In the late 1990s, I spent a lot of time in Bukowski’s, a raucous bar and restaurant at Commercial & Grant that is sorely missed. I went there to drink, to eat, to party, and, just about every week, to shout my poetry above the din of the bar crowd. If your performance could grab attention at Bukowski’s, you were doing really well.
With the likes of RC Weslowski, Shane Koyczan, and Angus (the Svelte Ms Spelt) Adair also performing, I was never the best or the most popular, but I had a wonderful time; and that period of my life was heady and life-affirming and just plain fun.
I am sure my memory has gaps, but it seems to me at this distance that all I ever ate at Bukowski’s was their wonderful patatas bravas, a dish which, when Bukowski’s closed, was lost to me. So it was a joy the other day when I was looking through some food videos on Youtube and came across a patatas bravas recipe from Food Wishes, one of my go-to video chefs.
I made it last night (with some deliciously sauteed chicken) and it was, all modesty aside, just superb: I could eat that sauce with just about anything. More, all those memories of Bukowski’s came flooding back to delight and entertain.
Proust was right.
I have recently “upgraded” to Windows 10 (which I dislike, but that’s for another post). As part of the “upgrade”, they have taken away access to the backgammon game I used to use for relaxation. So I decided to go looking for another and found one that looked useful on a site called, I think, Games.Com.
The site required me to register before I could play. I didn’t mind that and entered the usual data. When it was done, it finally became clear to me that I had unwittingly signed on for Facebook! I’ll never use it of course, and I’ll never use that backgammon site.
Goddam them and their deceit!
Previous Reasons Not to Use Facebook
Pressure to change our electoral system from first-past-the-post to proportional representation grows immediately after each election. And it easy to see why those with a hierarchical bent complain.
- In the last Federal election, the Liberals scored 40% of the vote but gained 54% of the seats, while the Greens took 3.4% of the vote and were rewarded with just 0.3% of the seats;
- In 2011, the Tories achieved 40% of the vote and they too took 54% of the seats. The Liberals, with 19% of the vote, received only 11% of the seats. In that year, though, the NDP got 30% of the vote but 33% of the seats.
Those in favour of proportional representation argue that the number of seats in the Federal parliament should be, more or less, equal to the proportion of votes received. The results under such a system would have been as follows:
- 2015 (338 total seats):
- LPC 135 seats (184 taken):
- CPC 108 seats (99):
- NDP 67 seats (44):
- GPC 11 seats (1)
So long as one is not opposed to coalitions (which I certainly am not), these results — which could be repeated for all the elections we have had — seem to cry out for proportional representation to make the system “fair”. But wait. There is no such thing as a free lunch, so what are giving up to create “fairness” in a Federal parliament?
What we give up — and the key reason I oppose PR — is the right to choose our own local representative. And here’s why. Under a Federal PR system, each party (party not electors) creates a list of 338 candidates (one for each available seat), numbered from 1 to 338. When the votes are cast as in 2015, the top 40% of the Liberal list are declared elected, along with the top 32% of the Tory list, the top 20% of the NDP list, and the top 3.4% of the Green list. Note that none — repeat NONE — of these candidates is attached to a riding.
It is probable that regional (or provincial) lists would be part of any PR system chosen. In other words, my vote in Vancouver East would be combined with all similar votes in the region or province, and seats are then allocated on the basis of the parties’ regional or provincial lists. Still, once again, there is no local representation.
This is OK only if you believe the abstract Federal level is the most important. However, if you believe like me that true democracy is being able to choose the actual person you want to represent your neighbourhood, then your rights are stripped completely away by PR. Thus I oppose it.
The creation of party lists takes power away from the individual voter and puts it ALL into the hands of party executives; their friends and cronies will always appear at the top of the lists, and the risk of corruption (say, getting a high number on the list due to one’s wealth rather than one’s desire for public service or ability) will always be just around the corner. Thus I oppose it.
I believe that the first-past-the-post system (with all its faults) more closely matches local opinion to representation. I also believe that many of the issues with the current system would be resolved or mitigated by introducing a preferential voting system. In other words, no-one can be elected without achieving 50% of the vote in the riding. This would be achieved by allowing voters to label candidates with first and second preferences. If a majority is not reached on a first ballot, the lowest vote getter is eliminated and his/her second choices are distributed. This continues until one candidate reached 50%+1.
So, let’s amend the current system to fix errors, but keep the fully local basis of election,
Today is the fortieth anniversary of the military coup that brought the generals and admirals to power. The coup, to overthrow Isobel Peron, was supported — perhaps even aided — by the United States. Over the next decade, thousands of Argentinians were “disappeared”, tortured, and killed. The trauma has lasted until today.
US President Obama is visiting Argentina today. One could hope that he would speak out and condemn the US’s disastrous and inhuman history in the region — but I won’t hold my breath.
To be honest, I don’t believe I have bought a single thing made by Apple. I have been a PC guy from the beginning, and I’ve never had an iPod or an iPhone. However, I recognize their extraordinary effect on everyday culture; and I like this little ad that takes us through the history.
A short while ago I noted that the People’s Coop Book Store on Commercial had finally re-opened after its trials and tribulations caused by a building fire. Now I can report they will be having a celebration event this coming Saturday, 26th March. As their email to me promises:
“Lukas Hyrman is bringing some of his swing friends to play in the shop in the early afternoon, so stop by and celebrate with us.
30 percent off on every book in the store all day long! Come for the music, stay for the cookies, coffee & company !
Gift certificate draw — everyone making a purchase in store on the day, or taking out or renewing their Co-op membership, will be entered to win a $50 gift certificate at the People’s Co-op Bookstore.”
I’ll definitely show up, and I hope to see many of you there!