Making the CBC Vote Compass even better


The CBC Vote Compass project has been around for as long as I can remember, and long before I was as politically aware as I am now. When I first started taking the Vote Compass ‘quiz’, it was the only real way of knowing where parties lay on a given set of issues, as I was just starting to care about or realize the impact of politics.

The policy questions that make up the Vote Compass ‘survey’ are a good spread of what I would consider to be important policy issues in a given election, but recently I’ve started to notice some holes in the concept that could easily be improved. Taking off my ‘bias’ lens (as somebody who is more socially and economically liberal, small ‘L’) and looking at these questions objectively, I believe that a few additions to the questions would really go a long way towards informing voters and framing the issues for the electorate.

While the idea that the news media in North America and around the world is ‘fake’ is atrocious, there is a real sense in the world today that you can only trust sources that agree with your existing point of view. We could all do with a little more trust in objective journalism, provided reporters and editorial boards can demonstrate that they deserve some of our trust as they cover stories that affect the world around us.

In this series, leading up to the federal election, I am going to run through each policy proposition in the 2019 Canadian Federal Election Vote Compass, discuss the question, whether I think there is important context missing, and how I think the questions (or the way the questions are asked) could be improved.

I would love to hear from you if you have any points on any of the questions or issues you think I’ve missed, and will be updating this as we go depending on feedback or if I’m rethinking things.

Note: As I mentioned, I lean heavily towards traditionally liberal viewpoints, and I’ve highlighted my selection in the Vote Compass for each question, but in this series, I’m going to look at each question objectively in discussing what information I think is missing. We may disagree on individual policy choices, but I think all of us can agree that these improvements would help inform voters of all stripes.

Editor’s Note: Rob is dumb, and doesn’t know a lot about a lot of things, probably not that different from your average voter. He says “I don’t know” a lot. He is not doing any extra research in to policy for this post, since that’s the whole point of this exercise, so there will be a lot of dumb/wrong assumptions about policy because the Vote Compass doesn’t help you out there.

The Policy Propositions

  • Proposition 1: First-time home buyers (FTHBs)

    As somebody who just bought a house in June, I know surprisingly little about what help the government offers to FTHBs. We didn’t qualify for the benefits that exist for FTHBs, since for my wife this is her second home purchase, and that meant that I didn’t even look at what would have been available, since it didn’t apply.

    I think FTHBs get a tax credit, or a loan from the government at a lower interest rate, or something to help them be able to afford a house. My understanding is that most people use these incentives to buy a bigger house than they otherwise would have, which doesn’t necessarily help them financially, as it just gives them a bigger mortgage payment, which under equivalent circumstances means that while they may be more likely to buy a house, they’re also more likely to buy something they can’t actually afford.

    In terms of policy, I would support helping young families to buy/rent housing, but perhaps through subsidized housing rather than cash/tax breaks which really help people who can already afford to buy more than those who still can’t under the FTHB policy. My own personal views are that for essentials like housing, nobody should be refused on the basis that they cannot pay, but that subsidies shouldn’t exist for everyone, they should ramp down as a person or families income ramps up.

    Summary: I don’t actually know what the FTHBs policy is right now, but I think there’s definitely more than can be done to support young people in securing affordable housing that is sustainable and safe for them. In giving my answer, I went with my gut, without knowing what each party actually plans to do on this issue.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 2: Handguns

    I am strongly against guns and violence in every way. I realize it’s a means to an end in circumstances of defending your freedom, but carrying or owning personal firearms for the ‘purposes’ of self-defense or security just seems completely backwards to me.

    So, you’re probably thinking to yourself “Rob, why didn’t you put strongly agree?”. I see where you’re coming from. But I read the question and it talks about banning handguns, with no limits whatsoever, and I think that only works in principle. Would I love to live in a country with zero handguns (or other guns)? Absolutely! But if handguns are banned, but the law is only loosely or selectively enforced, it will be the lawless who own guns, and police will be at a disadvantage (again, the question could, and should, clarify).

    I think that the police having guns is kind of important, but I also think that they need a LOT more training on how to use them safely, and especially on cultural sensitivity, issues around racism and mental illness, and de-escalation.

    I do think that people should have the ability to purchase guns for some reasons, but that training to get a permit should be long and challenging, and that it should be renewed regularly (like lifeguarding or CPR training). And I also think that military-style weapons or automatic firing features on all guns should be made illegal, and that improper storage of firearms should also be severely punished.

