The electoral system in Canada has been utilized for over a century, and although it has various strengths which have helped preserve the current system, it also has glaringly obvious weaknesses. In recent years, citizens and experts alike have questioned whether Canada’s current electoral system, known as First Past the Post (FPTP) or plurality, is the most effective system. Although FPTP is a relatively simple and easy to understand electoral system, it has been criticized for not representing the popular vote and favouring regions which are supportive of a particular party. FPTP does have many strengths such as simplicity and easy formation of majority governments, however, its biggest drawback is that it does not proportionally represent
Electoral Reform in Canada The issue of electoral reform has become more important than ever in Canada in recent years as the general public has come to realize that our current first-past-the-post, winner-take-all system, formally known as single-member plurality (SMP) has produced majority governments of questionable legitimacy. Of the major democracies in the world, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom are the only countries that still have SMP systems in place. Interestingly enough, there has been enormous political tension and division in the last few years in these countries, culminating with the election results in Canada and the USA this year that polarized both countries. In the last year we have seen unprecedented progress towards electoral reform, with PEI establishing an electoral reform commissioner and New Brunswick appointing a nine-member Commission on Legislative Democracy in December 2003 to the groundbreaking decision by the British Columbia Citizen’s Assembly on October 24, 2004 that the province will have a referendum on May 17, 2005 to decide whether or not they will switch to a system of proportional representation.
It has become widely accepted that Canada uses a first past the post electoral system. However, this system may not be in the best interest of Canada any more. There are many reasons why Canada should change its electoral system to a mixed member proportional one, a variant of proportional representation. With a first past the post system, the elected officials will always be of the majority and this excludes minorities from fair representation. Adopting MMP can create stronger voter turnouts, more personal campaigning, better individual representation, and better party selection. John Hiemstra and Harold Janson, are both in favour of a MMP electoral system. They understand that with the switch, the citizens will get more representation in parliament, their preferred choice will have some say in the House of Commons, and finally someone can be held accountable which creates a closer knit between citizens and Members of Parliament. Nelson Wiseman argues against the MMP system because he feels that there is nothing to be fixed in Canada. If the current system has been working well thus far, there is no need to change it. MMP would allow smaller parties to have their voices heard. Unfortunately first past the post tends to have an over representation of regional parties; contrary to first past the post system, MMP lets Canadians have advocates and legislators who the majority of citizens agree with. Another advantage of MMP is the elimination of strategic voting. With MMP people can finally vote for who they want to rather than choose who the majority may prefer. A change in the electoral system of Canada will create a more fair and just Parliament governing the citizens.
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.
Milner, Henry. First Past the Post? Progress Report on Electoral Reform Initiatives in Canadian Provinces. Ottawa: Institute for Research and Public Policy, 5(9), 2004.
The Prime Minister of Canada is given much power and much responsibility. This could potentially create a dangerous situation if the government held a majority and was able to pass any legislation, luckily this is not the case. This paper will argue that there are many limitations, which the power of the prime minister is subject too. Three of the main limitations, which the Prime Minister is affected by, are; first, federalism, second the governor general and third, the charter of rights and freedoms. I will support this argument by analyzing two different types of federalism and how they impact the power of the Prime Minister. Next I will look at three of the Governor Generals Powers and further analyze one of them. Last I will look at the impact of the charter from the larger participation the public can have in government, and how it increased the power of the courts.
One may be surprised to learn that the turnout rate of individuals voting in Canada's federal elections has never reached 80% (Elections Canada). In fact, it has been decreasing since the middle of the twentieth century, as shown by an increase in voter apathy. An electoral system is designed to provide those who live in democratic governments with the opportunity to vote – in an election – for the candidate whose platform coincides with their political beliefs. This can be achieved through a direct democracy, where citizens are directly involved in the decision-making process, or through an indirect democracy, where citizens elect a delegate to act on their behalf. In a direct democracy, all citizens would be present during governmental meetings and have the opportunity to give verbal input. As one may expect, this would be extremely difficult to coordinate with Canada's population of 34.88 billion (Statistics Canada). Canada uses an indirect democracy, which allows for two basic forms of electoral systems in which representatives are elected. In the simple plurality electoral system, the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes is elected, regardless of a majority or not. It is commonly known as the “first-past-the-post” system, which alludes to a horse race; the winner passes the post with the highest number of votes, and only need to garner more votes than their opponents. The successful candidate wins all the seats in their riding or constituency while the candidates who places second or third will receive no seats, regardless of how many votes they lose by. Proportional representation is the second form of electoral system used in Canada; the percentage of the votes received by a party is proportionate to the numb...
The Canadian constitution is bereft of democratic legitimacy; an alluring term for political democratic deficit. Over the past years, the unsuccessful attempts to reform its laws have made passing new bills and regulations almost an unreachable goal for every newly elected prime minister. This inflexibility in adapting new laws made the fundamental principles of the Canadian constitution knew only few reforms. The lack of democratic accountability in the Canadian parliamentary democracy is demonstrated not only in its electoral system, but also in its national parliament and at the federal level of its politics. Many reforms must be addressed in order to make the Canadian democracy healthier.
Canada is a society built on the promise of democracy; democracy being 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.” In order to operate at full potential, the people of Canada must voice their opinions and participate fully in the political system. This is why it’s shocking to see that people are becoming less engaged in politics and the voter turnout has steadily been declining over the last 20 years. This lack of participation by Canadians is creating a government that is influenced by fewer people, which is detrimental to the democratic system Canada is built on.
Canada’s parliamentary system is designed to preclude the formation of absolute power. Critics and followers of Canadian politics argue that the Prime Minister of Canada stands alone from the rest of the government. The powers vested in the prime minister, along with the persistent media attention given to the position, reinforce the Prime Minister of Canada’s superior role both in the House of Commons and in the public. The result has led to concerns regarding the power of the prime minister. Hugh Mellon argues that the prime minister of Canada is indeed too powerful. Mellon refers to the prime minister’s control over Canada a prime-ministerial government, where the prime minister encounters few constraints on the usage of his powers. Contrary to Mellon’s view, Paul Barker disagrees with the idea of a prime-ministerial government in Canada. Both perspectives bring up solid points, but the idea of a prime-ministerial government leading to too much power in the hands of the prime minister is an exaggeration. Canada is a country that is too large and complex to be dominated by a single individual. The reality is, the Prime Minister of Canada has limitations from several venues. The Canadian Prime Minister is restricted internally by his other ministers, externally by the other levels of government, the media and globalization.