The PP is neutral about the model of PR that is best for Canada. In order to present a compelling visual illustration of the problems with the current FPTP system, they chose a "Mixed-member" Proportional (MMP) example. Each candidate People’s MP was an "ordinary" citizen who said to himself or herself: " I am Canadian citizen as old as 18. I am eligible! "

People’s MPs were chosen to ensure more balanced representation for women and diverse communities. Candidate People’s MP Shelina Merani gave her reasons for running:

"Expression of common values is the ideal of a perfect democracy, but lack of mutual trust is what we see today. If all citizens open up a dialogue, and build a "vivre-ensemble" - a space where we are mutually free from prejudice – then the laws of probability will give roughly proportional representation to all communities. The current Parliament proves that we do not all enjoy an equal voice. I hope that my contribution as a citizen will be heard, and lead to a truly inclusive government. "

A citizen’s coalition based in the National Capital Region organized the People’s Parliament, which was formally inaugurated on December 23 (the last working day before Christmas).

David Bryant, an Ottawa-based computer consultant and chief citizen-organizer of the People’s Parliament, states the case for PR:

"Our representation in the 38th Parliament doesn’t reflect our vote, because each candidate enters a "horse race" in which the "first candidate past the post" (FPTP) is elected. Basically, your vote doesn’t count if you voted for the losing candidate. If (like 20% of Canadians) you voted for a smaller party, you received less than a third of the MPs you deserve.

If you voted for a larger party, you are often under-represented regionally."

The discrepancy between vote and representation is only part of the problem. Faced with the current system, many Canadians vote "strategically" for a candidate who has a good chance of winning. This increases votes for the leaders – at the expense of the voter’s ability to vote his or her first choice.

Almost 40% of eligible voters choose not to vote at all - a proportion that has steadily increased over the last 20 years. They include a disproportionate number of young citizens - such as Ottawa Cameron Macintosh - who point out: "Who can blame us, considering our votes usually don’t make a difference?"

The People’s Parliament speaks for an increasing number of Canadians who favor a PR electoral system, and who insist that the distribution of MPs be proportional to the popular vote. This is not a new idea, or even an uncommon one. Canada is one of the last 4 mature democracies without some form of PR. The People’s Parliament message is "Make every vote count - PR for a fair 40th federal vote!"

- 30 -

Local contacts:

David Bryant (PP Ottawa Center citizen-organizer)

Cell (613) 797-7283, phone (613) 236-3176, e-mail
david-bryant@rogers.com

Marjorie Cox (PP Ottawa West – Nepean citizen-organizer)

Phone (613) 726-6247, e-mail viosculpt -at- cyberus.ca

Judith Cox (PP Carleton-Lanark citizen-organizer)

Phone: (613) 831-3246, cell (613) 552-3246, e-mail jd4042 -at- aol.com

Khalid Lasfar (PP Ottawa Vanier citizen-organizer)

Phone: (613) 230-8493 cu288 -at- ncf.ca

Shelina Merani (PP MP Orleans)

Home: 254-7177, e-mail shelmerani -at- yahoo.ca

Links:

For more information on the People’s Parliament, visit:

Web: http://ca.geocities.com/peoples.parliament@rogers.com

Wiki: http://openpolitics.ca/Peoples+Parliament

The People’s Parliament Wiki is an open electronic forum in which citizens can raise issues, deliberate on them, register themselves as candidates for the People’s Parliament, and choose MPs from among the candidates.

For more information on Proportional Representation, visit:

http://www.elections.ca-
Elections Canada

http://www.fairvotecanada.org– Fair Vote Canada

http://www.lcc.gc.ca/research_project/electoral_reform-en.asp– Law Commission of Canada

Canadian People's Parliament opens Saturday Jan 21 on Parliament Hill

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

21 January, 2006

CANADIAN PEOPLE’S PARLIAMENT OPENS ON PARLIAMENT HILL

(Ottawa) The Canadian People’s Parliament opened today on the snowbound lawn of Parliament Hill. It advocates Democratic Reform via a referendum on Proportional Representation (PR), and seeks a fair election for the 40th Canadian Parliament. Critics of the current electoral system complain that the lack of real voter choice leads to government by large party machines that have little inclination to respond to voters - and even less desire to change the system that put them in power. The People’s Parliament aims to change this – by presenting an example of how PR would make representation fairer.

A group of 130- People’s MPs were elected in an online voting process (unlike the "real Parliament" candidate "People’s MPs" can run at any time in the Canadian Open Politics forum http://openpolitics.ca/Peoples+Parliament). Citizens gathered on the Hill to attend the first plenary in-person session of the People’s Parliament (PP) were also able to elect MPs by forming groups on the spot and electing representatives to speak for them.

The PP’s Saturday agenda, which was developed online in a collaborative workspace ( http://openpolitics.ca/Peoples+Parliament+meeting+2006-01-21), including induction of candidates and discussing concerns of Canada’s largest four under-represented groups – women, immigrants, Cannabians and persons of alternate sexual orientation.

The opening ceremony included a moment silent spiritual reflection to acknowledge all spiritual traditions.

Spiritual leaders from all faiths.

The People’s Parliament is non-partisan. By the official noon opening of the Parliament, enthusiastic citizens has built five colored snow-forts out of 10 cm of fresh snow that had turned the Hill into a winter wonderland. Around the Red, Blue, Orange and Green forts, supporters of the Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green party milled around in their party colors, watching PP organizers putting the finishing touches on a sound system and a large video projection system.

Many communities and party organizations endorse the PP. In fact, all of the official candidates for the four major national parties in the riding of Ottawa-Center agree with the (tongue in cheek) kidnapping claim made in the People’s Parliament poster:

"A comparison of the 2004 popular vote and the party affiliation, gender, age, region and ethnicity of 308 incumbent MPs reveals a startling discrepancy. Forensic experts have determined that 127 MPs are missing. Foul play is suspected, although no ransom demands have been made public. Canada’s non-proportional First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) electoral system has been identified as the tool used to perpetrate the crime."

The People’s Parliament corrected this imbalance by seating the "missing" MPs: on "lawn chairs" in front of their snow-built party headquarters.

Incumbent "official" MPs

People’s MPs

Total MPs
Liberal135

25

160
Conservative9930129
Bloc Québécois54054
NDP194968
Green01919