Archive for October, 2011

Moncton Council Likes To Make Trouble For Itself

A recent decision by the Moncton City Council to deny the Province a noise exemption so that they can work at night on the Hall’s Creek Bridge is a little smelly.

Quite a stink up actually as from what I can tell there is little or nothing intelligent in the decision.

To start with there is Councillor Daniel Bourgeois calling Dieppe residents “Dieppenamese” something that is causing a bit of a fuss (as it well should) for the racist connotations involved as well as the “us vs. them” attitude it portrays and the concept that Dieppe residents’ are either foreigners are might as well be foreigners. For some reason I personally do not think the repercussions of this bit of mouth off is likely going to do this councillor much good, in actual fact it is likely to hurt him not only in any future government type position as well as any future professional life he intends. I do think it was a poor choice of words but even more telling is the fact that there has not been a single bit of remorse or apology that I have heard about to this point.

Let’s move on to the actual work part of this discussion that started it all.

The DOT wanted permission to work at night for between 2 to 4 days depending on weather so they did not interfere with 30,000 car a day traffic that crosses that bridge daily. Not often I say this but hey the province actually had a good idea here.

The reasons the city gave for turning them down were at best bizarre,  and from what I have seen from any comments I have seen, laughed at by the majority of the population. The reason given: It would interfere with the sleep of nearby residents.
Can somebody get me a set of binoculars, or maybe a microscope because I think we are going to have to go microscopic to find neighbours close enough to this location to have their sleep interfered with.

Yes there is a hotel there however those are not residents they are tourists or visiting business men/women etc. and so obviously not the residents the city was discussing, there are a few houses just off King St. but most of them are far enough away that they should not hear the construction either or if they do it should be fairly faint.

Construction on the Main Streets in this City, Mountain Rd, Main St, St. George Blvd should all be done at night except for those areas along those streets which actually are in residential neighbourhoods. Any time the city is doing work on an area that is at all high traffic they should look at the neighbourhood and determine whether it is or is not to residential to be done at night, because all construction that is done at night is that much less interference with traffic during the day. 

Examples of spots where recent construction could have been done at night:

  1. Mountain Rd resurfacing Gorge to Upland
  2. Vaughan Harvey resurfacing Collishaw to St. George.

Both areas have very limited residential all of which is collected around one end of each project and would have created far less traffic tie ups then the way it was done.

The only really heavy traffic area that is being reworked at the moment that is actually in the middle of a residential area is Lewisville Road and Shediac Rd intersection. If some accommodation could have been done with the residents this area as well is exceedingly high traffic however barring an accommodation that area is residential enough to require day work.

The location being compared to the Hall’s Creek Bridge resurfacing is actually the area surrounding the Moncton Hospital which, while it is subject to noise at all hours due to ambulance traffic, is in the middle of a residential area and is an incredibly poor comparison.

The city needs to think ahead and perhaps even go take a look at the areas that are involved in this type of work and do an intelligent think on these types of decisions in the future. Night work is suspected to be quicker, and while immediate salaries may be slightly higher (I am not sure how the industry works) the shorter time frame would usually more then make up for the difference. This would make the project cheaper and faster. It would therefore free up money for more projects and would free up the company doing the construction to work on other projects.

The Council in Moncton needs to look closely at this type of project because the job of council is not to make life more difficult for city residents but in fact to make life easier where at all possible.

This is a poor decision best rethought and hopefully reversed.

Harper’s Senate Reform A Start.

With the introduction of Harper’s Senate reform policy and the subsequent approval by David Alward I have felt that the subject needed to be looked at.

The issue as far as I am concerned involve a few things.

  1. It does not appear to matter who the province elects because the Federal Government does have the option of ignoring those results.
  2. Term limits are set to 9 years without possibility of re-election.
  3. The methods involved here actually make it easier for a government to stack the senate in it’s favour instead of making it more accountable.

Now starting with this statement on the CBC website “Under the proposed legislation, the prime minister would be obliged to consider the elected senators from the provinces, but ultimately would still make the final decision on appointments.”

It does not matter who the province elects. If the person elected does not tow the party line of the Prime Minister, or does not have similar ideology, or any other reason the Prime Minister at the time feels sufficient, then the PM can choose someone else to fill the void.  This means that the elections are for appearance only and while there will likely be some “elected” senators actually appointed as senators, the Prime Minister still has the ability to choose those senators who is most likely to support his/her agenda.

