In our last couple of newsletters, we told you about our exciting Our City – Our Charter (OCOC) campaign to change Vancouver’s city charter so that we can seriously consider changing our voting system. Step 1 was to ask the candidates for their commitment to this goal.
What We Asked the Candidates:
We asked the mayoral and council candidates if they would, if elected, re-issue the previous calls by Council on the provincial government to:
Change the Charter to give the City greater flexibility in designing an electoral system that best meets the needs and expectations of its citizens,
Work with Vancouver to design a system of restrictions on campaign contributions and spending for municipal elections, and institute a program of tax credits (Berger’s recommendations 18-20), and
Change the Charter to allow the City to publish detailed, anonymized ballot data (as unanimously requested by Council in 2012).
What They Said (No-One Turned Us Down!):
Vision, the NPA and the Green Party all responded on behalf of all their candidates that they agreed to reissue this call. Meena Wong (COPE mayoral candidate), as well as COPE Council candidates Wilson Munoz, Lisa Barrett, Tim Louis and Jennifer O’Keeffe, also agreed (no response was received from the other COPE Council candidates).
Independent candidates Lena Ling, Mike Hansen, Grant Fraser and Rick Orser also agreed. No response was received by any other candidates.
Fair Voting BC recommends that you take the commitments above into account as you vote this week – we are delighted to have received near-unanimous support for Charter change!
Two Simple Ways to Build the Pressure (<1 min each):
Getting the candidates’ commitments was Step 1 in our campaign. To build the pressure for change, we need to show that all of Vancouver is behind this, so here are two simple things you can do (<1 min each) to give our campaign a big boost:
Visit theOur City – Our Charter website and put yourself on our map of supporters (there’s also an email signup link there if you want to volunteer to help us reach out)
Help us find non-profit organizations in Vancouver who might consider endorsing OCOC – just visit our Google Form and give us contact info for an organization you’re involved with (or invite them yourself). These could be political, cultural, social, charitable, faith-based or almost anything else – as long as you’re involved with them and think they might support a push for better, fairer elections.
We’ll keep you updated as the election gets closer if any other candidates join the ones listed above in supporting Our City – Our Charter.
In our last newsletter, we told you about our exciting Our City – Our Charter (OCOC) campaign to change Vancouver’s city charter so that we can seriously consider changing our voting system. We’re delighted to tell you that the OCOC website has just launched and we’re busy looking for endorsements.
Two Simple Ways to Help:
There are two simple things you can do (<1 min each) to give our campaign a big boost:
Visit theOur City – Our Charter website and put yourself on our map of supporters (there’s also an email signup link there if you want to volunteer to help us reach out)
Help us find non-profit organizations in Vancouver who might consider endorsing OCOC – just visit our Google Form and give us contact info for an organization you’re involved with (or invite them yourself). These could be political, cultural, social, faith-based or almost anything else – as long as you’re involved with them and think they might support better, fairer elections.
We’ll keep you updated as the election gets closer about who is supporting Our City – Our Charter.
Fair Voting BC invites you to host a video night with your friends and neighbours during the week of September 12-18 to celebrate National Democracy Week; this is a great opportunity to break out the popcorn and talk about an important issue that doesn’t necessarily come up in everyday conversation.
Check out the great lineup of suggested movies we’ve put together (see below), along with our “Hosting a Video Night” checklist. Head down to your local video store, grab one of these movies, and enjoy an evening of stimulating conversation.
“Hosting a Video Night” Checklist:
Before the event:
Pick a date
Pick a movie (see below) and buy popcorn
Invite friends and neighbours, or post a notice (if you’re ambitious, book a room at a community centre, school or church)
Add details of your event to our map (see below – just click the ‘Add’ button)
At the event:
Welcome people and collect their contact information (ask if they’d like to sign up for our monthly email newsletter)
Show the movie
Discuss the issues; talk about what people might like to do to respond
Follow up with us at Fair Voting BC – let us know if you’ve decided to do something, or would like help from us to get something going (send a note to email@example.com)
Map of Video Night Events:
Click on the map to the right to open a full-size view. If you’re hosting an event, please add your event to our map by clicking on the ‘Add’ button (include contact information if you’re open to more people joining you). If you’re looking to join an event, browse through the event markers in your area.
Note: the ‘Add’ button is a little hard to find – look for it under the row of buttons at the top right of the map. When you enter an event, you will get a little popup menu – click the top entry to confirm. You should also add event details on the second tab in the dialog box (you can ignore the other tabs). Finally, save your marker’s URL if you want to edit your information in the future.
Note about our suggestions: Fair Voting BC is a non-partisan organization. Some of the following films have a definite partisan slant, but we have included them because they deal more or less explicitly with some aspect of democracy, not because FVBC endorses any particular film. By and large, the text is drawn from the films’ websites. Please let us know if you have other suggestions for us.
