Remarkable – The NDP tables bill to prevent floor crossing

This is truly remarkable. Note the jutification.

November 2, 2011

OTTAWA – New Democrat MPs Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac) and Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) tabled a Private Member’s Bill today to prevent MPs from changing political affiliations during their term.

“Members shouldn’t play petty politics and think only of their career, by changing political parties whenever they like,” said Ravignat. “MPs were elected personally, and under their party banner. We must ensure that members are accountable to their constituents.”

If adopted, this bill will prevent Members of Parliament from changing their party affiliation during their mandate. A member who wishes to leave their party would either have to sit as an independent or run in a by-election.

This bill was introduced by Peter Stoffer in the last Parliament.

“I am happy to support my colleague who is bringing the issue back to Parliament,” said Stoffer. “At the present time, any member can cross the House without accountability to their constituents. We are determined to prevent this from happening once and for all.”



Parties of Independent Candidates

There is a “love hate” relationship with policital parties. There are many who “hate” the fact that party MPs  or MPPs are loyal to the parties and not to their  consituents.  On the other  hand, there are many who  see Independent Candidates has having a harder time winning elections.

We are now  seeing “parties of independent candidates”. For example, in Ontario, in the October 2011 election, Onarians were introduced to the Canadians Choice Party – a party of Independent Candidates.  In Quebec,  the CAQ is  a  party (at least according to the following article) formed largely  from Independent Candidates.

See the following article:–a-powerful-new-party-rises-in-quebec

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Andrew Chung Quebec Bureau

MONTREAL—No one will say it now, but people like Benoit Charette could be one of the first faces of a movement that is turning Quebec politics on its head.

In June, he dumped the Parti Québécois, for which he acted as the immigration critic and is sitting as an independent for the riding of Deux Montagnes, northwest of Montreal. But over the summer, he said, he found himself more and more captivated by the new Coalition pour l’avenir du Québec.

“I find it interesting, and I think many Quebecers are on the same page,” Charette said. “For the first time in 40 years we are proposing to bring people together on a base different from the national question. It’s refreshing.”

Come the next legislative session early in 2012, he and a handful of other independents and members of the rightist party Action démocratique du Québec, could become members of the CAQ. Continue reading

It’s the end of the political party as we know it – and I feel fine

david berlin

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 6:52PM EDT
Last updated Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 12:57PM EDT

In last week’s provincial election in Ontario, I held my nose and voted for the incumbent.

What irked me was not his integrity or dedication to public service, both well-proved, but that along the way, this once-bright-eyed idealist had been slapped by his party to show him who was boss. After a one-year stint as minister, he was chucked out of office. From that day on, he become party property. A conscionable person became a mouthpiece who stuck out his nose only to be led by it – a hack.

Worse, this hollowing out is commonplace – the fate of all those who pursue their ideals through our party system. Continue reading

Democratic reform should be the central issue of this election

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2011 2:00AM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2011 4:50AM EDT

Gordon Gibson

We are now well into one of our occasionally scheduled games of “futures markets in stolen property,” otherwise known as an election. (Thank you, H.L. Mencken.) The promises are flying.

Stripped of all the fine words, the parties all come to us with a remarkable proposition: “We will confiscate a goodly portion of your hard-earned money and remove it to Ottawa. There we will launder and shrink it and then return some of it to you. We will also issue a series of orders called laws and regulations that will tell you what to do with your lives. You may now say thank you.” Continue reading

Surge in number of Independent candidates – Ireland

Nominations for the General Election have closed with 233 Independent and smaller party candidates standing; FF has 75 candidates, FG 104, Labour 68, Greens 43 and Sinn Féin 41.

A total of 564 candidates will be contesting the General Election – nearly a hundred more than in the last general election in 2007.

The number of those running as independents or for smaller parties is 233 – this compares to 108 in 2007. Continue reading

How to run as an independent candidate

As you know the next Canadian Federal Election is May 2, 2011. We have been questions about how to run as an independent. What follows is the reply email we have been sending:

What follows are links to everything you need. But, you need to get started now – by that I mean that you must:

– get somebody to be your official agent

– find out who can be your auditor

I really encourage you to do this – but a much greater degree of organization is required for you than for party candidates. Continue reading

2010: The year of the independent candidate

Lisa Murkowski announces her write-in campaign.

by Rachel Rose Hartman

Credit the tea party, our election system or just plain ambition, but 2010 is fast becoming the year for established candidates to shun the two major political parties.

Write-in or third-party candidates look to significantly shake things up in several major statewide races Nov. 2 — and this week, yet another major candidate disclosed he may be adding his name to that list.

Republican Rep. Mike Castle said Wednesday that he “probably” would not wage a write-in candidacy for Delaware senator. But he also said he hasn’t ruled the option out; he’s pondering it, he said, “simply because it’s there, simply because I’ve had a number of people who’ve asked that I do that.” Castle, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, lost his Republican primary campaign to an insurgent tea party candidate, and is looking at a write-in effort like the one Murkowski announced last week as a way back into the 2010 political fray.

