Electoral Reform Canada Essay

Reforming the Canadian Electoral System Essay

1507 Words7 Pages

Although Canadian electoral system has always undergone periodic reforms, new challenges always accompany electoral changes and therefore the system should be consistently reformed to meet new circumstances.The current electoral system in Canada is a product of a series of electoral changes that have always taken place since the foundation of the Canadian confederation in the mid 1880s. During the early years, the rights of individuals to vote were significantly limited as only white males had the right to vote but only after meeting certain requirements. A secret ballot was unheard, and it was only after a number of changes were implemented that all social groups in Canada were given the right to vote. Even after these changes, electoral…show more content…

Canadian electoral system is largely based on the single member plurality (SMP) system which was inherited from its former British colonial masters. The system dates back to several years before the formation of the Canadian confederation. Some of the common features of the Canadian electoral system include election candidates to represent designated geographical areas popularly known as” ridings”, counting and tallying of the votes casted on the basis of the districts as opposed to the parties of the candidates (Dyck, 622). Finally, a candidate only needs a simple majority over the other candidates in order to be considered a winner, even if the winner has a small percentage of votes. This system has however been heavily criticized for its winner takes all way of judging victory. Critics argue that if the winner takes over the whole system, it may result into unfair representation of the various social groups, but it may also bring into power unstable minority participation in government. For example, a candidate can win even with barely 25% of all the votes casted, while the small parties may end up with no seats in the parliament.
On the other hand, the Canadian electoral system has also been accused of being undemocratic and unrepresentative in many aspects. Although the Canadian single member plurality

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Electoral Reform In Canada Essay

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. This kind of reform is only expected to continue, as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty decided to take BC’s lead and form an independent Citizen’s Assembly with the power to determine whether or not Ontario will have a referendum regarding a change to a more proportional system. There is still much work to do however, and we will examine the inherent problems with Canada’s first-past-the-post system and why we should move into the 21st century and switch to a form of proportional representation.
First, some background on the subject. Canada is divided into 308 ridings, and each riding elects one person to represent all the citizens in that riding. The party that wins the most ridings forms the government, and if that party has gained more than half the seats, as is usually the case, they form a majority and have the ability to pass any bill in the House of Commons that they wish, regardless of the opinions that other representatives have. This SMP system has remained unchanged in Canada since Confederation in 1867. On the other hand there is proportional representation, which is broken down into two main forms: Mixed Member Proportionality (MMP) and Single Transferable Vote (STV). MMP was first put into use in West Germany after World War II, but now it can also be found in New Zealand, Hungary, and the newly formed parliaments of Scotland and Wales. Basically, voters select one candidate from their riding, just like in an SMP system, but they also place a vote for which party they would like to form the government. This second vote determines the amount of seats that each party gains proportional to the amount of votes they collected in the countries. The representatives from each party are then made up of the elected representatives from each riding (if that party was able to elect any) and...

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