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The Canadian democratic deficit

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  1. Introduction
  2. The use of the Post electoral system
  3. The centralization of power
  4. An appointed Senate
  5. The recent decline of voter turnout
  6. Alleviating the Canadian democratic system
  7. Conclusion

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]. [...]


[...] The democratic deficit in the Canadian political system is significant and is comprised of various institutions and political shortcomings. The First Past The Post electoral system alongside the centralization of power with limited checks and transparency shake public confidence in Canadian politics. Without going into major electoral reforms there are numerous options available to future government's intent on fixing the current democratic deficit that confronts the state. One of the main issues that Canada will have problems with in the future regardless is the issue of regional fragmentation. [...]

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