In addition there is this point. “In June, the federal government introduced the Senate Reform Act. It proposes to limit the terms of senators from the current maximum of 45 years to one nine-year, non-renewable term.”

The issue here is that the voters do not have the option to send to the senate a good senate with a proven track record of upholding the will of their riding, instead they are forced to always choose from a relatively unknown group of individuals who it is unknown how they might vote. Add this to the fact that by the terms being 9 years long the voting public does not have any recourse if the “elected” senator does not actually meet the needs of the voting public for his/her region.

Because senators are replaced every 9 years, and there is no provision for them all to be replaced at the same time, any given Prime minister could replace the outgoing senators with a hand picked selection that would be party supportive or ideologically supportive, no matter what the outcome of the elections.

In truth the only thing this reform bill actually does is limit the length of the term of the senators, which gives a prime minister the ability to replace those who are not supportive of his position with those who are, when each of them retires. Now a government will not be able to change the whole senate each election however what it will be able to do is likely change sufficient numbers of senators to always allow the party in power to have ultimate control of the senate as well, if not at first after they are elected, at least before the end of their first term.

What this bill does is actually fool people into thinking Harper is actually doing something when in truth he is honestly doing nothing but pulling the wool over the eyes of the voters, while trying to make sure that at any time the conservatives are elected they will always be in a position to change the makeup of the senate to suit their needs.

Senate reform requires:

  1. Elections for the full senate every four years (2 years after the federal election)
  2. The elections can not be over turned by the PM. The elected senators will serve their four year term.
  3. Any senator can be re-elected (a maximum number of elections like 3 or 4 could be considered)
  4. a method of proportional representation to be used when choosing senators.

Electoral Reform

This blog post because of it’s nature will touch on elements of both federal and provincial politics and as such will be posted to both my federal and provincial blogs.

Election Financing Rules

Election financing rules need to be changed so that not only the party that can attract the most “donors” can get their message out. The reason behind this is that not all political supporters are financially capable of donating to the party of their choice and as such the party which is represented by the poorer elements of the country will see less funding but may actually have a wider basis of support.

  1. No private or corporate fundraising allowed.
  2. Party exec and party leaders will be paid by the government as long as the party remains a registered party holding minimum annual general meetings
  3. Operating funds for each party will be paid by the government.
  4. Each party will be allocated a specific amount of funding during the election based on the number of candidates that are running for that party.

 

Proportional Representation
There are several options for proportional representation I am going to suggest one of them here though there are others.

  1. Total number of parties as well as maximum number of independent candidates is totalled i.e: if there are 5 parties and one riding has 3 independent candidates then total is 8.
  2. using this example each voter will rank their choices from 1 to 8 with top ranked (#1) getting 8 votes, #2 getting 7 and so on.
    If there is less then 8 candidates in one riding the same ranking system will still be used for consistency across the province.
  3. total votes for each candidate will be added together. Candidate with most votes wins each riding.
  4. Any ballot that does not rank all candidates in that riding will be discarded.

This particular method would increase proportional representation because a party could be the first choice of very few people but the second choice of many and, depending on how the votes are cast, could win the riding. The total candidate spread should using this method turn out a much more balanced representation.

 

Provincial/Federal Leaders (Premier/Prime Minister)

  1. The Prime Minister and Premiers shall be chosen by a single country wide or province wide vote.
  2. The same system used for MLA/MP voting will be used (ranking system)
  3. All Candidates and deputies in this system will be considered to have earned a seat if they have attained a minimum of 5% of the vote.

 

Ministers/Cabinet Ministers

  1. Ministers/Cabinet ministers will be split in a proportional way amongst the elected MLA/MP’s
  2. proportional method will be such that the minister slots are split based on the proportional rank based on the entire vote across the province not including the Leader section.

 

Fixed Election Dates

All elections will happen at a fixed time. This date will be the third Monday of October with the first election sign being allowed on the first Monday of September.

  1. Year 1: Federal
  2. Year 2: Municipal
  3. Year 3: Senate
  4. Year 4: Provincial

There will be some overlap due to the fact that these dates will originally not fit within a normal election schedule and as such some adjustments to the existing methods will be required so that by the end of the second round of voting all groups are up for election at the appropriate time.

Media Coverage

Media will not be allowed to influence public opinion. To accomplish this the following will be required.

