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This Years Toronto’s Top 3 Mayoral Candidates

1.John Tory

Early Life and Family
John Howard Tory was born in the Toronto General Hospital on May 28th 1954. Currently in his 60’s.He grew up with 3 other siblings. His mothers name was Elizabeth. John grew up in a family of business men and lawyers. His father who’s name was John, was a business man working as a director of rogers cell company, and the CEO of Thompson Investments. Not only that but grandpa was also a lawyer. And his great grand father was the owner of Sun Life; a orange juice manufacture in Canada
Career
John Tory started his career of working as a journalist for a broadcasting radio station in Toronto owned by Rogers. After that, for a total of 10 years he worked as a lawyer and other positions such as a associate of the executive committee and name partner. After his broadcasting and lawyer career he decided to go into politics. Starting off, he worked the premiere in Ontario and held other positions for assistant secretary for the cabinet. Soon after.

2. Doug Ford

Early Life and Family
Doug Ford was a child with 3 other siblings. He was born in Etobicoke. He was raised by his 2 parents Ruth Diane and Doug Ford Sr. He started his career by allegedly selling hashish other wise know as hash; a product made from marijuana. Although he did deny these rumors. He got married to his now wife Karla and they had 4 children; all girls. Their names were Kara, Kyla, Kayla, and Krista. Doug comes from a Jewish background.
Career.
Doug’s father was a co founder of Deco Labels, which Doug ford became a owner of. Deco Labels was a huge company with a estimated 100 Million in revenue this latest year. After in 2010, Doug decided to start a political career and he started of getting elected to the Ward 2 city counsel of Toronto. Later on in his career he was elected mayor of Toronto. A very generous act was committed and he decided he is gonna donate 100k of his salary to charity organizations

3. Olivia Chow

Early Life and Family
Olivia grew up in Hong Kong until the age of 13 in 1970. She moved to Canada where she attended school. She lived in Toronto with her parents. Her father drove taxis and delivered food and other jobs and her mom was a maid at a hotel. She then attended the Avola Colege Of Hairstylist And Esthetics where she followed her dreams to work in a salon. She quickly learned how to paint nails, dye hair, do makeup, cut hair, and hair extensions. In college she met Linda who was a business major. They quickly got talking on a starting a local business
Career:
After a few months for talk with Linda, they quickly got funding for their venture. They had decided to rent a small area in Toronto Ontario. She offered many kinds of services but mainly focused on hair cuts and hair extensions. She specialized in tape in, fusion hair extensions, and clip in hair extensions in Toronto. Their business started booming. Unfortunately for her, in 2005 she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had to take a break from the business. But her business partner Linda had continued. After 3 years she had finally recovered. After attempting to get back into her business, she was outed by her ex-partner linda. So she needed a new career. Olivia always had a passion to make change, she saw her opportunity to become a politician. She had entered her resume to become part of the board of trustees for the Toronto board. After months of consideration, she was accepted. After about 2 years, this year; shes decided to run for mayor of Toronto.…

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Canadian 2011 Election Debate: Will Voters Become Engaged

There were no clear winners or losers in the election debate; however, the event signals the point in the campaign where voters begin to pay attention.

March 12, 2011. Parliament was dissolved March 25, when the Harper Conservatives were defeated amid charges of corruption and being found in contempt of Parliament. Though the political parties have been electioneering for weeks, this night’s televised English language election debate, now viewable on CPAC, was the event, anticipated to ignite voter engagement. Speculation was that Stephen Harper would be under considerable pressure and on the defensive given his party’s record of apparent questionable spending, lack of transparency, and abuse of power. Also, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, needed to demonstrate to Canadians that he was made of leadership material.

Satisfaction with the Debate

The debate format and moderation was successful in that it allowed each of the leaders a period of time to face off one on one, as well as time for open discussion. Last year’s debate at a round table was seriously flawed by many interruptions and speakers talking at the same time, which did not happen on this occasion. Pundits on CBC and other major news outlets are unable to agree that there was a distinct winner. Each of the candidates, in interviews after the debate claimed that they were able to achieve their goals.