    Similarly, I think that you should need extra training if you want to own a gun and store it in an urban area, where things are very different than rural farms or places where you might actually need to protect yourself from wildlife or for other such uses.

    Summary: After all of that, do I support the ban of handguns? Yes, clearly, but I also think it’s not that simple, and knowing what policy proposals parties have on this issue is very important in determining how I vote.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 3: Child Care

    This particular question is framed poorly in that given the way I feel, it presents the participant with a flawed premise. The way I read it, it’s asking whether I think the money that currently goes to parents (the Canada Child Benefit?) should instead go to child care centres to let parents who want to work the flexibility to do so.

    However, my particular opinion is that the Canada Child Benefit is great, but having the government subsidize child care in addition would really benefit parents too, especially those who might not be able to afford child care otherwise (it’s HECKA expensive).

    Answering ‘disagree’, like I did, could reasonably be interpreted as meaning that I think money should continue to be given directly to parents instead of going to child care centres. But in my case, I don’t think it should be a ‘one or the other’, I think parents should have affordable ways to make sure their kids are in a safe and engaging atmosphere during the day if they want to work (until kids go to school).

    I find that with a lot of these questions, with the way they’re phrased, the most ‘extreme’ positions aren’t addressed at all, or the problem space the question addresses can’t be answered with a one-dimensional ‘agree/disagree’ scale.

    Summary: I support the ability for parents to receive cash each month to help raise their kids (dependent on income), AND the ability to access subsidized (affordable) child care if they need or want it. Not everybody has other options.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 4: Health Care

    This question is REALLY tough for me, mostly because it exposes some flaws in my understanding of how these systems are run. My understanding is the health care is currently administered on a provincial level, and most of my basic procedures and medical appointments are paid for by OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan). This is a public sector system, but private companies can handle all kinds of procedures which are then billed to OHIP.

    I think the balance between private and public that we have in Ontario is pretty good, so I thought that things should pretty much stay the way they are (I certainly wouldn’t advocate for more private health care). I will say clearly that I’m also very ignorant of these things though, other then hearing about proposals for national drug coverage (Pharmacare), which I’m also fully in support of. This question/answer didn’t really help me at all, because it doesn’t give you any information about how much the federal government determines these things, and how much the private sector is actually involved in health care in Canada.

    Summary: This is not the worst question, but with no context or information, I find it really hard to come to any conclusion other than to say I’m happy with how things are in Ontario, and we have some balance of private/public health care.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 5: Basic Income

    I’ve been extremely vocal about my support for a basic income program in Canada. This question is quite straightforward, but I think it takes a certain (liberal) leap in thinking compared to how most people view this policy proposal. Most people hear about basic income and think about homeless people or ‘freeloaders’ on the system who will end up costing the country money.

    However, those same people will also complain about having to work 40 hours a week, or liberally use sick leave, EI, or pension in their careers/retirement, but not think about it the same way as with others. They see themselves as complex beings who deserve a break, but the homeless person who can’t get a job due to mental illness or not being able to afford a shower at the YMCA made too many mistakes in their life.

    I think giving each Canadian enough to ultimately bring them out of poverty, by charging what would be considered a very high relative tax rate, is a great way to let the most successful of us (read: the lucky ones) support those who haven’t had as many breaks in life. Nobody is suggesting billionaires need to live life poor, they will still be billionaires (just slightly less so).

    Summary: This question is quite straightforward, I think because it doesn’t rely on context or knowledge of the current plan in place (because there is none!). It’s a broad question about a proposal that some parties want to have in place, and lets people answer as they will.

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  • Proposition 6: Quebec Separatism

    Oooh, another question I like (in that it’s basically a yes/no)! I mean, to be honest, I think it would be silly for Quebec to separate from Canada (is that what ‘formally recognized as a nation’ means), but if they really want to do that, I don’t personally have a good reason not to let them.

    I’m not going to dwell too long on this question, because it comes down to the will of Quebec (and like a woman’s right to choose, I don’t think I really have any say in the matter).

    Summary: This question is fine, I think. Quebec should be allowed to separate, even if the rest of Canada (like me) doesn’t necessarily think it’s a good idea for them.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 7: Unions

    As somebody who’s literally never been part of a union or been in a situation where one impacted me directly, information-wise I’m not really sure how much influence this question assumes unions have now. There are all kinds of small up to very large unions who have almost no sway or who control or influence everything about their industries.

