2005-05-19

So BC STV failed

Just shy of the 60% mark, but definitely winning out in most ridings, there is no mandate that the provincial government move ahead with STV -- but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't or that they won't.

I'll admit I wasn't always a booster, but by the time the vote came around, I really believed in it. And if you got there, too, perhaps you're wondering what next? Well I have a suggestion. Here's a letter I'm going to write to my newly re-elected MLA, Mr. Rich Coleman, Fort Langley-Aldergrove. I suggest you write something like it to your MLA. The more of our voices they hear, the more likely they are to pass it.

Failing that, I think there's a good chance that it could be written up as a ballot initiative. The bar for passing an initiative is bother lower and higher. 10% of all the voters in every riding need to sign a petition -- that's the higher part. And then the initiative needs to pass by 50% + 1 across the whole province. That's the lower part.

Norman Spector, Dave Barrett, Christy Clark and other such elitists said they thought the STV was a foolish idea, foolishly arrived at and foolishly presented to the people for a vote and to some extent I agree with them: after spending so much to arrive at it, why was so little spent on informing the public on the choice either way? Indeed nothing, to me, showed the value of the proposal more than the diversity on other points of political doctrine among those who agreed in support of or in opposition to BC STV. Still, I think that it's time for us, the Great Unwashed electorate, the Secret People (who have not spoken yet -- though we may not be of the same nationality as those whom Mr. Chesterton once referred to) to show that we didn't just like it enough to vote for it once, but to sign for it and to vote for it again.

So if you write a letter like the following to your MLA and he or she takes no notice, be on the look-out. That doorbell may be someone coming around with a petition (maybe me!) asking for you to join the 10% of the voters in your riding to sign up to put forward a ballot initiative. We'll get our STV yet -- and a much more honourable end it is than the one that Levesque and Parizeau forwarded unsuccessfully in Qu├ębec before us.

Dear Mr. Coleman,

I am writing to ask you and your party to introduce the BC STV plan as conceived by the Citizens Assembly, despite the fact that the referendum may not have reached its 60% threshold. Most of the people in your riding wanted it and though the bar for a mandated passage was set appropriately high, it would be shutting your ears against the desires of your constituents not to send it through the BC Legislature anyways.

If it does not get introduced and passed, it may yet become a ballot initiative and become law through other means. I commit myself to pursuing such ends and encouraging my friends, neighbours and relatives to do the same. This is a time for your party to show some leadership. Don't wait for us to bring about a ballot initiative. Introduce, pass and proclaim a bill instituting BC STV as the the way BC will elect its Legislature from now on. Either way, your electorate will remember whose interests you pursued now: ours or those of the Liberal Party. And either way, you can be sure, that later, when STV passes we will know how to reward you appropriately.

Sincerely,

Arthur N. Klassen
xxx xxxx
xxxxxx, BC Vxx xxx
(address redacted)

2005-05-17

Belinda Stronach, the latest Liberal

In response, I sent the following to letters@cbc.ca:
Why am I not surprised? Martin is only doing in Ontario what he was already doing, with more success than failure out here in BC. Welcome to the circle of the excessively ambitious, Ms. Stronach! You should have held out for more than Ms. Stewart's old gibbet.
So the fall of the government isn't quite so certain.

2005-05-12

What's "Linux"? What's "Open Source"? What's "Free Software"?

There's a growing document describing the history of open source here. If you want to understand those sorts of things better, take a look. The chapters are short and readable and expose the details of the culture quite well -- especially at the price!

2005-05-02

Response to kuro5hin article against Intelligent Design

Earlier today, slashdot posted this article regarding an OpEd piece on kuro5hin. What followed was an incredible storm of comments, counter-comments, accusations and counter-accusations. I couldn't resist adding my €0.02 worth under the subject line, "2000 fundamentalists and counting", thus:

I have read the article and I wish to make two criticisms of it. Then I wish to point out the absolute lack of well-reasoned dialogue on this point.