Leader Performance

Harper appeared as a calm controlled statesman and appealed to the voters for a majority mandate in order to create a more stable government. One oddity in his demeanor was the way in which he addressed the camera and rarely his opponents, presumably to create the impression that he was talking to the people.

Michael Ignatieff represented himself well in a prepared and competent, though uninspired performance. He did not strongly present his party platform, but had a few memorable exchanges with Stephen Harper regarding Conservative contempt of Parliament and disregard for democracy.

Another salient moment was when Jack Layton hit Ignatieff with a below the belt attack regarding the Liberal leader’s poor attendance during House of Commons votes. Ignatieff, caught off-guard responded by chastising Layton, instead of properly refuting the accusation. Jack Layton, a seasoned debater, took on both the Conservatives and Liberals. He did a good job of distinguishing his party’s platform and values from the others, especially when he offered immediate solutions to health care and immigration. Mr. Layton angrily bristled at Ignatieff’ s contention that the NDP were not a serious contender and that only the Liberals could form a government and deny Harper his coveted majority.

Gilles Duceppe picked away at all three of his opponents with regards their position towards Quebec issues. He began the debate by aggressively attacking the Harper government, citing the leaked Auditor General report on wasteful, and perhaps misappropriated G8 conference spending. Details of the controversy are reported in the Montreal Gazette. It is during this round of the debate that Harper felt the most heat, as the proffered question had to do with trust and accountability. Despite the onslaught by his three opponents regarding his government’s poor record, the Conservative leader was able to deflect criticism, by refusing to accept the veracity of allegations and by making a counter-claim that he ran a successful government given the impediment of five years in a minority position.

Engagement of the Electorate

This much anticipated debate has come and gone. Whether a signature moment or quote becomes a campaign maker or breaker is uncertain. The debate might have been a somewhat dreary affair; however, viewers were able to get a sense of the character and political stance of the leaders. There was no clear winner or loser; however, the event was highly anticipated and expected to prod the electorate. The parties have two more weeks to argue the merits of their politics and platforms. Regardless of the election result, a shake-up of Canadian political landscape is certain. The Vancouver Sun reviews the left/ right dynamics of current Canadian politics. A Conservative majority will shift Canada to the ideological right. A Liberal majority is highly unlikely; however, a Liberal minority might lead to a political leaning to the left as co-operation with the NDP will be essential for any sort of enduring term in power. Given poor election results, the Conservative, Liberal and NDP leaders are likely to be replaced. This election, like all elections, is important and voters need to shrug off apathy and feelings of impotence and realize that a short trip the polls on May 2 will impact their lives and as it will the lives of all Canadians.

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Exit Polls Reveal Barack Obama Disapproval and Economy Worries

Voters have signalled at the 2010 mid term elections that they are worried about the state of the country and many support tea party views

10 mid term elections have disclosed why it was such a stinging defeat for the Democrats, as Barack Obama suffered negative ratings and his economic policies are causing angst.

In the polls administered by the Associated Press, 54% said that they disapproved of the President with 86% of those having voted Republican, and 11% who supported the Democrats also voicing dissatisfaction with Obama.

Out of the 45% who approved of the direction that Obama is taking, in a complete reverse 85% voted for the Democrats, with 13% who backed their Republican candidates also backing the President.

The economy by far provoked the biggest reaction with 87% saying they were worried about the economic situation, with just 13% satisfied over the country’s financial affairs.

From those who are worried over the economy their party affiliations were more evenly spread out with 40% having voted for the Democrats, and 57% who voted for the GOP.

When asked what the highest priority was for the next Congress there was almost an even split, with 39% saying cutting the budget deficit was the most important while 37% believed more spending to further kick start the economy was the necessary remedy, 18% thought that cutting taxes was the most pressing need.

More alarmingly for Obama 4 out of 10 voters considered themselves Tea Party supporters, although 86% of those voted Republican in the 2010 mid term elections.

Out of the 25% of voters who saw themselves as neutral to the Sarah Palin backed movement surprisingly 47% of those voted for the Democrats, however from the 31% who said they had a negative view of the Tea Party 86% were Democrat voters.

