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Fair Vote Canada holding meeting about electoral reform

  • Date: Monday, May 2.
  • Time: Doors open at 6:30 PM, event starts at 7 PM.
  • Where: Tom Brown Arena, 141 Bayview Rd.
  • Speakers include: NDP MP Nathan Cullen

Canadian elections have always used an electoral system known as "first past the post" (FPTP). Whichever candidate wins the most votes, wins the seat. It seems fair on the surface, but FPTP often awards majority governments to parties that have not won a majority of the votes. In other words, FPTP can leave more than half of Canadian voters without any meaningful representation in Parliament.

A growing number of Canadians are demanding that we reform our electoral system and Justin Trudeau won much support by promising that 2015's federal election would be the last to use first past the post.

But what Trudeau didn't say was what electoral system he'd propose in the place of first past the post.

There are a surprising number of alternatives to FPTP, some of which can be just as unfair as FPTP. In fact, a recent analysis commissioned by The Broadbent Institute indicates that at least one of the options would have yielded Trudeau's Liberals an even stronger majority, even though they only won 40 per cent of the votes.

To hear about more about fair electoral reform, and how the NDP and Conservative critics plan to keep Liberal government accountable as their voting reform initiative goes forward, the public is invited to attends the AGM of Fair Vote Canada on Monday, May 2. NDP MP Nathan Cullen will be among the speakers.

"Let’s build a politically legitimate reform movement that works for all parties and Canadians," says the invitation to the event.

The AGM is open to the public and you are welcome to bring friends and family. Admission to the AGM is free. Donations are appreciated and will go to the National Capital Region Chapter of Fair Vote Canada (http://ottawa.fairvote.ca/).

Membership is necessary to vote in elections or on motions ($10 first-year memberships and $25 membership renewals will be available at the meeting).

Elections for positions on the Chapter Executive will be held. RSVP: NCR@fairvote.ca or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/291642261166730/

During a general meeting on Feb. 2, the Ottawa West Nepean NDP voted to send seven delegates and five resolutions to the federal party’s national convention, which is taking place April 8-10 in Edmonton.

Alex Cullen, Marilyn Davis, Jim Patterson, Kevin Nguyen, and Marlene Rivier were elected as the riding association’s five voting delegates to the convention. Shelley Rivier and Dan O’Hagen were elected as alternate delegates.

During the convention, the OWN delegates will vote on whether the party should undertake a leadership review. They will also debate and vote on dozens of resolutions chosen by the party’s resolutions committee from among hundreds submitted by riding associations from across the country.

During the Feb. 2 meeting, OWN NDP members voted to submit five resolutions for consideration, four of which have a strong environmental theme and a fifth that urges nuclear disarmament. A sixth resolution, calling for a moratorium on the construction of new pipelines, was narrowly voted down.

Debra Mair did much of the research and legwork behind the environmental resolutions, including the resolution urging the federal party to enable remote participation during future conventions and other national meetings.

“I’d like to participate in the party’s convention, but I’m not willing to go on an airplane [and contribute to the generation of thousands of pounds of greenhouse gas emissions] for a two-day meeting,” said Mair.

The other environmental resolutions passed during during the meeting would see the party pledge support for the Leap Manifesto and renewable energy co-ops, and direct the federal party to consider divesting any investments it might have in large fossil fuel corporations.

The most hotly debated resolution concerned pipelines, calling for a moratorium on the construction of new pipelines “until it is demonstrated that such infrastructure is compatible with the objective of reducing carbon emissions.”

Marilyn Davis was one of those who voted against the resolution. “I’m in favour of reducing carbon emissions, but pipelines are by far the safest way to transport oil and gas,” she said. “I want to make sure we don’t have another Lac-Mégantic rail disaster.”

Along with choosing delegates and resolutions, the Feb. 2 meeting also featured two short presentations:

  • Janice Ashworth gave a brief overview of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op (OREC), which allows members to put some of their RRSP and TFSA investments into local solar projects.
  • And Jack Wilson, who is the vice president of the OPSEU local representing instructors at Algonquin College, spoke about his union’s campaign to convince the college to abandon its campus in Saudi Arabia. (Jack also spoke about the issue yesterday on the CBC Radio program Ontario Today. You can hear that interview here.)

If you're interested in helping shape the policies, priorities, and future leadership of the federal NDP, do not miss the Ottawa West-Nepean (OWN) riding association meeting at 7 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the Ukrainian Hall, 1000 Byron Ave.

During the meeting, you'll have two chances to have a real say in the future direction of the federal party:

Becoming a delegate

The OWN riding association is entitled to send five voting delegates and five alternates to the convention. At least one of the voting delegates and one of the alternates must be 25 or younger.

Voting delegates will be able to vote on any resolutions tabled and debated during the convention. Voting delegates will also be able to cast a ballot on the constitutionally required question of: "Should a leadership election be called?"

Delegate fees range from $99 to $400 (click here for a full fees list), and delegates must pay their own fees as well as their own travel and accommodation expenses. However, there is financial help for those who need it. The riding association will reimburse up to $500 in documented expenses for each of up to two delegates who need financial assistance (at the discretion of the federal riding association's president, vice-president, and treasurer). There is also financial assistance available from the federal party itself (for more information, write to registration@ndp.ca)

If you're interested in being a delegate, you must be a member in good standing of the federal OWN NDP riding association, and you must be elected or acclaimed during the meeting on Feb. 2.

Submitting a resolution

The OWN riding association is entitled to submit resolutions for debate and decision during the policy convention.

If you'd like to propose a resolution for the riding association to submit, please bring it in writing to the meeting on Feb. 2. Your resolution must then be moved, seconded, and passed by members in good standing of the riding association.

Questions or concerns

The OWN riding association's Feb. 2 meeting is important to the future of the federal NDP. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to ask by emailing them to info@ownndp.ca

For more information about the national policy convention, please click here.

Delegate fees*

Paperless** Delegate: $299 (early bird, before Feb. 8), or $349

Paperless** Youth: $99

Paperless** Unwaged: $99

Standard Delegate: $349 (early bird, before Feb. 8) or $399

Unwaged Delegate: $99 (early bird, before Feb. 8) or $149

Youth Delegate: $99 (early bird, before Feb. 8) or $149

Observer: $1,500

All registration fees must be paid using a personal account/credit card and not a corporate account/credit card. It is not possible to pay by cheque upon arrival at Convention. Please note that in accordance with the Canada Elections Act, the party cannot accept cash amounts over $20.

** "Paperless" delegates get $50 off their registration. They’ll have access to the full delegate kit and all policy documents through the new NDP convention app for iPhone, Blackberry, android devices, tablets, and laptops. Offered for the first time ever, this green option not only saves you money, but reduces waste and impact on the environment — and you’ll still get everything you need with the NDP convention app. Please take advantage of this great new option and register as a paperless delegate.