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Home Policy Articles: Citizen Engagement: Elections & Voting


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Are Canadian Political Parties Empty Vessels? Membership, Engagement and Policy Capacity

This article analyzes the role played by political party members in Canada. William Cross and Lisa Young use the empirical evidence gathered by a survey of party members with the five major political parties, conducted in 2000, and find most to be dissatisfied with the roles they play.

Are Young Canadians Becoming Political Dropouts? A Comparative Perspective

In this edition of Choices Henry Milner expresses concern over decreasing voter turnout rates in Canada, suggesting this reality has much to do with an abstention on the part of young voters. Milner seeks to explain what he considers to be a generational phenomenon (the under-30 abstention), and to provide possible solutions to this problem. In this context, he considers the experiences of other countries that have addressed this problem, or resisted it altogether.

Electoral System Reform in Canada: Objectives, Advocacy and Implications for Governance

This article by F. Leslie Seidle analyzes the re-emergence of debate surrounding electoral reform in Canada. Part 1 surveys different arguments put forth by academics, researchers, and federal and provincial political parties in the debate, notably several proposed alternative voting systems. Part 2 includes profiles of four Canadian groups lobbying for change, as well “a review of the role certain civil society organizations played in setting the agenda for the adoption of alternative systems for the New Zealand House of Representatives and the assemblies created by devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

First Past the Post? Progress Report on Electoral Reform Initiatives in Canadian Provinces

In this paper, Henry Milner looks at the progress of electoral reform in Canada. He examines the system of mixed-member proportional representation (MMP), recently implemented by New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales.

Fixing Canada’s Unfixed Election Dates: A Political Season to Reduce the Democratic Deficit

This report was written by Henry Milner following the 2005 provincial election in British Columbia, an election that was held on a date predetermined by law – rather than customary Canadian tradition, with the leader of the governing party determining an election call. In this paper, the author asks whether Canadian democracy would be improved if fixed election dates were introduced at both the provincial and federal levels. For his study, he examined 40 democratic countries around the world, finding that only one-quarter of them have unfixed election dates.

The Death of Deference: National Policy making in the Aftermath of the Meech Lake and Charlottown Accords.

This brief paper by Ian Peach discusses how public policy and the process of its development has changed since the Meech Lake and Charlottown accords.

The Intersection of Governance and Citizenship in Canada: Not Quite the Third Way

Susan Phillips analyzes the now widely-accepted notion that the philosophy of governing in Canada “has shifted from one of new public management (NPM) to one of shared governance” (one which includes strong participation from the voluntary sector), and the model of citizenship that is supposed to accompany this philosophy.

The Reform of Democratic Institutions: The Views of Parliamentary Candidates

Jerome Black and Bruce Hicks examine the views of elites regarding electoral reform, achieved through a broad questionnaire offered to the candidates from the five major parties (including the Green Party) competing in the 2004 Canadian general election, held on June 28, 2004.

The Shifting Place of Political Parties in Canadian Public Life

R. Kenneth Carty questions the role, shape, and nature of political parties in Canada, considering the past, present, and future.

The Uneasy Case for Uniting the Right

This article by Tom Flanagan contends that there is no basis in political science for the argument that one must “unite the right” in order to have a strong, functioning democracy in Canada. Rather, he suggests that as long as the basic tenets of the Canadian Constitution (including rule of law, respect for property rights and markets, free discussion of public affairs) as well as a widely distributed electoral franchise are kept in place, several models of opposition other than the “two-party alternative government configuration” can function adequately. Accordingly, he suggests there is no “categorical imperative” to unite the right.

Towards open skies for airlines in Canada

According to Pierre J. Jeanniot, the Canadian government is considering greater liberalization in the country’s airline industry in line with the current international trend toward open markets in aviation.