Youth Vote Disappointing for the Democrats

The exit poll from the 2010 mid term elections in comparison to the 2008 presidential election confirm that this time Barack Obama failed to galvanise the inspire the predominantly liberal youth vote.

This was despite making a concerted effort to win youth imagination during the campaign with several campus rallies. Bill Clinton was also busy on the stump to college students telling students at the University of Mississippi they would be committing “Malpractice” if they failed to turn out.

The poll revealed that from the 18-29 age group the aggregate of the youth vote had dropped to 11% of the voting share in the 2010 mid term elections compared to 18% two years ago.

Seniors in the over 65’s age bracket increased their share of the vote to 23%, a rise of 7% from the 2008 presidential election. As seniors are mostly conservative Republicans it would appear the demographics of this election were in the GOP’s favour.

Obama Faces Difficult Time Says Brookings Institute Fellow

After the defeat which handed the House of Representatives over to the Republicans in the largest House defeat since 1938, Obama’s capacity to legislate effectively has been greatly reduced even though his party held on to the Senate.

This may effect Obama’s health care reform bill, plans to reduce the United States’ carbon footprint, and the decision to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthiest that were implemented by his predecessor George W. Bush.

Obama will now have to repeat Bill Clinton’s manoeuvrings in 1994 after having lost the House and the Senate, again partially due to a controversial health reform bill.

William Galson, a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute and former Clinton adviser said: “Like Clinton after his November 1994 mid term defeat, Mr Obama must decide what balance to strike between conciliation and confrontation. He will have to give some ground he would rather not: if he resists everything the new Congress enacts, he risks a negative reaction.”


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Do Opinion Polls Reflect or Drive Voters’ Intentions?

Are people’s viewpoint snapshots more reliable predictors of election outcome than horoscopes or reading tea leaves? Should they be allowed in elections?

In the run-up to elections and in between, the public is bombarded with surveys and polls revealing views of random samples of voters, snapshot opinions of think-tanks, focus groups and ordinary men and women in their guises as social types, income earners, marrieds, homeowners, benefit recipients, taxpayers, consumers. This is a regular marketing tool, but in elections, the real question is: do poll findings drive public opinion or accurately reflect it?

If on a given day, say, 79% of single mothers answer the voting intention question by saying it’ll be Party A, does that influence other single mothers to believe there is no point in supporting Party B? Or convince those who are not single mothers that Party B is the best one? Or dissuade anyone from voting?

Opinion Poll History: a Mixed Bag?

Polls work by extrapolating generalities from a specific sample. The first such is believed to have been a localised straw poll for the Harrisburg Pennsylvanian in 1824, to help determine who would win the US Presidency, Andrew Jackson or John Quincy Adams. In February the next year, the House of Representatives decided that Adams should be President, so the local poll got it wrong. However, the idea of opinion-gathering from local sampling caught on.

In 1916, the Literary Digest predicted from a national survey, (they sent out postcards to subscribers), that Woodrow Wilson would win. He did, and they simply followed this procedure for the next four elections. By 1936, they didn’t realise the dynamics of their readers had changed to more wealthy people, so they predicted Franklin D Roosevelt would lose, but he won by a landslide. Simultaneously George Gallup interviewed a smaller, more demographically representative sample, and got it right.

Another US pioneer in political forecasting was Elmo Roper who was later joined by Louis Harris. Gallup set up a UK subsidiary which successfully predicted Labour’s landslide in 1945, while all other pundits expected that Conservative Winston Churchill would win after leading the nation to wartime victory.

During the November 2008 election of Barack Obama, media pundits harnessed latest technologies to assess the candidates’ campaign trail progress, including controversially, sampling people by cell (or mobile) phones. US baseball statistician Nate Silver was more or less spot-on with his prediction of Obama taking 53% to McCain’s 46% of the popular vote, based not on his own polling, but by analysing every other poll and voting model.

Are Poll Predictions as often Wrong as Right?