    The majority of the work unions do, as I understand it, is to protect their individual members from being taken advantage of by more powerful ownership. In that sense, standing up for the little guy, I don’t see how a union becoming ‘too influential’ is even possible, because at that point they’d basically have to be running the organization itself, and then you’d need a union within the union, right?

    In any case, unions seem like a good thing, so I’m not even sure how limiting their influence through policy would work. Maybe I’m just naive, in which case I really hope somebody can fill me in.

    Summary: This question assumes knowledge of unions that I don’t have, and I don’t know what laws exist that would limit the influence of unions, but I think that they’re very important and nobody who wants to be part of or form a union should be stopped for it by company ownership.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 8: Climate Change

    Oh boy this question is a dooooooozy for me. Watching the adults in the room lately completely bungle what’s necessary and good for our planet for the sake of the economy and ‘good’ politics makes me very upset, to say the least. The science on climate change is quite clear at the moment, and building a pipeline is maybe even worse right now than selling weapons to oppressive regimes, in terms of overall harm to the world and everyone on it.

    Anybody who answers anything other than ‘much more’ to this question either has their head in the sand on climate change, or is actively disinterested in the consequences of our continued impact on the environment. Whether that is for politics, or their personal wealth, or any other reason, it’s not good enough, and we deserve political parties who are willing to step up and do what’s right for the world, politics be damned.

    Summary: I hate this question only because it makes something political that shouldn’t be political. If the Earth becomes scorched, you’re going to suffer the consequences, and it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor (but it will be far worse for the poor).

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 9: Reconciliation

    This question is pretty subjective, as probably amounts to virtue signalling in its responses, since the question “How much does the government currently do to make amends for past treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada?” would likely have wildly different answers depending on who you ask.

    In addition to the ambiguity of the question itself depending on your perspective, many people would say that Indigenous peoples in Canada are *still* being treated in a way that we will be ashamed of looking back from the future.

    Summary: To put it simply, as a progressive who’s family/ancestry came to Canada, there is no real answer to this question besides “Much more”, even if this is a question that doesn’t really give any information.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 10: Quebec Separatism (2)

    Since I’m not particularly interested in the nuances of provinces joining and leaving Canada, this question is effectively the same as Proposition 6 for me, except that it doesn’t take any kind of slant.

    I have no opinion about whether Quebec should separate from the rest of Canada, except that I think it’s kind of silly to want that. But then again, I think United Nations could formalize and create one whole world government holding each nation accountable for the things they do and the people inside their borders.

    Summary: This question is fine, nothing unambiguous about it, but it doesn’t mean I have to have an opinion on it.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 11: Equalization Payments

    I’ve always been an egalitarian at heart, in that I think that as long as everybody has enough to go around, people should be able to share their wealth without really thinking too hard about it.

    I don’t expect provinces who have more to bankrupt themselves in order to pay other provinces, but the whole point of the equalization payments are that some provinces happen to have a lot of natural resources which are valuable, while others don’t.

    The only question that this proposition leaves me is how much equalization payments actually are currently, information which isn’t given in the question. Another piece of info that’s missing from the question is what these equalization payments actually go towards, which is pretty important context I think a lot of people lack when thinking about these payments and their importance to the provinces which receive them.

    Provinces like Alberta with their oil and gas deposits aren’t wealthier because of their wild business savvy and economic acumen, it’s because of those resources that Alberta is richer, and I believe Canada and Canadians should have access to that richness too.

    Summary: There’s a lot of info missing about the amounts of equalization payments going to provinces, and what this money is actually used for. This would be very helpful to put the question in context, and to decide whether voters in a given province think they should continue (and increase or decrease).

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 12: Trans Pronoun Rights

    This question makes me feel a lot of things. For one, it’s the only question on trans rights in this vote compass, and I think that protections for LGBT people should continue to increase until they are as safe and protected in their everyday lives as straight and cis people.

    For another, I think respect for the people who live in our midst is extremely important, and one sign of that respect is something as simple as referring to people by the names and pronouns they choose.

    You’ll notice, though, that I actually somewhat disagree with the idea of making it illegal to refer to somebody by a gender pronoun that is different from what they would prefer. I’m not sure how well researched this is, but I suspect that most trans people don’t want people who disrespect them and refuse to acknowledge their preferred gender to be charged with a crime.

