A new democracy

Bermuda needs a new democracy, one which better represents the needs and desires of our people and once and for all ends this Us vs. Them battle that has ensured stagnation in the progression of our nation.  On October 10th, 2007, the Canadian province of Ontario will be holding a referendum alongside a general election to put the question of electoral reform directly to the people.  The choices shall consist of sticking with the existing winner take all system referred to as “First-past-the-post” or adopting a proposed “Mixed member proportional” system.  The decision of which best fits the needs of the people of Ontario will be placed directly in their own hands.  Could such an initiative benefit Bermuda and what could you be doing about it?

In tackling the question of how to improve the electoral process, the Ontario government resolved to create a “Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform” to address the questions of how to improve governance.  The composure and purpose of this assembly are best described on the assembly’s own website:

The Assembly was independent of government. It was made up of 103 randomly-selected citizens – one from each of Ontario’s electoral districts. With the Chair, 52 of the members were male and 52 were female. At least one member was Aboriginal.

Together, Assembly members examined Ontario’s electoral system – the system that structures how votes get combined to elect Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs).

Members of the assembly met twice a month for 8 months to examine Ontario’s existing electoral system.  They learned about systems in place elsewhere and consulted with the public through meetings and written submissions.  Using what they learned they recommended that Ontario adopt a new electoral system and submitted a report to the government.  The government is now putting the assembly’s recommendations directly to the voters in the referendum scheduled for October 2007.

What were the recommendations?  The citizens’ assembly considered many different electoral systems and compared them to their existing “first-past-the-post” system, which is very similar to our own.  In brevity, the “first-past-the-post” system is a winner take all popular vote of candidates representing Ontario’s 107 districts (comparable to our own constituencies) with winning candidates each being allotted a seat in parliament.  The recommendation proposed by the citizens’ assembly is that Ontario should adopt a “mixed member proportional” electoral system similar to that which has been used in Germany since 1949, New Zealand since 1993 and Scotland and Wales since 1999. 

What is a “mixed member proportional system”?  A mixed member proportional system is an electoral system where every eligible citizen is provided two votes on election day.  One vote is for a representative of their district and the other vote is a vote for a political party.  Winning representatives of the district votes then make up 90 seats of parliament.  Votes for political parties by contrast would be used to comprise a remaining 39 seats in parliament according to the proportion of votes made for each party with candidates being preselected by each party for this role.

Consider this in comparison to our own island where there has been a growing call for much needed changes to our electoral system.  More and more individuals are losing faith in our colonially inherited system and are desperately seeking change.  Bermuda needs to undertake a similar initiative to that of the people of Ontario by creating a Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform of our own.  One that can independently recommend the changes that will best benefit Bermudians with the question of whether to implement those changes being put to the people. 

The real tides of change rest in the hands of our people.  What can you do?  Write a blog post about it.  Write a letter to the editor.  Write your representative.  Write on facebook.  Call the talk shows.  Call your representative.  Tell your friends.  Convince every single Bermudian that it is time for change and that our leadership needs to embrace and be the catalyst to make it happen.

Take action today.

 

 

Further info:

Referendum Ontario

http://yourbigdecision.ca/en_ca/

Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/

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silencedogoodvanzwave2waveDenis PitcherFast Eddie Recent comment authors
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vanz
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dennis – why is this such a hot topic now – under the ubp we went through a crack and heroin epidemic that the govt. seemed to nothing about, blk boys have filled up our persons through the 70s 80s and 90s, we had a crazy race riot, public education went to crap the races grew further apart etc etc yet everyone pretended everything was a okay – read cv woolridge’s book to really get an insiders view into how screwed up the ubp was in running this country – lois browne ans freddy wade fought tooth and nail to… Read more »

vanz
Guest

pls excuse my typos

Fast Eddy
Guest
Fast Eddy

Vanz,
Do you have a problem with people evolving, or must they remain shackled to the past to conform to your world view? Believe it or not there have been other players working on positive social change before your awakening, and prior to the 98 Election.
Eddie