Generally in the UK, polls after 1945 called right all elections. However, in 1992, they went spectacularly wrong in predicting Labour victory by 0.8% on election morning. Exit polls taken as people left the polling stations having cast their preferences, indicated a Conservative lead of 4%. The actual, real vote outcome was a 7.5% lead to John Major, who governed for five further years.

The reason for this 8%+ error was, concluded the Market Research Society, late swing (1-2%), wrong sample quotas (2%), leaving almost 5% accounted for by people who refused to answer accurately/truthfully their intention to vote Conservative.

Since then, not only have polling groups proliferated, but they’ve been meticulous in better balancing samples, taking more factors into account, such as previous and expected party loyalties, owner-occupiers, self-employed, number of dependents, localities and pension-holders. ICM now assume that of those who say they don’t know how they will vote, 60% will vote as previously; NOP assume don’t-knows will identify with a party that appeals to their economic concerns.

That information, along with how people are interviewed (at home, at work, commuting, unemployed, on the phone, face to face, by post, what age they are, what demographic grouping they occupy) is almost never released. It is therefore unsurprising that political parties commission their own polling.

Sometimes this is designed to give the answer that is wanted: if somebody asks the right questions, a predicted outcome can prove anything. TV networks, newspapers and universities have joined in the scramble, setting up their own interviewing machinery.

Politicians who find unpalatable answers from voters, usually keep them for private consumption. Adam Lovejoy writing on Stirring Trouble Internationally is far from alone in demanding that polls should be banned during election campaigns, to prevent forged statistics and undue influence on voters.

Vested interests apart, while there may be a case for such a ban in the UK where Parliamentary elections are not time-fixed, it would be impossible in the USA, where the next four-year Presidential election starts as soon as the last one is over.

Rather than follow polls, perhaps the best thing for confused, bamboozled voters searching for what to vote for in the absence of particular reasons to vote one way or another, is to follow the smart money. They should look at bookmakers’ odds given on candidates, and then back the favourite. Or the outsider. People putting down real money to back a particular outcome may be more accurate than answering a pollster’s questions. Or maybe not.


David Cameron

David Cameron Yet to Convince Voters in Latest UK Polling

As the election campaign begins the latest polls have indicated that David Cameron has still not sealed the deal as voters fear his lack of experience

The first poll to be taken since the general election was called for May 6, 2010 revealed that David Cameron has yet to persuade the electorate that he is ready to be the next Prime Minister.

A Populus Poll administered for the timesonline.co.uk gave the Conservatives a lead of 7 points placing the Tories on 39% with Labour on 32% and the Liberal Democrats fairing better than in recent polls on 21%.

However with Cameron needing around a ten point polling lead to be handed the keys to Downing Street these latest figures will not be enough to win an outright majority in the House of Commons.

The UK Polling Report currently predicts a hung parliament with the Tories short by 21 seats to form a government after polling day.

Cameron’s lack of experience is still a prevailing issue with half of those interviewed for the poll believing him to be too inexperienced and a large majority of his doubters also concluded that he has not made a strong enough case as to why vote Conservative.

Most voters in the poll expect a hung parliament and nearly a third of voters in the poll said that they were wavering voters who will decide as the election campaign unfolds.

The Conservatives did not receive full support over their aggressive stance on

Labour’s proposed one per cent increase in national insurance that will hit those earning over £20,000.

As 45% disagreed with Cameron’s pledge to rescind the government’s increases in national insurance beginning from the 2011/12 financial year.

National Insurance Contributions Sparks First Election Campaign Row

Gordon Brown has been on the offensive in response to the momentum that the Conservative campaign has gained following the row over national insurance.

During the last prime minister’s questions before parliament is dissolved for the election Brown turned the debate into one of his familiar territories of Labour investment vs. Conservative cuts.

The Tories say they have identified £6 billion of efficiency savings to pay for the tax reduction.

Brown said:“We can put national insurance up and protect our schools, our hospitals and our policing, or we can do what the Conservatives traditionally do and that is put our hospitals, police and health service at risk.”

The Conservatives have received huge support from the business community and claim that 68 household business names including the online travel agents lastminute.com and Pizza Express, who employ nearly one million people, are in favour of their tax plans.

