Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Canada Votes Compass is a SHAM!

The following post does not deal directly with a Catholic issue, but I think it is important nonetheless. Catholics are morally obliged to vote in a certain way and there are some issues which are more important than others. This is the reasoning behind Catholic Answers' Voting Guide for Serious Catholics, for example.

How to vote is especially important to Canadians as there will be a federal election on May 2 of this year. To help everyone decide which party best matches his or her belief system, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canada's national and largest broadcaster, has set up a handy site called Canada Votes 2011 Compass. This "compass" is a series of 30 questions to determine the user's best match. Each question has 5 possible responses, for example ranging between "strongly agree" and "strongly disagree", or between "never" and "always".

However, I have a major beef with the survey on the website. In my opinion, it is biased and non-representative. In one particular commercial, George Stroumboulopoulos says "you may be surprised" at the results. I think there is more to his statement than you might think.

Let's analyze the questions a little. First of all, you can give your riding and postal code, which makes me wonder who receives this information once it's completed.

Here are the questions plus my analysis:

1. All Canadian troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan immediately
I doubt anyone would say they want troops to stay IN Afghanistan... Everyone wants them to return home. There is no indication of any possible negative side effect to this action, such as creating an unstable country which breed more terrorists.

2. Canada should increase its military presence in the arctic
Again, I'm sure no one is really that interested in increases military presence anywhere. No downside is shown for this, such as threats to Canadian sovereignty, the possibility of attack from the North, etc. Obviously if you say you are against increase military, that is a strike against the Conservatives.

3. How much should the government spend on military?
Almost the same as 1 & 2. Again, obviously biased against Conservatives. In a perfect world, we wouldn't need military. The question should instead be "How much do you value being protected from terrorists and enemy threats from abroad"

4. When there is an economic problem, government spending usually makes it worse. - agree or disagree
Notice how this question is phrased in the negative? It makes the question more confusing. In order for someone to agree with this statement, they must think government spending does harm. However, anyone who thinks government spending has NO effect or a good effect, will disagree. If it were flipped around and said "When there is an economic problem, government spending usually makes it better." I would say a lot of people would disagree. The way this is phrased is clearly biased to make most people respond that government spending is a good thing. Plus, there is no context or alternatives. Instead it should ask if government spending is BETTER than business spending, because that's comparing it to something else. Anyway who says they disagree that government spending will make it worse would be put closer to Liberal or NDP, and it seems likely that people would vote for that given how it's phrased. In the very least, it should be phrased objectively, such as "What effect does government spending have on economic problems"

5. The federal budget deficit should be reduced, even if it leads to fewer public services
How interesting. All of a sudden, we have context and comparisons. Prior to this, no context was necessary. The question could have simply read "the federal budget deficit should be reduced", but this one actually says what effect that would have. But obviously the secondary clause is added to get people to disagree with the statement and make them lean toward the Liberal or NDP. Also, this could be seen as a direct attack on the Conservative Party. They released a budget which would eliminate the deficit in 5 years. This question is making the case that reducing the deficit will entail eliminating services. Who wrote this question, Jack Layton?

6. Canada should seek closer economic relations with the USA
I don't really have any issues with this question, but something tells me all parties would want this anyway, however it's generally the Conservatives who look for ties with the US. No comment on this one.

7. The environmental damage caused by the Alberta oil sands industry is exaggerated
There is no attempt to hide the bias in this question. Even from a grammatical stand-point, this sentence makes no sense. The damage is exaggerated? By whom? It doesn't say the reports of damage or studies of damage or anything like that, but simply the "damage" has been exaggerated?

But let's assume for a minute it means what we've been led to believe about the oil sands causing environmental damage is simply an exaggeration. Obviously saying you agree would make the system think you are a Conservative. However, I doubt many people would even say this, unless they are a conspiracy theorist. How am I competent to know how much environmental damage is being caused by the oil sands industry? Plus, this question is again biased. An unbiased question would say something like "Do the economic benefits of the Alberta oil sands (e.g. thousands of jobs) outweigh the environmental impact". As it is, there is once again no context. No one likes pollution, so most people would be inclined to say it is not exaggerated.

8. Canada should adopt a carbon tax
This question is more straight-forward. I think most people know where they stand on this issue. It is fairly unbiased because while it doesn't say a carbon tax would increase taxes and make like more expensive, it also doesn't say it will help the environment. So I give this question a pass.