Films About Canada:
Democracy 4 Dummies (2007). This documentary shows curious cynics and aspiring politicians how to run for office with little or no money. Full of laughs and satirical commentary, this election adventure should leave even the most skeptical viewer thinking, “If these guys can do it, so can I!” Democracy 4 Dummies follows the campaign trail of Dylan Perceval-Maxwell, an eccentric Green Party candidate and vegetable oil car driver in Montreal. While Dylan ultimately loses to federal opposition leader Gilles Duceppe, he gets the most votes of any Green Party candidate in Quebec. Dylan and other Green Party candidates show us how to raise funds and collect signatures with dogs, skirts and anything else catchy.
Encirclement: Neo-Liberalism Ensnares Democracy (2008, B&W, 160 min) Drawing upon the thinking and analyses of renowned intellectuals, this documentary sketches a portrait of neo-liberal ideology and examines the various mechanisms used to impose its dictates throughout the world.
Democracy à la Maude (1998) A Canadian woman leads the fight against unjust corporate globalization, and for social justice. Bullfrog Films, NFB
Films Based in the USA
Gerrymandering (2010) – order through their website. Takes a hard look at the framework of our democracy and how it provides our politicians a perfectly legal way to control electoral outcomes by altering electoral district boundaries.
UNCOUNTED (2008) is an explosive documentary that shows how the election fraud that changed the outcome of the 2004 election led to even greater fraud in 2006 – and now looms as an unbridled threat to the outcome of the 2008 election. This controversial film examines in factual, logical, and yet startling terms how easy it is to change election outcomes and undermine election integrity across the U.S. Noted computer programmers, statisticians, journalists, and experienced election officials provide the irrefutable proof.
Murder, Spies & Voting Lies (the Clint Curtis story) (2008) Whistle-blower Clint Curtis, a computer programmer by trade, sticks to his claims that he was asked to make vote-rigging software for electronic voting machines by former US Congressman and loyal Bushite,Tom Feeney (R-Fl). Tension rises when the vote-rigging scandal dips into a murder mystery. While Clint Curtis testified to a Congressional Judiciary committee caucus in December 2004, and passed a lie detector test shortly thereafter, mainstream media has paid scant attention to his story. Independent filmaking is filling that gap.
Hacking Democracy (2006). The disturbingly shocking HBO documentary HACKING DEMOCRACY bravely tangles with our nation’s ills at the heart of democracy. The film the Diebold corporation doesn’t want you to see, this revelatory profile follows a tenacious grandmother from Seattle, Bev Harris, and her band of extraordinary citizen-activists as they set out to ask one simple question: How does America count its votes? This movie starkly reveals a rotten system riddled with inaccuracy, incompetent election officials, and electronic voting machines that can be programmed to steal elections.
CAN MR. SMITH GET TO WASHINGTON ANYMORE? (2007). The inspiring story of a modern-day Mr. Smith’s quixotic campaign to win the 2006 Missouri Democratic primary with little more than political savvy, tireless work, and passionate leadership over a committed group of grassroots volunteers that grows from a few friends to more than 500 by election day. When twenty-nine-year-old Jeff Smith decides to run for the congressional seat of the retiring Democratic party leader Richard Gephardt, his family and friends think he’s crazy.
Recount (2008): HBO docudrama about the hanging chad controversy in Palm Beach County featuring Kevin Spacey as Gore advisor Ron Klain and Laura Dern as Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.
Recount Democracy (2002) Forget the hanging chads and butterfly ballots. The Presidential election drama of 2000 is still a mystery to most Americans. “Recount Democracy” investigates charges of disenfranchisement and 180,000 uncounted Florida votes cast largely by the working poor and people of color, uncovering racial exclusion, voting rights violations and the subverting of a recount in the most contested and controversial election in U.S. history.
DEFLATING THE ELEPHANT: FRAMED MESSAGES BEHIND CONSERVATIVE DIALOGUE(2009) teaches us how language impacts our lives and more significantly, our political discourse. Language is influenced by what is known as framing, meaning every word is connected to a concept. How those concepts are used and repeated have proven to shape ideology, behavior and thought-process. George Lakoff, author of Moral Politics: What Conservatives Know and Liberals Don’t and Don t Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, dissects the conservative dialogue and provides explanations and examples on how they have spent the last 35 years perfecting their ideas and their language. Framed messages is a system and strategy that works. The key is to understand why it works. Features Sean Penn.
Electile Dysfunction (2008) The mere fact that political consultants who make their living manipulating voters are willing to analyze their tactics onscreen without fear of repercussion sums up the problem with the modern electoral process. Public disapproval of politics and politicians is at an all time high, and for good reason. Cynicism and distrust are the hallmarks of this public disenchantment. The unholy alliance of special interest money and public policy has produced government that is perceived to be out of touch with the reality of everyday citizens and unresponsive to their needs.
Dear Oprah: Non-Voting America’s Wildest Dream (2008) Almost a hundred million Americans don’t vote. Even when they’re electing their president and, with that, the most powerful political leader in the world. A year before the presidential elections of 2008 a crew of young European filmmakers goes on a journey all across the country in a little old motor home to search for America’s missing voters. Who are they? Why don’t they vote? Can a young and fresh presidential candidate as Barack Obama make them vote? How would American politics change if more young people, single women, poor white people, African-Americans and Latino’s would start voting?
