Thursday, June 06, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Frances Russell makes the case for mandatory voting as an antidote to vote suppression:
At first glance, entrenched opposition to mandatory voting in all the English-speaking democracies - Australia excepted - is puzzling. Given all the obligations of citizenship in a democracy -- paying taxes, serving on juries, licencing vehicles and businesses, paying to educate the next generation of citizens -it seems odd to oppose obligatory participation in the most important "have-to-do" of all: electing those who run our municipal, provincial and national governments. Mandatory voting -- all citizens of voting age required to cast ballots enforced by a small fine -- creates a better-informed electorate and produces a more truly representative democracy, in sharp contrast to the first-past-the-post system in vogue mainly in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Mandatory voting would also render useless the widespread use of voter suppression tactics that apparently tried to pollute and skew the outcome of Canada's 2011 federal election; tactics like robocalls sending people to distant and wrong polling stations and telling lies about "high voter turnout." According to court documents filed in mid-August 2012 by the Commissioner of Elections Canada, these suppression tactics may have occurred in as many as 247 of Canada's 308 ridings and were recorded in all ten provinces and at least one territory.
- NDP MP Andrew Cash points out the need for public policy which recognizes and improves the conditions of workers facing precarious employment. But of course, the Cons are responding by ramming through one set of attacks on workers, and plotting out plenty more to come.

- Bruce Cheadle writes about the Cons' latest moves to shut down debate on controversial legislation. And Martin Regg Cohn notes that Ontario's Libs share the Harper Cons' preference for a culture of unaccountability - which became glaringly obvious as they deleted the documentation behind their gas plant cancellations in the belief it would prevent anybody from questioning the action.

- Finally, Chantal Hebert minimizes the long-term effect of Clusterduff. But at the very least, the aroma of scandal emanating from the Senate figures to affect the next campaign one way or another: either Senators will once again hit the campaign trail and remind voters of the scandal, or the Cons (and Libs) will be forced to make do without the artificial advantage of publicly-funded Senate spokesflacks. And Keith Beardsley for one sees the Cons as being significantly weakened by public confirmation that they don't believe they have to follow any rules.

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