None of the Above – There is an Option

I am a little surprised this time around at the number of people I hear asking for a ‘None of the Above’ option in this year’s provincial election. What worries me about this is most of the people I hear talking this way tell me they are going to ‘spoil’ their ballots as a way of protesting the deplorable choices we’ve been given. Let me say this about spoiling your ballot…

DON’T DO IT!!!!!  There’s a better way.

Here’s the deal. ‘Spoiled’ in election parlance is a term that refers to a ballot that has been improperly filled out. The category was created as a response to  people who, quite frankly, are incapable of following simple instructions. They use a mark other than an ‘x’, check off two names instead of one, that sort of thing. These ballots are simply discarded by the returns counting pencil-pushers. They are not counted, they are not reported, they are not taken notice of – they are simply destroyed.

This is why I say, “Don’t spoil your ballot! It accomplishes nothing!”

There is an option however, you can formally DECLINE your ballot. Here’s how it works…

Go to the polls with your ID in hand. Register with the returning officer and watch as they stroke off your name. Take the ballot that they hand to you. Then.. instead of going behind the cardboard screen,  hand your ballot back to the official and say something like, “I want to formally decline my ballot.” They will ask if you are sure and after you affirm that it is what you want to do, they will then set your ballot aside and record the fact that it was declined!

The number of declined ballots is seldom report by the media, but they are counted, tallied, and become part of the official election records. The government and the political parties are made aware of the number of declined ballots. In the absence of a formal ‘None of the Above” option actually printed on the ballot this is a far better way to send a message than spoiling your ballot. At least this way it will be counted instead of just being ignored.

Now… I’m not saying that this is what you should do in Thursday’s election. Who you do or do not vote for is entirely up to you. Frankly, I’m still thinking it over. But, if you are going to try to send a message about how frustrated you are, at least do it in a way that will be noticed and become part of the official record.

Don’t spoil your ballot…  Decline it!

And don’t do nothing… get out and vote!!


An Open Letter from Adam & Eve

The other night I watched Albert Mohler defend Adam and Eve on the Stephen Colbert’s the Colbert Report. I consider satire on of the most noble forms of humour and Colbert is brilliant at it. Too bad Mohler wasn’t as brilliant in his defense of Adam and Eve. But then maybe I should let them explain the issue, with the help of Zachary Bailes  over at  Associated Baptist Press.

I think it’s worth the read and even some discussion.


Conquering Cancer 200km at a Time

Well, I finished.  Two days, 215 kilometers, 9.5 hrs of riding, my best time ever for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. I feel pretty good physically, and emotionally I’m still riding kinda high. It’s a great weekend and a great cause. I’m very proud of my involvement and with the involvement of the rest of Team Kortright.

Speaking of which, what a great group of people. Noah and Tyler finished well ahead of the rest of us, but that was expected. Denise rode over 170 km, much further than last year. I am very proud of her as I am of Brian who kept her company and encouraged her every step of the way even though he could easily have kept up with the boys and me. Two members of the team Bruce and JaneAnn tackled the challenge of the 200 mile route. Bruce was unable to ride on Sunday due to other obligations but Jane successfully completed the entire 200 mile route. Well Done!

The one shadow on the weekend however was the fact that two members of the team were unable to ride for health reasons. Darby, who rode last year, suffered a whiplash injury a few weeks ago and was advised to limit her bike riding by her therapists. Marika incurred a concussion injury while playing rugby and faced similar restrictions from her doctor. I really missed having them along for the Ride but they joined us at the finish line and participated in the celebrations.

I know I’ve already said this, but it was a great weekend. And next year should be even better. It’s the 5th running of the Ride to Conquer cancer next year and they are planning all kinds of extras. Not the least of which is the awarding of a commemorative Gold Bike Helmet to all those who have participated in all 5 rides. This year, out of almost 5000 riders, there were only 444 of us who had been there every year since the beginning.

I truly believe that all of us need to have a cause we believe in; something we do just because it feels good and does good for other people. The Ride to Conquer Cancer is mine; and likely will be for some time. I hope you are able to find a cause to which you too can commit and find hope.

I’ll likely have more to say on this later, but for now…



I’m Just so (Yawn) Offended

I’ve been trying to get offended by Living With Lions latest album cover, but so far this is the only reaction I’ve been able to muster…

We so badaas punk we're making fun of a religion who'e credo is "Love Your Enenies."