9. Environmental regulation should be stricter even if it leads to consumers having to pay higher prices
This one is also good. On one hand, people want stricter regulations, but they also mention the downside so people can see the benefits and disadvantages

10. How much of a role should the private sector have in health care?
This question is a little misleading. It is phrased in such a way as to make it sound like health care would be run by corporations with maybe some government regulations, and of course corporations are always greedy multinational conglomerates. The private sector would not really have a role in public health care, but would instead be a separate system altogether, sort of like dental health is right now. The question makes it sound like should we get greedy, power-hungry executives to run our health care. What it should ask is if a private health care system should be allowed to run alongside the public one which will not receive public funding and can be used to alleviate strain on the public system.

11. The government should fund daycare instead of giving money directly to parents.
No comment

12. It should be easier to apply for employment insurance
I doubt anyone wants it to be hard to apply for EI. But if you agree, you are moving toward Liberal or NDP. Again, biased I think.

13. Speaking English or French should be a requirement for immigration to Canada.
No comment.

14. How many new immigrants should Canada admit?
I have a feeling those who say fewer will move closer to Conservative and those who say more will be more to the left. However, I'm not sure how this is relevant to this election...

15. How much should be done to accommodate religious minorities in Canada?
I'm sure most people would say the same or more for this question. Who would say we shouldn't accommodate them? But I also think if you say you should accommodate them you would be considered leftist...

16. Violent young offenders should be sentenced as adults
Not too sure about this one either. If you agree, I guess that gets your vote for Conservative. Not sure the effect of this...

17. The long gun registry should be scrapped
Fairly unbiased

18. Possession of marijuana should be a criminal offense
Again, fairly straightforward without bias or interpretation. That's my opinion anyway.

19. The government should make it easier for a woman to get an abortion.
This one, although controversial, will offer good guidelines. I think if you are pro-life you will strongly disagree and if you are pro-abortion, you will agree. So again, I don't see much bias here. One irony though is that although theoretically the Conservatives are usually pro-life, they have not moved much to enact measures to curtail or end abortion. But I'm sure this question will determine if you are more liberal or conservative. Hopefully if the Conservatives get a majority, they will try to curb abortion.

20. Marriage should only be between a man and a woman
Again, this is fairly unbiased and straight-forward. I think most people know where they stand on this issue.

21. If they so wish, terminally ill patients should be able to end their own lives with medical assistance.
I think this question is somewhat biased. It perpetuates the myth that people who end their own lives are competent to make such a decision. Would we ask a question "Should suicidal people be able to end their own lives with medical assistance". Most people of course would say no. Plus, they say "terminally ill patient". Of course, once enacted, this law could not be restricted to that group of people. It would eventually include people who are depressed, have some affliction, etc. Basically doctor-assisted suicide would be legal. None of this is represented in the question.

22. The Senate should be abolished
This seems fairly straight-forward. I have no idea where this would place someone politically.

23. Political parties should no longer receive government funding.
Again, seems unbiased, but I don't have much information on this.

24. Only those who speak both English and French should be appointed to the Supreme Court
Seem unbiased. I guess those who agree would probably be aligning themselves with the Bloc Quebecois (BQ) a bit more.

25. The federal government should have a say when it comes to decisions about culture in Quebec.
Again, looks like a BQ or non-BQ question.

26. Quebec should be formally recognized as a nation in the Constitution
Not sure how this would work out, but it seems like another BQ / non-BQ question.

27. Quebec should become an independent state

28. Workers should contribute more to their government pension plan (CPP/RRQ) so that it can offer bigger pensions.
This seems to offer pro and con - pro: more pension, con: more contribution. Most of the questions do not offer clarification, so it seems odd that this one does. It shows the benefits of contributing more to CPP, therefore increasing the chance that someone would select it, and be considered NDP or Liberal.

29. How much should wealthier people pay in taxes?
Compare this to the previous question and notice the bias. Seriously, who sits down and says "man, I really wish those wealthy millionaires didn't have to pay as much in taxes. If only their tax rates were lower!" No one ever says that, and the question offers no potential benefit to this, such as rich people actually staying in Canada, investing in Canada, helping Canada grow, hiring workers, etc. Without this context, most people will say "rich" people should pay more or much more in taxes, and thus make them seem more Liberal or NDP.

30. ow much tax should corporations pay?
The only thing more common than bashing rich people is bashing "corporations", you know those blood thirsty organizations which lack any form of morality and use people as slaves to benefit a few rich people who laugh at everyone's misfortune? This question ONCE AGAIN has absolutely no context. Most people, who are not business owners will say corporations should pay way more taxes. Stop taxing us, and tax companies more. Companies earn millions of dollars, but we only earn enough to survive. That's how people think. A more balanced question would look like "How much should corporations pay in taxes, recognizing that the lower their taxes are, the more likely they will remain in Canada, create jobs, and employ more people."

