June 28, 2004


"And Dipsomaniac, you gonna smack me down? I didn't vote."

Then there's no legitimate reason for you to complain about the government, is there?

Voting is a right. It's also a responsibility. Spoiling your vote *is* a legitimate expression of your preference. If you can't be arsed to get to a polling station, I'd say you don't give a damn. Anyone who considers voting (or spoiling the ballot) a 'waste of time' isn't taking their rights and responsibilities seriously.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 10:59 PM on June 28, 2004


You really endear yourself, Krrrlson, by showing so much respect for the free and democratic decisions of other countries. Clearly, in your view, the only democratic freedoms people should have is the freedom to vote for whoever the fuck you tell them to.

Clearly, in your view, you know what I think far better than I do, since you certainly didn't read that shit in my post. Oh, and despite the crap it's going through it's still MY country until I say different, amigo. Points for being an ass, though, I've never seen that argumentative tactic fail.


If I'm so full of shit, as you so politely note, Space Coyote, why isn't the Canadian economy outpacing the US a mile a minute? Why the lack of professional jobs? Why the brain drain? Why are there links found between high taxation and the drop in foreign investment (see my link above)? I'm sure it has nothing to do with ridiculous tax increases.

Oh, and I'm sure a website intended to bring businesses to Ontario will paint an oh-so-accurate picture of corporate taxation.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:02 PM on June 28, 2004


I worked in the election today as a poll clerk (the junior member of each two-man polling station team, responsible for all the paperwork) as Mississauga-South Brampton. It was long, and alternated between being extremely interesting and extremely boring. What I found rather heartening was that even though voter participation was low (of 593 people on the list to vote at my station, 213 chose to), the portion of immigrants who chose to participate was incredibly high, especially new citizens (who generally are not on the list of electors, and thus must present a special certificate they receive at a desk in the polling location when they present their name and address). An additional 42 people used these certificates, of whom all but one were recent immigrants. And a number of the people who _were_ on the elector lists were first time voters, usually because of citizenship changes rather than age. I spent most of today congratulating on casting the first vote they'd ever made, which was nice.

Personally, I held my nose and voted Conservative. Liberal corruption turned me off, I'm not a great fan of the NDP or Greens, and the Bloc is obviously out, being an Ontarian (even though I'm rather fond of them at times). I think the radicalism of the Conservatives is overstated domestically. To give a potted explanation, Canadian anti-Americanism is at the moment strongly tied to the iconic figure of Bush. Being right-wing, even in the rather moderate way that the Conservative party is, attaches one's self to that image, and summons forth irrational tirades about wanting to undermine the freedoms and democratic principles most Canadians, including most Conservatives, respect.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:08 PM on June 28, 2004


Just looked at CBC's tally again, and I get 135 Liberals, 99 Conservatives (2 still marked as "leading" rather than elected), 54 BQ, 19 NDP, one independent. Note that:
135 + 19 = 154
99 + 54 = 153
1 independent

Quite an interesting balance if it holds, no? Does anyone know who the independent is?
posted by Krrrlson at 11:30 PM on June 28, 2004


If I'm so full of shit, as you so politely note, Space Coyote, why isn't the Canadian economy outpacing the US a mile a minute?

So you assume by my pointing out that Canadian and American effective taxation rates are similar, and you take from that that it should imply that Canada outpace the US 'a mile a minute'? I fail to see the thread holding that line of reasoning together.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:30 PM on June 28, 2004


So you assume by my pointing out that Canadian and American effective taxation rates are similar, and you take from that that it should imply that Canada outpace the US 'a mile a minute'? I fail to see the thread holding that line of reasoning together.

Actually, since you fail to detect rhetorical questions as well, I'd like you to offer a plausible reason for Canada's less than spectacular performance in the areas I mentioned. I offered one.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:35 PM on June 28, 2004


I'll be glad to see a Liberal / NDP government as well. Given that the coalition barely makes the majority, I suspect a number of Bloc members will be wooed as well, and it'll be interesting to watch it play out on a ballot by ballot basis once the session is underway.