    While immensely disrespectful, this act probably shouldn’t be a crime, and there are already laws in place which do protect trans individuals from discrimination because they feel their gender was mis-assigned at birth.

    I would be very curious to hear if transgender people (especially those who have been deliberately and repeatedly misgendered) want criminal prosecution for those who commit these acts.

    Summary: I think the phrasing of this question is flawed in trying to advocate for increased protections for the human rights of trans people, because fixing discrimination is simpler than convicting them of crimes for being rude and disrespectful in their speech.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 13: Corporate Taxes

    I don’t know exactly how much tax large corporations pay, but I know it’s not a lot, and I know they should be doing more with their money than paying executives bonuses and paying dividends to mostly rich shareholders, while employees suffer with low wages and stingy benefit packages.

    I know next to nothing about corporate tax law, but hearing the amounts of income tax that large corporations pay each year, it’s inherently clear that something massively unfair is going on. There is no reason anybody who isn’t an executive at a large corporation would ever answer anything but “Much more” for this question.

    Summary: It would be nice to get some information on the existing corporate tax rate in Canada on this page, and how much large companies tend to pay in taxes (obviously, this is complicated, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it…the information is out there).

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 14: Abortion Services

    This is one of those questions where not only do I feel like the question doesn’t contain enough information for the average person to answer, but I also feel like no man can actually give a reasonable, informed answer to this question.

    First off, I wish I knew how available abortion services were for the average woman in Canada, but I also know from the news that many women face severe scrutiny when trying to access these kinds of services. Being yelled at or seeing protesters outside a clinic necessarily limits the accessibility of these kinds of services, which has to factor in to these questions for me.

    In answering this question, I assume that in general (in cities, for instance), abortion services are generally pretty accessible, but I also expect that there are more remote areas where women who need abortions find it much more difficult than it could be. That in itself is not as easy problem to solve, but that’s what the question is about!

    Summary: This question doesn’t have much detail, so it really comes down to how you feel about abortion, but I guess they get to ask the question in a less ‘controversial’ way? They’re not asking if it should be illegal, just if it should be harder, or easier? If I had to guess, I would say that’s why the question is phrased this way.

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  • Proposition 15: Supervised Injection Sites

    I’m of the opinion that drugs are bad. However, addiction is a thing, and honestly, if somebody is taking drugs, I would rather they have the option to administer them in a safe way, and in an environment where nurses or doctors are available to help, in addition to clean and sterile needles.

    I have read a fair bit of research to show that these sites not only help reduce things like the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis, but that they also lead to fewer overdoses, and even reduction in the numbers of drug users (in cases where using drugs is decriminalized, and doctors/nurses on staff can administer or at least suggest addiction therapies). Selling drugs is an entirely different issue, and I reserve the same level of disdain for drug dealers as I do for tobacco companies and pharma companies pushing stronger and stronger synthetic opioids.

    Summary: This question is OK in that it’s mostly a yes/no, and in a society where many people still feel drug users should be ‘punished’ for their ‘sins’ and suffer the consequences of drug use, I fall on the side of compassionate support for users and think everybody should be able to work through (or even potentially indulge) their drug habits without having to suffer through other medical issues relating to their injection. This is true even while I also think using painkilling or hallucinogenic drugs for recreational purposes is not a good practice.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 16: Oil and Gas Subsidies

    This question is a weird one for me, because it’s phrased like the industry definitely gets subsidies (which…why?!?!), but it doesn’t give any information about how much they receive (and whyyyyyyyy?).

    Regardless of how much they receive, it kind of seems like there’s no reason for these companies to get any money from the government, seeing as how they’re already unbelievably profitable, and they’re in the middle of causing the wholesale destruction of our environment extracting fossil fuel from the ground to be burned.

    If anything, I would say that these companies should need to pay more given what they’re doing, and that maybe they could apply for tax exemptions/credits if they’re doing research on things like developing biodegradable plastics or fuel systems that burn cleaner (no emissions, less harmful combustion byproducts).

    It’s not going to be ‘easy’ to reduce human reliance on the current generation of plastics and combustion engines, but it’s been around a century that we’ve had either of those, and we can certainly get to a point where we’ve moved beyond single-use plastic and gas engines.

