Your Reading List

Letters – for Oct. 27, 2011

We welcome readers comments on issues that have been covered in the Manitoba Co-operator.In most cases we cannot accept open letters or copies of letters which have been sent to several publications. Letters are subject to editing for length or taste. We suggest a maximum of about 300 words.

Please forward letters to ManitobaCo-operator, 1666DublinAve.,Winnipeg, R3H0H1 or Fax:204-954-1422 or email: [email protected] (subject: To the editor)

Ritz s Letter Misses Mark

Gerry Ritz s letter Farmers will finally get their wish seems to be based on the premise that farmers gave his government the mandate in the last election to proceed in this unilateral fashion.

I disagree. The only valid exercise of his ministerial discretion is derived from Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) Act, which gives farmers the right to vote on any changes to the marketing structure of the CWB.

His further statement Farmers not the CWB, have grown Canada s reputation for world-class wheat…. also misses the point. While it is true farmers have grown world-class wheat, it is the CWB that has grown Canada s reputation.

Gerry does not have the right to blow out anybody s candles, although it is obvious he has enough hot air to do so. What a statesman to make a comment like that. We must forgive him, however when his boss Harper tells farmers to get off the tracks because the train is coming.

With 39.6 per cent of the popular vote (what percentage of that was grain growers?) and no mandate under Section 47 of the CWB Act what arrogance.

Time To Change Absurd Ballot System

Did Manitobans really vote to give Greg Selinger s New Democratic Party almost two-thirds of the legislature?

Differentiating between the total electorate and the selectorate those who vote to select the elected in round numbers, Manitoba s 751,000-strong electorate was gerrymandered down to a selectorate of 431,000 those who were allowed to vote. This smaller group was further divided among 208 candidates so that the 57 who were declared elected only had the support of 250,000.

The entire crew of the 57-seat legislature comprising one Liberal, 37 NDP and 19 PC, was only supported by 57.9 per cent of the voters, or about one-third of the eligible electorate. And the partisans share who will form government? Only 35.6 per cent of the selectorate a mere 20.5 per cent of the electorate!

Canada s voting system translated this paltry support into 65 per cent of the seats in the legislature. Restated in the alternative, almost 80 per cent of the electorate 64.4 per cent of the selectorate never voted for the 37 NDP MLAs, yet Selinger now controls 65 per cent of the legislative seats.

So, how does Canada s voting system make such anti-democratic results possible?

Canada s single-mark ballot system, often disingenuously misnamed for what it really, truly is not a first-past-the-post system is extremely vulnerable to vote splitting. Vote splits divide the voice of a genuine popular majority and are easily manufactured to produce a victorious candidate who is not supported by the majority.

Among all of the gerrymandered electoral steps, consider alone the step where a clear majority of five out of nine voters divide their vote in a three-candidate election between two similar candidates. Candidate A gets two votes and B gets three, while C, not approved of by the five (the majority) receives four votes. C is declared elected. Incontrovertibly, a situation where the majority who voted may end up with no say in who is declared elected.

In Saskatchewan s 2007 election, 10 MLAs were supported by a solid 50 per cent plus one democratic majority, not only of those who voted, but of the entire electorate. In Manitoba? Not one.

Examining the election from one more perspective, had as few as 610 additional voters presented themselves at 10 key districts and voted PC, then the PC crew would have had a razor-thin phony majority of 29 MLAs to the NDP s 27 and Liberal s 1. It is absurd that an additional eight-tenths of one per cent of the electorate showing up at the polls could shift the outcome from one lopsided extreme to another.

Individually, people see that their wishes are not fairly reflected in election results, so it is no surprise that voter turnout is declining everywhere this defective ballot system is used.

To correct this, the 2011 Liberal platform included moving to a preferential vote1,2,3… ballot. By reducing the divide-and-conquer risk of vote splits, the vote123 ballot system does in fact empower the popular majority to elect whoever they prefer.

A people s democratically conducted preferential vote123 straw-vote poll can break the current anti-democratic logjam and is a small but democratically valuable step forward.

Whose Rights Will Be Next?

In one of his letters to the editor in the Oct. 13Manitoba Co-operator Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz states that farmers are great marketers of pulses and flax, which is misleading. Most pulses and flax are sold to a grain company and the grain company sells them to the end-user.

The CWB is the marketing agency for farmers and marketed wheat and barley to end-users. The multinational grain companies are the winners if Ritz gets away with this giveaway to big business.

Ritz wants the public to think that the plebiscite held by the CWB was an illegitimate survey, when in fact it was a fair and well-worded plebiscite where 62 per cent of wheat farmers want the CWB as their selling agency. Ritz and Harper refused to hold a government vote on the issue, as required under the CWB Act.

Our forefathers left Europe because they were oppressed and had no democratic rights. The Conservatives have just taken away the democratic rights of western Canadian farmers.

When you request a dialogue with a Conservative MP and they know you do not share their ideology, they will not reply to any request. They will only deal with constituents who are like minded. The democratic rights of farmers have been taken away. Who will be next?


Gerry does not have the right to blow out anybody s candles, although it is obvious he has enough hot air to do so.

duncan geisler


& had as few as 610 additional voters presented themselves at 10 key districts and voted PC, then the PC crew would have had a razor-thin phony majority of 29 MLAs to the NDP s 27 and Liberal s 1.


About the author

Duncan Geisler Ashern's recent articles



Stories from our other publications