Is Democracy Under Threat in Canada?


In Canada we have five major parties competing for the seats in Parliament. Our current voting system (First Past the Post/Plurality) no longer yields a representative democracy when a party receiving 39.6% of the popular vote can “win” 54% of the parliamentary seats. Under the current First Past the Post/Plurality voting system, there are too many voters whose views are not represented in Parliament. Some suggest this is a major reason for the decline in election turnouts.

Proportional representation seeks to balance the popular vote with the number of parliamentary seats obtained by each party in a proportional manner. There are several proportional representation systems (MMPR, List, STV, DPR etc.). The key is to choose one of the proportional representation systems and then implement it. Most often those currently in power, or hoping soon to be in power, resist having to share parliamentary power that would flow from electoral change.

As a general rule people need to be exposed to a new idea several times before they can understand the concept and seriously consider the merits of the idea.

To this end, I propose that a contingent of people conduct a door-knocking blitz for one week in the fall and a second blitz in the third week of March, 2015. This timing anticipates the federal election scheduled for October 2015. Our door-knockers (canvassers) would carry four documents to present to the householders.

 The four documents are:

1. A definition of proportional representation

2. Tables showing the disconnection between popular vote and the number of elected seats each party has “won” in previous elections. It is worth noting that at one time or another each of the parties, Conservative, Liberal, and NDP, have suffered by obtaining fewer seats than the popular vote would dictate. In each of the instances, illustrated in these tables, one party was able to gain a majority of seats with less than 50% of the popular vote.

3. A chart showing numerous widely-approved pieces of legislation that have been passed by minority governments. This includes the Canada Health Act in 1965.

4. A recent example of appalling legislation passed by a majority government which was accomplished by the use of omnibus bills.

Each door-knocker/canvasser would choose 12 neighbourhood householders with whom to discuss the benefits of proportional representation. There are approximately 27,000,000 people between the ages of 19 and 90 in Canada living in just over 12 million households. We could conduct this blitz if one in 25 Canadians would commit to knocking on 12 households.

I propose we use a networking system of canvassers. There are numerous organizations supportive of having a truly representative democracy, many of whom have extensive email lists. Interested organizations might include Fair Vote Canada,, Council of Canadians, Canadian Bar Association, Law societies of the provinces and territories, churches, temples, and synagogues, political parties, and educational institutions. Appropriate to the electronic age, the most powerful means of recruiting canvassers/door-knockers would likely be through the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and personal email lists.

download CANVASSING.doc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.