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NEWS RELEASE · 1st November 2011
Merv Ritchie
I absolutely trust that 70% of all men and women will make the right decision. I also have no doubt there are corrupt people, but they are the clear minority. It is the majority of my fellow citizens who I trust completely, without reservation. This is the foundation of the “Occupy Democracy” movement I am launching today.

This past month, across the globe, we have heard and read reports of many ‘Occupy’ movements. These are titled with the name of the City where they are being held. It began with ‘Occupy Wall Street’. The common theme however is they have no clear defined goals or demands. They are simply a gathering of people mad at the economic situation of their lives, their country and maybe the world. Most are blaming the banks but can not identify a single target. It is almost like hunting for a moose while shooting a small shotgun at a forest. Today I am narrowing this target, identifying the problem and (continuing the analogy) selecting a high velocity sniper rifle.

I have written about this issue before and will simplify the solution in three short paragraphs.

Just like we vote in secret at a curtained ballot box on voting day for our representatives, those we elect need the same privilege; to vote in secret on every issue of legislation or law. The leader of every democratic institution will then need to be certain he or she has considered the opinions of the majority before holding a vote. He or she will not know who voted yes or who voted no. Therefore their can be no bribery or retribution issued, hence, no corruption or excessive lobbying by corporate interests. In British Columbia alone this would have halted numerous bad government decisions. The Banks would likely not be tax free corporations. BC Hydro would not be gutted and Smart meters might not be installed. BC Rail might still be BC Rail and the harvesting of trees might still be tied to a Mill in the region. The HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) would never have passed and “Orders in Council” (the passing of a legislative act simply by the Premier signing a document without debate) would be a thing of the past.

Today, with majority governments, we have dictatorships dressed up as democracies. It is why hundreds of thousands of people have quit voting and have given up on democracy. It is why hundreds of thousands are taking to the streets. It is why living conditions and wages have consistently gone down while corporate and bank profits have gone up. Governments borrow money to function and to get this money at a reasonable rate the banks (and the IMF) issue the orders on how the government is to perform. All of this happens because we live in dictatorships, not democracies. Today those we elect must stand from their seat and have their name called out publicly indicating how they are voting. Bribery and retribution are the absolute result. How can anyone then call this democracy? A democracy requires a secret vote at every level.

I trust absolutely that 70% of every man and women will make the right and just decision. I trust you will take the time to consider who you select to represent your community and I then trust the person you select will act in your best interests. You may not like the decision. You may want to know how he or she voted on a particular issue, but for the sake of democracy we must demand a secret vote in every legislative house. Trust is the foundation of all interpersonal relationships. For over 50 years, ever since corporate and banking lobbying interests were allowed to influence our elected governments, our social structure has been failing. We live in the wealthiest country in the world. In a real democracy, a government run by the people for the people, we wouldn’t have hundreds of thousands of citizens pouring into the streets in anger and protest. The title of the protests needs to be unified and I am initiating this in Terrace today.

Occupy Democracy

I demand a Secret Ballot in all Legislative Houses – Vote Merv for Mayor and we will begin here, in Terrace – I trust you will make the right decision!
Tsimshian know how to keep secrets.
Comment by Janice P. Robinson on 2nd November 2011
The Tsimshian treaty process is quite a tug of war. Simoighets and Sigdmhanna'as, from numerous houses, all four clans.....and from all seven villages are quite aware and politically astute at all levels. We are experts at knowing our business, and minding it. I speak for our house, only. And, nobody else speaks for Waap Gitxon, Kitsumkalum. We all know who most of the speakers are, and if they don't say anything.....then, nothing's been said. It is a secret.

Bring the "treaty" forth, and we will have a secret vote to let the people have their way with it!.......... Just like our ancestors used to do. My father, Cecil Robinson, said the secret vote is worth dying for.
But, he spent 12 years at Coqualeetza Residential school.

Mr. Ritchie, you write like a pushy person that I might not like, and I did not want to vote for you.
Nuts to you.
Comment by terry on 2nd November 2011
Sad that you have to go to such great extent to explain the importance of a secret ballot. In 3rd world countries you get shot if you don't vote for the dictator ! Obviously it would be far more difficult for the bribery to continue if they couldn't be certain who voted for what. Enough said.
So our vote for our rep should be public too then?
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 2nd November 2011
This is absurd, some things must be secret to avoid corruption. This is why westerners vote secretly.

Both Mulroney and van derzalm were the Party leaders who could order their party members how to vote. Zalms money bag was from a private real estate deal, Mulroneys was for a government "airbus" contract.

I definitely want government more open but I also want to protect it from the corruption that has the entire world in financial and social turmoil and destitution.

