Wednesday, July 31, 2013

FDA Poll--Checks and Balances on Canadian Prime Minister

Photo of the Canadian Parliament.

The purpose of the FDA polls is to explore democratic issues and different perspectives. The FDA will use the poll results to further its mission of democratic advancement.

Checks and Balances on Canadian Prime Minister

Are the current checks and balances on the Prime Minister in the interests of the broad public good?

Click on this link to share your perspective:

FDA Poll on the Checks and Balances on the Canadian Prime Minister



Relevant Information on Canadian Checks and Balances

FDA Podcast on the Canadian Parliament and Executive Branch

Page 34 of this FDA Report Outlines the Checks and Balances on CDN PM

FDA Talking Points Series--Checks and Balances

Sunday, July 28, 2013

FDA Talking Points Series--Freedom of Speech and Assembly

Edward Snowden, U.S. whistleblower, who recently released classified documents which prove large-scale international and domestic surveillance by the U.S. government and aided by U.S. media and communications companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. Snowden's release raises questions as to how free Americans really are, and how democratic is America when the U.S government has been denying and covering up its large-scale surveillance?
The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) holds the view that freedom of speech and assembly for all citizens within extremes is integral to democracy. However, the standard of freedom of speech and assembly is not simply citizens having rights to freedom of speech and assembly. The opportunities and means for freedom of speech and assembly are important as well, particularly during election periods. Also, there may be other factors such as large-scale civilian surveillance by government authorities and largely unregulated biased mainstream media which weaken overall freedom of expression and assembly. The FDA looks at freedom of expression and assembly from a broad perspective, taking into consideration variables which impact positively or negatively freedom of speech and assembly.

However, in its electoral fairness audits, the FDA evaluates the degree of freedom of speech and assembly from a narrow standpoint, because other audit variables such as media election coverage, candidate and party advertisement, and checks and balances on government bodies cover the broad aspects of freedom of speech and assembly. The narrow approach simply looks at whether or not there is a constitutional and/or legislative basis for freedom of speech and assembly for all citizens within extremes.

Country Comparison

CANADA

In Canada, freedom of speech and assembly is guaranteed through the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, Canadian freedom of speech and assembly is weakened by a largely unregulated mainstream media, particularly during election periods. In addition, the Canadian federal electoral system has for examples significant bias to large, established political parties and minimal checks and balances on the executive branch of government, and thereby directly and indirectly weakens civilian freedom of speech and assembly (FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Canada, 2013). Although Canadians have a right to vote and run as political candidates (which are forms of free speech), these rights are limited by electoral and media biases which impact electoral discourse and political choice and opportunity.

In addition, the federal government's surveillance of Canadians through the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and other organizations weakens civilian privacy, and thereby impacts negatively freedom of speech and assembly. The FDA is in the amidst of a report to determine to what degree the federal government snoops on Canadian citizens. The Canadian Charter is vague on surveillance simply stating that Canadians have a right against unreasonable search and seizure (Constitution Act, 1982, Article 8).

Legislative Research

1) Constitutional

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that everyone has the fundamental freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression; including, freedom of the press and other media of communication (Constitution Act, 1982, Section 2(b)).

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that everyone has the fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association (Constitution Act, 1982, Section 2(c), (d)).

Every citizen has a right to vote in elections of members to the House of Commons or other legislative assemblies, and to be qualified for membership in them (Constitution Act, 1982, Section 3).

2) Election Law

Every elector who qualifies is entitled to one vote (Elections Act, Article 6).

The Elections Act provides a blackout period for election advertising to the public. The blackout begins on polling day and lasts until the close of all the polling stations in the electoral district (Elections Act, 323(1)).


UNITED STATES

In the United States, freedom of expression and assembly is guaranteed through the U.S. Constitution. However, in a broad context, there are minimal checks and balances between the U.S. mainstream media and the U.S. government, and minimal regulation of U.S. media election coverage. Therefore, U.S. freedom of speech and assembly is likely weakened by the major media's dominance of political discourse, which in turn helps to shape what Americans speak and when and why they assemble (FDA Media Report on the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, 2012).