Below is a roundup of  some of the year’s most significant independent candidates — together with a look at their motivations and the odds that they’ll prevail on Election Day. Continue reading

The party’s (largely) over

Political parties’ membership is withering. That’s bad news for governments, but not necessarily for democracy

Political parties

Oct 21st 2010 | from PRINT EDITION

“WE WORSHIP an awesome God in the blue states,” declared Barack Obama in the speech that made him a star, “and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states.” Six years after his address to his party’s national convention in 2004, the idea of Mr Obama as a post-partisan figure, an effortless uniter of Democrats and Republicans, looks droll.

But his failure to transcend party politics does not mean it was not canny to try. In America, Europe and elsewhere, the era of tight affiliation to political parties is over. Successful politicians surmount party allegiances, rather than entrench them. In America, the “50-50” nation is more like a 30-30-30 nation; last month, a Pew survey found that “independents” at 37% outnumbered either Democrats or Republicans. Such inbetweeners tend to find partisanship on the airwaves and in Congress repellent, strengthening their convictions further.

As old allegiances fade, third parties are doing better. In Germany, a recent poll puts the Greens, formerly a fringe party, ahead of the once impregnable Social Democrats. In Britain’s 1951 general election, 97% of all voters chose Labour or the Conservatives. In last May’s election, just 65% did. Party membership is declining too—by 40% in 13 European democracies between the late 1970s and late 1990s, according to one study. In Britain the three big parties combined have under 500,000 members; in the 1950s, with a smaller population, their total was over 4m. And the members that remain are less active.

Explanations abound. In many industrial democracies, working-class voters chose left-wing parties out of self-interest. Other voters, fearing the power of organised labour, voted the other way. But when most people count themselves as middle-class, such tribal ties wane. In countries where the ideological gap between parties has narrowed, their brands may no longer be useful labels for busy or ignorant voters. Accustomed to choice as consumers, voters increasingly pick policies rather than signing up to comprehensive world views. Single-issue groups have thrived. Britain’s National Trust, a heritage organisation, raised its membership from 250,000 in 1971 to 3.7m now.

Political scientists disagree over the causes of the parties’ decline. But a more pressing question is its effects. The decline of partisanship could signal a less tribal, more educated electorate. But research on 36 countries by Professor Paul Whiteley of the University of Essex shows a strong correlation between political partisanship and good public administration. A rise of ten percentage points in partisanship goes along with an increase of one notch in the World Bank’s good-governance table (which assesses countries on a five-point index). A strong party base may help politicians to push through unpopular but necessary reforms. A weak one means that followers flee when the going gets tough.

Consumer choice may mean dodging responsibility. California’s referendums allow voters to engage with politics issue by issue. The state’s dysfunctional finances and politics are a poor advertisement for that. Less partisanship can also mean more political volatility as big old parties find it harder to win outright. The Westminster model of parliamentary democracy and majoritarian voting should produce strong single-party rule. But the most recent elections in the five main countries that use it (Australia, Britain, Canada, India and New Zealand) have produced hung parliaments. Four have coalition governments.

The parties’ efforts to reverse this have had little success. As Conservative leader a decade ago (he is now foreign secretary), William Hague proclaimed a target of a million-strong membership. It is now less than 200,000. A better solution may be to give members real power within the party. Maurice Duverger, a French academic, distinguished in 1951 between “cadre” parties, where power is held at the very top, and “mass” parties, where the grassroots decide policy and elect bigwigs. Most political parties in the West offer influence to outsiders who donate money, not to their members who donate time.

The decline of partisanship is prompting some innovations. Some Americans favour the idea of “top two” primary elections in which any registered voter can take part, and choose two candidates, regardless of party, to contest an election. The victors could be two Democrats or two Republicans. The system is already in effect in Washington state and was recently approved in California. It could help cross-party and moderate candidates. But it faces a stiff legal challenge.

Other efforts seek to turn independent politicians—often seen as cranks and amateurs—into effective candidates. In Britain, outfits such as Independent Network and the Jury Team offer training and support to independents. Brian Ahearne, director of the Independent Network, says that Britain’s most recent general election saw the biggest number of independents standing for election since 1885, when records began, and almost twice as many as stood in 2005. They received over 144,000 votes, against a mere 10,000 in 1987.

Politicians like to have it both ways. “Vote for my Daddy,” quavers Ben Lange’s toddler daughter, in a spot for his candidacy in an Iowan congressional race. Grouped with his family on a sunny mid-western hillside, Mr Lange gives a wide berth to party politics. “This isn’t about Republican/Democrat,” is his cutesy patter. But another campaign video on his website is bombastic and combative, showing grainy footage of political foes, with a sinister musical soundtrack. The old system may be broken. But it is not dead yet.

from PRINT EDITION | International

The Parties are Over

The Parties are Over
by Jacqueline Salit


Goodbye two-Party system?  Discontent is building to open up the political process