Business leaders were also angered by Brown’s comment on a breakfast television interview that the business community were being “deceived” by the Conservative’s plan.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg has revealed what he believes is the Tories £13 billion Value Added Tax (VAT) bombshell during a campaign launch.

Clegg argued that the Conservatives’ tax cuts and reversals will cost them £13.5 billion a year from the 2011-12 financial year with just £100 million identified to fund them and as a result claimed that a Tory government would increase VAT.

He told the www.libdems.org.uk website “Liberal Democrats have costed, in full, our proposals for tax cuts. We can tell you, penny for penny, pound for pound, who pays for them.

“We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises. The Conservatives will. Let me repeat that: Our plans do not require a rise in VAT. The Tory plans do.”

“Their tax promises on marriage and jobs may sound appealing. But they come with a secret VAT bombshell close behind.”

 …


Christie

How Chris Christie Can Win Back Women Voters

 

Approval ratings for NJ Governor Chris Christie’s fell to be their lowest marks of 2011, with significant support among female voters waning, a June Quinnipiac Poll reported. Only 36% of New Jersey’s women voters approve of his job performance while 53% of male voters approve. A majority 54% of women disapprove with the remaining 10% other or undecided.

What explains this 17% approval gap between the sexes and how can Governor Christie seek to close it?

In terms of the population, the last census reports that women consist of 51% of New Jersey. It is also known that women have Democratic voting tendencies. According to women’s studies professor Phyllis Chesler, women do not even vote for Republican women, citing examples such as a straw poll of women voters in Nevada voting for Democrat Harry Reid over Republican Sharron Angle by a 51% – 33% margin, 16% of women voting other. This trend would indicate that women are not disapproving of Chris Christie, a male Republican, purely on gender preference.

The difference must then lie in Christie’s personality and/or politics, and preferential tendencies between men and women. When asked if they like Chris Christie as a person, politics aside, the Quinnipiac poll reports that men like him over dislike him 58% – 25% while women split approval with a like to dislike ratio of 41% – 40%.

“Voters like their ‘Jersey guy’ governor better as a person than they like his policies,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in the poll statement. “Men like him a lot; women, not so much.”

Chris Christie has received negative attention in the media for specific behavior in the last couple months. A stunt that garnered news commentary at the national level occurred when Christie flew in the state helicopter to his son’s baseball game and then initially refused to refund the state for the $2,500-an-hour flight. A couple weeks later, Christie snapped at a mother during an interview after being asked to justify how he can impose funding cuts on the public school system while sending his own children to private school.

“First off, it’s none of your business,” Christie said. “I don’t ask you where you send your kids to school. Don’t bother me about where I send mine.”

Education is one of the issues that the female electorate cares highly about, and the Quinnipiac poll indicated that women disapproved over approved, 60% – 34%, of Christie’s education performance, with only 6% of women unsure or other.

Family planning is another women-oriented area that took a hit with the governor’s fiscally conservative budget. The most recent budget cut $7.5 million dollars that went to family planning centers throughout the state of New Jersey. Six of the 58 family planning centers were forced to close and others have cut back hours.

It appears that the easiest way Chris Christie can win back female approval ratings is by toning down the tough-guy attitude and reversing his stance on issues such as public education and family planning funding. Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) recently announced that he and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D) would be introducing a new budget proposal in the form of several bills. The Sweeney-Oliver spending plan, not yet formally released, is expected to include a millionaire’s tax increase, and increased funding for school districts, police forces, and family planning clinics. But given that Christie strongly denounced this budget plan, calling it, “unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky, fantasy budgeting” it is unlikely these bills will pass under Chris Christie’s governorship.…


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Emily Wilding Davison: A Martyr for Women’s Right to Vote

In Britain today, it is easy to find cynicism amongst the electorate. Many of my friends, working class and middle class alike, refuse to vote anymore. Their rationale is that their voice is never heard and/or there is no-one left to elect to represent them.

