Strengthening Canadian Democracy
The views of Canadians
In the report by Paul Howe and David Northrup titled, “Strengthening Canadian Democracy: the Views of Canadians” Policy Matters 1:5, Canadians attitudes towards government including questions about electoral system reform, representation and the rate of veter turnout.(Howe & Northrup, 2000) After reading, this report it is clear that many Canadians find many issues of their government to be unacceptable. One of the most menacing concerns is in the form that government attains office. The voting process, the form in which Canadians are represented by their Members of Parliament, and the first past the post method of election.
The debate about electoral reform is not a new issue it has been discussed for quite some time, but with the recent studies, “Concerns about the relationship between a party’s share of the popular vote in an election and the number of seats it receives”(Howe & Northrup, 2000) has been given more attention. The first past the post system has continually elected governments that display grossly unfair party representation. “The most dramatic evidence was provided by the Progressive Conservatives, who captured 16% of the national popular vote but only won 2 seats (0.7%) in the House of Commons…In Quebec, the sovereigntist voice of the Bloc Quebecois was amplified…when 49.2% of the vote garnered 72% of the provincial seats for the Bloc…”(Braving the New World p.177).
Howe and Northrup pointed this out to Canadians during a survey, asking if they felt that this was acceptable or unacceptable. When there results were compared to the same survey taken ten years ago, the results showed some very important shifts in Canadian’s opinions.
Canadians have shown an increase in their disapproval of this electoral system, as well as an increase in those who have voiced an opinion. The evidence presented shows that over half (63 %) of Canadians with an opinion on the electoral system in place, feel it is unacceptable. However, when asked if they were satisfied with the electoral system in place in Canada, the results showed that an overwhelming seventy-two per cent were satisfied with the first-past-the-post system. Canadian’s feeling of unacceptability towards the present electoral system, should be enough of a concern to at least make a consideration of reform.
The electoral system in Canada directly correlates with the type of representation that Canadians receive. More specifically the representation that women and visible minorities receive in parliament. “Women, visible minorities, and Aboriginal peoples continue to be significantly under-represented in the ranks of elected politicians at all levels of government.”(Howe & Northrup, 2000) It is obvious that sufficient representation by government means that everyone in Canada must be represented. There has been an increase for females elected to...