I am sobbing reading about Danica Roem’s victory in Virginia. She not only is the first Transgender woman to be elected into Virginia legislature, she beat a shitty republican asshole who REFUSED to use her proper pronouns and only spewed hate for half a century. This man was about to overthrow a law protecting trans students from using the bathroom of their choice and then he was beaten by a trans woman!

She is also vegetarian and the singer in a metal band! I love her so much.

YES THERE IS HOPE! I am so proud of her. I agree that the government is flawed AF and needs to be overthrown with real direct change. This is it. We take over by winning. We get out and vote, we support those who are just and those who will represent US.

We are trans, we are queer, we are black, we are women, we are immigrants, we are disabled, and we are only strong if we are all together holding each other up. Danica has totally inspired a generation of kids who have never seen someone like them succeed. She gives them hope that it can change.

She is 33 years old, I am about to be 31, I have a lot of work to do. I can change the world too! We all have to. Right now!

It starts with home, it starts with letting people we love that it is not okay to hate! Families have been torn apart because people are refusing to accept racists and bigots into their homes. How can I serve a Trump supporter a vegan Thanksgiving feast?

My generation will not accept that bullshit. I recently ended a lifetime friendship over just this. Enjoy this song from the band The Specials. If you have a racist friend this is the time for the friendship to end!

Knowing that someone actually supports Trump is a deal breaker. His hate is so transparent that they have no excuse of ignorance.

Local elections are so important, the school board, the sheriff, the fucking mayor, why would people not want to have a voice? It has been 100 years since women gained the right to vote in the US.

The current run of old white men who are hate mongers is actually just a catalyst for the revolution. They are finally getting SO bad that people are getting up off the couch and taking to the streets.

It is November 9th, my mom’s birthday, and one year since Donald Trump was elected President. I can’t believe it’s been a year. Three more to go. Fuck! Will we make it? Nobody knows.

Facebook Memories showed me the photo I posted one year ago. It was the band of the Titanic playing as the ship sank. I felt hopeless.

Shortly after I felt extreme feminine rage and made my photo Xena Warrior Princess. Lucy Lawless is so hot and powerful. A true badass female, like Danica Roem, I would rather be her than a band playing as the water crushes those around them and the planks snap one by one. I know an icy death awaits but I am not going down without a fight, none of us are!

The race for Sheriff in my home county was a tough one. Many people I know got out to #FIREHOWARD and I really hope we succeeded. (Former( fingers crossed)) Sheriff Howard has been there for way too long, he is an open racist and Trump supporting scumbag.

Sheriff Howard (image: DailyPublic.com)

He wore his uniform to a Spirit of America rally and was surrounded by confederate flag waving assholes. People keep dying in the holding center and we need someone to stop it.

Bernie Tolbert , a black man, ran against him in an election so close that we still have to wait for the absentee ballots to be counted. Tolbert was the head of the FBI in Buffalo as well as the former head of security for the NBA. I just know that he is a big step in the right direction.

We must empower those who have always been put down. Now is the time for people of color, transgender humans, queers, and all of the others who have been oppressed for so long to take office and change this bullshit from the inside out.

It’s a long and epic boss battle. This is a multiplayer game folks, don’t put down that controller just yet!

How do I deal with the everlasting crush of the world crumbling down around me? I stay in my bed hole and cuddle with someone cute and my three cats. Wake up, bong, vegan yums, then maybe dye my hair blue. Plan the next show, listen to music, write as much as you can, and paint like humans are going extinct and all that will be left is the art we leave behind.

Politics really stress me out. This is a privilege, I know that. I can turn off the TV and chose not to read the newspaper. I can drown out my first world problems with hair dye.

I do not live in a war torn place. I am not beaten or threatened because of my skin or religious beliefs. I am free. I have a place to be warm and a person to hold, I have purpose and I need to help others rise up.

I live in a world where I can run around in half drag and scream because I feel like it. I expose myself and make people laugh. In other parts of the world I would be dead. Women can’t play music or even show their faces without being beaten or killed. People of color, transgender humans, and others do not have the luxury that I do.

I use my body as a tool, my burlesque is a voice. I will never be quiet about my politics.

My best friend told me that she almost didn’t have time to vote, but knew she needed to use her voice. She went. I am proud of her!

She voted in a room full of people of color and women. I held the door for an old white man with a Make America Great Again sticker on his car. At lease my vote cancelled his out.