Over the past couple of decades, the Labour Party’s policies so smacked of Thatcherism that Conservative Margaret Thatcher counted New Labour as her greatest achievement. The last general election resulted in a Coalition government which saw the Liberal Party abandon key issues, like opposing tuition fees, in order to rule alongside the Conservatives. My friends point towards the three major political parties and quote Orwell to me: ‘…but already it was impossible to say which was which.’

But when I am derided for my naivety, in still picking up my ballot card and walking into the polling station, my response is ready. As a British woman, I have to vote; and three words provide my rationale: Emily Wilding Davison.

The Suffragists, the Suffragettes and Votes for Women.

In the early decades of the 20th century, there was no women’s suffrage in Britain. However, it was a major issue of its day, kept in the headlines primarily through the work of two campaign groups: the Suffragists and the Suffragettes.

The Suffragists worked with the system, discussing the right to vote with various politicians and writing letters to whomever might have influence. On census night, April 2nd 1911, many of them defaced the form, writing such things as, ‘no people living here, only women‘, or adding Suffragist slogans to their data.

But the Suffragettes felt that the time for talking was over. Taking as their motto, ‘Deeds Not Words’, their publicity stunts became increasingly militant. Breaking windows, chaining themselves to railings, entering the public gallery in the House of Commons and raining leaflets down upon the Members of Parliament, hunger strikes and loud, boisterous protest marches, was their modus operandi. On census night in 1911, most of these women refused to fill in the form at all, as a protest against their lack of a political voice.

Emily Wilding Davison was a Suffragette. On April 2nd, 1911, she was in the House of Commons, hiding in a ventilation shaft. She wanted her census record to say that a woman was in Parliament.

Emily Wilding Davison and the Suffrage Movement.

The legal, media and Parliamentary archives, for 1906-1913, have recurring mentions of Emily Wilding Davison’s name. Her Suffragette actions were frequently violent, often shockingly self-harming, but always bringing the issue of women’s right to vote back into the newspaper headlines.

She was a clever woman. Born in Blackheath, London, she travelled away from home to work as a school teacher, in order to pay her own university tuition fees. She graduated from Hugh’s College, Oxford, with a first class honours in English and Literature. But she couldn’t then go on to higher education. Her place at Oxford University would have been guaranteed, if she had been male. But the institution did not accept female applicants at the time.

Emily Wilding Davison then turned her great intellect upon raising awareness of women’s suffrage. Her exploits included detonating a bomb at the Surrey home of prime minister, David Lloyd George. No-one was hurt, but the property was severely damaged. She also assaulted a man, who looked like Lloyd George, in the mistaken belief that he was him.

She was often arrested and imprisoned. While in Strangeways Prison, Manchester, she went on a hunger strike. On another occasion, in Holloway Prison, London, Ms Davison threw herself down an iron staircase. She landed on the safety net, sustaining an injury to her spine.

Emily Wilding Davison’s Martyrdom, Epsom Derby, 1913.

On June 4th, 1913, there came the incident for which Emily Wilding Davison is most well known. She became a martyr for the right of women to vote. She threw herself in front of the King’s horse, during one of the country’s most famous sporting events. A Pathe film crew was there to record the Epsom Derby horse race, as part of its news and sports coverage. They captured the moment of Ms Davison’s martyrdom.

As the racehorses thundered around Tattenham Corner, Emily Wilding Davison slipped beneath the safety barrier. Anmer was owned by King George V and ridden by jockey Herbert Jones. Some eye-witnesses said that they heard Ms Davison yell out, ‘Votes for Women!’. She was certainly carrying a Suffragette flag. She reached out towards Anmer and the racehorse collided directly with her.

Ms Davison was thrown several feet into the air. She landed with a fractured skull and internal injuries. She died, four days later, in Epsom Cottage Hospital. Anmer fell too, dislodging his rider. The racehorse was uninjured and quickly scrambled to his feet. He continued the race without a jockey. Herbert Jones suffered a mild concussion. Physically, he soon recovered, but he was mentally traumatised by ‘that woman’s face’. He committed suicide in 1951.

Emily Wilding Davison’s Legacy.

Was Ms Davison intending to become a martyr? Or was she merely trying to pin her flag onto the racehorse of King George V? Her exact motivation is unknown. But what is certain is that she felt so silenced that she had to take drastic action in order to be heard.

