Tag Archives: electoral reform

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 2 – The Minor Issues

We’re less than a month away from the election and we now have platforms to judge the candidates by. Last month, I did a high level overview of the parties. Here are some of the more interesting ideas floating around in their platforms.

Alcohol in Parks and Beaches

Wine and Cheese

It’s a pretty simple idea. Adults should be able to indulge in a glass of wine on the beach or growler of beer in the park responsibly without risking $230 fine. Supporters of allowing alcohol in parks, at least on a trial basis include:

Subway to UBC

broadway_subway

Funding is now secured for the Broadway subway line, from VCC-Clark to Arbutus, with construction beginning in 2020 and finishing in 2025. Some local politicians are arguing that we should build it right the first time and extend it all the way to UBC. Normally transit priorities are set by Translink which is a regional body and needs buy in from other cities in Metro Vancouver, but as outgoing councillor George Affleck points out, the Broadway line is not funded by Translink so the city could fund the extension to UBC without regional buy-in.

Pushing for the Broadway Line all the way to UBC in a single construction phase are:

Opioid Crisis

Drugs

Considering that opioid overdoses are killing hundreds of Vancouverites every year, it’s surprising how little attention politicians are giving it. Here’s a roundup of the ideas proposed by the politicians who are brave enough to tackle what is obviously a complicated issue.

Leading the charge for a better response to the opioid crisis is Sarah Blyth, the founder and executive director of the Overdose Prevention Society and independent candidate for council. She’s proposing more overdose prevention sites, street drug checking programs, and a wider range of treatment options.

The other politicians who are talking about the issue mostly agree with Sarah Blyth, and are also calling for various degrees of drug decriminalization.

Electoral Reform

There are a few groups talking about changing the way we vote in Vancouver.

  • COPE wants to see a ward system introduced and permanent residents given the right to vote
  • OneCity wants to have a citizens assembly to propose an alternative voting system, and lower the voting age to 16.
  • Shauna Sylvester has proposed a hybrid system of 5 wards and 5 at-large councillors, with ranked ballots.
  • Kenedy Stewart has suggested using proportional representation or wards depending on the outcome of the provincial referendum
  • Independent candidates Graham Cook and Katherine Ramdeem support PR.

Bike Lanes

Autumn Cycling in Vancouver

Unlike in past elections where bike lanes were one of the major issues, few parties are talking about them, other than Coalition Vancouver who wants to rip them out. I guess that’s progress but I still want to know where the parties stand. Hopefully we’ll know more when Hub releases its survey results in early October.

In general, some of the strongest champions for cycling and active transportation are:

Housing

Housing deserves its own blog post considering how much attention its been getting this election. Stay tuned.

Strategic Voting – #hashtagfail

Strategic voting sites were all the rage this election. Websites like Project Democracy used advanced seat projection models and the latest polls to determine what ridings would be close and how progressive voters should ‘strategically vote’ to stop the Conservatives.

What an utter failure (or ‘hashtagfail’ as my buddy Jack would say). Pundits Guide warned us that Conservatives love strategic voting sites, but few people listened. The promise of having your vote count in a system where so many votes are wasted was too strong to resist.

If you look at the closest races in Canada involving the Conservatives, all of them decided by less 2% of the votes cast, the ‘strategic’ recommendations were horrible. In the 10 races where strategic voting could have been effective, Project Democracy got 5 of them wrong, and the Conservatives won all five of those ridings.

Riding Result PD Strategy Verdict
Montmagny – L’Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup Cons +1101 +10 over NDP Vote Bloc FAIL
Nipissing – Timiskaming Cons +14 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Etobicoke Centre Cons +25 over Libs Safe Liberal Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Yukon Cons +132 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Elmwood Transcona Cons +284 over NDP Safe NDP Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca NDP +406 over Cons Vote NDP PASS
Bramalea – Gore – Malton Cons +538 over NDP Vote Liberal FAIL
Don Valley West Cons +639 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Mississauga East – Cooksville Cons +661 over Libs Safe Liberal Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Lotbinière – Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Cons +777 over NDP Vote NDP PASS

1 – vote difference in Montmagny reduced to 10 after counting error detected.

Unfortunately, in a first-past-the-post voting system, only 2 parties can be viable alternatives. Strategic voting is a failed coping mechanism. We need to either change the voting system or get ready for polarized American-style politics with the Conservatives battling the NDP across Canada. Even as an NDP supporter, it’s not a prospect I’m looking forward to. I’d rather have more choices.

Bitter Sweet Election Results


The NDP won over 100 seats. Elizabeth May is the first Green party MP ever elected in Canada. The Bloc Quebecois have lost official party status.

All great news, but what a shitty election result. I’m not sure I can handle four years of a Conservative majority government.

What happened to the Liberal vote in Ontario? Why is Manitoba and Saskatchewan so damn Conservative?

If the Liberals could have held more of their Ontario seats we could have had an NDP-Liberal-Green coalition government in charge of Canada. How awesome would that have been? A government that would have made electoral reform and the environment a priority. Instead, I weep for the future of Canada. Maybe we need to give students the right to vote, and take it away from old people – Student Vote gave a much better result.

I’m worried Canada is heading to a 2-party system, a consequence of the first-past-the-post electoral system. I prefer the NDP to the Liberals, but I think we need both parties, and I don’t want the see them merge. I want real electoral reform. A single-transferable-vote system where no vote is wasted, strategic voting is unnecessary, and vote splitting doesn’t lead to Conservative majority governments.