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Canada's Electoral System

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Democracy is defined as government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system (Democracy, n.d.). Canadians generally pride themselves in being able to call this democratic nation home, however is our electoral system reflective of this belief? Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy that has been adopted from the British system. Few amendments have been made since its creation, which has left our modern nation with an archaic system that fails to represent the opinions of citizens. Canada’s current “first-past-the-post” (FPTP) system continues to elect “false majorities” which are not representative of the actual percentage of votes cast. Upon closer examination of the current system, it appears that there are a number of discrepancies between our electoral system and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Other nations provide Canada with excellent examples of electoral systems that more accurately represent the opinions of voters, such as proportional representation. This is a system of voting that allocates seats to a political party based on the percentage of votes cast for that party nationwide. Canada’s current system of voting is undemocratic because it fails to accurately translate the percentage of votes cast to the number of seats won by each party, therefore we should adopt a mixed member proportional representation system to ensure our elections remain democratic.

Perhaps the greatest threat that FPTP poses to democracy is the appalling discrepancy between election results and the actual percentage of votes cast for each political party. In the FPTP syste...

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Fair Vote Canada. (2008). Electoral Dysfunction Once Again. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://s.fairvote.ca/files/news%20release%20-%20october%2015%202008%20-%20election%20results.pdf?q=files/news%20release%20-%20october%2015%202008%20-%20election%20results.pdf

Karp, J. A. (2006). Political knowledge about electoral rules: Comparing mixed member proportional systems in Germany and New Zealand. Electoral Studies, 25(4), 714-730.

May, E. (2009). Losing Confidence: Power, politics, and the crisis in Canadian democracy. Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart.

Nakhaie, M. R. (2006). Electoral participation in municipal, provincial and federal elections in Canada. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 39(2), 363-390.

Pammett, J., & LeDuc, L. (2003). Explaining turnout decline in Canadian federal elections: A survey of non-voters. Elections Canada, 40.
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