Pseudo, Stephen Harper made a number of gaffes that a lot of voters remembered. I think a lot of people felt the same way you did about the Liberals but just couldn't stomach a Conservative majority, and Harper kept going on about how they were going to get in with a majority, especially after the debates. I live out west and the players in the Conservative party here are no different from the busybodies that were under the Reform party, and I do not trust those guys at all.

The independent is a guy who got screwed over by the Conservatives in the Surrey riding when they were electing their candidate, so that'll be interesting to watch.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:37 PM on June 28, 2004


oh, and krrrlson, no way is there a BQ / Conservative coalition. Though it would be hilarious to watch a government like that.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:38 PM on June 28, 2004


Can someone explain this 'spoiling the ballot' thing to me? From what I googled [mostly u.k. links] it appears you somehow mark the ballot up that requires a recount? Or the vote gets set aside? Most of the sites I visited treated the term like everyone knew what it meant.
posted by birdherder at 11:39 PM on June 28, 2004


It appears the Liberal/NDP majority is no more, unless there are some positive recount votes. Four or five conservative comeback votes after the results were all but official (quite a coincidence that they'd manage to pull it out like that, but if there is any miscounting of votes I'm sure it will come out in any recounts).

Now it looks like another election in six months, tops, unless the Liberals can convince the BQ to work with them. If not, perhaps a similar result then. Who knows where this will lead.
posted by The God Complex at 11:43 PM on June 28, 2004


oh, and krrrlson, no way is there a BQ / Conservative coalition. Though it would be hilarious to watch a government like that.

Aw hell, I know that - I just thought the theoretical possibility where even a Liberal/NDP coalition might not be enough for a majority was intriguing. The final numbers are holding, btw.

I wonder what the odds for a Liberal?BQ coalition are.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:47 PM on June 28, 2004


To choose a candidate, you completed a broken line that was next to the candidate on a sheet of paper much like SAT tests or University exams.

That is exactly how ballots are in Wisconsin.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:50 PM on June 28, 2004


birdherder: you spoil a ballot by invalidating it. You might vote for everyone, or write "Fuck you" in the write-in slot, or both, or leave your ballot blank.

In a few elections in different precincts in NC and TX, I've only ever used ballots similar to those sleslie describes (except they had broken arrows pointing to names, since there were multiple columns). Lots of jurisdictions in the US don't use weird, stupid voting methods; they just don't make the news.

As others have noted, the big thing preventing hand-counting is the number of offices. My google-fu is weak tonight, so I can't seem to bring up a sample ballot, but it sounds like there was just the one office up for grabs: MP. In the upcoming election, the ballot will include

*President & VP together
*US Representative
*US Senator in 2/3 of the states

States vary in what offices are elected and when different offices are up for election; some do it in presidential years, some do it in the even-numbered off years (with the congressional elections), and VA and NJ do it in odd numbered years. But anyway, depending on where you are you'll also be voting on some improper subset of:

*Governor
*Lt Governor (NOT a running mate of the governor, usually)
*State Secretary of State
*State Attorney General
*State Agriculture Commissioner (or several)
*State Insurance Commissioner (or several)
*State Treasurer or Comptroller (or both)
*Other state executive offices, less commonly
*State supreme court judges
*State appellate court judges
*State county court judges
*State lower and weirdo-court judges
*If you're in a referendum/initiative state (most of them), 5--50 ballot propositions.

And at the local level,
*County commission (several)
*Zoning board
*School board
*City council, if applicable
*Mayor
*County/district DA
*County tax collector or similar
*County county court judges (petty stuff)
*Justices of the peace
*Local tax propositions
*School bond propositions
*School budget, in some districts in some states
*Other local ballot propositions

I'd be the last person to claim that is a feature rather than a bug, but it would be hard to manage a counting scheme similar to Canada's with that many offices up for grabs. The probability of human coding error goes way the hell up with more offices. And there are a couple of reasons why you couldn't just have scrutineers from the major parties. First, parties are radically decentralized compared to Canada, so you'd want your own man in there as a scrutineer, not a party hack -- for every partisan-election office. And for every election that's nominally nonpartisan, obviously everyone would need to send their own person. And there would also be any number of groups that might have a stake in ballot propositions or elected offices, further increasing the number of people there. And you couldn't just hold up the ballot to everyone, since there would be people tens of feet away looking at a ballot with lots of arrows all over it, so you'd need to have some system to allow the manifold and various scrutineers to examine the votes they're interested in without actually letting them handle the ballots, which could lead to all sorts of mischief.

