The last five federal elections in Canada have seen an average of voter turnout in the 60% range: a clear drop from the usual 70% seen throughout electoral history . The issue, largely ignored by Prime Minister Jean Chretien until the rise of Paul Martin, has raised the question of the existence of a democratic deficit in Canada's democratic system. Through the examination of Canada's electoral system and government institutions a clear and significant deficit does begin to take shape. Canada's First Past The Post electoral system itself reduces the value of votes of the majority of the population
[...] Fixing the democratic deficit in Canada is important as it is essentially fixing / protecting the legitimacy of Canadian governments. The use of the First Past The Post electoral system is made for producing stable, majority governments. The party or candidate in a constituency with the most votes is elected, and the party that ends up with the most seats elected forms the government and appoints a Prime Minister. The FPTP electoral system however ends up discounting the votes of the majority of the population: a citizen's vote has little impact unless one votes for the winning party[iv]. [...]
[...] The Senate as a failed institution also contributes to the democratic deficit in the Canadian system. With an appointed Senate irregardless if a Prime Minister attempts to create regional parity, the fact that all safe those appointed from Alberta are not elected means the Senate itself is not a legitimate democratic institution. The only role that the Senate plays authentically is through committees that are only able to supply recommendations on legislation. Although technically the Senate is allowed to decline bills constitutional convention suggests this power not be used[xiv]. [...]
[...] Aside from inter-system flaws attributing to the Canadian democratic deficit the globalization of the Canadian economy also is a player in the democratic woes of the country. International treaties such as NAFTA and new international institutions such as the WTO infringe upon Canada's sovereignty (although Canada did enter into it willingly). The ability of the Prime Minister to subject the country to rules and laws made outside the country and therefore outside the control of the domestic citizen is a violation of the traditional rules of democracy. [...]
[...] There are numerous solutions that can help alleviate the Canadian democratic system of its deficit that do not require major electoral reform. Henry Milner asserts that adopting fixed elections can provide a piece to solving the puzzle. Fixed elections will not allow for the government to declare an election when the time is advantageous to their cause[xxiv]. If a government were to try to implement policy changes near election time it would be obvious to the voters and they would be able to discern it as a ploy for re-election (for example expanding the welfare state after numerous cuts in prior years). [...]
[...] Institute On Governance: Roundtable on the Democratic Deficit http://www.iog.ca/publications/2005_dem_deficit_roundtable.pdf (March 29, 2005) Brooks, Stephen “Canadian Democracy: An Introduction.” (Ontario: Oxford Press, 2007) Institute On Governance [vii] Barkan, Joel D., Paul J. Densham, and Gerard Rushton. "Space Matters: Designing Better Electoral Systems for Emerging Democracies." American Journal of Political Science 50.4 (2006): 927. [viii] Brian Tanguay Donald J. Savoie, “Power at the Apex: Executive Dominance.” In Canadian Politics. ed. James Bickerton and Alaign-G. Gagnon (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2004) 145. Brooks, Stephen Brooks, Stephen [xii] Donald J. [...]
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