In addition, the recent evidence of large-scale government surveillance of U.S. citizens weakens freedom of speech and assembly by denying Americans privacy, which may in turn limit what Americans say and when and why they assemble. See this FDA article for further explanation of the democratic implications of surveillance on free speech:  U.S. in State of Tyranny or Already in an Early Stage?

Furthermore, the significant electoral unfairness in the U.S. federal electoral system weakens U.S. freedom of speech by weakening the political say of the American electorate. See this FDA report on the U.S. federal electoral system: 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on the United States 

Legislative Research

Paid political statements through any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, mailing, or any other type of general public political advertising must clearly state which authorized political committee paid for communication or other persons and who authorized the other persons, such as a candidate or authorized political committee. If transmitted by television, the statements must include either an unobscured, full-screen views of the candidate or agent of the candidate making the statement, a voice-over, or both, and shall also appear in a readable manner with a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the printed statement, for a period of at least 4 seconds. If the political statement is not authorized by a candidate or political committee, the communication must state the name and permanent street address, telephone number or World Wide Web address of the person who paid for the communication and state that it is not authorized by a candidate or political committee (Code Federal Regulations, Section 441d).

No person shall sell space in a newspaper or magazine to a candidate or agent of a candidate for amount that exceeds charges for comparable spaces (Code Federal Regulations, Section 441d).

The U.S. Congress has legislative power (U.S. Constitution, 2012, Article I, Section 1), and the U.S. Congress must not make laws which prohibit or abridge freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble (U.S. Constitution, 2012, First Amendment).

Citizens of the United States cannot be denied life, liberty, or property without due process of law, and equal protection of the laws (U.S. Constitution, 2012, Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1).

All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States (U.S. Constitution, 2012, Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1).


VENEZUELA

In its constitutional and electoral laws, Venezuela guarantees freedom of speech and assembly within extremes such as slander against elected officials or encouraging domestic violence and religious intolerance. In addition, unlike in the United States and Canada, Venezuela expands freedom of speech by allowing for citizen-initiated referendum and recall of any elected official including the Venezuelan President. Further, Venezuelan election law supports broad and balanced election coverage, and thereby placing a reasonable limit on freedom of expression in order to encourage broad political say and a fully informed electorate. However, Venezuela's lack of electoral finance transparency may impact indirectly freedom of speech and assembly through illegal electoral finances directed to pro-government parties and/or anti-government parties being singled out for their electoral finances.

Unlike in the United States' or Canada's constitutional documents, the Venezuelan federal government is prohibited from conducting surveillance of Venezuelan's personal communications unless the surveillance is an order of the court (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Article 48). 

Legislative Research

The state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(2)).

The state allows communication and information on elections to be free, diverse, plural, accurate, and timely (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(3)).

The state supports respect for different ideas, and promotion of tolerance, transparency, and peaceful coexistence (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(8)).

Every Venezuelan has to right to freedom of thought and expression by any means of communication and diffusion. The law does not tolerate non-anonymity, war propaganda, discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Article 57).

Communication is free and plural and comes with rights and responsibilities. Every citizen has the right to timely, accurate, and impartial information (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Article 58).

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its values on freedom, equality, justice, and international peace (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Fundamental Principles, Article 1).

Freedom is an inherent right of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012,  Fundamental Principles, Article 1).

Venezuela holds political pluralism, liberty, justice, social responsibility, and democracy as some its superior values (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Fundamental Principles, Article 2).

The state permits meetings and demonstrations in public places. Organizers must give 24-hour notice for the meeting or demonstration. An alternative day and time may be established if there is a simultaneous meeting or demonstration taking place. The state does not regulate private meetings (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 36-46).

Every citizen has the right to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Article 68).

Venezuelan people have the power to submit referendum bills to the National Assembly if the people in favor of the bill represent at least twenty-five percent of the electors registered. Treaties, conventions or agreements that could compromise national sovereignty or transfer power to supranational bodies, may be submitted to a referendum on the initiative of the President of the Republic in Council of Ministers, by the vote of two-thirds or the members of the Assembly, or fifteen percent of the voters registered and entered in the civil and voter registration (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Article 73).

Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to wholly or partially repeal existing laws if the people in favor of the referendum have support from at least 10 percent of the registered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Article 74).

Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to abrogate laws issued by the President of the Republic under Article 236 if those in favor of the referendum have the support of at least 5 percent of the registered electors. The validity of referendum requires at least 40 percent support from registered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 74).

Budget laws including taxation are not subject to referendum nor are laws for protecting, guaranteeing, and developing human rights (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, 2012, Article 74).

Under the Election Law, the state forbids any citizen from insulting public officials (Walser, 2012). Article 72 states that citizens are required to respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals. Article 75 states that election propaganda must respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals and direct obscenities and derogatory statements against the agencies and entities of public power, institutions and public officials or public servants.

References

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution. (2012). National Electoral Council. Retrieved from http://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/constitucion/indice.php

Code of Federal Regulations. (2009, January 1). Federal Registry. Retrieved from http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/cfr_2009.pdf

Constitution Act. (1982, April 17). Retrieved from the Department of Justice http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html#h-38

Elections Act. (2000, May 31). Elections Canada. Retrieved from http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=loi/fel/cea&document=part00&lang=

Election Law. (2012). National Electoral Council. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/ley_organica_procesos_electorales/indice.php

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the Canada. (2013). Foundation for Democratic Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/FDAdvancement/2013-can-fed-audit

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the United States. (2012). Foundation for Democratic Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/FDAdvancement/united-statesfda-global-electoral-fairness-report

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the Venezuela. (2012). Foundation for Democratic Retrieved fromhttp://www.slideshare.net/FDAdvancement/2012-fda-global-electoral-fairness-audit-of-the-venezuelan-presidential-electoral-system

FDA Media Report on the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. (2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/FDAdvancement/united-states2012-fda-presidential-election-media-study

Garvey, s. (2013). "Edward Snowden--U.S. Headed for Tyranny or Already in an Early Stage?" Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2013/06/edward-snowden-us-headed-for-tyranny-or.html

Media Election Content. (2013). Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2013/03/fda-talking-points-series-media.html

U.S. Constitution. (2012). Cornell University Law School. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/

Walser, R. (2012). "The Chávez Plan to Steal Venezuela's Presidential Election: What Obama Should Do." September 19, 2012. The Heritage Foundation.







Mr. Stephen Garvey Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement

Thursday, July 25, 2013

FDA Podcasts--Rathgeber Interview

In this FDA podcast interview, Mr. Rathgeber shares his insights on important issues regarding Canadian federal democracy.

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement, interviews Mr. Brent Rathgeber, independent Member of the Canadian Parliament. On June 5 2013, Mr. Rathgeber resigned from the Conservative Caucus on grounds that the Conservative government had ceased to represent his values on government transparency and accountability. Mr. Rathgeber is a former Alberta MLA, and he was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. In this interview, Mr. Rathgeber discusses the reasons for resignation from the Conservative Caucus. In addition, he discusses the government's script and inline policy with its members, in which Conservative MP's are denied free consciousness on their voting in the Parliament. Mr. Rathgeber believes that the Conservative government is driven by re-election, rather than doing what is better for the Canadian people as a whole. Furthermore, he says that since the 1970's the Canadian Parliament has been eroded of checks and balances on the executive branch of government, so that now the Prime Minister's Office has almost no checks on it between federal elections. The Canadian Parliament has become subservient to the Prime Minister's Office. Mr. Rathgeber thinks it should be the other way around in a healthy and well-functioning democracy. Overall, Mr. Rathgeber shares important insights into the dysfunction of the Canadian Parliament, which are supported fully by the 2013 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Canada. These insights should raise serious concerns by Canadians. In closing, Mr. Rathgeber shares his views on how to move Canadian democracy forward. For non-mainstream, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of international politics, listen in or download the FDA podcasts.

2013 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Canada

FDA RSS Feed

FDA Podcasts on Itunes

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

FDA Talking Points Series--Inclusion of Minorities

The Maori have had guaranteed representation in the New Zealand Parliament as early as 1867 through the Representation Act. (Photo source: Murray Gunn, http://murraygunn.id.au/blog/)
The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) takes the view that legislation which encourages the inclusion of disadvantaged and under-representative minorities in electoral processes is more democratic than to not encourage the inclusion of these minorities. In a perfect electoral system, in which candidates and parties have equal opportunity and means to influence the election outcome, and the voters have equal opportunity and means to express their political points of views and vote, there would likely be no grounds for inclusion of minorities. However, electoral processes are not perfect. And even though an electoral system may have freedom of expression and assembly, not all members of the electorate have the same means to influence election outcomes, and not all candidates and parties have the same opportunities and means to influence election outcomes.

