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Democracy deficit in Canada

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Lawrence W.
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  1. Introduction.
  2. The term 'democracy deficit' in Canadian polity.
  3. Noticeable symptoms in Canada.
    1. The levels of voter turnout.
    2. This public mistrust of politicians.
    3. The effect of age on a voter's political attitudes and behaviour.
  4. The principle causes of the negative public attitude.
  5. Ten years as Prime Minister: Jean Chretien.
    1. His ideads on modernization and revitalization of the structures of representative democracy.
    2. Chretien's proposals: A controversy within his own party.
    3. Other elements of Chretien's record as prime minister.
  6. Three possible institutional reforms.
    1. Setting fixed dates for elections.
    2. The issue of electoral reform.
    3. Canada's unreformed Senate must come under scrutiny.
  7. Conclusion.
  8. Bibliography.

Canadians have always loved the fact that their nation is a democracy, and arguable one of the most developed democracies in the world. However, now more than ever before, there is a call from many Canadians to reinvigorate and revitalize democratic institutions in the country. One only needs to look at the low levels of voter turnout that plague our elections to understand that something needs to be done to increase the level of democracy in our country. It is a problem when more people did not vote than voted for the winning party. There are always circumstantial reasons why people would choose not vote on any given day, but there are fundamental reasons why the numbers are so high, and consistent in every election. The reality is that far too many Canadians cannot be bothered to vote because they feel as though their vote does not matter; this is the problem that must be addressed.

[...] Canada is by no means unique in this regard, since almost all of the industrialized democracies are experiencing similar trends. This indicates that the symptoms of democratic dissatisfaction in the West are likely the product of long-term generational shifts in attitudes towards politics and all structures of authority. This does not mean that political elites in any particular country, like Canada, are powerless to improve the responsiveness, inclusiveness and transparency of their representative institutions. While Chrétien discovered the merits of democratic reform only as his tenure of prime minister was coming to an end, his successor, Paul Martin, made taming the democratic deficit the centrepiece of his leadership bid. [...]


[...] (2003). Why is Turnout Higher in some Countries than in Others? Elections Canada (March). Available at www.elections.ca. Gidengil, E., Blais, A., Nevitte, N., & Nadeau, R. (2003). ?Turned Off or Tuned Out? Youth Participation in Politics.? Electoral Insight. 5:2 (July): 9-14. Klein, N. (2002). What is this Movement? In Prokasch, M. & Raymond, L. (eds.). The Global Activist's Manual. New York, NY: Thunder [...]


[...] From this it is clear that there is a democracy deficit in Canada, however the growing concern over it is somewhat a product of our growing desire for a perfect democracy, and it does not mean that the future of Canada's and other liberal democracies is in jeopardy, nevertheless there are steps we can take to improve it. Bibliography Bakvis, H. (2000-2001). ?Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canada: An Autocracy in need of Reform.? Journal of Canadian Studies, 35:4 (Winter): 60-79. [...]

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