We are this way today because of exactly what you are fighting against in a backwards way. Keep it the way it is and keep what we have. Change the way it is and there is a chance it can change.

As for "Sisyphean" the only thing endless or futile is this merry-go-round argument and continuing with a public exposed vote for our representatives. Our system today is Sisyphean. Not my attempt to change it.
Sisyphean argument.
Comment by Mr. Peters on 2nd November 2011
Not only does your dog not hunt, it also stinks and is need of a bath.

We will have to agree to disagree on this matter as anything else is just Sisyphean in nature. Why you want to make government more secretive is beyond me but have at it. There is no way you will get anywhere with this as people want more open government not a more secretive one. All forms of government lend themselves to corruption and bribery, and the more secretive it is the more it lends itself to it. As I have said before, nothing good is ever done in secret, evil is what tries to hide in the dark and wants secrets.
Let me see if I can explain this another way
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 2nd November 2011
Pretend for a moment, I wish to bribe an MLA, MP or Councillor. Say I am a lobbyist for the dairy industry and I want him or her to vote against the charging of a deposit on milk product containers like is done on all other beverage containers. I offer to fund their next election campaign and maybe even give them a condo in the Bahamas’ for their vote. So I watch the debates and enjoy how they argue on my behalf, how detrimental this would be to the bottom line of the Dairy industry who I am lobbying for. If I watch the voting, the way things are today, I know my guy did as he said he would and I can hand him the keys to the Condo. Likely kick in a brown paper bag of spending loot just like van derZalm got as did Mulroney.

If on the other hand, it was as I suggest, secret, I wouldn’t have a clue how my inside guy voted, should I give him the keys to the Condo, even though the vote failed and now Milk product containers are being charged a deposit? Did he vote yes or no? I’ll never know. In this case my bribe is completely ineffectual.

If, on the other hand, we got rid of “Party Politics” and the guy or gal we vote in doesn’t get threatened by the “Party Whip” to vote the way they are told, then I can accept open public voting. But remember this then exposes the system to bribery again.

Your argument that a secret ballot allows for bribing can be referred to by my favourite southerner hunting phrase, “That dog don’t hunt.”

It is the hunters way of saying kill the dog. The argument holds no water.
Secret Ballot.
Comment by Mr. Peters on 2nd November 2011
The only reason that a person would want a secret ballot is so that he/she does not have to be accountable for how they voted. The other reason would be that they could now sell their vote to the highest bidder and how would we know, after all their vote was in secret.

Is this what you are after, the ability to sell your vote without having to be accountable?
Who likes playing the devils advocate?
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 2nd November 2011
No Chris, not at all, "In Camera" meetings are only for certain issues. Just like most debates, participants will generally argue both sides of an issue. Many Terrace City Councillors have argued for a position when they voted against it. We witness this in all types of discussions and debates. It is one of the good things about have two sides of a legislative house, a government and an opposition. They each argue passionately for the opposite of each issue. When this occurs all members get to see the various points of views displayed along with the variety of impacts a proposed measure might have. Sometimes we call a person who engages in this the ‘devils advocate’, and this opens up the issue for understanding anothers perspective. In the end however, with a secret ballot, no one can be effectively bribed or punished as happens today.

In our small Terrace seven member council we have seen almost all Councillors debate and argue on behalf of the opposite side of how they voted. Bidgood is the most noteworthy but I recall Leclerc, Downie and Christiansen on more than one occasion making a case for the losing side of a vote. Therefore, yes, you will not know how your representative voted, nor do they know if you voted for them or not. But you should know the opinions or the character of the person your community selected to be your representative and then trust he or she will make the right choices. As I keep stating, today, we have reps who have to vote as they are told and face serious repercussions if they don’t. Today, we do not have democracy. I demand we occupy it.

In Camera meetings can only be held under a set of very strict guidelines. Google the BC Community Charter and look up “In Camera” meetings. The common reasons are for the discussions of land sales (to avoid speculators getting a heads up) and over personnel issues where hiring, discipline or firing is involved.

I hope this addresses your concerns.
In camera?
Comment by Chris on 2nd November 2011
Does this mean that council and legislative meetings should all be held in camera for fear that the lobbyists may be able to identify and sway targets? If this is the case how is it known that your elected official is following the desires of his/her electorate. If it is not the case how does it differ from not knowing the final vote as opposed to the opinion of that person?
It has only one reference to Catch 22 - the Crazy part
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 1st November 2011
The term "Catch 22" is from a book by Joseph Heller on World War II. It comes from this writing,

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.

The only reference “Catch 22” has is to continue down our current path, the crazy path. In other words, "insanity", as I stated before; expecting a different result by doing the same thing again.