And optical scanners will probably screw up less anyhow.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:51 PM on June 28, 2004


Ok, spoiling your ballot, from the viewpoint of a poll clerk or deputy returning officer in a Canadian federal election means you mark your ballot in such a way that it can't be used, but that this is detected before it is counted. So, for example, if you write on the ballot and then change your mind, you can request another, and we count the original ballot as "spoiled". This helps keep track of ballots so that a bunch of loose ballots don't get given out.

"Rejected" ballots are ballots that are marked unsuitably for counting, or challenged successfully. This is discovered during the counting process. This is any ballot where no mark is in a circle next to a candidate's name, or more than one mark is present, next to the names of two or more candidates.

In practice, people use the term "spoiled" to mean any ballot marked up in such a way that it does not clearly indicate that one is making a particular choice for a particular option.

Salmon> I agree arrogance cost Harper. I think it was terrible on his part to issue a document saying Paul Martin supported child pornography, and then refuse to apologise for it. However, the local Liberal candidate in my riding (Paul Szabo of Mississauga South) once hired a friend of mine, then paid him less than minimum wage. On the yearly budget he was required to submit, he listed my friend as a "computer" with a purchase price next to it. Having met him once, I was drastically unimpressed with every facet of the man, from his intelligence, moral integrity and public spirit, to his hygiene, posture and vague resemblance to overripe blood sausage.

So yeah, it was Conservative, Green, or NDP. As an Ontarian, I remember what an NDP government was like, and Green would be much the same. So, the least of all evils won out.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:54 PM on June 28, 2004


Damn damn damn. And here I was about to go to bed happy.

Harper has shortsignted economic policies, but he doesn't have much invested personally in the social conservative agenda. If he is smart, he'll realize that the Conservatives can survive without them and run them off. If he doesn't then Ontario and East will simply never accept them as a plausible alternative.

Oh, and Krrlson, a logically flawed rhetorical quesiton is worth how much more than nothing at all, exactly? Canada's economy is growing faster than the US's, we still run surplusses, their unemployment has skyrocketed over the last few years, ours has remained fairly flat by comparison. If you're seeing some huge economic powerhouse just south of us I'd suggest coming to join us in the post George W. Bush era of the US as economic basket case.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:56 PM on June 28, 2004


Krrlson, the odds are pretty good for the Grits and BQ to try and work something out, despite the acrimony. Tough pill for the Liberals to swallow, though.

The NDP and BQ share social policies in a number of ways, so if those two combine there could be an option for both parties to go with the Liberals and force social issues to the forefront. Ideally that would happen without going overboard, knowing that many Canadians voted for a fiscally conservative party.

Stephen Harper will have to become more moderate and lose a lot of the frat boy posturing. Could have been worse though, could still be Stockwell Day running that group. Now THAT is scary.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:06 AM on June 29, 2004


OK, as of right now according to the globe and mail's site:

Lib 135 Con 99 NDP 19 BQ 54 Ind. 1

Hope no one has a sick day.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:12 AM on June 29, 2004


Oh, and Krrlson, a logically flawed rhetorical quesiton is worth how much more than nothing at all, exactly?

A tad more than running out and claiming someone is full of shit, I guess.

Canada's economy is growing faster than the US's, we still run surplusses, their unemployment has skyrocketed over the last few years, ours has remained fairly flat by comparison.

How about the disparity in GDP per capita? It'll take a while for that fast growth to actually get us anywhere, no? But okay, we'll just sit and wait for the US to go to shits. As soon as they're worse off than us, we win! Good attitude there.

