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 [...]
[...] It is in this sense that Canada can be said to suffer from a democracy deficit. During his ten years as Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien gave few indications that he thought the modernization and revitalization of the structures of representative democracy were urgent priorities for his government. For the most part, his attitude toward the democracy deficit was one of little concern. Chrétien was a reactive rather than an innovative leader, content to work within the institutions and mores of political life as he found them when he assumed office. [...]
[...] This kind of response on the part of the opposition parties is precisely one of the aspects of the existing parliamentary culture that Martin attempted to eradicate. (Tanguay, 2004: 279). We have reviewed the evidence that Canada is experiencing a democracy deficit, and even if it might be an overused term within the Canadian polity, it is nonetheless relevant wherever voter turnout is as low as it is in Canada. Young voters in particular appear to be out of touch, and political elites are scrambling to find ways of getting them interested in politics. [...]
[...] The idea of a democracy deficit in Canada is one that has increasingly caught the attention of politicians in Canada. While Paul Martin was briefly Prime Minister, he sought to portray himself as a politician that was committed to taming this democratic deficit. He brought to the forefront of the political discussion the need from reform, and the plight of many Canadians who feel alienated from the political process. Many initiatives have taken place in Canada to try and solve the representation problem. [...]
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