That’s all we can do, show kindness even to the enemy, know the power of our collective voice, and push back when oppression strikes its poisonous hateful tendrils at those we love. Rise up motherfuckers, the revolution has already begun.

In 2014 the Harper Government passed the Fair Elections Act (FEA). It modified the Canada Elections Act (Act), our existing legislation on how our elections are conducted and run. Before we go into Harper’s modifications, let’s quickly discuss who is allowed to vote and what your voting rights are.

If you are a Canadian citizen and over the age of 18, you are allowed to vote in Canada’s elections.

You need one or two pieces ID, one of which has to be issued by the Canadian Government i.e. Medicare Card or passport, and have your name, photo, and address on it. If you don’t have any ID with your current address on it, you can show two pieces of ID with your name and have someone whose name and address are confirmed at the same polling station take an oath in writing attesting to your current address.

Please note: the voter information card you get in the mail is no longer considered a proof of address and no longer acceptable as one of your two pieces of ID.

For more information, check out Elections Canada’s website.

Those not allowed to vote include the Chief Electoral Officer (the Officer), the head of Elections Canada in charge of making sure elections run smoothly and fairly, and his assistant.

If you are currently imprisoned in a correctional institution for more than two years, you can’t vote either.

All that said, let’s tackle some of the new rules imposed through the Fair Elections Act.

Not Actually Fair

Despite its title, the FEA isn’t actually fair. It doesn’t guarantee or encourage fairness in our elections. It only ups the costs of Elections Canada by creating new positions and committees in order to give Canadians the illusion of fairness.

Take the new Advisory Committee of Political Parties (the Committee) created by article 21.1 of the now modified Act. Its role is to advise the Chief Electoral Officer “on matters relating to elections and political financing.”

The committee consists of the Chief Electoral Officer and two representatives of each registered political party chosen by the party leaders. It has to meet at least once a year and is presided over by the Officer.

At first glance this committee seems like a great idea, after all, it gives registered political parties a say in how elections are run, right?

WRONG!

According to article 21.1 (3), none of the Committee’s recommendations are actually binding on the Chief Electoral Officer. That means that the Committee’s existence is purely symbolic, and the Officer can disregard its advice if he or she chooses.

Then there’s the whole advertising issue. There has been a lot of anger regarding the Fair Elections Act’s modification to the Officer’s advertising rights.

In the past, the Chief Electoral Officer could use ads to encourage people to the polls. Under the new rules, the Officer’s advertising capabilities are limited to ads regarding how to become a candidate, how to be added to the list of electors, how voters can establish their identity and address at the polls, and how elections officials can assist the disabled on election day.

There is also Part 16.1 dealing with calls to voters. Calling campaigns are an effective tool used by candidates and their parties for fundraising, increasing voter awareness, and getting people to the polls. Since phone lines can be costly, it makes perfect sense for political parties to negotiate agreements with telecommunications service providers in order to limit costs.

stop-unair-elections-act
Image: canadians.org

At first glance, the modifications to the Act make sense for according to the new rules under the FEA, these agreements can only be entered into by a registered party or candidate or, if the person is an unregistered third party, they do so under their own name. They also have to inform the service provider that the contract is for calling voters. The problem arises with all subsequent actions required under this part of the Act.

Service providers have to file registration with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for every group for which they have a contract for voter contact calling services, and they have to do it within 48 hours after the first call is to a voter is made.

They also – under article 348.16 of the modified Act – have to get a copy of every phone script used to make live and automated voice calls to voters. The political parties in agreements with these service providers have to not only keep records of their phone scripts, automated and live, they also have to keep records of every single date the scripts were used!

From a logistical standpoint, these requirements are absurd. Anyone who’s volunteered for a political party knows that calling campaigns have to be run as quickly and efficiently as possible and that any reasonable hours prior to polling day are opportunities to get in touch with voters.

One could argue that these rules ensure that the public knows exactly what is being said to voters on the phone during the election. However, laws should always be applied with a degree of reasonability in mind, and having to track every single day a phone script is used seems more like a political tool to limit parties’ abilities to get in touch with voters by adding new, tedious tasks to their overtaxed schedules. This is especially silly when the CRTC already has copies of these scripts and records of the days they were used.

The elections are a ‘coming and with parties using wedge issues to obscure their actual plans for our future government, it is imperative that we all go to the polls. We need to make sure we actually can vote by carrying the correct documents and a will to vote out governments that increase our taxes via unnecessary tedium.

