Monday, October 15, 2007

Good citizen, back on blogspot

I can't believe I've not written anything since 4 October, which is a long time ago – nor responded to comments! So sorry! All kinds of things happening in public and private spaces. We've had an election in Ontario, handily won by the Liberals. A new method of election that would combine candidates chosen by the 'first-past-the-post' method and a number of others selected according to the relative standings of the parties in the overall vote, was defeated. I think it's a sensible way to approach the business myself, and the people in my riding (mainly blue collar folks) supported it, I'm pleased to say. What can and often does happen in first-past-the-post MO, is that the party with the largest number of candidates doesn't have anything like the majority of the people supporting it. When the turnout of electors is small (say, 60%), and of that number only 40% choose the government, then those who run things can't really say with confidence that they represent the people's choice, which makes things difficult for them as well as everyone else. (BTW, the two people who voted in our online poll thought that people should be obliged by law to exercise their franchise, as is the case in Australia.) There's also been some discussion lately about Canadian-ness and what makes a Canadian, and whether immigrants who come to Canada should seek to 'join' the mainstream culture. A couple days ago, I came across a 2004 interview with Elaine Savory (in the journal WADABEGEI) in which I was singing the praises of Canada for being a place where one could come wit one's likl kulcha and make a contribution to this larger whole that seeks to resemble, in its diversity, the demographics of Earth. I left my native land late, when I was a "big, grey-back woman", as we say in JA. I am not likely to be turning into anything else at this stage of my life – I'm too old to suffer a sea change. It's also a source of great pride to me that the Governor General of Canada is a woman of colour originally from the Caribbean. She's very much a Canadian – not one like me, but that's what I've always thought Canada is about. Besides, I'm not sure who is a mainstream Canadian. Is it a First Nations Person? Somehow I don't think that's the popular conception. I shall continue to watch the debate with interest. As for what's going on in private space: my absence from the blog has been in part due to a visit to the incredible Zoey and her parents in Indiana. I taught her, I am pleased to say, an important Jamaican cultural behaviour – to stick out her tongue. I am delighted to report that if you stick yours out, she sticks hers out too! On that defiant Be-who-you-are-and-too-bad-fe-who-don't-like-it! note, I'll sign off. More soon, as well as responses to all who have visited. Walk good.


Jdid said...

when MMP was first proposed I was all for it but on thinking about it further I became a bit sceptical about the power invested in the members who are appointed and not elected. I think the whole idea just needs to be thought through properly if they ever implement it.

regarding canadian-ness I think one of the bigger issues these days in the GTA is that alot of new immigrants arent even trying to fit in. I'm not calling for total immersion or assimiliation into canadianness but how can you come here and not absorb some of the local culture. We as immigrants all come with our own cultures and biases and accept and reject what we wish of the canadian motif which is fine by me but multiculturalism should open up some discussion and allow one to get to know other cultures. I'm a little preturbed by the little enclaves or ghettos that are popping up with new immigrants and some of the stances that are being taken by new immigrants here. Its just changing the flavor of Toronto and I'm not sure its for the better.

Now I just read that over and it could sound like I'm anti immigrant or anti new immigrant. not the case I'm a relatively new immigrant myself but I just think the level of communication and mingling which should be hallmarks of multicultural society are waning and I cant say I'm happy with that.

FSJL said...

MMP is, to my mind, the second-best electoral system (the best is STV, which requires you to rank your preferences). Either is more democratic than SMC (SMD in the US, perhaps SMR in Canada)or FPTP voting.

New immigrant groups always upset existing arrangements, until a new one comes into being (English lacks an exact equivalent to the Spanish 'convivencia' unfortunately.)

clarabella said...

Such a terse post. Do be kind to dummies like me and do spell out what all those letters mean... And I'd love you to elaborate on convivencia...

FSJL said...

Certainly, Pam:

STV stands for 'Single Transferable Vote'. A voter ranks candidates in a multi-member constituency in order of preference, and this permits the voter more choice. If not all quotas [(votes/seats)+1] are filled by first preference votes, the winner(s') second, third and so on preference votes are redistributed until all seats in a constituency are filled. The voter can split her vote among candidates of different parties and is more likely to find representatives that s/he likes.

SMC= Single Member Constituency (called SMD, Single Member District) representation. Each electoral unit chooses one representative. It's also called First Past the Post or FPTP.

'Convivencia' is literally 'the condition of living together' and means 'an arrangement by which two or more entities (persons, corporations, governments)manage to coexist without conflict'.

clarabella said...

Thanks, Fragano. The rank order thing I had not previously heard of. Where is it in operation?

FSJL said...

Pam: STV is used in Ireland, Malta, for elections to the Australian Senate, for some school board elections in the US, and for elections to the city council of Cambridge, MA.

Elections to the Australian House of Representatives use a similar system called the Alternative Vote, AV, which is designed to produce a majority in single-member districts.