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Election act not all bad

Doreen Barrie, in an alarmist fit, describes the Fair Elections Act as so deeply flawed minor tinkering won't fix it (Chief electoral officer under fire, April 14).

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Barrie won't go into the details of the bill's many provisions, which have supposedly raised red flags. I for one wish she would.

It appears the two biggest complaints are the reduced powers of the chief electoral officer and the elimination of electoral vouching.

As for the first complaint, it's unfortunate CEO Marc Mayrand brought this change upon himself. Under Mayrand's leadership, Elections Canada has a spotty record.

Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre's statement "the referee shouldn't be wearing a team jersey" is true, and is an example of the problem of Liberal partisanship in the federal government civil service.

As for the elimination of vouching, it's about time -- if there was ever an invitation to electoral fraud, it's the practice of vouching.

People should read Bill C-23 before being critical of it.





No electoral system perfect

Bill Rolls is to be commended for his letter, in which he restates his support for proportional representation in our electoral system (Anger over Fair Elections Act, Letters, April 15).

Such a measure should not abolish our traditional first-past-the-post process, as Canadians like to have their "own" members of Parliament.

As the German electoral system proves, this can quite easily be retained alongside proportional representation.

In Germany, people vote for their direct representative and separately for a political party. From the parties' respective lists, enough candidates are then elevated to the House to make the overall representation proportional with that second vote total.

No wonder Germany is one of the world's most stable democracies.






While agreeing with Bill Rolls' criticism of the pernicious proposed Fair Elections Act bill, I fail to see how a system of proportional representation (PR) would eliminate professional politicians from our system of national governance.

PR also carries with it major disadvantages, which its proponents seldom mention. It invariably leads to minority governments, coalitions (which are notoriously difficult to fashion), a proliferation of parties, horse-trading between parliamentary factions, frequent elections (as coalitions fall apart) and legislative inaction.

The other disadvantage is the loss of constituency representation. Canadians would no longer have "their" MP to talk to about local issues. They could be lucky, and have an elected representative living in their vicinity, but many voters would not be that fortunate.

In an imperfect world, there is no ideal electoral system. The first-past-the-post system may not be great, and could be tweaked -- if it were constitutional to do so in Canada -- but it's better than PR, which has little going for it other than its arithmetical simplicity.





Douglas coverage overdone

The article Inquiry a 'stain' on the system: lawyer (April 14) bothers me.

It seems Justice Lori Douglas' picture is in the paper week after week.

When does this woman ever get closure?

I have followed the proceedings from the outset to the point where I feel badly for the torment this woman is going through.

The only thing I feel she is guilty of is marrying a man whose picture we don't see in the papers and who should be in jail for destroying this woman's life.





Polls not comparable

In case Len Evans was not asking a rhetorical question in his letter: The answer is no, we cannot conclude the NDP government is more popular than some may think (A tale of two polls, Letters, April 14).

The two polls can't be compared since they ask different questions ("If a provincial election were held tomorrow, which party's candidate would you be most likely to support?" and "Do you approve or disapprove of the performance of Premier Greg Selinger?").

Additionally, an online survey done by a newspaper is biased. Those who read the same newspaper may have similar political views, and the online population is not representative of the target population -- voting Manitobans -- since not everyone uses the Internet.



St. Andrews


Kudos to 311 service

I'd like to offer a different perspective to Al Yakimchuk's letter regarding 311 (311 ineffective, Letters, April 14).

I have called 311 twice since the fall and have also used the city's 311 iPhone app once.

Both 311 calls were handled quickly (within two days), and the pothole I notified the city about via their app was filled within three days.

I did not feel I was treated with anything but respect by the 311 representatives -- they were polite, helpful and both times offered me a reference number to use if the repairs were not completed in a timely manner.






Every time I have called 311, I've received a prompt, pleasant and responsible attendant, who has quickly answered all my questions and solved my problems.

Customer service-wise, a representative was at my house Monday and was unbelievably helpful and friendly.

The 311 service has by far been one of the City of Winnipeg's best additions.




Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 16, 2014 A8

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