2014 Waterloo Municipal Elections

With minimal ado, this blog endorses the following candidates in the municipal races I get a say in:

* Regional Chair: Ken Seiling
* Waterloo Regional Councillors: Jane Mitchell, Karen Scian
* Waterloo Mayor: David Jaworsky
* Waterloo Ward 3 City Councillor: Angela Veith

I’d love to endorse some school board candidates, but I have to admit I’m not well-enough informed to publicly commit to endorsements. School board is really important and I wish I had time to dig into it. Good, critical evaluation of candidates would also be really valuable because it’s so hard to come by. But I don’t have it. I suck, basically.

As if to contradict myself, I have some less well-informed opinions of other races around the region. If you’re interested in them, check out my Sticking My Oar In section.

Continue reading 2014 Waterloo Municipal Elections

Letter to the editor

I wrote a [letter to the editor of the Waterloo Region Record](http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/article/483932) this week. It was in response to [an editorial on Wednesday](http://news.therecord.com/article/481864). It was printed today.

I have a hard time being proud of this. I mean, I kind of am, in the sort of way where I’m mentally imagining my mom cutting it out and putting it on the fridge, and then giving me a cookie. I don’t think you ever really shake that. The fact that I was driven to write it makes me kind of sad. The fact that I *had* to write it makes me even sadder.

I’m not going to bore you with the particulars of the issue. I’m just really disheartened lately that people, particularly people in the media, seem less and less inclined to value democracy. I’ve seen plenty of instances lately where it seems to me that journalists are blindly reporting spin from one particular party. Maybe they do it for all parties, but I’m just more *offended* by one party’s spin than the others, so I recognize it more.

I didn’t think they were supposed to do that. I naively thought that they took spin, looked at it and said “Yup, uh huh. I know that’s what you *want* me to say, but let’s dig a little deeper here and find out what’s really going on.” That’s what I want them to do, anyway.

Coincidentally, I happened to be listening to [Paul Kennedy’s talk on the Canadian Voices podcast](http://www.canadianvoices.org/speakers.php?id=56), talking about how politicians don’t seem to need to have ideas anymore:

> …Journalism is responsible, or the media is responsible for a lot of the problems there. Politicians in their superficiality, in their concern for spin, in their focus group methodology, they’re responding to the media, because they want to be in the media. The way one gets elected is to get one’s face on television and one’s voice on the radio and one’s words on the front page of newspapers. And the way one does that is to appeal to journalists. Well, journalists plainly then are looking for exactly what politicians are giving them.
> I have been increasingly discouraged in the last two or three federal elections and all of the provincial elections that I have experienced in the last few years and in the way that elections are covered in the media. It’s all about polls. I thought it was about policies. But every day, you pick up the Globe and Mail or you turn on the CBC, television *or* radio, and they’re reporting “Oh, the latest Angus Reid polls say that the Tories have gone up two points and the Liberals have gone down one.” Yeah? What did Stephen Harper say? What did Mr Dion say? I want to know what Stephen Harper thinks about Kyoto and I want him to tell me and he has to justify his opinion, and I have a lot of questions for him if he says what I think he’s going to say.

I want journalism to be better. I don’t care if they report on the horse race so long as they’re actually asking questions that matter too. If people choose to vote for a certain party fully informed of what that party believes in and what their policies are, I will be happy. I may be disappointed that those beliefs and policies are at odds with mine and the ones I favour, but I’ll still be happy that democracy works the way it’s supposed to.

Democracy can’t work when the people are deliberately lied to, and the people who are charged in our society with uncovering truth can’t be bothered anymore.

[The vast majority of Canadians don’t even know how their own democracy works](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi1yhp-_x7A). And if the media isn’t going to tell them, I guess it’s down to people like me. Me. I resent being put in this position. This isn’t what I want to be. I don’t consider myself a genius expert here. I don’t want to be, and I’m not. I just paid attention in goddamned grade 10 history class.

The Republic of Canada – Part 1

I’m starting to think Canada needs to elect a president.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually *like* our current system. I think it works reasonably well. But I think there’s a serious and growing problem: people don’t understand it.