GMS
Guest
GMS

I don’t think we want a system that allows members of the lower house to be in a situation where they are not directly responsible to the electorate. Already, with our appointed senate, we have parliamentarians who are not responsible to the electorate making decisions that impact all of us. Furthermore, why would anyone run for a regular seat when they could simply jockeu within their party for one of these plum seats? Think about it. They wouldn’t have to canvass, or be directly responsible to any constituents, yet would get the same remuneration and perks as those parliamentarians who… Read more »

Denis Pitcher
Guest

Vanz, This has very little to do with the PLP and much more to do with our overall democracy. A great many people are feeling that our colonial inherited democracy no longer properly represents the needs of Bermudians. It was designed for the UK, not for Bermuda. The core issue with our present democracy is that it is designed to be a two party system, the “Us vs. Them”. Quite unfortunately this creates more battles, less forward movement and less cooperation and frankly a great many Bermudians are apathetic about politics and sick of it. There are many good people… Read more »

vanz
Guest

good observation about the green party dilema dennis. i still believe that in the end dr. brown will prove to be a visionary leader for bermuda – unfortunately like bill clinton he has to spend so much energy fighting the haterz.

Denis Pitcher
Guest

Vanz, I’m desperately trying to find the original source of this quote (unless it indeed is anonymous) but: “In politics there are two truisms. A government is only as strong as its opposition and disunity is political death” Any failures of our present government are also failures of our opposition. Our system is not strong and I’m very sorry to say it, but if Premier Brown gets his desired 30 of 36 seats it could be the worst thing that ever happens to Bermuda. Before you jump to assume that this is a criticism of Premier Brown’s ability to lead,… Read more »

Fast Eddie
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Fast Eddie

There I can agree. Brown is a visionary leader. It is the particular vision that is problematic. Also by suggesting that people who criticize him are “haterz”, seems just another way of trying to deny them their right to express their own vision of what a democracy looks like. Democracy must not end upon the filling out of an electoral ballot. Recall that the PLP ran on a platform promising the sunshine of public scrutiny. Do not blame others if they took that for truth and not idle electioneering, which as it turns out… I have a feeling that if… Read more »

silencedogood
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silencedogood

Vanz,
With all due respect, you will never have any credibility as long as you dismiss the views of a very broad section of the community as “haterz” simply because they have legitimate complaints with how the island is run by the person or party you happen to support.
In case you weren’t aware, a great many of those individuals also happen to be PLP supporters or unaffiliated to any party.
If, as it seems, Dr. Brown can do no wrong in your eyes you aren’t blind to haterz, you are just blind.

vanz
Guest

silence is good – where exactly did i dismiss the views of a very broad section of the community in my post here?

Fast Eddie
Guest
Fast Eddie

Let’s see. I think it can be inferred from your absolutes: “everyone thought everything was okay” and “no(one) mentioned a need for a “new democracy.” Young man. I will infer this, that you need to learn to do your own thinking and research.

vanz
Guest

fast eddie where exactly did i dismiss the views of a very broad section of the community in my post here? – those are stated observations if not facts – how is that dismissing the views of a very broad section of the community?

vanz
Guest

question – the ANC have a virtual lock on politics in south africa – they probably will for the foreseeable future – is that a bad thing considering their history. inn in The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall: by Ian Bremmer – it talks about how sa is probably (despite the crime etc.)is one of the best examples of a post colonial country making a transition from a racist unfair ruling govt. i think some bdans are in denial about how the island has changed – they delude themselves by thinking that if… Read more »

silencedogood
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silencedogood

Example: “unfortunately like bill clinton he has to spend so much energy fighting the haterz.” Better example: “i see the same lies spread about dr. brown (cedar beams, secret deals, etc.) and again a blk role model is denied his chance to inspire without rumour” Posted by: vanz | September 04, 2007 at 11:01 PM Perhaps you would like to backpedal and redefine what a “hater” is or how those allegations are “lies” given that there is currently more information supporting them than not, but these and other statements made elsewhere (progressive minds) make clear that you are dismissing the… Read more »