    Summary: This question is not as bad as some others, but having information about how much oil and gas receive as subsidies (perhaps as a percentage of their profits?) to really put this question in context.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 17: Asylum Claims

    F off with this question. Some of these Vote Compass questions have nuance and are complicated, but not this one. Asylum claims are not something that should be taken lightly like it is in this question, and the fact that people would come in to our country looking for somewhere safe demonstrates to me that we should absolutely not be treating them like potential criminals or deport them at will, potentially right back to the dangerous place (home) they were escaping.

    Summary: This question is the Maxime Bernier of the Vote Compass, in that making it political is xenophobic and racist. We should not tolerate this kind of hateful rhetoric as Canadians.

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  • Proposition 18: Defecit Reduction

    Another question that as a progressive just makes me upset. Ontarians of various walks of life have been feeling the effects of these public services cuts since Doug Ford took office, and the CPC finally released their budgeted platform last week.

    I think a lot of people don’t really understand how government budgets work (I’m not saying I do understand), but while being ‘in debt’ is obviously not ideal, it is by no means impossible for a society to function that way.

    Many counties (the US being a great example) have a massive national debt, but it’s not so bad because other countries also owe them money, and it all kinda/sorta balances out over time, as long as you don’t just keep spending more and more.

    Based on no information, I assume the Canadian government works the same way, and it’s actually kind of good for international relations to borrow money from other countries and to loan them money as well. It keeps the world smaller and keeps us on good terms with allies.

    I strongly believe that we should be finding other ways to reduce the deficit slowly and reasonably than through cutting public services *cough* TAXES *cough*. Paying for things we all benefit from is solid public policy, even if conservatives definitionally believe in their own self-interests over paying for services collectively (when it doesn’t benefit them not to).

    Summary: I wish this question put the actual deficit in Canada in to perspective, because at the moment there is absolutely no reporting out there saying the deficit is too high and we’re heading towards catastrophe, but if our economy is strong, we should be investing that money in to our citizens’ wellbeing.

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  • Proposition 19: Immigration

    How many immigrants does Canada currently admit per year? Does that include refugees who are immigrating to Canada out of necessity? This is information I could really use to help answer this question. Many people like to say that “America is full” (North and Sound America), but if people are being honest, that’s just bullshit.

    We learned in high school in Alberta that the average population density of Canada is about 3 people per sq/km. Considering that almost everybody in Canada is crammed within 100 km of the US border, I absolutely believe that’s still basically unchanged, regardless of the amount of immigration we have in Canada.

    It’s been shown through research that immigration helps the economy, and getting exposed to new and different cultures from our own really broadens our horizons and makes us better people, something which is sorely needed in North America today.

    We should honestly take it as a huge compliment that people want to live here, and given that we already have a system in place to make sure that the people immigrating here aren’t escaped criminals, or anything remotely like that, I think we should be open to letting even more people in every year than we currently do. Canada isn’t full, and the more people come here, the more work there is to be done, so we shouldn’t be afraid to have a few more helping hands.

    Summary: I wish I had information about how much immigration Canada currently has while answering this question, and I would like to know the plans of each of the parties if elected, mostly to put the rhetoric of those parties in context.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 20: Military Spending

    As I’ve said before, I don’t like war/violence, but I understand it’s necessary to a certain extent. I don’t know exactly how much Canada spends on its military each year, but I have no doubt it’s a lot. Canada has a lot of peace-keeping forces, and we have a lot of allies who we support in different battles around the world.

    All of that being said, however, I think there is a lot of military spending that could probably be reduced over time, especially on things which are becoming or have become obsolete, like older jets or helicopters (I admit I have almost no knowledge in this area).

    Summary: Once again, this question really makes me yearn for more information about the amount of money we spend (as a percentage of GDP, maybe) on the military, and what we get out of that. I think that information would go a long way towards informing people as to how they should feel about military spending.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 21: Single-Use Plastics

    This question is totally fine, as it’s basically an agree/disagree again, with no real ambiguity of the current state. However, the single-use plastics thing is still kind of weird because while of course throwing away plastic is bad for the environment, the blanket language of these kinds of laws means that there’s no real distinction between different kinds of plastics, especially the kinds of plastics which are currently being developed.

