Monday, August 29, 2005

Ontario Select Committee on Electoral Reform

Like the federal Liberal Party's "Elections Canada" front organization, Elections Ontario exists to protect the three incumbent socialist parties, the Liberals, PCs, and NDP, from competition. Elections Ontario implements its mandate by imposing busywork and inane regulation on all parties. The theory is that smaller parties have a smaller budget and fewer volunteers and can be encouraged to just give up their vote-splitting ways if they can be sufficiently tied up in layers of red tape. The red tape is, comparatively speaking, no hindrance to the socialist Parties that are already able to swing favours on a large scale with other people's money.

By wasting the limited time and resources of the opposition, so as to keep them limited, Elections Ontario helps to facilitate the uninterrupted reign of the Party of Parties as they join hands to loot Ontario and fuck over its inhabitants.

One might expect, then, that a Select Task Force on Electoral Reform would be Orwellian enough to take care not to involve all of Ontario's registered parties, including the uniquely sane Freedom Party of Ontario.

We present the following exchange of three emails, over the past three days, between Paul McKeever of Freedom Party and a Select Committee representative. All emphasis as in the originals.



1.
From: Paul McKeever
Sent: August 27, 2005 2:05 PM
To: Di Cocco_Caroline-MPP
Subject: URGENT - Exclusion of Freedom Party of Ontario from hearings of Select Committee on Electoral Reform


Madam Chair:

Re: Inclusion of Freedom Party of Ontario in Hearings of the Select Committee on Electoral Reform

It has come to our attention that a Select Committee on Electoral Reform will hold hearings on August 31 and September 1, 2005. It is our understanding that only one political party not represented in the Ontario Legislature (in particular, the Green Party of Ontario) has been called upon to testify.

We find it contrary to the spirit of this government's entire Electoral Reform process that Freedom Party of Ontario (and, presumably, Ontario's other registered political parties) were sent no notice:

(a) that the Select Committee had scheduled hearings; or

(b) that the Select Committee was interested in hearing the opinions of Ontario's other registered political parties.

That Freedom Party of Ontario ("FPO") was not so notified is particularly troubling given that:

* I had, prior even to the formation of the Select Committee, inquired with the Attorney General as to progress, if any, that had been made in terms of electoral reform. The Attorney General's written response gave the impression that things were still rather preliminary, little having happened other than the introduction of legislation to facilitate the consideration of electoral reform.

* Freedom Party of Ontario has been in regular attendance at Elections Ontario's Political Party Advisory Committee meetings since that Committee's inception years ago (I am perhaps its most consistently in-attendance participant).

* I have been on the mailing list of the Democratic Renewal Secretariat since early in the year. Despite that fact, I have received not a single e-mail from that body concerning any aspect of electoral reform (in fact, I have not received any e-mail from that body at all).

I recognize that an Agenda has already been set for the Select Committee's hearings this week. Nonetheless, given that FPO received no notice from the Select Committee, FPO hereby requests that the Agenda be amended and that FPO be given the opportunity to make submissions at the hearings of the Select Committee that are to be held this week.

In anticipation of a response that time does not permit the Select Committee to hear from FPO, I would quote from Hansard the minutes of July 27, 2005 hearing of the Select Committee:
"The Chair: OK. August 30 and 31, and September 1 and 2. We'll block off those four days and we will fit in there experts on the current system to come before us. Is that fair?

Mr. Patten: Yes.

The Chair: OK. So that's done.

Mr. Miller: The four days, again, are the 30th and 31st, and the 1st and 2nd.

The Chair: We may be able to do that in two or three days rather than all four, but I want the four days blocked off, that's all. I think it would be prudent for us to do that. OK?"
We would consider a denial of Freedom Party of Ontario's request to evidence of a prejudiced process. The electoral reform issue is one that could affect Ontarians and Ontario's political parties in a dramatic way. There are only six registered political parties with no members in the Legislature. They differ quite dramatically in their positions on electoral reform.