Denis Pitcher
Guest

Vanz, I think you’re missing what people are saying. When you state “everyone pretended everything was a okay” you are stating things in a very broad general sense. You cannot speak for “everyone” without clear known fact that there was not one single person who didn’t share this view. If I may recommend, it is better for you to use other words to get your point across. You could say “most people”, “many people” and even if you’re wrong and it’s only 2 out of 100, you’re still leaving the opening for a few to disagree with your point and… Read more »

silencedogood
Guest
silencedogood

Jeez Vanz, I can’t even post before you add another quote to the pile!
So, anyone who opposes Dr. Brown for whatever reason must be wanting to turn Bermuda into a colonial-era South Africa????
You’re slip is showing mate.
Has Dr. Brown ever made a mistake? Is he human? Is everything he is doing perfect with no room for improvement? Should we erect a golden statue of him now and make ready our offerings?

vanz
Guest

dennis – your point is well taken – like some bloggers i tend to talk in generalities when making a point. sorry. silencedogood, all i am saying about dr. brown is that he is the most effective, charismatic, educated and visionary leader we have had in a long time. i was in university in dc when clinton was prez and i felt the same way about him and vigourously defended him despite monicagate, white watergate, etc. – clinton’s haters spent millions looking for clinton’s “cedar beems” – but in the end what did it accomplish? r. brown like clinton has… Read more »

silencedogood
Guest
silencedogood

Vanz, There are significant differences between allegations of getting a blow job and allegations regarding missing funds, government property, and abuse of power. Its the fact you assume that people are raising these issues simply because they are “haters” that I have a problem with. When Dr. Brown loses at the Privy Council, and I assure you he will, is that because the House of Lords are Haterz? But I digress…sigh and grow tired of this pattern of extreme statements, then retreat, then another extreme statement, then retreat. Its boring and I don’t think you are fooling anyone. Since all… Read more »

silencedogood
Guest
silencedogood

Dennis, Sorry that this post has derailed. In regards to the topic, which is surprisingly not Dr. B, I agree that the system of government doesn’t fit Bermuda. I think fixed elections are a must. I would give people more chances to vote as well. If you look at the last US election they were able to signal displeasure with republican policies in the middle of the presidential term by giving the democrats control of the house and senate. That’s a useful tool as a voter because you get to influence the course of policies more often than once every… Read more »

wave2wave
Guest
wave2wave

So – enough talking! Let’s start a NGO that gets the ball rolling on the Commission!!!

vanz
Guest

silence is good – 1st – i was referring to not just the bj but all of the serious allegations that hounded clinton that proved to be false- i suggest you watch the documentary “the hunting of a president” top see what i mean – 2ndly, thinking that the privy council will go against the plp is wishful thinking – remember a few years ago the stevedores wer equally as smug but ended up w/ egg on their face: “The BIU’s lawyers went to the Privy Council and eloquently argued that the basic rights of the workers should not be… Read more »

silencedogood
Guest
silencedogood

1) “Silence is good”–very mature. Name calling is the last refuge of a bad argument and seems to be your first instinct. Very, very telling. 2) Clinton–I’m well aware of the various clinton scandals. If you think that the most egregious examples of partisanship related to his financial dealings rather than almost being impeached for getting a bj, fine, but that’s just another example of your lack of judgment. 3) Privy council–we’ll see won’t we. I’m confident. 4) immigration–just because you don’t like my views doesn’t mean I have to leave my home. Congratulations, you’ve just joined a long list… Read more »

silencedogood
Guest
silencedogood

“thinking that the privy council will go against the plp is wishful thinking – remember a few years ago the stevedores wer equally as smug but ended up w/ egg on their face:
Posted by: vanz | September 12, 2007 at 04:58 PM “

Ahhh, I love being right. Any comments on the Privy Council ruling Vanz???
http://www.theroyalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7d7aec730030000§ionId=60