The 2013 Montreal municipal election was a sham, plain and simple.

With only 43% of eligible voters casting their ballots, we’ve scarcely improved on our 2009 low of 39% participation. 625 000 eligible voters did not exercise their democratic right to vote in our city’s most important election to date.

Disengagement in 2009 is at least partly to blame for so many crooks and criminals making their way into the halls of power, robbing the taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars, but the apparent anger did not manifest itself in our most cherished democratic tradition; expected ‘high’ voter turnout was but a minuscule bump.

Our city is only just beginning to comprehend the magnitude and implication of multiple generations of outright fraud built directly into the established local and provincial political systems, and yet, in our moment to effect change the people chose not to, by and large. And we wonder why our collective tax revenue doesn’t seem to provide for much…

If the people don’t use the democratic tools they have at their disposal there can be no hope of any positive socio-political or socio-economic change.

What’s worse is that we know low voter turnout plays directly into the strategies of these ‘vedette’ mayoral candidates. Disengagement means they keep their margins small, their favours few.

voter turnout rate montreal

Two key urban demographic groups – students and recent immigrants – are disenfranchised simply because it’s disadvantageous for politicians to involve themselves in the affairs of these groups. The establishment mentality is that this population is ‘transient’ or otherwise impermanent and thus not worthy of any attention. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people here. Do they not have an interest in this city’s future as well?

We also know that a number of boroughs (such as LaSalle, Lachine, Outremont and Anjou) voted for local independent candidates with independent borough parties, signalling a civic disengagement between the residents of these communities and the City of Montreal, an aftereffect of the municipal fusions forced through about a decade ago.

So we’re not entirely to blame for the low turnout.

But we are responsible nonetheless. Denis Coderre was elected by 149 000 people in a city with 1 102 000 registered voters.

This is pathetic.

Best case scenario Denis Coderre’s vast experience as a career politician comes in handy and he manages to keep a lid on things for the next four years. His populist bent may provide for some interesting fireworks if he intends on a values charter showdown with the premier, but of course, that won’t be so much for our benefit as his own. At best, a panis et circenses mayor, at worst, a whole helluvalot of skeletons come dancing on out of the closet.

Montreal Mayoral Candidates

Speaking of using the 2013 Montreal municipal election as a step up the career-ladder…

Melanie Joly, a public relations expert by trade, actually said she feels it’s ‘mission accomplished’ vis-à-vis her mayoral campaign, despite the fact that she came in second, lost her own district and only four of her team-mates got elected to council. By the by, team Vrai changement pour Montréal – Groupe Mélanie Joly is but two seats on council ahead of Équipe Barbe Team – Pro action LaSalle (yes, these are actual party names).

It seems to me the mission that was accomplished was that she managed to use the municipal election to develop political interest in preparation for a run on something else. There’s a provincial election looming on the horizon and a federal one too.

I can appreciate the ruthless brilliance of Ms. Joly’s plan, but I shudder to think of its hollow immorality. Are the citizens nothing but points in a political popularity contest?

We can not afford to go down this path again. How much longer can we survive as a viable city if our engagement remains this low? And what can we do to remedy the situation?

We need mandatory voting in our city before the next municipal election. If the people accomplish anything in the next four years, it will be the insistence that we commit ourselves to our right to vote, intractably.

As we all know mandatory voting is the norm in Australia, a nation not that fundamentally different from our own. There’s no reason to believe mandatory voting would be incompatible with our legal or political systems whatsoever, and the primary benefit outweighs any discomforts such a law might impose.

By ensuring total participation we would, at the very least, ensure that all voices are heard. As I imagine it, required participation would need a more engaged elections board, tasked to reach out to all Montrealers and ensure maximal participation. It would require additional advanced voting, more voting stations and, of course, the ability to abstain from voting on the ballot.

But the bottom line needs to be 100% participation, or as close as we can possibly get to it.

Anything less is playing directly into hands of the establishment, of those who wish to maintain the status quo, and worse, those who have realized the key to getting elected is not to appeal broadly or even have good ideas, but rather, to discourage as many voters as possible from participating.

If this is the direction our democracy is going (and based on provincial and federal numbers, it seems that is), then it simply isn’t a democracy at all.

How long will we wait before we act? And at what point have we gone so far down this road there is simply no turning back?

I’d prefer not to know the answer to that last question…