Letter to the Editor

Change now, election later Have you ever wondered about whether your vote in a federal election really had any effect? If you did, you had good…

Change now, election later

Have you ever wondered about whether your vote in a federal election really had any effect?

If you did, you had good reason to wonder.

At this time, I think Canada needs to improve its voting system before Canada needs an election.

Recently, I took a close look at the results of Canada’s 2006 election. In that election, 50.2 per cent of the votes cast were ineffective (Canada-wide).

Only 49.8 per cent of the people who went out to vote on January 23, 2006 could point to an elected MP that their vote helped to elect.

Since seriously looking at Canada’s electoral system, I’ve put together a different system of electing MPs, with the help of many friends and associates.

When you “run the numbers” and apply this new system to the official results of the 2006 election, this proposed system reduced the number of ineffective votes to 5.9 per cent.

Increasing effectiveness of votes by 90 per cent would give all electors much more reason to vote, not only the discouraged ones.

This proposed system would bring all political parties closer to the popular vote, a better match between votes and seats. Also, better seat distribution.

Under Canada’s present system, even though the Greens received 4.5 per cent of the votes, they won no seats out of 308.

Under the proposed system, the Green Party would have won nine seats across Canada.

This proposed system would require no costly electoral district boundary-line revisions before implementation like other recently proposed electoral systems would require. I think it could be easily used on a trial basis and we could revert back if desired. It would allow for:

– many more electors’ votes to have a larger effect on the election;

– all members of Parliament to be elected in the election, with no party lists like some proportional systems;

– a close correlation between votes and seats;

– good local representation, and some satisfaction for non-winning candidates.

To see how this system would work, go to www.electoralchange.ca.

If you would like the Canadian government to start working effectively now on improving Canada’s electoral system, tell your member of Parliament.

Dave Brekke, former federal returning officer for Yukon, Whitehorse

 Public support for dog abuse

Monday evening I watched, for the first time, a re-run of the Discovery Channel’s Out in the Cold TV series episode about the evacuation by air of several injured and exhausted Yukon Quest sled dogs during the 2007 race.

It is absolutely bizarre to me that Yukon Tourism and Culture, a major financial backer of this series (also aided by the Yukon Film and Sound Commission), would see any beneficial tourism spin-offs for the Yukon Territory from the heart-wrenching scenes of traumatized dogs, which have been run into the ground by our wonderful Quest heroes.

At least one of these dogs appeared to be not much more than a puppy (some Quest mushers use 18-month-old dogs). Footage included a scene of a musher arriving in Scroggie Creek puffing on a cigarette.

I would like to forewarn Tourism and Culture Minister Elaine Taylor that she and her fellow governing party members will be receiving a series of pointed questions regarding their annual monetary support (approximately $230,000 in 2008) for the Yukon Quest.

These questions (which have previously been asked in public) will be submitted to the opposition parties in hopes that they will get some comprehensive answers in the Yukon legislature (all Yukon political parties are complicit in providing easy money to the Quest over the years the race has been run).

It is highly embarrassing to me as a Yukon resident to have this Out in the Cold series (by association) cast Yukoners as a bunch of stupid yokels who apparently get off on seeing dogs subjected to exploitation and suffering — this for a quarter century!

In closing, one little news tidbit I had not seen covered by Yukon media was the story about Quest/Iditarod musher John (J.T.) Hessert being charged in Montana for abandoning his 33 faithful companions “without food, water, or shelter,” according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

It was reported that “a veterinarian examined the dogs on February 2nd and determined that they were all well below normal health and had not been fed enough food.”

Also mentioned in the article was that “one of the dogs had a collar embedded in its neck and other dogs had frostbite, according to court records” — more testimony of the special bond between a musher and his dogs.

I contacted via e-mail a Montana reporter who covered the story to see how these dogs are doing as there was no mention of their current situation. I have not yet received a reply.

Terry Cumming, SledDogWatchdog.com,