Media Malpractice (2009) The 2008 Presidential election was historic in many ways. For the first time, the vast majority of mainstream media decided to openly back one candidate. Media Malpractice tells the entire story of this precedent-setting and dangerous media reality. In just four years, Barack Obama went from being a little-known State Senator, to being elected President of the United States. This film explores the role of the media in facilitating the victory that shocked the world. While the media did everything they could to elevate Obama, they took a very different view of John McCain s VP nominee Governor Sarah Palin. With an interview of Palin done exclusively for this film, Media Malpractice examines the real story behind many of the media-created perceptions used in a blatant attempt to destroy her credibility.
Frontrunners (2008), is a charming, candid, and almost scary glimpse into the advanced levels of student sophistication in America’s top high schools. In this case, filmmaker Caroline Suh, who has copious experience as a documentary producer, put her documentary research skills to use at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, an elite school in which students who aren’t admitted to Top Ten colleges are considered total rejects by their peers. Frontrunners charts the arc of the student government elections, starring four kids who want the presidency.
The War on Democracy (2007): Award winning journalist John Pilger examines the role of Washington in America’s manipulation of Latin American politics during the last 50 years leading up to the struggle by ordinary people to free themselves from poverty and racism. Since the mid 19th Century Latin America has been the ‘backyard’ of the US, a collection of mostly vassal states whose compliant and often brutal regimes have reinforced the ‘invisibility’ of their majority peoples. The film reveals similar CIA policies to be continuing in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon. The rise of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez despite ongoing Washington backed efforts to unseat him in spite of his overwhelming mass popularity, is democratic in a way that we have forgotten or abandoned in the west.
MANUFACTURING CONSENT (1993) explores the political life and ideas of world-renowned linguist, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky. Through a dynamic collage of biography, archival gems, imaginative graphics and outrageous illustrations, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick’s award-winning documentary highlights Chomsky’s probing analysis of mass media and his critique of the forces at work behind the daily news.
Keys to Good Government (1993) In recent years, American government has been plagued with a burgeoning number of scandals and corrupt public officials, yet for almost two centuries American government had been characterized as sound and morally untainted. What caused the change? Unfortunately, we disregarded and lost much of the specific advice given to us by those distinguished men who formed our original government. Discover the keys to good government by investigating the wise counsel and instruction given to us by leaders like William Penn, Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, John Witherspoon, John Adams, Fisher Ames, George Washington, and many others.
Films About Other Countries
Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas (2008) What is democracy? Freedom, equality, participation? Everyone has his or her own definition. Across the world, 120 countries now have at least the minimum trappings of democracy—the freedom to vote for all citizens. But for many, this is just the beginning not the end. A look at new democratic institutions and experiments in both North and South America.
The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard (2006) This UK-based mini-series follows Mrs Ros Pritchard, a successful manager of a supermarket. When a couple of politicians make a spectacle of themselves outside her shop, Ros decides to stand for election herself, just to prove that she could do better. Her story grips the nation and eight weeks later no one is more surprised than Ros herself when she wins the General Election and becomes the next Prime Minister. Six 1-hour episodes.
Please Vote for Me (Chinese, with subtitles) (2007). Two males and a female vie for office, indulging in low blows and spin, character assassination and gestures of goodwill, all the while gauging their standing with voters. The setting is not the Democratic presidential campaign, but a third-grade class at an elementary school in the city of Wuhan in central China. “Please Vote For Me”, which is on the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences documentary feature shortlist, packs its fleet hour with keen observations. Chroniciling a public school’s first open elections – at stake is the position of class monitor – filmmaker Weijun Chen has crafted a witty, engaging macro-lens view of human nature, China’s one-child policy and the democratic electorial process as the ultimate exercise in marketing.
Frontrunner (2008) The setting: Afghanistan’s first democratic election ever. In the aftermath of 9/11, America’s military might has set the stage. But who will determine the fate of democracy in Afghanistan? Is it possible, a woman running for President? Where unspeakable cruelty to women had become part of day-to-day life under the Taliban? Vote for the mother, Dr. Massouda Jala shouts to the crowd. FRONTRUNNER tells the heroic story of this medical doctor and mother of three and the first presidential bid by a woman since the ouster of the Taliban.
Sex, Drugs and Democracy (1994). This feature-length documentary film explores the limits of personal freedom by taking an uncensored look at the unconventional approach to morality and politics in Holland.
Click here or button to right to register for the online presentation (webinar) (not necessary now, but appreciated as it helps us estimate how many people to expect, particularly for in-person events)
A court challenge aimed at invalidating the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) electoral system is now before the Quebec Appeals Court. It was launched in 2004 in response to the repeated failures of civic actions through political means. The case focuses on the two main components of the right to vote as defined by the Supreme Court: meaningful participation and significant representation. Both are systematically violated by the current FPTP voting system. The case will be heard in the Quebec appeals court on February 8, 2011 and could be before the Canadian Supreme Court before 2012. The plaintiffs are seeking financial support for legal fees.