The FDA assumes that an elected assembly or parliament ought to be as representative of the people including minorities, as possible. The act of voting itself is not necessarily a reasonable way to make an assembly or parliament as representative of the people as possible. It depends on the voting system and fairness/unfairness issues in the system. If there are clear cases of disadvantaged minorities politically, then for the reasons stated above the FDA believes that these minorities ought to be given additional opportunity to get elected and/or have their issues heard by the public. The counter argument that everyone is free to vote, speak, assemble, and run as a candidates, and therefore, there is no need for special legislation for minorities, ignores societal and systematic issues which may cause political inequality and disadvantages between groups. The following may considered grounds for special legislation: a minority group which is part of the lowest income bracket of society, or a minority group which has distinct views and needs not understood by the majority of society, or a minority group due to weak historical and culture ties to democratic processes has no representation in the assembly or parliament, or a minority group which has a low population. The FDA acknowledges that a criterion for minorities needs to be established such as
  1. Does the minority group have distinct disadvantages which limit the effectiveness of its political participation?
  2. What percentage of current elected officials are from the minority?
  3. What is the population percentage of the minority compared to the total population?
  4. What percentage of current elected officials represent the views of the minority group?

Legislative Comparison


CANADA

Legislative Research

Although the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has provisions for laws, programs, activity for amelioration of the conditions of disadvantaged individuals and groups, the FDA researchers found no specific provisions for disadvantaged individuals and groups in terms of federal political representation. In fact, the Charter says that everyone has the same democratic rights which are counter to idea that everyone should not have the same democratic rights (Constitution Act, 1982 Section 3).

The Canadian Constitution Act 1982 recognizes aboriginal and treaty rights, and the pledge by the federal government to include aboriginals in constitutional conference (Constitution Act, 1982, Section 35.1).

The Indian Act establishes a process to register Indians and their bands, and define the system of Indian reserves. The federal government gives registered Indians authority over the Indian reserves subject to the terms of treaties and any other Act of Parliament (Indian Act, Section 88).

The Canadian Constitution Act 1867 establishes the legislative authority of the Canadian Parliament over Indians and lands reserved for Indians (Constitution Act, 1867, Section 91(24)).

Women have minority representation in the Canadian Parliament. In 2008 women comprised 22.1 percent of the seats in the Parliament (Women in Parliament, 2010). In 2010, women comprised a majority of the Canadian population at 50.4 percent (Female Population, 2010).

In 2004 according to the Statistics Canada, visible minorities comprised 7.1 percent of all MPs elected, while visible minorities account for an estimated 14.9 percent of all Canadians (Black & Hicks, 2006).

Analysis

Although the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes that all Canadian citizens have equal democratic rights, there is no specific legislation to encourage the political representation of disadvantaged minorities and minorities under-represented in the Parliament, and despite evidence which supports special legislation for minorities. In addition, although Canadian women are the majority gender, they are well under-represented in the Canadian Parliament. Further, Canada's aboriginals are permitted self-governance on reserves, but this governance must adhere to the overriding authority of the Canadian Parliament (Constitution Act, 1982, Article 35).


UNITED STATES

Legislative Research

To be eligible to become an elected member of the House of Representatives, a person must be at least 25 years of age, an American citizen for the past 7 years and be a resident of the state they are seeking election in (U.S. Constitution, 2012, Section 2).

To be eligible to become a Senator, a person must be at least 30 years of age, an American citizen for the past 9 years and be a resident of the state they are seeking to represent (U.S. Constitution, 2012, Section 3).

The FDA researchers found no codified legislation that promotes the political representation of minorities or other disadvantaged groups of people (e.g. there are no affirmative action plans) in place. However, there is no legislation that seeks to suppress it.