Moreover, like the parties having members in the Legislature (and representation in the Select Committee), the 6 parties having no members in the Legislature each have gone through the hoops of registering and making regular elections finances filings. We are paying our dues: it should not be too much to ask to be included on hearings on something so fundamental as electoral reform. Notifying those 6 parties of the hearings would have cost little more than the price of 6 postage stamps (i.e., $3.00) and (at the very most) 6 hours of hearings. That FPO and the other parties were not given notice of the hearings and called upon to give testimony is utterly unacceptable given the subject matter.

We would ask that the Committee's response to this request be directed in writing via e-mail, promptly, to:

Paul McKeever: pmckeever@freedomparty.on.ca
cc: rmetz@freedomparty.org

Sincerely,

Paul McKeever
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario


2.
From: anne_stokes@ontla.ola.org
To: pmckeever@freedomparty.on.ca
Cc: cdicocco.mpp@liberal.ola.org
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2005 4:38 PM
Subject: RE: URGENT - Exclusion of Freedom Party of Ontario from hearings of Select Committee on Electoral Reform


Dear Mr. McKeever, On behalf of Caroline Di Cocco, Chair, Select Committee on Electoral Reform, I would like to thank you for your message.

Your interest in the issue of electoral reform is appreciated and I have put your name on a list of people who would like to appear before the Committee. The Committee is in the preliminary stages of its review and may well schedule additional days of hearings, although it has not had a chance at this point to make those plans.

I will distribute your email to the Committee members for their information and so that they are aware of your wish to appear. You are also welcome to make a written submission at any time. I will distribute anything I receive to all Committee members for their information and you can ensure that your views are known to them.

Thank you again for your letter.

Anne Stokes
Clerk of the Committee
Select Committee on Electoral Reform
Room 1405, Whitney Block
99 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A2
Phone: 416-325-3515
Fax: 416-325-3505
email: anne_stokes@ontla.ola.org


3.
From: Paul McKeever
To: Anne Stokes


Dear Ms. Stokes,

I thank you for your response. However, adding my name to a list of parties that would "like" to attend hearings of the Select Committee on Electoral Reform - possibly, at some time, maybe, in the future - is not a suitable and satisfactory response to my request.

According to Hansard from July 27, which I quoted in my letter to the Chair, four days have been already been blocked off for hearings: Tuesday through Friday of this week. Contrary to your statement, it is not the case that the Select Committee "has not had a chance at this point to make those plans". It needs only to schedule additional hours of hearings in the days already allotted: Friday, for example, is entirely free.

You have suggested that I make a submission in writing. I note the obvious: that all of the witnesses who have been scheduled to testify this week could simply have made written submissions. They were asked to attend not because they lack writing skills, but because the Committee values (or wants to appear to value) their opinions, and wants to ask them questions. Not inviting Ontario's five remaining registered political parties implies the opposite, loudly and clearly: the Committee does not value their opinions and does not care to ask them any questions. That implication is compounded by your response to me (and it should be noted that I asked for a response from the Chair: may I take your response as being hers?).

I would ask the Select Committee to remember that this exercise - which is quickly beginning to show the signs of being a farce - is being sold to the electorate as a response to disproportionality between the popular vote received by parties and the number of seats allocated to each. How on Earth does the Select Committee hope to appear credible and unbiased if it demonstrates a lack of concern for the opinions of those most negatively impacted by the current voting system: the so-far uninvited political parties and those who voted for them?

To the Chair: I await a timely answer to my question: will the Select Committee schedule Freedom Party (and any of the other four registered political parties who have been excluded from the hearings so far) to be heard in hearings during the four days already blocked off this week? Please note that I will share your response with the media, Ontario's registered political parties, and Ontario's other MPPs.

Sincerely,

Paul McKeever
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario

c.c., Ontario's MPPs, radio, TV, and print newsmedia, and leaders of the Libertarian Party of Ontario, the Communist Party of Ontario, the Confederation of Regions Party of Ontario, and the Family Coalition Party of Ontario, respectively.


End of quoted emails.

So will the Committee prove me wrong and allow Freedom Party, the Libertarians, the CoR party, the FCP, and even the goddamned Communists to participate in this "electoral reform"? Or is this one more tightening of Party control over our elections?

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