  1. All media outlets will be required to solicit from each registered party their opinion on each position that any party takes if it is covered by the media.
  2. There will be an exemption for online blogs that are written by party members or supporters as long as the blog writer clearly indicates his affiliation at the beginning and end of the blog
    This can be as simple as clearly identifying the blog as a party blog by name, or the writer as a supporter or party member, or even member of the executive of which ever party they support. Mainstream media will not have this exemption option.
  3. All media coverage of each party will be from a positive perspective.

Additional Election Rule

  1. Each party will be fully informed at all times of all financial information with regards to all government departments.
  2. Election Act will be changed to make all election promises binding (due to the possibility of a minority government, meeting this requirement will only require that the bill be introduced, however it will be expected that a majority government will pass the bill)
  3. All election advertising will be of a positive nature (no attack ads). All election advertising will focus on what individual party will do, not on what other party will not do.

 

This I believe is a solid start to improving our present government system. More changes are definitely possible beyond this.

Electoral Reform

This blog post because of it’s nature will touch on elements of both federal and provincial politics and as such will be posted to both my federal and provincial blogs.

Election Financing Rules

Election financing rules need to be changed so that not only the party that can attract the most “donors” can get their message out. The reason behind this is that not all political supporters are financially capable of donating to the party of their choice and as such the party which is represented by the poorer elements of the country will see less funding but may actually have a wider basis of support.

  1. No private or corporate fundraising allowed.
  2. Party exec and party leaders will be paid by the government as long as the party remains a registered party holding minimum annual general meetings
  3. Operating funds for each party will be paid by the government.
  4. Each party will be allocated a specific amount of funding during the election based on the number of candidates that are running for that party.

 

Proportional Representation
There are several options for proportional representation I am going to suggest one of them here though there are others.

  1. Total number of parties as well as maximum number of independent candidates is totalled i.e: if there are 5 parties and one riding has 3 independent candidates then total is 8.
  2. using this example each voter will rank their choices from 1 to 8 with top ranked (#1) getting 8 votes, #2 getting 7 and so on.
    If there is less then 8 candidates in one riding the same ranking system will still be used for consistency across the province.
  3. total votes for each candidate will be added together. Candidate with most votes wins each riding.
  4. Any ballot that does not rank all candidates in that riding will be discarded.

This particular method would increase proportional representation because a party could be the first choice of very few people but the second choice of many and, depending on how the votes are cast, could win the riding. The total candidate spread should using this method turn out a much more balanced representation.

 

Provincial/Federal Leaders (Premier/Prime Minister)

  1. The Prime Minister and Premiers shall be chosen by a single country wide or province wide vote.
  2. The same system used for MLA/MP voting will be used (ranking system)
  3. All Candidates and deputies in this system will be considered to have earned a seat if they have attained a minimum of 5% of the vote.

 

Ministers/Cabinet Ministers

  1. Ministers/Cabinet ministers will be split in a proportional way amongst the elected MLA/MP’s
  2. proportional method will be such that the minister slots are split based on the proportional rank based on the entire vote across the province not including the Leader section.

 

Fixed Election Dates

All elections will happen at a fixed time. This date will be the third Monday of October with the first election sign being allowed on the first Monday of September.

  1. Year 1: Federal
  2. Year 2: Municipal
  3. Year 3: Senate
  4. Year 4: Provincial

There will be some overlap due to the fact that these dates will originally not fit within a normal election schedule and as such some adjustments to the existing methods will be required so that by the end of the second round of voting all groups are up for election at the appropriate time.

Media Coverage

Media will not be allowed to influence public opinion. To accomplish this the following will be required.

  1. All media outlets will be required to solicit from each registered party their opinion on each position that any party takes if it is covered by the media.
  2. There will be an exemption for online blogs that are written by party members or supporters as long as the blog writer clearly indicates his affiliation at the beginning and end of the blog
    This can be as simple as clearly identifying the blog as a party blog by name, or the writer as a supporter or party member, or even member of the executive of which ever party they support. Mainstream media will not have this exemption option.
  3. All media coverage of each party will be from a positive perspective.

Additional Election Rule

  1. Each party will be fully informed at all times of all financial information with regards to all government departments.
  2. Election Act will be changed to make all election promises binding (due to the possibility of a minority government, meeting this requirement will only require that the bill be introduced, however it will be expected that a majority government will pass the bill)
  3. All election advertising will be of a positive nature (no attack ads). All election advertising will focus on what individual party will do, not on what other party will not do.

 

This I believe is a solid start to improving our present government system. More changes are definitely possible beyond this.