October 31, 2010

Name a problem — poverty, war, out-of-control spending. The political parties offer themselves as the solution to all of the above, and more. We respond by voting for first one party, then the other, then back again. We want to let the world know we are unhappy, but we haven’t yet developed the creative capacity to rearrange the world around us.
This seemingly eternal passivity is the mother’s milk of political partyism. No wonder the Republicans and Democrats and their auxiliaries — the tea parties, the unions, the media — must whip us into a frenzy. Whether we are Foxites, MSNBCists, bloggers or bored stiff, we’re now implored daily to get out to vote. Why? Not because voting develops our capacity to move the country forward. But because we must put one, or the other, or both, political parties in power — even though separately and together, they brought us to this anxious and crummy place.
This is American politics 101. The cure for whatever ails us is . . . more of the same. Public health advocates tell cautionary tales about diabetics who drink soda, people with high cholesterol who eat burgers and fries, and daughters of breast cancer victims who take hormones. But somehow, no one ever informs us that political parties — and the partisanship they spawn — have clogged our national arteries, fried our national brains and compromised the entire body politic.
But Americans are starting to move beyond the parties, even beyond partyism. That’s the dynamic story unfolding on the edges of the midterm battleground. And if that motion is cultivated by truly nonpartisan innovators, the political parties will have a comeuppance sooner than you might think. Contrary to what some analysts argue — that America is ripe for a third party — the direction Americans are really heading is away from parties altogether.
In June, a little-discussed proposition was passed by California voters with a winning margin of 8 percentage points. Proposition 14 abolished party primaries and unleashed an unpredictable group of voters onto the political playing field: 3.4 million independent voters who’ve declined to state a party allegiance. The result? Political parties will no longer control the first round of voting in that state.
Instead, the voters — all voters — will determine which two contenders, out of an unlimited field of variously aligned (and nonaligned) candidates, proceed to a final round. Denounced as a virtual sin against nature (echoes of the divine right of kings?), Prop 14 was excoriatedby all of California’s political parties, major and minor. But the voters, in their post-partisan wisdom, ignored the warnings. They’d simply had enough of party control.
California isn’t alone. In mid-October a federal court judge in Boise, Idaho, heard testimony in the case Republican Party of Idaho vs. Ysursa, a crucial test of the parties vs. the people. Idaho has an open primary system, where any voter can cast a ballot in all primary and general elections — voters simply register in Idaho, they do not affiliate with a political party.
The Republican Party sued Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to compel the state to close the primaries and institute partisan registration. There has been a great deal of litigation across the country on open primaries, but in Idaho, for the first time, the judge allowed independent voters (represented by my organization, to intervene in the litigation, bring their own counsel to the table, and argue that closing primaries grants the parties a political supremacy that gravely curtails the participation of nonpartisan voters, now 40 percent of the country.
The decision is expected in January, and the case is being watched by prominent constitutional law and party-rights experts. The implications of the case are potentially historic. It will delineate — even curtail — the power of political parties to exert their will over what should be a fundamentally public, not partisan, process.
On Tuesday, voters in Florida and California will get another bite at the nonpartisan apple. Redistricting-reform ballot initiatives are offering voters the opportunity to rein in the power of the parties when it comes to the all-important task of drawing district lines.
Earlier this year, here in New York — where we have closed primaries and a legislature legendary for its partisanship — there was an effort by the Independence Party of New York City, the government reform group Citizens Union and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to end party primaries in the Big Apple and shift to a nonpartisan election system. But the effort stalled.
Still, the party system in the Empire State is vulnerable. And the underlying trend away from partyism reasonably includes new parties popping up along the way.  The Independence Party of New York City, which styles itself as an “anti-party” party, delivered three successive wins to Bloomberg, including a massive exodus of 47 percent of black voters from the Democratic ticket in 2005. On Tuesday, if a sufficient number of voters back the radical African-American City Councilman Charles Barron, his independent bid for governor could result in the creation of the Freedom Party, since 50,000 votes for governor on a party line establishes ballot status. While to date, white voters have shown more party mobility than black voters, we’re now seeing an increase in black voters drawn to ticket-splitting and other forms of defection from the Democratic Party.
These are strange political times. The pundits say this election is a referendum on President Barack Obama, but that doesn’t truly capture the dynamic. More precisely, Tuesday will be a referendum on Obama’s ability to navigate partisan waters. He was elected to change the political game, and he’s found that impossible to do: The parties won’t allow it. Still, the American people, courted, ignored and manipulated by the political parties, are beginning to identify them as the problem.
The parties are so deeply embedded in government and in the structure and design of America’s electoral process that they never have to justify their existence to voters. But at a moment when there is across-the-board dissatisfaction with partisanship, shouldn’t they have to? Shouldn’t we have the opportunity to create alternatives — nonpartisan (rather than bipartisan) governance, campaigns based on healthy debates about new ideas, unorthodox coalitions and an environment that fosters innovation?
Right now the parties stand in the way of all that. That’s why we’re seeing signs that the people want them to stand down. Look for those signs when the returns are in on Tuesday night. They’ll tell you more about where the country is headed than who controls Congress.

Jacqueline Salit is president of,
a national association of independent voters.