In our current system, people vote for a local representative in parliament. And that’s all they’re asked to do. The leader party with the most seats forms the government and the leader of that party becomes prime minister. It used to be prime ministers didn’t have a whole lot of power, which is right and good because they’re not actually directly elected. Power comes from parliament. That is the primary democratic body in our system.

Listening to the last election, though, and listening to people talk on the radio, everybody seems to think they’re voting for a prime minister. It’s pretty rare that anybody even knows who their local representative is.

Two months ago, we had an election which ended with a second Conservative minority government. Meaning the Conservative party got the most seats, but not enough to give them the majority of seats in parliament. This is fine and normal. In minority governments, the governing party needs to reach out to the other parties to actually get legislation through. The Conservatives made grand speeches about how they were going to do that, but when it came down to putting forward their first substantial motion, they basically decided to stick it to all three opposition parties.

Sticking it to everybody else actually worked out pretty well in the last parliament. The Liberal party had leadership issues and didn’t relish the idea of going into an election. Which makes sense, because they didn’t fair too well when the Conservatives saw an opening and called an election for no reason, breaking their own fixed election date law. At the end of the election, though, we ended up with a parliament pretty much the same as the one before it, and it looks like the Conservatives thought they could carry on as they had before. Except something had changed: the opposition parties weren’t going to put up with the same old bullshit anymore. It hadn’t won them any favours with the population anyway, as evidenced by the election results. Also, there’s a lot more at stake now. The world economy is going down the tubes, and as I [alluded](http://www.flyingsquirrel.ca/index.php/2008/10/14/endorsement/) during the election (and you may choose to disagree with me), Conservative policy could very well be disastrous to the Canadian economy.

So the opposition parties got together and did what they’re supposed to do immediately after the election when the governing party can’t govern: they proposed a centre-left coalition.

And we’re in the middle of that mess now. The Conservative party is using whatever quasi-constitutional powers it has at its disposal to fend off a vote in the House which would bring down their fledgling government, and there are protests in the streets on both sides.

It seems like the biggest, popular complaint about a coalition coming in is that that’s not what people voted for in the last election. Which is true. Thing they don’t seem to understand, though, is that they were never asked who they wanted to form the government. Ever. They were asked who they wanted to represent them in parliament. The formation of the government is a mechanism of parliament and doesn’t have any input for public approval. You may call that undemocratic, but it’s been our system for about 150 years.

I could keep ranting about how people are stupid and how they need to understand our system and get it right, but I don’t think that will work. People *want* to vote for the guy (or gal, to be fair) who runs the country. They relate to a person, not this abstract parliament concept. I think they’d even get the idea of voting for a representative if it was divorced from the idea of picking a national leader.

The more I think about it, the more I think our system needs to change. Dramatically. Not just electing a senate or proportional representation or whatever. I think we may need to seriously consider what it would mean to directly elect a leader. A president, if you will.


I’m gonna make this all official and stuff:

This blog endorses Andrew Telegdi for the riding of Kitchener–Waterloo.

[![Re-elect Andrew Telegdi](http://flyingsquirrel.ca/stuff/telegdi.jpg)](http://www.telgdi.org/)

This was actually a tough choice. I thought the Liberals in general haven’t been holding up their end as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition the last two years. I do think they have a really good platform this time, but they still have a smug complacency that they really need to get over. I’d be all in favour of smacking them down some more if the alternative wasn’t so dire.

I do actually like Green Party candidate. [Cathy MacLellan](http://votecathy.ca/) is really, really good. She’s smart and articulate. She understands the realities of business. She’s just a fantastic candidate. Not only that, my own values and beliefs align much closer to the Green Party [platform](http://www.greenparty.ca/en/platform) than any other party. So why am I not endorsing her?

Telegdi has a pretty safe win in the riding, so strategic voting isn’t even that much of a factor. Thing is, I think we desperately need people like Andrew Telegdi on Parliament Hill. He is a stalwart champion of immigration and citizenship, from working to provide sanity for those who seek it to ensuring that it cannot be stripped away without just due process. He is one of the few people in our government who’s had the courage to stand against the abuses of power that our governments have allowed themselves in the wake of the US terrorist attacks in 2001. He has done this even in defiance of his own party. He is, frankly, a kick-ass MP, and we need more like him, not fewer.

