The180·The 180

Nirvana bassist and democratic reform activist: don't be cynical about electoral reform

Canadian pundits have had some fun mocking the Ministry of Democratic Institutions for its guide to hosting parties to talk about electoral reform. But Krist Novoselic says Canadians should be delighted that their government is encouraging conversations about democracy.
Krist Novoselic, chair of Fair Vote, musician, and former bassist for the band Nirvana. (Krist Novoselic)

The federal government wants you to talk about electoral reform.

As part of its plan to replace Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, the federal government recently published a guide on how you can host your own event to discuss reform ideas like proportional representation.

The guide suggests, among other things, that people invite their friends and neighbours over for snacks and treats to discuss the details of Single Transferable Vote and Mixed Member Proportional.

Of course, the idea that average Canadians would meet up for cookies and Chardonnay and chat about the quirks of pro-rep got a round of mockery online and in the media.

The National Post's Robyn Urback wrote a fun parody of the guide, while the Globe and Mail editorial board says "just so you know the government isn't behaving like a lazy farmer that asks his cows to milk themselves, it has produced a booklet."

So who will stick up for the Canadian government's guide to talking with your neighbours about electoral reform?

The bassist for Nirvana, that's who.

Krist Novoselic is a democratic reform activist, musician, chair of Fair Vote, and was the bassist for quintessential grunge band Nirvana. 

Snarkiness is so cool and so hip, isn't it? And boy, you know, here in the United States, that's just my dream! To have the U.S. government issue something like that to engage citizens and to have intelligent discourse with your neighbours and friends.- Krist Novoselic, Chair of Fair Vote

Novoselic has been campaigning for proportional representation and electoral reform on both sides of the border for several years. During British Columbia's failed referendum on implementing Single Transferable Vote in 2009, Novoselic came to B.C. to help the "yes" campaign. He hoped that if STV passed in B.C., it would kick-start electoral reform conversations in the United States. That's why he urges Canadians to put aside their cynicism, take a look at the guide, and try to get involved. 

Embrace this opportunity! Have a party. Have an event. Just go for it. And all the snarky people, there's snarky people all over the world. Let 'em be snarky.- Krist Novoselic

To hear the full interview with Krist Novoselic, and to hear The 180's own snarky take on the federal government's guide to hosting your own democratic reform event, click the PLAY button above.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?