1. benna writes:

The premise of Intelligent Design is that the universe is so unimaginably complex and perfect that it must have been created by an intelligent designer.
Anyone catch the "gotcha"? What ID proponent is going to say that the universe is so "unimaginably... perfect"? This is a classic but cloaked "argumentum ad hominem - abusive": make ID'ers look like extremists so it's "obvious" to everyone that they're stupid before they even look at what is actually being said.

2. benna also cites a lack of ID articles in peer-reviewed journals as evidence that nobody in the "real" scientific community believes in ID.

This is a trifle circular. The tools used by those who oppose theistic explanations for the world (including ID) include belittling, caricaturizing, marginalizing, black-listing, not to mention monopolizing money and prestige to the exclusion of all other options from serious consideration. Faced with the scientistic forces arrayed against these bodies of ideas, is it any wonder that nobody who wants to be taken seriously later will give articles with an ID point of view serious attention? This is less about ideas "winning or losing" in the scientific marketplace and more about ideas being sand-bagged and informally kept from being heard in that marketplace.

If you don't believe this possible, look at what happened in a slightly different field to Immanuel Velikovsky when what he said didn't line up with accepted scientific orthodoxy in the fields Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos speak to -- whether or not you accept the contents of his books as reasonable alternative explanations.

As to my subject line: it seems that very few people can make a dispassionate, deal-with-the-facts comment on this subject either in favour of or in opposition to Intelligent Design. It struck me that there are more than one kind of fundamentalism and many slashdotters who would sooner die than be called fundamentalists merely suffer from fundamentalism in a different direction.

cheers...ank

More on BC's proposed STV electoral reform

When it first came out, I thought it looked like a great idea. Later, after discussing it with some people I thought it wasn't such a great idea. Now, I'm leaning again to thinking it is a better system than what we currently have but I'm not sure that it's the best we could do.

I understand that some people in Ireland want to get rid of it but every time that comes to a ballot measure it gets put up against a re-run of FPTP (our current system) and people don't want to go back there.

For myself, I would have preferred a Mixed-Member proportional system -- leave the rural provincial ridings intact, use federal boundaries for the more urban areas and everyone votes twice: once for a local candidate and once for a list. I personally believe that the rural BCers who, at the constituent assembly asked that the proposed system be STV instead of MMP were, to some extent mistaken: their ostensible reason for choosing STV over MMP went something like this: "we want to know our candidate and not be voting for a slate". I think that with the STV system we're going to be voting on, their ridings will get so big that no group of people will know any one candidate enough that the "personal support" factor will be at all significant.

To me the biggest downside with STV is the way ridings will have to be consolidated to support it in the face of the rider on the constituent assembly's mandate: choose a new system with the same number of seats. This is probably less of an issue for really urban areas -- and maybe not much of an issue for the far-flung reaches, either. Some of the rural ridings are truly monstrous already.

But for me, in the Langley riding where I used to live, and the Fort Langley-Aldergrove riding where I now live, I can see local issues and local interests getting completely swamped in one direction or another, depending on how the consolidation takes place. Will these two ridings get lumped with three Surrey ridings? I can tell you that Langley's and Aldergrove's interests will not be well served in that case: those areas are far more urban and our voices will get lost in their shuffle. Or what if we're lumped in with Abbotsford and Chilliwack? That might be less disadvantageous but I wonder.

I think local issues everywhere but in the urban areas will be ill-served by this particular reform: MMP would have resulted in moderate riding consolidation that would have gotten no less granular than the federal ridings. But STV will result in there being about 15 or 20 ridings across the whole province. Think about it: your riding and up to four neighbouring ones will be consolidated. Is that what you want? Or your riding may be consolidated with others up to two or three ridings away from where you are. Is that what you want?

Still, I may be completely mistaken and STV is far better than what we have now: I'm going to vote "yes".

My only other concern is that it will be open to manipulation in ways that only the big political machines recognize yet. Gordon Gibson says that party politicians don't like STV: I suspect they're shamming but we'll only be able to find that out either way several elections AFTER we adopt STV.