So I voted for him. I have no qualms about endorsing him. If for some reason, though, you have a problem voting for a Liberal, however, I think Ms MacLellan is also an excellent choice.

For people not in my riding:

This blog endorses strategic voting

I considered endorsing a party, but I don’t know if that’s my style. I do, however, have an anti-endorsement: the Conservative Party of Canada is not up to dealing with the challenges the next government will face.

Yes, the Canadian financial system is in not nearly the sort of dire situation we see in the US or Europe. This is a good thing. However, I’m pretty sure the only reason this is the case is because Canada has resisted the sort of deregulation of the financial system that has been such the fad elsewhere. Exactly the sort of deregulation that the Conservatives and their predecessors have consistently advocated. Canadians are a very risk-averse people. A lot of the time it slows us down a bit. Sometimes, though, it saves us a whole lot of mess. Like now.

Also, we need to do something about global warming fucking now. Actually, we needed to twenty years ago. Yes, the rest of the world needs to come too, but Canada needs to be ahead of the curve on this. It’s the only way we can come out ahead. Inaction will cost us far more than action. And I’m not just talking about most of Nova Scotia being under water. I’m talking about when the rest of the world gets their act together, there is going to be serious repercussions for those who lag behind. So far, we’re lagging behind.

Oh, and there’s other shit too, like Bill C-10 and censorship in art funding and Bill C-61 on copyright. I really don’t want these jokers in power. They aren’t the old happy, friendly Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney-style Tories. These guys are the bastard children of the Canadian Alliance (Reform without any of the democratic reform stuff that made them compelling) and the Mike Harris Tories. The same guys who fucked up Ontario. And they’ll do it again if given the chance.

But enough bile. This is an endorsement, right? I think people should go to [voteforenvironment.ca](http://www.voteforenvironment.ca/canada-riding-lookup), find their riding and see what they think of the advice there. It doesn’t say you always have to vote Liberal to keep the Conservatives out. Often it says a strategic vote won’t make a difference, so you can vote neo-Rhino if you really want to.

I really recommend people get to know their local candidates (admittedly, I’m a bit late on that advice). But also pay attention to the bigger picture. I don’t believe that a vote cast for someone who doesn’t win is “lost” or “didn’t count.” I do think, though, that you need to figure out what is the least undesirable of the likely outcomes and let that guide you.

Most of all, though, you really ought to get out and vote. ‘Cuz this one’s important. Really fucking important.

No-Candidates Meeting

I totally fail.

Or somebody does.

I was hunting everywhere last week and over the weekend to try to figure out when the stupid all-candidates meeting was for my riding. I figured people just haven’t gotten around to organizing it yet and it would emerge in due course. Then I got a couple items in the feed this morning telling me that [the damn thing was yesterday](http://news.therecord.com/sections/Election2008/article/419561). Poop.

(I also missed my chance to pick up the [Sontaran Stratem Set](http://doctorwhotoys.net/sontaranset.htm) yesterday, not that that’s terribly relevant to the discussion. Epic fail all ’round for me, though).

From the [reports](http://yappadingding.blogspot.com/2008/09/k-w-riding-all-candidates-meeting.html), though, I probably wouldn’t have got a seat, which means Ellen and I almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to stay. This sounds like a shoddy, half-assed excuse for a democratic exercise if you ask me.

Even if a candidate knocked on my door, I almost certainly wouldn’t be there. Those things are useless to me. I need stuff like these meetings to figure out who these people are to make any sort of useful decision.

Video from the event, though, will be broadcast on [Rogers TV](http://www.rogerstv.com/option.asp?lid=12&rid=54&sid=2964) over the next week, if I can figure out how to see it without cable TV.

If you happen to live in one of the other ridings in the region, your meeting is upcoming. [Check the Rogers site for dates and times](http://www.rogerstv.com/option.asp?lid=12&rid=54&sid=2964).

Maybe there’ll be another meeting (probably revolving around some special interest or other) in the coming weeks.