If you're seeing some huge economic powerhouse just south of us I'd suggest coming to join us in the post George W. Bush era of the US as economic basket case.

I'm seeing woeful inadequacy here as compared to south of us, declining or not. And that's a mighty interesting economic projection you have here. I wonder what makes you speak with such certainty.

-------------

Ideally that would happen without going overboard, knowing that many Canadians voted for a fiscally conservative party.

I certainly hope so.

Stephen Harper will have to become more moderate and lose a lot of the frat boy posturing.

I wasn't impressed by Harper's handling of this campaign either. Less radical outbursts would have done wonders, I think.


All right, I'm off to bed. Here's hoping the coming months bring something better for Canada, somehow.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:20 AM on June 29, 2004


Anyone who considers voting (or spoiling the ballot) a 'waste of time' isn't taking their rights and responsibilities seriously.

So if no party cares to put forward a candidate I like, my time is well spent by voting for someone I don't like? Why would I bother?

Now trust me, I've gone out and dutifully spoiled my ballot plenty in the past. (I've even voted for actual candidates, but don't tell anyone.) There is no difference between going to the polling station to spoil your ballot and knowing you could do so.
posted by alex_reno at 12:54 AM on June 29, 2004


The article mentions 136 Liberal to 95 Conservative, with a surprisingly strong come-from-behind performance for the Liberals.

So, how is this a minority Liberal government?
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:38 AM on June 29, 2004


insomnia_lj, because there are 308 seats in the house, and they have less than half. Which is a minority.
posted by SoftRain at 2:50 AM on June 29, 2004


Now trust me, I've gone out and dutifully spoiled my ballot plenty in the past. (I've even voted for actual candidates, but don't tell anyone.) There is no difference between going to the polling station to spoil your ballot and knowing you could do so.

...except that one of these actions results in both a ballot being spoiled and your responsibility to your government fulfulled, and the other in neither.
posted by Jairus at 4:19 AM on June 29, 2004


It appears the Liberal/NDP majority is no more, unless there are some positive recount votes. Four or five conservative comeback votes after the results were all but official (quite a coincidence that they'd manage to pull it out like that, but if there is any miscounting of votes I'm sure it will come out in any recounts).

Current tally, as of 7:30 in the morning here in Ottawa:
LIB - 135
CON - 99
BQ - 54
NDP - 19

135 + 19 = 154, so it looks like we have a government.
posted by Jairus at 4:29 AM on June 29, 2004


....also, it's possible that I have not had coffee yet, and I don't know how to count. Please ignore any numbers I throw out before eleventy-seven o-clock.
posted by Jairus at 4:40 AM on June 29, 2004


...except 155 is required for a majority. Ties aren't good, folks. Remember, they have to elect a Speaker of the House, too, and that position isn't often someone from the opposition. So that's one less vote. Majorities like this are very, very tough to handle. But if all the Bloc's talk holds, it shouldn't be a problem. Martin's going to have to work with the NDP, somewhat akin to Trudeau's years working with them to put forward more social legislation.

But it also likely means they won't touch same sex marriage, marijuana, and any other contentious issues, in any meaningful way. It's looking like a quiet parliament.

As for the election itself: Especially here in Atlantic Canada, it's apparent much of the Progressive vote didn't go to the Conservatives. The Liberals would likely have done better had they courted the Progressive element of the old PC party instead of focusing solely on the fringe NDPers.

And anybody think the new election funding rules had an effect on the Greens going from .08% to over 4% of the popular vote? Or is that just fortuitous timing for them?

(highlight of the night: Peter Mansbridge announcing the Marxist-Leninist Party candidate was leading in one of the Mississauga ridings, after 2 of 208 polls. That would have been the ultimate protest vote...)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:59 AM on June 29, 2004


For Shits And Giggles, this is how things would've looked if we had implemented straight-up proportional representation:

LIB 113
CON 91
NDP 47
BQ 39
GREEN 13


...interesting, non?
posted by Jairus at 5:04 AM on June 29, 2004


GhostintheMachine:

That does it. I'm off to climb on top of the Peter Mansbridge to protest!
posted by titboy at 5:35 AM on June 29, 2004


Seal up Joe Clark's hole and send troops into Giles Duceppe while you're at it, titboy.