It is a message which can still be distinctly heard down the decades. In December, 2010, protest singer, Grace Petrie, sang her own song,Emily Davison Blues, outside the constituency office of Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. A poignant lyric is ‘when no-one’s listening, only violence makes the news; I’ve got the Emily Davison blues.’

As for myself, if a woman was prepared to die for women’s suffrage, the least I can do is exercise that right. Despite the cynical jeering of my friends, I will always vote.…


Voter apathy

Canadian Voter Apathy – A Problem for Democracy

Media reports are peppered by complaints of voter apathy. The Calgary Herald, for example suggests that the reason is poor leadership and obscure issues; however, others speculate the problem is endemic and worsening. In a CBC interview, George Stromboulopoulos spoke to CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge, and asked about his point of view regarding the apparent decrease in Canadian voter engagement.

Mansbridge, who has covered every Canadian election since 1972, indicated that the trend was troublesome and that voting was a civic responsibility. He also spoke of witnessing people in other countries weeping as they cast their ballots, in joy of their newly acquired right to vote, while remembering the sacrifices made to win the privilege. The number of Canadians voting in Federal elections has declined over the years. Speculation as to why include: people’s lives are too busy; young people are not been educated and invited to vote; Canadians are cynical about the politics and politicians; citizens of a Canadian democracy have the right not to vote. Regardless of the excuse, declining numbers of electors are resulting in government that does not reflect the will of the people.

Voter Turnout Statistics

According to the National Post, national voter turnout has been gradually declining for over 30 years. In 1958, 79.4 percent of Canadians participated and, in 2008, only 59.1 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot. The lowest turnouts were in Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta, with the highest turnout in PEI and New Brunswick. Only 25 percent of 18 to 25 year-olds bother to vote. The Conference Board of Canada reveals that declining voter turnout is also common amongst Canada’s international peers, where Canada has a “C” rating compared to the “A” awarded Australia. Belgium, Sweden and others. The UK and USA are also rated at “C” with only Switzerland rated lower with a “D”.

The Case for Mandatory Voting in Canada

Senator Mac Harb details the case for Compulsory Voting. Considered in Canada, in 2004, Bill S-22 made it to second reading, but it died shortly afterwards. Senator Harb argued that compulsory voting was being used with great success in Australia and other nations and that citizens did not resent the legislation. Compulsory voting may be viewed as a necessary limitation on freedom in the same manner as seat belt regulations or taxes. The term “mandatory” is actually a misnomer because voters would have the option of selecting “none of the above” or they could cast a blank ballot. The bill died because parliamentarians appeared to believe that imposing the vote upon people would be a violation of their rights and freedoms.

Lowering the Voting Age

Other strategies for increasing turnout have been suggested. In order to engage youth, The NDP are suggesting lowering the voting age to 16. This strategy might engage youth earlier, but may backfire because in creating a larger electoral base, who do not vote, the voter turnout percentage rates will drop even further.

Proportional Representation

Michael Ignatieff was asked about his stand on proportional representation during a Winnipeg rally, on March 30, as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press. He indicated that he was open to discussion, but felt the idea required a lot of study to determine whether or not it would be beneficial. The advantage to proportional representation is that it gives power to the majority of votes attributed to a particular party and it may increase voter interest by making them feel like their vote counts. The problem is that areas with large population concentrations, will acquire power, while less populated regions become poorly represented.

Communication and Election Technology

Better use of new technology is becoming increasingly popular. Politicians are using social media more, particularly as it was seen recently to have huge impact in the American national election. E-voting has been used successfully in some jurisdictions and could be applied to a federal election. Technology may be an effective strategy for informing tech savvy voters and making voting convenient and more accessible. The CBC’s Vote Compass is an interesting and unique use of technology used to engage voters.

Reaching out to Youth

Reaching out to youth with education and relevant issues is also essential. The web site Apathy is Boring is an excellent resource on this topic. Significantly, they declare that young people are already aware that voting is a privilege and “guilt tripping” is unproductive.