There are currently 93 women and 444 men holding positions in Congress. There are 81 members of a visible minority group in Congress. There are 76 women and 361 men in the House of Representatives. There are 76 members of a visible minority group in the House of Representatives:
  1. African American - 43
  2. Asian - 7
  3. American Indian - 1
  4. Hispanic - 25
There are 17 female and 83 male members in the Senate. There are only 4 members of a visible minority group in the Senate (Congressional Demographics, 2012).

Analysis

Similar to Canada, the United States has no legislation which encourages the political representation of disadvantaged minorities and under-represented minorities in the U.S. Congress, and despite evidence of unequal representation of ethnic groups in the Congress.


NEW ZEALAND

Legislative Research

Persons registered to as an electoral of a Maori electoral district may vote at polling stations for the district (Electoral Act, 1993, Article 61(2)).

Persons registered as an electoral of a Maori electoral district has the option to register as an electoral of a Maori electoral district or an elector of a General electoral district (Electoral Act, 1993, Article 76 Maori option).

Maori have distinct electoral districts for its population, including the Chatham Islands. Only persons of Maori descent can vote in these districts. The purpose of these districts is the Maori people representation in the Parliament (Electoral Act, 1993, Articles, 45, 46, 269; The Origins of the Maori Seats, 2013).

The Maori have 7 seats of 70 seats in the Parliament. The seats are determined based on the Maori population. Maori representation to the Parliament dates back to Representation Act of 1867 in which the Maori had 4 seats in the Parliament (The Origins of the Maori Seats, 2013; FDA Electoral Fairness Report on New Zealand, 2011).

Analysis

The New Zealand's guaranteed seats for a historical and cultural minority in the Parliament is consistent with the FDA's standard on the inclusion of minorities.


VENEZUELA

Legislative Research

The state guarantee indigenous groups three seats in the National Assembly. The three seats from the three regions (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 8):
  1. West Region: comprised of the states of Zulia, Merida and Trujillo.
  2. South Region: comprised of the states of Amazonas and Apure.
  3. East Region: comprised of Anzoategui, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas and Sucre.
The National Electoral Council supports development outreach and educational programs for indigenous groups relating to electoral discourse and process. The NEC translates these programs and other information materials into the distinct indigenous languages for distribution and transmission on radio and community television stations. (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 5).

Indigenous candidates must apply through their indigenous communities or organizations. In addition, the candidates must meet the following requirements (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles 142-145):
  1. Have exercised by traditional authority in their respective Community.
  2. Having established record in the social struggle for the recognition of their cultural identity.
  3. Have taken action on behalf of the people and indigenous communities or organizations.
  4. Belonging to an indigenous organization legally constituted a minimum of three (3) years of operation.
Analysis

The Venezuelan state guarantees three seats in the National Assembly for indigenous groups. In addition, the National Electoral Council has a comprehensive information programs to inform and educate indigenous groups about the electoral process and upcoming elections. These mechanisms are consistent with the FDA's standard on the inclusion of minorities in the electoral process.


References

Black, J., & Hicks, B. (2006). Visible Minorities and Under-Representation: The Views of Candidates. Retrieved from Elections Canada http://www.elections.ca/res/eim/article_search/article.asp?id=145&lang=e&frmPageSize

Congressional Demographics. (2012). Congress.org. Retrieved from http://congress.org/congressorg/directory/demographics.tt?catid=ethnic&chamb

Constitution Act.(1867, March 29). Retrieved from the Department of Justice http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-1.html

Constitution Act.(1982, April 17). Retrieved from the Department of Justice http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html#h-38

Electoral Act. (1993). New Zealand Parliament. Retrieve from http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0087/latest/DLM307519.html

Election Resolution No. 100304-0043. (2010). National Electoral Council. No. 5 Regulation of Organic Law of Elections in Safeguard of the Election Campaign Financing. Caracas. March 4, 2010.