Krrrlson, the independent MP is Chuck Cadman out of British Columbia; he won the seat in '97 as Reform and again in '00 as Alliance, but lost the Conservative nomination this year.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 6:03 AM on June 29, 2004


So far the Elections Canada site has voter turnout at an utterly pathetic 57.7%.

Just a minor correction here - I heard on the radio this morning that voter turnout was approximately 62%. Still not great, of course.

I'd urge people not to spoil ballots, and to vote even if they don't like the candidates in their riding. MPs must vote the way their party does, or be thrown out of their party. It's worth something to get an ass from the party you want to win in a seat, even if the person is indeed an ass.

However, the local Liberal candidate in my riding (Paul Szabo of Mississauga South) once hired a friend of mine, then paid him less than minimum wage. On the yearly budget he was required to submit, he listed my friend as a "computer" with a purchase price next to it.

Pseudo, did your friend go the Labour Board about this? Or to the press? Or try to report this to anyone? I'd think it would be more constructive to get the guy disciplined and possibly disqualified as a candidate in the next election than to simply not vote for him.
posted by orange swan at 6:32 AM on June 29, 2004


Wow. I can just imagine what Chuck Cadman is thinking right now. "Hey, you Grits & Dippers need a majority? Well, I can help you out, but it'll cost you.."

Seriously, though, how long do you all think we have before the vote of non-confidence?
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:09 AM on June 29, 2004


Johnny Assay: such a vote may be farther off than people think. The Bloc may not be friends of the Liberals, but I doubt they would have much reason to want the screw-billingualism screw-Québec Conservatives in power at this point.

Remember, the Bloc is downplaying the separatism issue, because it's just not a hot issue in the majority of Québec right now. The violent passion of the '70s and early '90s has died to an occasional whimper. I'm not saying Québec isn't interested in special recognition—hence the 54 Bloc seats—but separatism itself isn't hot right now.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 7:20 AM on June 29, 2004


Jairus: For Shits And Giggles, this is how things would've looked if we had implemented straight-up proportional representation:

LIB 113
CON 91
NDP 47
BQ 39
GREEN 13

...interesting, non?


This kind of analysis is pretty meaningless. I know a lot of people in the west who voted Green/NDP knowing they wouldn't actually win a seat.
posted by Mitheral at 7:42 AM on June 29, 2004


I have to agree with DrJohn here: The Bloc's ideologies (aside from seperatism) are a hell of a lot closer to the Liberals than they are the the Conservatives.
posted by Quartermass at 7:58 AM on June 29, 2004


Downplaying separatism except for Duceppe's "This was a vote for sovereignty" victory speech last night. The BQ downplays separatism only insofar as it gets them enough votes to pursue their separatist agenda.
posted by cardboard at 8:00 AM on June 29, 2004


And anybody think the new election funding rules had an effect on the Greens going from .08% to over 4% of the popular vote?

yep.

This kind of analysis is pretty meaningless. I know a lot of people in the west who voted Green/NDP knowing they wouldn't actually win a seat.

There's also a lot of people who would have voted green if they had a chance of actually getting some seats, through proportional representation. Which, of course, supports your point that this sort of analysis is somewhat meaningless.
posted by jeffj at 9:10 AM on June 29, 2004


(highlight of the night: Peter Mansbridge announcing the Marxist-Leninist Party candidate was leading in one of the Mississauga ridings, after 2 of 208 polls.

We all were hooting and hollering at that one. Peter looked so embarrassed to be saying the words.

Lowlight of the night was having to hear Peter Mansbridge say "there's lots of activity in the Chat-Rooms tonight" (approximation of his pronunciation.)