    I think we can all agree that current replacements for single-use plastic items are worse in almost every way, and the only things we’re actually replacing only contribute very minimally to plastic waste. Instead, what I think we should actually be doing is doing research in one of a few things:

    • Biodegradable plastics which otherwise have the same properties as non biodegradable plastics (this really should take that long if we put some thought in to it, and the profits this research would yield would surely be VERY high).
    • Bacteria which break down commonly used plastics, so that these materials will break down normally in nature the same way trees do when bacteria evolved to break down wood pulp.
    • New materials which are somehow easier to recycle or require less effort, to account for human nature/laziness.

    Plastics were only developed in the 20th century, and science has come so far in the years since that I have no doubt that our best scientists working on this for a few years could crack it no problem.

    Summary: This question is fine, but I think the policy itself is much more complicated than ‘ban single-use plastics’ if we can get biodegradable plastics.

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  • Proposition 22: Employment Insurance

    This is one of the worse questions of the bunch in that the VAST majority of people probably have no idea what is even required to qualify for Employment Insurance. Even just a list of the simplest stipulations of the program would help voters decide whether they think it should be easier.

    Since what I would actually prefer is that everybody could qualify for employment insurance (a basic income, if you will), obviously I think it should be much easier, but I also spent about 6 months on EI about 4-5 years ago now. Having a work contract end and no job lined up immediately after, I was one of the ones who easily *qualified* for EI, but one of the worst aspects of the program is that any money you make while on EI needs to be reported, and you get correspondingly less from EI as you start to make money.

    This is incredibly annoying because it literally gives you no incentive to work at all unless you’re making more money than the maximum you’re eligible for under EI, which when you’re trying to pick up work part time here and there, I can tell you is always less.

    Summary: All in all, this question is missing a lot of information, especially for a commonly misunderstood program like EI.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 23: Violence Against Indigenous Women

    All they are asking for is recognition? Geez what a low bar, and a bad question. This one is a no-brainer.

    Summary: Next!

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 24: Wealth Tax

    The only people who think that wealthy people should not pay more tax are wealthy people, and people who’ve been duped by wealthy people to believe that all tax is bad. Learning a little about marginal tax rates and seeing the amount of money that rich people have left over *after* paying would convert a lot of people I think, but we’re left with no information based on this question alone.

    A wealth tax is a really obvious thing, and I think hope people will start to demand it soon.

    Summary: This question is lacking some information, but I think it’s clear enough that this gets more of a pass on lacking sources than other questions.

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  • Proposition 25: Gender-Balanced Cabinet

    I’m not too concerned about a direct 50:50 split in the cabinet, but we need 2015 to have been the end of mostly white dudes in decision-making roles in politics in Canada. Sometimes, you might have more women in cabinet, sometimes more men, but the important thing is slowly tearing down the walls which were built by literally millennia of powerful men lording over everybody.

    This question is fine, but it’s not like it would be written in to law or anything I don’t think, but hopefully parties will continue to pledge something like this (for candidates being placed in ridings too) to correct the long historical imbalances.

    Summary: This question is fine, but might be one of the wish-washiest ones of them all (which is too bad because gender imbalance is an important issue that with a little attention we could completely fix.

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  • Proposition 26: Pharmacare

    Again, I feel like this is a provincial thing (OHIP+ does this in Ontario for kids under the age of 18 who aren’t on their parent’s insurance), but I am just all for it.

    The question here is passable because again it’s an agree or disagree with no prior knowledge required, but even seeing some stats on the average annual household spending on drugs (with or without insurance) would be really interesting to add to this discussion.

    Summary: Question is fine, obviously as a proponent of covering the basic necessities of life for everyone, I am in complete agreement.

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  • Proposition 27: Monarchy

    Of all the questions you could ask in an election season, this might be the weirdest. None of the mainstream political parties would actually do this, whether or not they actually supported the idea in principle. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the question itself, but asking it amidst all the other ones is a little odd.

    At this point, much like in the UK (where it seems anarchy reigns), the monarchy is simple a figurehead who rubber-stamps decisions made by elected officials. While it does add an extra level of bureaucracy, I am in favour of the world being more interconnected politically, rather than less, so unless we’re ditching the Commonwealth for a new World government, I see no rush to do this.

    Summary: The question as posed is fine, but I don’t really see the point in asking it.

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  • Proposition 28: Foreign Policy on Human Rights

    Yes. I don’t know how this is controversial, but yes, duh.