Female Population. (2010) Statistics Canada. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-503-x/2010001/article/11475-eng.htm

Indian Act. (1985). Retrieved from the Department of Justice: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-5/page-1.html

The Origins of the Maori Seats. (2013). New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved from http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/features/00NZPHomeNews201109011/the-origins-of-the-m%C4%81ori-seats

U.S. Constitution. (2012). Cornell University Law School. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/

Women in Parliament. (2010, July 14, 2010). Parliament of Canada. Retrieved from http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/lop/researchpublications/prb0562-e.htm#a2






 
Mr. Stephen Garvey Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement







Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Edward Snowden Dwells Deeper into the Struggles and Contradictions of American Society



In this second part to his video interview, Edward Snowden dwells deeper into the contradictions of American society. He points out that there are many Americans who are "good people with good values who want to do the right things", and yet "the structure of [U.S.] powers create a certain [false] mindset in the global consciousness" and are "working to their own ends to extend their capabilities at the expense of the freedom of all republics."

In addition, Snowden points out how American mainstream media has become a propaganda machine for the government and against the American people and anyone who believes in democracy and freedom. He references his own example about how most of the U.S. mainstream media is towing the government line against him such as defining him as fugitive, traitor, someone who has aided the enemy, criminal, anti-American etc., with the primary purposes of deterring future whistle blowers and distracting Americans and others from the real issues surrounding the National Security Agency. Further, Snowden points out that U.S. media companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc., allow the U.S. government backdoor access to all communications of Americans and foreigners.

Snowden concludes that "I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, ever expression of creativity, or love, or friendship is recorded. And that's not something I am willing to support; that's not something I am willing to do; that's not something I am willing to live under. I think anyone who opposes that sort of world has an obligation to act in a way they can."

At issue in Snowden's statements is the integrity, viability, and legitimacy of American democracy. Clearly, Snowden's facts about the U.S. government do not translate into "government by the people, for the people, of the people." Rather, they translate into government against the people glossed over by a propaganda view of American democracy.

The FDA's recent audit findings on the U.S. federal electoral system correlate closer to the government against the people view. The 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on the United States shows that the U.S. federal electoral system borders a failed state. The FDA auditors measured the following scores:
  1. two failing scores for legislation pertaining to electoral finance (48.25 percent) and media election coverage (42.5 percent);
  2. one unsatisfactory score for legislation pertaining to candidates and parties (57 percent);
  3. one satisfactory score for legislation pertaining to voters (70.25 percent);
  4. overall score of 54.5 percent out of 100 percent. 
It is important to note the electoral system is a key cog in the U.S. system, because it results in political power. Therefore, this cog is very revealing as to the true nature of American society.

In addition, the FDA Media Study of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, covering 7,921 data points, shows imbalanced and narrow media election coverage favouring Obama in the following manner:


2012 Presidential Candidates
Total Media Coverage
1. Barack Obama
54.0%
2. Mitt Romney
44.75%
3. Gary Johnson
0.61%
4. Jill Stein
0.29%
5. Virgil Goode
0.27%
6. All Other Candidates/Parties
0.09%

These media findings are consistent with Snowden's observations in which the mainstream media is working closely with the government and sidelining any person or organization which threatens the structure of powers.

What is at stake for Americans and persons from similar societies, is their freedom including privacy and existence in a people-based democracy.

References

Revised 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on the United States

FDA Media Study of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election








Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement






Thursday, July 4, 2013

FDA Podcast: Online Direct Democracy in Canada

An example of online voting on federal legislation, which is being provided by the Online Party of Canada.
Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement, interviews Jean-Francois Frenette (JF), party officer for the registered Online Party of Canada. JF discusses how he became involved in the Online Party and what direct democracy means. JF says that there are currently three aspects of direct democracy: recall of elected officials, government-initiated referendum, and citizen-initiated referendum. A new fourth aspect of direct democracy, with the ongoing development of online technologies, is citizens from electoral districts having an opportunity to vote on legislation before a parliament or assembly, and propose and vote on citizen-initiated legislation. In the Online Party of Canada, elected members are required to follow the views of their electorate as long as minimum voting thresholds are attained. Also, the Online Party endorses recall of its elected members. Further, JF discusses world developments in online direct democracy with reference to developments in Switzerland, Australia, United States and other countries. He discusses the pros and cons of online direct democracy, and says that this new idea of democracy is overdue in its implementation in democracies. Interestingly, the Online Party is strictly non-partisan in the sense that it accepts members from anywhere on the political spectrum as long as these members uphold the principles of direct democracy. Overall, JF shares insights into a new development in democracy and provides information on how people can get involved.

FDA RSS Feed

FDA Podcasts on Itunes