I can't believe that we stayed up until 1am, thinking there would at least be a Liberal-NDP coalition government, and then when we woke up, the NDP were down to 19. I can't even imagine what's going to happen now.
posted by livii at 9:13 AM on June 29, 2004


Utter chaos, livii.....cats living with dogs, etc.

I guess we'll see a BQ / Liberal coalition instead of Liberal / NDP. This might not be too good for the rest of the country, as a lot of money will have to go into Quebec to keep the Bloc happy and the Bloc knows it'll never be the government, so this is as sweet as it gets for them.

Ah well, minority governments rarely last the full term, so this will be interesting.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:15 AM on June 29, 2004


Possible recount in one of the New Westminster ridings, with the conservatives beating the NDP by a scant 35 votes (give or take a couple).
posted by The God Complex at 10:23 AM on June 29, 2004


pleasePleasePLEASE say YES to proportional representation.

Oh, by all means, let's have our representatives be decided by party insiders (who will determine the ranking on the lists of candidates that a proportional representation system will select from: party X gets 60 seats, so the top 60 from the party's list are elected) rather than the local electorate. Say goodbye to local representation, hello to party zealots, and zero hope of ever loosening party discipline, ever.

</rant>
posted by mcwetboy at 10:27 AM on June 29, 2004


mcwetboy is spot on. While I see the frustration that many voters feel when their party gets less then their "fair share" of the seats. The NDP is a perfect example here, with 15.7% of the popular vote and only 6.2% of the seats.

I prefer to have access to my local MP. While I've only gone to an MP once about an issue, it was nice to have that option available to me (even though little came of it). I guess PR with a mixture of local reps could work.

I'll be interested to see how the BC Citizens initiative comes to term with the competing positions and what they propose as a solution.
posted by smcniven at 11:23 AM on June 29, 2004


mcwetboy/smcniven: The proposed model of Canadian proportional representation will have elected local MPs, as well as a party list. You'll vote for a party, and also vote for a local candidate. The candidate in your riding with the most votes will be elected (as it is now), and parties will be also be given seats based on the 2nd party-only vote. I think it's supposed to be a 2/1 split, as for the number of seats open.
posted by Jairus at 11:52 AM on June 29, 2004


There are other ways of doing it mcwetboy. For example, just of the top of my head, you could have the 60 members be the 60 people who had the highest percentage of votes in their riding. Or you could break it down by province in a round robin manner.

On preview what Jairus said. I hadn't actually reasearched the proposal because it seems unlikely to actaully go forward. After all why would any ruling party vote for something that takes seats away from them.
posted by Mitheral at 12:35 PM on June 29, 2004


Jairus (and Mitheral on preview)

But the number of local ridings will have to shrink (if you want to keep the same number of MPs), or the number of MPs will have to rise. The former means less local representation and the latter means spending a lot more on MPs and their budgets.
posted by smcniven at 12:38 PM on June 29, 2004


orangeswan> No, he didn't, but that's his business. He needed Szabo as a reference to get a better job, and didn't want to burn any bridges. I myself consider it morally abhorrent on Szabo's part, and have since refused to vote for the guy. It happened a few years ago (like, seven or so now, I think), so it's unlikely that any proof could be dredged up.


Personally, I disagree with proportional representation in the lower house. The first past the post system forces local representation, and necessitates parties spending time and money outside of Southern Ontario rather than just buying Toronto off. It also forces MPs to deal with local issues and concerns rather than just sitting in Ottawa yammering at one another about who gets to chair the next Royal Commission.

On the other hand, I think proportional representation as a means of selecting candidates for a triple-E senate is a great idea.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:44 PM on June 29, 2004




On the other hand, I think proportional representation as a means of selecting candidates for a triple-E senate is a great idea.