I have no problem with democracy; it is just that we do not have it. Yes, man is a pack animal and we like to be part of a group. It is this group however that threatens decisions for the common good. I could still be part of the group and not be ostracized as long as my vote, the vote for the good of the people who voted for me, following their wishes, wasn’t used to isolate me.

I am a strong person and I don’t give a hoot if someone likes me or not, but this character is quite uncommon. I am fighting to protect everyone, not myself. I need no protection.

You will never get rid of lobbyists or force minority governments to work responsibly with open public voting.

And it is not my opinion that democracy isn’t working; it is the 75% of Terrace residents and 50% of Canadians who don’t vote anymore. They have all simply quit.

Democracy is a waste of time if, after you vote, your representative does not act in your interest. And under the current system of British Parliamentary Democracy (er Autocracy) we have a complete failure.

I won't be a fool and I will fight to my dying breath to remove the current anti democratic system from our society. Until we get rid of Party Politics or institute a secret ballot we have nothing but a dictatorship fuelled by banks and corporate interests, and in their opinion, the public be damned.

In Unions, the Chamber of Commerce or the Banking world, membership has no privileges, just obligations and restrictions disguised as privileges, just like our dictatorships are disguised as democracies.
Disagree
Comment by Rutti Tutti on 1st November 2011
You are really just creating a catch 22.

We need to be able to identify how people voted so we know how we are being represented.

When an MP/MLA aligns with their party, and you cast your vote for them, you are aligning yourself with that party. If you dont like the idealogy of the party you vote another party or vote for an independent.

Every once in a while, when it comes to moral issues, parties free their caucus of the shackles of membership (issues such as abortion, etc)

So even if you remove parties from the equation, people will naturally migrate towards some sort of grouping/coalition, even with a "secret ballot".

The problem is not that our democracy is not working, it just in your opinion, is not working for you.

Its not perfect, but with a few changes like removing lobbyists, forcing minority governments to work together (ie force coalition governments) removal of non-confidence votes, if Quebec wants to leave let them, etc, etc.
And yes, I agree, but,
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 1st November 2011
Until we are able to find a method to regain dignity and remove the banking influence from the democratic institutions, until we are able to regain strength and uncompromised independence for our elected representatives, we must retake our democracy by force.

In the NWT they do not have a Party System. All representatives, after elected, participate in selecting their “Premier”. Then they all work together in the best interests of the people of the NWT. In this situation the public ‘exposed’ voting is okay and quite acceptable.

However in our present commonplace “Party Politics” system, where one is sanctioned and kicked out or bullied, (Campbell was said to make people cry), this cannot work.

I am suggesting a quick and simple solution to the problem. After this is instituted the representatives can vote to outlaw party politics, vote to outlaw lobbyists, vote to print their own money system, vote anything they want to make our democracy work. Then they can also vote to vote publically if they feel it is safe again. But until we take it back from the Oligarchs we will have nothing but the same old same old with no future for our children but more poverty and destitution.
Of course I do not trust them!
Comment by Mr. Peters on 1st November 2011
This would be laughable if it were not so sad. The idea that not knowing how our representatives voted on an issue is somehow better, well , I might be a little crazy but I am not that far gone to drink from that brand of cool-aid.

Nothing good is ever done in secret. Only dark deeds are done under the cloud of darkness and secrecy.
On second thought Rudi, it is insanity
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 1st November 2011
That is the often quoted definition of insanity; repeating the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

We must change the way we do things. It is imperative.

And my agenda is to start here, now. It is the classic, “Think Globally, Act Locally” manner of behaving. Join me in attempting something different.
Nuts is thinking the other way.
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 1st November 2011
Every one now knows exactly how their elected representative will vote, as they are told by their leader. In municipal politics it is still fairly safe as we do not have 'party politics' yet. The option is available in the Municipal Election Act though.

Today we have our MLA's and MP's representing their leaders to us, not representing us to their leaders. They might claim they argue your point of view on your behalf, but when it comes down to the vote, they do as they are told.

Your demand to know how your representative voted demonstrates you do not trust the person you voted for. This lack of trust has our society and democracy in shambles.

The House of Lords and the Bankers of England counted on this lack of insight by the "Commoners" . They made us believe we had power in the decision making process with our democratic right to select our representative in secret but then took that power away at the "House of Commoners" level.

Stop being fooled by the words.

There is a solution to the turmoil in the worlds democracies and I intend to start right here, right now.
Are you nuts?
Comment by Mr. Peters on 1st November 2011
I trust people 100% of the time to do what is in their best interest for them. I want to know how my representative voted. A secret vote is the ultimate in corruption waiting to happen. If I am a company with deep pockets I can then go a grease the vote in my favour, and no one would know because they are all secret votes. Nothing good is ever done in secret!

Are you afraid of having people know how you vote on issues?