The Solution to Voter Apathy

Democracy relies upon the engagement of citizens and their participation in elections. Should too few opt to not vote, the foundations of democracy are weakened. If less than 50 percent of voters cast a ballot, the elected representative is empowered by a minority. With low voter turnout, the will of the people is uncertain; however, the country will get the government it deserves. A fractious, cynical unproductive parliament is what Canadians have now and given the apparent apathy and cynicism of the electorate, it is very likely that the results of this election will yield a government of similar character. Why should legislators care about democracy if the people don’t, and who do politicians really answer to if they are elected by a minority of eligible voters?

The issue of voter apathy is having critical impact upon democracy and must be seriously addressed. The fundamental problem goes far beyond boring leaders and obscure issues. Valuing democracy and appreciation of the right to vote is diminishing as citizens of modern, wealthy nations such as Canada become complacent. Of all the strategies indicated above, the only one ensuring a positive result appears to be compulsory voting, as seen in Australia. Apparently attitude can be legislated. For example, consider how feelings towards seat belt regulations and non-smoking rules have helped to change social values. Voter apathy is problematic, but there appear to be effective solutions.…


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2013 Hall of Fame Ballot is a Vote on Steroids

Until this year the candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) who have been tarnished with steroid use have been much like random seashells washed up on a beach. Only two nominees, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, have possessed career statistics (583 and 569 home runs respectively) that would have normally made them automatic first-year selections. However, the attitude toward these two individuals by the Baseball Writers Association of American (BWAA) voters who determine admittance to the Hall has been apparent. Induction requires that a player be named on at least 75% of the ballots cast in any given year and neither of these men has come close. In his seventh year of eligibility McGwire’s highest total thus far has been 19.5% while Palmeiro was listed on 12.6% in his third. Based on past history, those numbers may never reach the threshold of 75% within the fifteen years of eligibility. Those results indicate that BWAA is committed to keeping players who used performance-enhancing drugs out of Cooperstown.

But in 2013 that task could become more complicated for those casting ballots. That will be the year that the first major wave of questionable candidates will arrive. The ballot may include all-time home run king Barry Bonds (762 home runs, .298 lifetime BA), 354-game winner Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza (427 home runs – most for any catcher in history, career .308 BA), Sammy Sosa (609 HR) and Craig Biggio (3,060 hits) as the most prominent retirees with questionable drug histories.

Patience is a virtue

The BWAA takes the job of selecting the members of the Hall of Fame very seriously. Being voted into the HOF often demands patience. There are those slam-dunk first year choices like Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn. But for the most part players have to wait in line until it is their turn. This year’s lone inductee, Barry Larkin, had to wait for three years. For others that time period can be much longer. In 2013 it appears that it will be Jack Morris’ turn after 14 years on the ballot. The former Detroit Tiger right hander received mention on 66.7% in 2012 which mirrors Larkin’s 62.1% the year before his induction.

But the fact that McGwire has languished for seven years below 20% clearly indicates that admission to Cooperstown after being tarnished with steroids may be impossible. In the cases of Biggio and Sosa this stance may not be too difficult. Biggio’s hit total is offset by his career .281 batting average. Sosa, who may be the poster child for the unfair advantage of performance enhancing drugs, was in the majors for 18 years and yet hit more than 40% of his homers in a four-year span. The problems for the voters will revolve around Bonds, Clemens and Piazza. Bonds was the greatest power hitter of his generation; Clemens had the same status as a pitcher. Piazza’s stats dwarfed those of other catchers already enshrined in the Hall. Can one vote in Barry Larkin, a lifetime .295 hitter, while leaving off Bonds and Piazza? A ballot for Morris that does not include Clemens translates into voting for the pitcher with exactly 100 fewer career wins and an ERA almost one run higher.

The answer to all of these questions will remain unclear until the first ballot is cast for this flock of tainted players. Based on previous history McGwire at 19.5% after seven years on the ballot will never be inducted. Sosa and Biggio will more than likely have a similar fate. The suspicion is that Bonds, Clemens and Piazza will someday have a spot in the Hall of Fame but not in the very near future.

Stay tuned.…