If you put those two things together, I'm moving back to PEI, starting the "Space Coyote is awesome, give him cake" party, and getting enough people to vote for me, proportionally speaking, to give me a seat in a senate where all the provinces have the same number of seats.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:45 PM on June 29, 2004


SCIAGHCP in 2008!
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:07 PM on June 29, 2004


Space Coyote> Sure, why not? We're not talking about only having thirteen senators or something. If you're one of say, twenty, elected for each province, then who cares if you're a crank?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:50 PM on June 29, 2004


Well, Krrrlson, Canada's not actually doing too badly at all.
Canada's annual GDP today is CAN$1.23 trillion (about $1 trillion U.S.). Growing by 2/3 since 1993, it was some CAN$0.74 trillion in 1993: it is now some CAN$0.49 trillion higher than it was in 1993. Between 1993 and 2003, Canadian federal revenues did rise by 45%, or CAN$60 billion. That means that Canadian federal revenues were CAN$133 billion in 1993, and CAN$193 billion in 2003...
More here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:29 AM on June 30, 2004


No, he didn't, but that's his business. He needed Szabo as a reference to get a better job, and didn't want to burn any bridges. I myself consider it morally abhorrent on Szabo's part, and have since refused to vote for the guy. It happened a few years ago (like, seven or so now, I think), so it's unlikely that any proof could be dredged up.

Damn. I would love to see Szabo made to account for this. I can understand how it would have happened - your friend was probably very young, just starting out, with not much on his resume and school to pay for, and so he felt he couldn't afford to kick up a fuss at the time.

It's too bad he probably hasn't saved his pay stubs. I find it's a good idea to save the evidence any time anyone screws me around. Even if I don't feel I can do anything about it at the time, it has a way of coming in handy later on.
posted by orange swan at 6:05 AM on June 30, 2004


Well, Krrrlson, Canada's not actually doing too badly at all.

As you may have gleaned from my comments, I was referring to the insufficiently fast growth, rather than a lack of growth at all, as well as the recently growing disparity in GDP per capita between us and our closest neighbour, whom you so passionately despise. (The graph ends prematurely, but the percentage in 2003 was 78.2, according to this.)
posted by Krrrlson at 9:06 AM on June 30, 2004


Krrrison, I'm no expert, but the latest issue of Report on Business magazine makes clear that Canadian companies are trouncing their US counterparts:

"Thanks to a perfect constellation of events here and abroad, the next 20 years may well prove the best ever for perennial leaders in The Top 1000-BCE, the banks, the big energy and forest products companies. Ditto for many other companies large and small. Years of restraint by the federal government are finally paying off with consistent budget surpluses. Explosive growth in China and other Asian countries is creating an insatiable demand for oil and Canada's other natural resources. There are huge opportunities in services as well. In fact, new evidence suggests that Canadian companies are doing far better in landing deals in Asia than any of the official statistics suggest.

Meanwhile, U.S. corporate performance, which seemed so impressive and so intimidating for so long, is faltering. These days, U.S. companies have to bear the burden of a massive federal deficit and a sinking dollar, not to mention accounting scandals and growing public distrust. As America's problems at home and abroad multiply, its corporations may well have seen the last of a gilded age just as the Canadian corporation finally comes into its own."

It's a fascinating article. Report on Business, July/August 2004.
posted by jmcnally at 12:30 PM on June 30, 2004


"Thanks to a perfect constellation of events here and abroad, the next 20 years may well prove the best ever for perennial leaders in The Top 1000-BCE, the banks, the big energy and forest products companies. Ditto for many other companies large and small. Years of restraint by the federal government are finally paying off with consistent budget surpluses. Explosive growth in China and other Asian countries is creating an insatiable demand for oil and Canada's other natural resources. There are huge opportunities in services as well. In fact, new evidence suggests that Canadian companies are doing far better in landing deals in Asia than any of the official statistics suggest.

First of all this is more of a prediction of future growth than present performance. Secondly, Canadian economy generally follows that of the US, which makes me question this prediction.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:58 PM on July 2, 2004


Krrrlson, you are so completely full of shit that there is no point in anyone arguing with you. The fact is that Canada is currently doing better than the USA on most economic indicators. You will, of course, solidly refuse to acknowledge this fact in any way, presumably because it is really, really important to you that the USA not ever be seen in a poor light, typical of your most every post regarding your country.

Rah-rah, USA.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 AM on July 4, 2004


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