College Politics

So after that high school mess I signed up for Journalism at Cambrian College. I went to Cambrian to save money by living at home.

Journalism is interesting, but I must say at this particular college they had this odd thing called an independent study course. We pay for a course they don’t teach, instead we buy a book, separately, and they test us on it twice during the semester. What are we paying for? The test? I didn’t come to college to be tested…I came to learn. Courses cost money to pay for equipment (that are not books) and teachers, but there is no equipment and they are not actually teaching us. We were supposed to take two “courses” in our first year (one per semester), I ended up failing the first course I was to take by missing both tests, so I had to take the two “courses” simultaneously during my second semester. Now my first 21 credit courses are included in the tuition, so I can take extra courses during the semester for no extra cost, as long as the total credits on my schedule does not exceed 21 credits. That particular semester I already had a full 21 credits before that “course”, so technically I was supposed to pay for that “course”. My thought was, well technically it’s no real cost to them to them so they probably won’t charge me for it…they did. I believe it was $81 and I literally got nothing out of it.

Some may ask why I simply did not take it next semester. Well if I did I would have an F on my transcript for next semester. I can’t have an F because if I did I would lose my RESP…Registered Education Savings Plan…it’s a government subsidized college fund.

Looking outside the college for a minute, an interesting event occurred across the Provence during my time here, a referendum. For those that don’t know, a referendum is a rare occurrence in Canada. It happens whenever an issue is so important, and so critical, that instead of simply having the parliament/legislature vote on the issue, it is turned to the people to directly vote on the issue. The last referendum I remember was in Quebec. The Quebec people voted on whether or not they wanted to secede. The proposition failed with 50.58 percent voting “No”, Canada was 0.58 percent away from being split in half…talk about every vote counting.

This time the referendum was about the electoral system: should we continue with the current system where the representative in each riding is the one with the most votes? Or should we use Mixed-Member Proportional, a system where 70 percent of the legislature (90 seats) is elected using the old system, and the remaining 30 percent (39 seats) would be selected based on the percentage of the popular vote their party received such that the end result would be the popular vote being as close as possible to the final makeup of the legislature.

It sounds complicated, I know, but I’m not sure I did a good job explaining it. Let me try again: in the new system people would still be elected the old fashioned way, however a second ballot in the voting booth would allow one to vote for the individual party who may or may not be the same as their candidate. This allows two things: it allows someone to elect a candidate they agree with and a different party they agree with who is different from their candidate, probably the candidate wasn’t towing the party line on certain issues. Not everyone fits into partisan categories…I don’t.

Anyway, that second ballot is tabulated in a province-wide popular vote and the 39 seats would be filled according to lists the parties created and how many seats each party would require to bring their size in the legislature to be as close as mathematically possible to the tallies of the second ballot. For example, if a party gets 75 seats in the ridings and 48 percent of the second ballot then they would get nothing because they already have 58 percent of the legislature, now if another party fails to win a single riding but gets 5.2 percent of the second ballot they win seven seats and those seats go to the first seven members on that party’s list. That was probably pretty bad too. If you really want to know the details, may I recommend Wikipedia.

So the idea is that the legislature more accurately represents the opinion of the people. Our local representative, Rick Bartillucci, said he was against it because these “list members” would be representing no one. Where does he get this? They are representing something, they are representing an ideology. The problem is that people think locally, they believe that where you are born is more important then what you believe. I moved around a lot as a kid so I felt no bond to where I lived. I would love to pick up and move somewhere else but there’s really nowhere to go. Right now I have no one representing my beliefs in the legislature. I voted Green in the last election as did 8.02 percent of the population, and we don’t have a single representative representing our ideology. At 8 percent one would expect us to have eight out of 107 representatives…we have zero. The only reason we have zero representatives is because we are too thinly spread out across the country, in no one riding do we have a significant percentage of support. So, because we aren’t clustered together we get no representation.

As you may have guessed I was for the new electoral system. It required 60 percent support across the province and 50 percent support in 64 out of 107 ridings for the resolution to pass. It got 36.9 percent support and five ridings, and all five of those ridings were in Downtown Toronto on the waterfront, (Beaches—East York, Davenport, Parkdale—High Park, Toronto—Danforth and Trinity—Spadina) and almost formed a solid block of support, however Toronto Centre, which is right in the middle, rejected the proposition by 134 votes…not that it would have made a difference. What really blows my mind is how badly it was rejected. It felt like reason blew out the window.

I recently looked at an Anti-MMP website and it said that MMP would lead to: “Fringe parties holding the balance of power with 2 or 3 seats,” as if that would be a bad thing, as if suddenly having more then three parties with any influence would tear the province apart. George Carlin was right, we have no choice, we have the illusion of choice. When it comes to unimportant stuff we have more selection then the important stuff. Fifty-two flavors of ice-cream, three political parties…well, four in Quebec. In my riding we had six candidates, one religious nut, one dip-shit (seriously, I got to sit in on a debate and the PC candidate was basically citing John Tory over and over, like he had Tourettes. I doubt he even had a mind of his own but was implanted with a device that recited the party’s policies. What exactly is “leadership” anyway? Can anyone define it?), one I never really heard of until recently, and three real candidates, Rick Bartolucci (Liberal), Dave Battaino (NDP) and David Sylvestre (Green). I’m wondering why, when the issues are so numerous, we somehow find a way to simplify it for our tiny, tiny brains.

I’m not even close to done yet, there is so much more I must talk about. In case you haven’t noticed I am moving away from the online-diary format and getting political. This is something that I think everyone will enjoy, primarily because I don’t think anyone really cares what I had for breakfast, or when I took a shit. But more importantly this is something you need to read, because unless you hear all points of view, you are not really informed.


2 responses to “College Politics

    • Actually, it is MMP. Mixed-Member Proportional.

      Did you really think I “looked at an Anti-Member of Provincial Parliament website”? Did you really think there were websites devoted to being against Members of Provincial Parliament? Yes, we need to get rid of Members of Provincial Parliament! We need to go to a system where the legislature sits empty! Or just load it with stray dogs for some reason!

      Admittedly, I probably could’ve been clearer, but A: I wrote this seven years ago, and was quite shit at writing, and B: you should’ve still gotten it from the context.

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