And that's all 30 questions. As you can see, they are all very biased. Unless you are a war-loving, corporate fat-cat, who cares nothing for the plight of innocent people, the system will indicate that you should vote for some leftist party, instead of the Conservatives. These questions are not at all unbiased, but worse is that this whole system is paid for by tax-payers dollars of which the CBC receives 1 billion each year. The only thing I can see this being used as is a tool to convert possible conservative voters into liberal or ndp voters.


  1. I agree that the questions are biased. Did you notice that the parties are either in the top left quadrant or the bottom right. The top right (socially progressive and fiscally conservative) is empty.

    One question I have about your post: How do you feel Catholics/Christians are morally obliged to vote?

    The biggest moral issue of our time is how are we treating God's creation? The only party I see advocating for responsible stewardship of all God's creation is the Green Party. Every other party pays lip service.

    When we are judged, how will you answer God's question: "Did you help to preserve and honour my creation of the earth or did you help to destroy it?"

  2. Thanks for your input. I agree that we must be respectful of the environment and to treat it with respect. The Catechism states:

    2415 “The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.”

    Having said that, an even more important issue is human dignity and respect for the person. The greatest attacks on the human person come from the culture of death and include things such as abortion, destruction of embryos, cloning, etc. Violations on human dignity also include gay "marriage", and various sexual sins.

    We must always make sure to have our priorities straight.

  3. Flaws in your writing:

    1. In #5 you have huge issue with the fact they offer a qualifying statement, because it does not support your opinions, but then all of a sudden in #9 they offer a qualifying statement, but you like that one, so you say it's okay

    2. In #10 you state that you want a qualifying statement, again, because the statement you suggest adding would support your opinions

    3.In #21 you use the slippery slope theory to argue against a point. Please note that if you do research on the slippery slope theory, most research indicates that it is a myth and the future events that people fear are coming rarely happen. (Yes, I have done research on this)

    4.In #29 you again want your own qualifying statement.

    5.#30 same issue, your qualifying statement. Perhaps I could insert my own. Should corporations pay more taxes, considering that many of them are MNC's and use unfair labour laws in 3rd world countries to make huge sums of money. My statement is provable, yours is subjective, unless you work on the inside of these huge corporations and know about their future plans in Canada

    6.In your closing paragraph you state that they are all biased, then two sentences later say they are all not biased. No big deal, just poor writing.

    I write this as someone who votes Conservative 99% of the time and will in the upcoming election. What you seem to miss is our Conservative party is made up of people who support most of our Socialist policies, especially those from the former PC party. They are not Republicans from the U.S. who would like government control to go to nothing. As a proud Canadian I am happy to say this, because although something like two tier health care would benefit someone like me who can afford to see a private doctor, the moral issue of me getting to see a doctor before a poorer person just because I take the easier street is contrary to the message of the Gospel and Catholic Social teaching.

    Please remember that the goal of this blog seems to be explain the Churches position on issues, posts like this one seem to be your own personal opinion, considering the CCCB does not advise Canadians who and who they shouldn't vote for, perhaps you should do the same.

  4. Sorry it took so long to get your comment on the blog. It somehow ended up in the spam section. You make some interesting points.

    I will try to address some of what you said. It's probably fairly obvious that I usually vote conservative, and I see that you do as well. I want to clarify that you don't have to vote conservative necessarily to be Catholic, you simply have to vote in accordance with general Catholic moral principles. For example, human life is more important than economics. But if I wanted to promote a particular political party, I am free to do that as a private citizen. The CCCB is in a different category.

    In general, I think all issues should be given both sides of the story. So instead of saying "would you like more health care?", it should add a qualifier to say "even if it increases taxes". Like I said, phrased a certain way, almost anyone will agree with a particular statement.

    I did hear one time about the slippery slope argument and how much of the time it doesn't happen the way it is predicted, but I don't remember the context behind it. We can see from past examples how many social issues do go down a slippery slope, so from experience, we cannot discount it.

    For example, abortion was once restricted to only the most severe situations like preserving the life of the mother, whereas now it can be done for absolutely any reason. Divorce was once only granted in extreme circumstances but was eventually broadened to include any reason in "no-fault" divorce. Same goes for contraception. As far as doctor-assisted suicide, I see no reason that it would not expand. However, that does not affect the main part of my argument. Any form of doctor-assisted suicide is morally wrong, so we don't need to go down the slippery slope on that one.

    There seems to be a lot of animosity concerning corporations these days, but most people work at corporations, so my point is if the government does not support them, they leave, and people lose jobs. Most people seem to think that companies will be there regardless and the government is simply deciding how much in taxes to charge them.

    Thanks again for your comments.