With the church having faced everything from Chocolate Jesus to Piss-Christ to flexible Rature scheduling, taking on the Christian Church in North America, especially in terminally-polite Canada is just too easy; or at the very least is going to take a lot more edginess and/or imagination than a faux Bible cover. I mean there’s no risk involved whatsoever. We were doing ‘Holy Shit’ jokes when I was seven; mostly involving pictures of little brown piles with halos over them.

And if it wasn’t lame enough on it’s own, when you add the fact that they were embarrased into giving their gov’t grant money back, I imagine now punkers know how many Christians feel when the likes of Pat Robertson open their mouths.


Historic Election Changes Everything

I know, the title of this post reads like a newspaper headline, but it’s truly how I feel about last night. Canada is different place this morning and for a number of reasons.   When this election started I was very much of the opinion that it was unneeded and would turn out to be a waste of time. I, like many people, felt we would likely just get more of the same, a Conservative minority government.

However; as you have likely noticed even if you didn’t stay up till 2 am to see the final results as I did, the face of the nation underwent a significant facelift last night.

The Conservatives have their majority mandate, largely centred in the west but with significant presence in Ontario. Harper’s place in history is secured with three Conservative victories in a row.

Jack Layton’s place in history is confirmed as well, leading the NDP to it’s most prominent place in Parliament ever – Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. He has good reason to feel proud this morning. With its base in Quebec it is a historic accomplishment. It will be interesting to see how he performs in this situation.

Micheal Ignatieff is more than just a footnote as well. He must wear forever the mantle of being the leader who took the Liberal party to the back benches for the first time in its long history. I’ve read two of his books and was impressed with his writing. I wonder what the title of his next book will be.

Giles Duceppe likely has the most to answer for. He not only lost the election but the Bloc has lost official party status. We will not be hearing from them in Parliament any time soon. The question now is will the voters of Quebec compensate for this massive turn by putting the Parti Québécois back in power provincially.

And for the fifth change in a single election, unprecedented in any previous election at any level of government, Elizabeth May has won the Green Party’s first seat in Parliament, earning her party a limited voice and a seat at the debates four years from now, provided the media types don’t change the rules in the meantime.

But there is one more change that took place last night that cannot be seen in the popular vote, the number of seats, or who does or does not have official party status. In previous elections, as the night wore on, I would find myself sitting in front of the TV set watching the results come in essentially by myself as Roberta dosed off on the couch beside me. But last night I had company.

Sarah, and Carlo, and Darby, and Brian and a host of others were watching right along with me. We commented and cajoled, lamented and wept, cheered and boasted back and forth without even being in the same room together. Through the medium of Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Messenger I was able to watch the results and converse about them with over a dozen friends and strangers from all across Ontario, from Guelph to Ottawa; across the nation from New Brunswick to B.C.; and even heard from friends in the United States and as far away as the British Isles in real times, only a few key clicks away.

It will change the face of Canadian elections forever, as it has done in other jurisdictions. Last night the major broadcasters followed the rules and refrained from sending out results across the nation until the polls were closed, but Canadians did not. From the beginning Tweeters and Facebookers sent out the word 140 characters at a time. As soon as the first ballot box was counted in Goose Bay, people in Vancouver knew the result.

Broadcasters, pollsters, political parties, Elections Canada even everyday Canadians are all going to have to spend the next four years figuring out how to conduct an election under this new reality. This new level of connectivity has the potential to make strategic voting a tactic that will skew and slant election results even more than our antiquated first-past-the-post Westminster model of government does already.

The results last night do, I believe, demonstrate the need for electoral reform. An 8% increase in the popular vote garnered the Conservatives and additional 13% of the seats in Parliament. An 11% drop in the popular vote in the GTA cost the Liberals nearly half the seats in Toronto. There does seem to be a valid reason to seriously consider proportional representation.

But what isn’t known yet, and won’t be known until the statistical analysts have had time to crunch all the numbers, is how much did Tweeted results from Charlottetown affect voter response in Burnaby. How much was the slight increase in voter turnout from 2008 inspired by the Social Voting movement and how much was due to Frank in Kingston screaming on Facebook, “Harper’s winning! Get your ass out there and VOTE!”

The pundits will pontificate for months on why we have the results we do. Did Harper get his majority because Canadians care more about the economy than they do about honesty and transparency? Or did he get it because we hate elections and punished Ignatieff for forcing one? Did Jack gain in Quebec because his attack on Micheal’s attendance record hit home? Or because he bloom has fallen off the Separatist rose? I’m not certain we’ll ever truly know for sure.

But what we do know is this, for better or for worse the people have spoken and we are going to have to live with it for the next four years. And I am fairly certain that last night’s results will change the way elections are conducted in this country, one way or another.