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Robocalls Highlight Need For Electoral Reform

Vancouver, BC - Right now there is a massive scandal in the news involving ‘robocalls’. At the heart of this scandal are telephone messages. many of them automated, in which Elections Canada was impersonated and people were directed to the wrong polling stations. These messages very likely had the intended effect of disenfranchising voters.

The Pirate Party of Canada condemns attempts to mislead voters, whatever the source, and the adoption of automated calling systems to undermine of democracy in our nation.

Initial reports suggested 15 ridings were involved, but as time has passed, the number has ballooned to as many as 58 ridings reporting complaints about similar calls. We may never know who is responsible for these calls, but we can learn from this mistake and fix the problem for the future.

“This scandal has only highlighted how backwards the Canadian election system is compared to the rest of the developed world,” states Deputy Leader Travis McCrea. “We need a system where blatant abuse can only have minimal impact in the shape of parliament and one where our votes count, regardless of who those votes are cast for.”

The fact that the previous general election was decided very narrowly in possibly fraudulent circumstances highlights the need for elections reform. Canadians have seen the influence of corruption on our election system, and the only way to restore faith is to provide a comprehensive re-imagining, evaluating both the electoral system and the campaigning rules. Now is the time to begin a discussion on how we want the future of democracy in Canada to look. There are a number of ways that the system could be fundamentally changed, such as an alternative voting system based on proportional representation or otherwise, or allowing for recall of elected MPs. The Party supports measures such as Pat Martin’s Bill C-267 in the previous Parliament, which would have required that a committee of MPs investigate the possibility of proportional representation.

We challenge other parties to start adopting an election reform plan, and to provide a statement of support for fair elections and for the right of voters to choose their representatives without interference. We look forward to the results of the investigations of these calls, and we hope that the courts will fairly decide upon any applications to annul elections due to fraud.

The Pirate Party of Canada is a federal political party, recognized by Elections Canada, focused on open government, copyright and patent reform, and defending Canadians’ right to privacy. The Party supports genuine democracy, civil liberties, and freedom on the Internet.
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6 comments to Robocalls Highlight Need For Electoral Reform

  • Wilson

    I’m no expert but wouldn’t proportional representation be more effected by something like robocalls as the margin needed to get seats is smaller?

  • Presley Perswain


    With ‘pure PR’ (that is putting all votes all across the country into one big group and assigning seats by percentage of that group of votes) let’s say there are 300 seats - there will actually be 338 in the next election but rounding down for easier math - you’d need at least 0.33333…% of the vote to get a single seat. 34 million people in Canada, but not all are eligible voters (too young for the most part), but let’s say there are 30 million eligible voters (probably an over estimate, but again, for an example round numbers are good). Let’s saying a 66.666…% turn out, or 20 million actual votes. A third of a percent of 20 million is 66 000. So you need 66 000 votes to get a single seat.

    Now, the robocalls didn’t aim to get *more* votes, it aimed to remove opposition votes. If you removed 66 000 votes all you’d be doing is decreasing the threshold to get a seat. The opposition still gets seats from all their other voters. Maybe, just maybe, you might be able to tip the balance on a single seat by doing this. So Party X doing the illegal robocalling may go from 132 seats to 133 seats, but the targeted opposition Party Y only goes from 98 seats to 97 seats. Not a big difference.

    Where as in our existing First Past The Post system you can target your fraud to certain ridings. Swing ridings are often determined by only a few hundred - sometimes only a few dozen - votes. By targeting those swing ridings are robocalling a few hundred in each you could effectively gain a dozen or more seats by just calling a few thousand people.

  • Wilson

    Thanks for the detailed response.

  • Wilson

    An added question based on what you said: If one seat is changed in a ‘pure PR’ system isn’t that harder to fix than a FPTP system with ridings? In the current system ridings that had the scales tipped in favour of one party can hold byelections. In a PR system due to the lack of ridings (or fewer number) basically the only way to fix it is a new election. I suppose it would depend on the system used but would you say this general rule is accurate?

  • Concerned Citizen

    I have to admit in a pure PR system I have no idea how the handling of by-elections would be. I think ironically in a by-election where you only have one seat contested that FPTP may be the only way to handle it.

    If however you have potentialy 31 seats that need a by-election like with this robocall scandal then there can presumably use the results of the 31 seats to generate a Proportional Distribution of seats involved.

    Said more simply in a by-election only the seats contested get counted towards the distribution of the new seats.

    Ultimately the fact remains is that everyone’s vote should have an effect. Before the Cons got/get rid of the per vote subsidy your vote was worth effectively $2/year to the party you cast it for (so on average about $8. Which let parties run their campaigns. Now the best way to make everyones vote count would be some sort of proportional representation setup as the existing FPTP system only benefits parties with strong regional support and is determental to parties with broad cross country support like the Green Party (which has 1 seat despite gettin 6% of the popular vote).

  • The entire government should be replaced by an online poll. Voting along party lines makes the current system resemble a monarchy more than a true democracy - Let’s update an ancient political process that doesn’t work.

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