Well, I did not get elected at national council. Now I am running for the Toronto council. I do not think I have any great chance of getting elected here either, for reasons I will get into below. But at least it gives me some chance of getting out what I think needs to be said about FCV.
For brevity, I will assume that those reading this have already read my campaign statement and my long statement for the national council. FVC is an organization of Middle Class Professionals, usually retired or semi retired, who only want to deal with other people like themselves. This is why I am unlikely to get elected this go round, but if the people who come in this time can heed what I am saying, they could build up and diversify the group's membership.
It could be a long, hard road to get a more effective local executive, while issues it should be dealing with are coming to a head now. There is an aggressive campaign building up to get an Alternative Vote system established in Toronto before opposition can develop. There are now some opportunities to reintroduce PR into provincial discourse and they are being ignored. The Leadnow organization is starting to take the lead in forming a campaign for voting cooperation and PR nationally.
There are some problems with Leadnow. In the same way that FVC has been too open to destructive manipulation from Liberals, Leadnow is vulnerable to being taken over by leftist types. It is important that voting reform be led by people who understand that political parties need to decline in importance. Fair Vote people have at least started to understand the importance of the concept of conflict of interests; you join a group to work for its agenda, not to try to "align" it with some other agenda.
However, to reiterate, FVC is at a turning point. If it does not soon start to be more effective, some other group is going to take the lead in promoting voting reform. It also remains vulnerable to being taken over and used by people who are trying to stop proportional representation.
The Toronto executive still does not understand why the Ranked Ballot Initiative group has been so effective. They keep claiming that the national council would not back them up. The problem is they refused to tell the membership what was going on. For three years meetings were only held sporadically, and it was very hard for members to find out when and where they were being held.
Most local FVC supporters would have come to the conclusion, with no statements from anyone on the committee to the contrary, that the local chapter had become aligned with RaBIT and supported its aims. Thus it was not hard to understand why so many people voted for the AV candidates.
So, if it is possible to get a better group of people elected to this committee, three things have to be done quickly.
1) A proper web site and electronic newsletter must be set up, to keep the membership honestly and fully informed of what is going on within the committee and the national council.
2) The local council must start to focus on the issue of local voting reform, and let the national council deal with the federal government. There must be a campaign to educate the public and councillors about how city councils are elected all over the world.
3) The RaBIT group of AV advocates must be specifically targeted as a phony organization pushing a phony reform for spurious reasons. This is very important as these people are going to keep at it as long as they are paid to.
One thing I would love to do if I had support is to be the coordinator of an annual local democracy fair. People should be able to hear about how cities are governed in other countries, and informed about such developments as participatory budgeting, planning circles, and citizen's consultative assemblies.
There is a lot I would love to do, whether on the local exec or not, but I cannot do it without the collaboration of the other board members, or without the support of local FVC members. Now that the Meslin crew has finally been stood up to, we will see after this May 30th what happens on this committee. Elected or not, I will be watching closely. tr