Electoral systems and copyright: Join Fair Vote Canada!

Our friend Russell McOrmond has previously outlined the electoral success of the Pirate Party in the European Parliament.

A fundamental difference between the electoral system of the European Parliament and Canada's Parliament is the electoral system for the lower house. Each European country has its own way of electing members of the Parliament, with the restriction that "The system must be a form of proportional representation, under either the party list or Single Transferable Vote system." (Wikipedia article).

Copyright reformers in Canada would have much better representation if we had a form of proportional representation to elect our members of Parliament. In a previous posting on this blog, I outlined how pro-copyright reform parties were under-represented in parliament, while those supporting traditional forms of cultural production were over-represented in parliament. In the 2008 election, 51% of votes were systematically discarded because of the way First-Past-The-Post, our current electoral system, translates votes into seats. Copyright reformers should join Fair Vote Canada.

If you are interested in changing the electoral system, make sure to join Fair Vote Canada.

Update: In an article posted on zeropaid.com, Jake Daynes of the Pirate Party said "In terms of Proportional Representation, we are very much in support of the idea, and realize that with the help of a PR voting system, both the Green Party and the PPoC would stand a much better chance to erect change inside our government."

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Frustrated with electoral reformers / need to unbundle ideas.

While I believe we need to teach our electoral system to count, I'm beginning to wonder how likely it is for Canada to catch up with the rest of the world. I watched both the Ontario and BC referendums closely and noticed something interesting: our largest opposition came from fellow electoral reformers, and not from actual supporters of the FPTP system.

In Ontario, which was proposing a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, I kept bumping into people that were on the 'NO' side that wanted to have some form of ranked ballot (Single Transferable Vote - STV, etc). They felt it was more likely to get a ranked ballot in Ontario if we voted 'no' to a change, and then pushed later for a ranked ballot.

In BC, which was proposing a ranked ballot STV system (with multi-member districts -- my personal favourite for Canada), I kept bumping into people that were on the 'NO' side that wanted to have some form of province-wide proportional representation (and even some MMP proponents).

To say I disagreed with these folks would be an understatement. While I have a favourite alternative, pretty much every voting system (IE: anything other than getting rid of voting entirely) is better than FPTP which only works in the narrow special case of two candidates and no parties.

There is something I am increasingly agreeing with, and that is people who object to "Idea Bundling". This featured in a recent episode of Jesse Brown's Search Engine. This is true both for linking copyright to other unrelated issues, as well as linking the various components of copyright together.

My primary issue is paracopyright (DRM, etc), which rightfully has nothing to do with copyright at all and should not even need to be discussed (IE: it simply should never be connected to copyright, and never happen). While I have strong opinions on copyright itself, I don't have to share them with the people I can work with to keep paracopyright from infecting copyright discussions and copyright law.

As soon as we "idea bundle", we shut down the coalition of people we would otherwise be able to work with. I don't want to have to agree to be an MMP supporter (against STV, etc), a vegetarian, or be on "the left" or "the right" in order to work with other individuals. We should be able to not care about these separate issues, just as we shouldn't have to care about these issues when collaborating on software or other works using peer production techniques.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.

But if they are dissenfranchised

But if Canadians are disenfranchised about the state of politics, then we have to make the link between the electoral system and such state.

Such was the goal of this post.
Julien Lamarche
This post is dedicated to public domain

Agreeing with problem doesn't mean agreement on solution.

You and I agree on these particular solutions (and others). There is not, however, general consensus within those who agree there is a problem to be solved.

Copyright holders have some legitimate problems to deal with in an always changing technological world. I don't just mean digital technology, as dealing with changing technology is how things have been since the concept of copyright was thought up. The copyright debate is largely a debate between people who agree on the problem (not always the severity), but totally disagree on the solution.

The same is true of democratic reform. There are people who believe that FPTP is the ideal system for Canada, and there are people who think that electronic voting will improve the situation. I disagree with both of these claims, and yet it is quite possible for me to work with people who I disagree with on these ideas but share others.

Your post is just sharing ideas, and those who agree can learn more and those who disagree can just ignore or engage in a conversation. Where I think there are problems is when mailing lists are shared, and people presume that if you share an idea with them in one area that you share ideas with them in others. Or worse: that if you don't share ideas in some other area that you won't be able to work together on the copyright issue.

For Copyright it is especially problematic to associate this issue with "the left" given, on average, people on "the left" have been pushing in the opposite direction for far longer. The DMCA was a Clinton/Gore bill, and the rhetoric from the USA against Canada has gotten worse since Obama and fellow Democrats took office. The greatest friend of the proponents of importing this type of law into Canada still in the house is Dan McTeague of the Liberal party. I expect it will be when the political right in Canada finally understand this issue that we'll have some sensible policies. What I hear from the Conservatives these days is far better than what I hear from the Liberals -- although talk is always cheap.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.