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Mark Crowley

Big Data. Big Decisions. Big Ideas.

Mark Crowley is a software developer and machine learning researcher. Most of his blogs here on Canadian politics and democratic reform are cross-posts from Pop The Stack. He also maintains the @democracyreform twitter account, a feed of news and great Canadian Bloggers who support improving Canada's democratic processes.

Mark writes on how Computer Science can help to understand the modern world at Computationally Thinking. He also contributes to the new Computational Sustainability Blog which covers research and news in the burgeoning field of Computational Sustainability.

The best way to contact mark is on twitter or google+.
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Ranked Ballots Would Make Voting for the Lesser Evil Much Easier

Now more than ever we need to acknowledge that an election choice is more subtle than any winner-take-all contest can ever capture. Voters are forced to choose the lesser of all evils and vote strategically about who they want as well as keep in mind who they are afraid might win. Why not let the voters rank the evils directly and stop worrying? It would be more honest. Government and democracy are about more than just finding efficiencies, lowering taxes or even getting people moving. Informed and responsible citizens of a democracy need to work to make the system better.
09/14/2014 09:49 EDT
Photo by Seattle Dredge via Getty Images

Toronto Is So Much More Than the Core

Toronto is more than Ford Nation, true, but it is also so much more than the Core. Let me tell you about my Toronto. Toronto is getting a Jamaican beef patty on a fresh portuguese bun at Eglinton and Oakwood. Toronto is getting congee rice porridge in North Scarborough. Toronto is so much more than the Core or the car-centric suburbs.
06/30/2014 01:10 EDT

Rob Ford Wasted All His Sincerity Wishing He Could Change the Past

In his second speech, Rob Ford made one particularly impassioned comment which has truly cosmic importance: "I'd do anything, anything to change the past." Really? You're expending all that sincerity on how much you'd like to change the past? Is that something you're close to being able to do?
11/06/2013 08:10 EST

Who Ever Said Canadian Politics Were Dull?

What an exciting time to be a political addict in Canada. Who says Canadian politics is boring? People who aren't paying attention, that's who. First, the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, was removed from office. Second, we find out that Mark Carney got headhunted to the U.K. And elections, you know, the best sport ever? There were three! And they weren't boring, at all.
11/28/2012 05:57 EST

The Case for Strategic Voting in Calgary's By-Election

The most exciting by-election on Thursday is in Calgary Centre, where polls indicate a three-way race between the Conservatives, the Liberals and (deep breath) the Green Party. So if you live in Calgary Centre and are an NDP voter, a Green voter, a Liberal voter, then I suggest you consider yourself, first and foremost, a progressive voter.
11/22/2012 12:34 EST

Canada's Latest Shotgun Commitment to China

This Thursday a new treaty is due to come into effect between Canada and China without debate or public discussion. It is called an Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China. his agreement will allow both countries to go to binding arbitration at an international tribunal. Under this agreement, "unreasonable" attempts to stop foreign takeovers could be brought to this very arbitration board and either mandated to be allowed or incur huge fines against Canada. Unsurprisingly, a lot of Canadians, especially in the West, don't like the sound of that
10/29/2012 05:36 EDT

What the Liberal Party Could Learn From Reddit

The Liberals are trying to argue that they are the party which is really consulting people and casting both the Conservatives and the NDP as unreasonable ideologues. If the Liberals want to really distinguish themselves from the other parties one really good way could be by making the party very open. We're talking more than a couple polls by email but a collaborative, ongoing discussion with party supporters. A discussion which explicitly guides party policy in a very detailed way, day to day.
10/10/2012 12:06 EDT

It's An Issue of Precedent, Mr. Ford

The latest in the lawsuit that alleges that Mr. Ford broke the Municipal Conflict-of-Interest Act (MCIA) for voting to let himself not be charged for failing to repay $3,150 in improper donations to his football foundation is just bizarre. I really don't like the precedent of letting this go if Ford does end up using the "honest mistake" defence.
09/06/2012 03:57 EDT

What Elections Are REALLY About, Mr. Goldenberg

Elections are about the choosing representatives to govern in our stead. They are about policy and the future of the country. They are about Canada's place in the world, how to prepare our children for the future, how to maintain the richness and beauty and wealth of our nation for them as well as ourselves.
07/19/2012 04:11 EDT

Tories Hope You're Too Bored To Care About the Budget

Right now, MPs are in parliament for an unprecedented marathon of voting on proposed changes and deletions to the omnibus budget Bill C-38. Of course, you might say most Canadians were sleeping and don't care. That is the kind of logic the Conservative Party uses and wants everyone to accept.
06/14/2012 05:10 EDT

Elizabeth May: Exposing the Fauxmnibus Bill

Maybe I'm starting to sound like a shameless Elizabeth May fanboy but that's only because...I'm a shameless Elizabeth May fanboy! How can you not be when she gets up in the House, as she did Monday, and makes an epic speech -- one of the greatest pieces of parliamentary argument we've seen in a Ottawa since forever.
06/08/2012 05:11 EDT

John Baird Should be Raked Over the (Carbon Tax) Coals

It's rare that a government accused of undervaluing science and making policy decisions based on predetermined outcomes, rather than rational analysis, comes straight out and admits that's how they function. But recently, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird did exactly that in relation to carbon taxes.
05/28/2012 01:42 EDT

Can Elizabeth May Stop the Budget From Passing?

Elizabeth May is planning to use what parliamentary procedures she can to slow the passage of the budget bill as a protest against the way the Conservatives are ramming it through. Maybe she will convince Conservatives that this level of disrespect for the process of parliament is going to cost them too much.
05/15/2012 05:40 EDT

Would a More Fair Voting System Have Changed Alberta's Election?

Monday's election results in Alberta demonstrate once again the strange outcomes that our First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) voting system can create. A difference in vote percentage between 43 per cent and 34 per cent leads to 61 v.s. 17 seats for the PCs. How many distorted election results of this kind do we need to see before we admit we need a change to our voting system?
04/24/2012 05:27 EDT

You're Wrong, David Frum

David Frum recently published his analysis of the federal budget, and asked whether or not it definitively proves that Canada is the "best-governed country in the advanced democratic world." On a purely economic basis this budget is prudent in many ways. But as a policy document, it is a dismal failure that continues this government's disregard for the health of our democracy.
04/02/2012 05:39 EDT

Time to Throw Mayor Ford's Plans Under the Bus

So Mayor Ford, you want the slower to build, partially unfunded, more expensive transportation alternative and now that you didn't get your way, you say you are going to spend all the remaining time trying to foil the cheaper solution? And you came in trying to cut government spending? Right...
03/26/2012 09:48 EDT

Why the Media Has Mulcair All Wrong

The media seem obsessed with the difficulty of creating party unity and "healing the wounds" of the campaign. I really don't get a sense there will be a lot of wounds. The opportunity for growth will surely make the party put aside their differences and work together under Thomas Mulcair's leadership.
03/26/2012 01:16 EDT

NDP Leader: A Vote I'm Happy Not Casting

If Mulcair doesn't win, the pundit class tells us that Quebec will go back to the Bloc and we'll be worse off than we were before. Is that even true? And how do all these calculations change if Bob Rae doesn't step down as planned? All I know is, I'm kind of glad I'm not voting in this one.
03/22/2012 05:18 EDT

The NDP Have Made Electoral Reform Sexy

NDP leader hopefuls have made changes to our democratic system part of their platforms, and it's become an electoral issue. In a national election where three parties with a reasonable chance of power compete, and a range of other issues balance out in close ridings, electoral reform could play a decisive role.
03/01/2012 04:58 EST