    Summary: I’m not a politician, but obviously we should take a stand against human rights abusers, even if our counties happen to share a border.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 29: Carbon Tax

    As a planet, we need concrete ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and research has shown that taxing pollution in this way is a good way to curb emissions. I think this question is still OK because it again gives a solid agree/disagree, but the idea of a ‘carbon tax’, and especially the specific implementation in Canada could easily be cited here to give context.

    I think in this case in particular it would really helpful because a lot of people don’t really understand a carbon tax, and descriptions of it by its opponents do not do it justice, or try to give any context for it.

    Summary: This question itself is fine, but some sources of additional info on the page would be REALLY helpful.

    Table of Contents

  • Proposition 30: Religious Minorities

    This is a weird question for me, and because there’s no context, I’m also going to call it a bad question. How much are we saying is currently done to ‘accommodate’ religious minorities, because from my perspective it doesn’t seem like much outside of the bare minimum (for a secular state which for Christianity has all major holidays off and anybody who is not Christian arouses suspicion if in positions of influence).

    I don’t want to say ‘much more’ should be done, because I know things are already done, but I don’t think we should be bending over backwards to make any possible accommodation for religions when what they want accommodated can potentially hurt others (eg. anti-vaccine people). If somebody can have their life improved through ‘accommodations’, I absolutely think they should be able to if it’s not hurting anyone, but I don’t think ‘because religion’ is a particularly good reason for making these accommodations. We should just do it.

    Summary: The question is tough because it lacks context, but what context would you even give? It doesn’t mention what laws or legislation it’s referring to, so we’re just left to guess based on what we know about ‘religious minorities’. They shouldn’t be treated any differently than anybody else, religious or not.

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  • Propositions 31 & 32 (QOTD): Religious Symbols Ban

    I hate this new law so much. It’s so clear from the way it was put in place and the way it’s been defended that it’s just about racism against Middle Eastern people, mostly women specifically.

    The two ‘Questions of the Day’ when I took the Vote Compass were all about this law, and though they are different questions, I can’t imagine most people answering them on different sides of the political spectrum (I guess it comes back to the question about the independence of Quebec).

    I don’t know much about the way that the government of Canada could challenge the laws in Quebec, but given how racist the law is, I hope it is widely contested by whatever civil liberties bodies could be responsible for standing up for the rights of these civil servants.

    Once again, the question itself is fine, with the exception that there could probably be some contextual information on the page about the specifics of the law available. It pains me to see that places in Canada would come up with something like this, but that’s where we are now.

    Summary: Disagreeing with a law that most reasonable people would consider racist (was there a problem with religious people interfering with their civil duties, or is the problem with people using civil services complaining about feeling uncomfortable with non-Christian religious ‘symbols’ like burqas and complaining about it) shouldn’t be political. Do better and get back to me.

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  • Ways to Improve the CBC Vote Compass (Conclusion)

    See my preamble for this exercise and analysis of each of the policy questions here: 2019 CBC Vote Compass Analysis.

    First things first, let’s tally up the questions based on whether they simply ask for a policy position (good/OK), whether they could use more information for context (bad), or whether they’re based on an extremely racist proposal (awful).

    Good Questions: [2, 5, 6, 25, 26]

    OK Questions: [8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 21, 24, 27, 29, 30]

    Bad Questions: [1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 28]

    Awful Questions: [17, 23, 31&32]

    By my count, that’s 5 good questions, 11 that are OK but could probably use more context, and another 12 that are just bad. Overall, in my opinion, that is just not a great ratio, never mind the 4 outright awful questions.

    These bad (not awful) questions usually involve asking whether voters support ‘more’ of something without ever saying what the current state of the policy is. These kinds of questions allow me to give truly unhelpful answers, unless I happen to already know a ton about the topic.

    There are also a bunch of bad questions, mostly having to do with racist or bigoted views, and it’s really unfortunate we’re at a point in politics where we need to ask if Canada of all places should admit more immigrants.

    The good and OK questions from the survey all describe a policy relatively clearly, but the OK ones could definitely use some extra links on the page for information in case voters want to inform themselves before deciding what they think about a policy.

    I find the Vote Compass quite accurate most of the time for me, but I’m not sure everybody else feels that way, and given the large number of people who actually use it (over a million in this election), adding some context to the questions would probably go a long way towards informing voters!

    Anyways, thanks for reading, and get out on the 21st and vote!


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