December 17, 2000
In the stereotypical nuclear family, that dreamlike unit of the
1950s with a mother, a father, two children and a baby, the mother
do the cooking and therefore have ultimate say over what made up
The father, as the one who paid for the dinner, had the second most
amount of say. Children might express an opinion which might or might
not be factored in. The baby, not being able to speak, would have no
say, and being a baby, possibly no interest.
That 1950s mother, who may never have existed, was one of the last
vestiges of the barter economy, which only works when there is trust on
both sides. Trust can only develop when there is a positive
relationship. Where there is trust, there is the opportunity for
More importantly, where there is no trust, there is NO opportunity for
This is apparent both in the Florida fracas and in the November 27
Canadian election. Regardless of who becomes President in the United
States in 2001, and regardless of the Liberal party in Canada winning
170+ of 301 seats (which is considered a stunning majority) none of
actually represent the majority of the people in, respectively, Canada
the United States.
In the US, the electoral map was like a bullseye: blue around the edges
and red in the middle. However, Al
Gore and Dubya Bush both got
nearly the same number of votes. Whichever one of them becomes
will have disenfranchised half the country.
the map is more like one of those rainbow popsicles: the Canadian Alliance
green (green for American dollars, not for the environment, one
out west, bleeding into Liberal
in Ontario, red chequered with Bloc Quebecois indigo in
and with Progressive Conservative
blue in the Atlantic provinces.
(Plus some orange dots for NDP who
can't take seriously anymore.)
That summed around 170 seats for the Liberal party, out of a possible
301. That 56.5% of the seats came from only 40.8% of the popular vote.
In a country with four (and a half) time zones, only two time zones are
strongly represented in the new government.
In the States, Gore's votes were shaved away by Ralph Nader (rumour claiming that
some of Nader's ads were underhandedly paid for by the GOP to split
Gore's vote; plausible; could be true). In Canada, the schism was far
more dramatic; the right wing split into its constituent elements of
sleaze and humility and, while each element got a lot of votes they
missed out on the seats. The upstart sleazy Canadian Alliance took
of the vote but only 22% (66) of the seats, which is probably "close
enough", plus I don't like the Alliance anyhow; but the once-proud
now-humbled Conservative Party got 12.2% of the vote and only THREE
PERCENT (12) of the seats!
Now, I voted Conservative, so I admit bias, but still, with a total
turnout of under 13 million (out of a potential 21 million; lowest
turnout in 75 years) I'd like to see that million Conservative votes
more than 12/301 seats in Parliament, particularly when the Bloc
Quebecois netted 38 seats with 10.8% of the popular vote.
(The scene was even more dramatic in 1992 in Canada; the Conservatives
took roughly a third of the popular vote and ended up with exactly two
seats. that incarnation of the Conservative Party needed to suck the
pipe, but the wisdom of hindsight suggests it may be bad to
disenfranchise a third of the vote.)
The reason the Conservatives got stomped is the same reason Gore (with
his slim popular majority) isn't already redecorating Pennsylvania Avenue; our
in their infinite wisdom realized it wasn't fair to give the city folk
all the rights to legislate the country folk. So they made ridings (or
in the US, districts) and tried to spread the power around some.
This is a very good idea in the US; it checks a candidate from being
to ignore nearly everywhere but California, Florida, New York and
Every state's worth at least something, so everybody gets at least a
of say; mother and father get to decide if cousin Jimmy is coming to
visit but at least Willie can try to sway them by saying Jimmy can
in his room.
In Canada, it doesn't work as well, because Canada only has 30 million
people, of which about a third are concentrated in Ontario and Quebec.
This meant that where I was born, in British Columbia on the west
that the election had already been decided several hours before the BC
Which means that in this election the Canadian west got screwed twice;
traditionally, by ultimately not having any real electoral power, and
voluntarily, by plastering itself with votes for a party that is not in
power, but who it felt represented them.
The same screw is imminent for half the American people: whether Bush
Gore becomes president, half the people didn't want him.