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This week’s mailbox:

Electoral reform presents options

Electoral reform presents options

At the behest of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, Yukon Bureau of Statistics sent a survey to all Yukoners about electoral reform. Some people will receive their invitation to participate online and others through the mail.

Fair Vote Yukon finds the survey to be generally balanced and to not contain leading questions. However, there are some inadequacies in the explanations of electoral systems.

Here is more information that Yukoners might find helpful when filling out this survey.

Plurality or Majority Systems: The “Plurality System” adequately describes what our current First Past the Post system does. The candidate with the most votes wins the seat.

Alternative Voting, (AV), a system of voting with ranked ballots, is only referenced in the survey. It is also a Plurality System.

The “Majority System” describes a system such as the Two-Round system, where the winner has more than 50% of the votes. In a multi-party country, such as France, this requires a second, run-off election where the two parties or leaders with the most votes in the first election run against each other in a second election.

False majority governments hold power without winning the popular vote. “Majority systems” must result in false majority governments. “Plurality Systems” often have false majority governments with occasional minority governments, such as Yukon has now.

Proportional Representation, (PR) Systems: PR systems are as varied as the countries they represent. Both Italy and Israel have a “closed list” PR system where political parties choose the candidates. Other countries using PR have “open list” where voters choose their candidates. Japan, Finland and all of the Scandinavian countries have “open list” PR.

Neither Fair Vote Yukon nor Fair vote Canada endorse “closed list” PR.

Multi-member ridings, usually referred to as Mixed Member Proportional ridings, consist of two traditional ridings combined to make one larger riding with two representatives, one chosen by voters and the other the result of party support. This is entirely doable in Whitehorse. For example, Riverdale North and Riverdale South would be just one riding with two MLAs.

New Zealand, South Korea and Germany use Mixed Member Proportional.

Mixed Electoral Systems: Mixed Electoral System is sometimes referred to as “Urban-rural split”. For example, it could be that Whitehorse uses Mixed Member Proportional while the communities use a ranked ballot voting system. Or some other combination.

The idea is to accommodate the unique circumstances of remote electoral districts while providing a more representative system in larger urban areas. While the total results wouldn’t be perfect, they certainly would be more representational than our current First Past the Post system.

Citizens Assembly: The survey describes a Citizens Assembly as “a body formed from a cross-section of the public, randomly selected and representative to study the options available on issues of importance.” Citizens Assemblies are independent from government. A randomly selected group of citizens would be, in their whole, non-partisan.

In closing, Fair Vote Yukon encourages all Yukoners to fill out this survey. This is a chance to help determine how we vote and how we are governed.

Linda Leon


Events can be traumatic but do not need to lead to trauma

As an EMS volunteer with Marsh Lake and a volunteer firefighter at Ibex Valley, I have been taking in and integrating a big amount of information regarding all the different modalities that are out there for dealing with traumatic events. For the past 10 or more years, I have been passionate about understanding the way mind, emotions and body function together, and I am excited to share some of my insights.

Resiliency boils down to having an attitude of playful and courageous curiosity about the world and others, but more importantly, a keen interest in one’s own emotions and most important, physical sensations. The following will look at the details:

Somatic experiencing (soma - Greek- body) has a hard time gaining scientific recognition as it does not fit the way science likes to approach things, i.e. it is not quantifiable. Meanwhile, polyvagal theory has solid scientific backing by neurology and leads to similar conclusions: by training ourselves to become aware and curious of our minds and our bodies, we can learn to activate different parts of our nervous system and allow for emotions to be processed and integrated right away, rather than being stored away for later processing, which can lead to all kinds of side effects, including PTSD.

I have found that stillness is the best way to learn to become aware of and explore our inner landscapes. Considering the modern world, caring for our mental health is imperative. It is wise to dedicate time to maintain its health while submitting it to the sensory explosion the modern world holds.

One cannot drive one’s car and maintain it at the same time. Similarly, I need to stop moving and become better at relaxing mind and body for the processing to kick in — in other words: switching into theta brain wave mode. Thirty minutes of stillness gives me as good of a rest, maybe even better, than 30 minutes of sleep.

So what does stillness look like? One technique I found very helpful when I started, is to sit still, pick a point 6 ft in front of you and just stare at it - this is an ancient Zen practice. Interestingly, eye movement and thoughts are correlated. If my eyes stop moving, my brain slows down.

- By doing this seemingly useless activity, I allow the emotional material from the day to well up.

- By being curious about them and the correlated sensations, I engage the anterior Vagus nerve which allows the processing and the integrating, rather than stepping into fight or flight.

Emotions are psycho-nervous energy allocated to deal with situations. When they are released, vibrations, spasms, pain or any other sensation might be felt: somatic experiencing. When intense content comes up, I remind myself that there is a lesson in there for me to learn. Try to focus on the things you have agency over, no need to spend precious time and energy on things you have no influence over. In summary: What you focus on and how you frame it influences what becomes salient in your cognition and how it is processed.

Overall, pain or emotion wants to be fully acknowledged by our higher cognition. The more you try to get away from signals that stem from emotions or sensations, the louder the signal becomes, until it becomes part of repressed unconscious, which correlates to numb parts of the body, with all the negative consequences of that (PTSD is one of them). Ways of training yourself to focus on intense physical sensations include taking ice dips.

As I already alluded to, I find that there is not nearly enough emphasis on the physical awareness part in all the literature and workshops out there. Polyvagal theory really helps creating a frame for us to change our understanding of ourselves and better process the intense emotions they are subjected to.

Adventurous-playful-lifelong-learning is the golden key.

Florian Boulais