Need a unique essay?
Order now

How Healthy Is Canada's Democracy? Political Science Report

7 pages
1656 words
Boston College
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

A report published by The Economist asserts that Canada enjoys the privilege of having one of the freest democracies in the world. The Democracy Index 2016, conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, highlights that Canada has the sixth most open democracy in the world, in a ranking that includes 165 countries and two territories, covering a large part of the world's population. To reach this conclusion, the experts analyze five categories: Pluralism and electoral process, Civil liberties, Operation of the government, Political participation and Political culture. Subsequently, countries go through the analysis of four types of government: Full democracy, Defective democracy, Hybrid scheme, and an Authoritarian regime. Canada enjoys, according to the study, a full democracy and the sixth position in the ranking, with a score of 9.15 out of 10. This is the best rating for the country, after obtaining 9.08 for several years. The only point that Canada does not show a good performance, in the eyes of The Economist analysts, is in political participation.

Western democracies are exhausted. Citizens no longer trust their rulers. But the origin of satiety and mistrust should not be sought in politicians, as the populists do, but in the system. Elections by voting no longer work. A quota of legislators chosen by lot should be incorporated, as in ancient Greece. And increase direct participation through open deliberations on the major issues, also through random selection by the parties involved. The general perception is that Canadian democracy has improved since the Liberals came to power, according to the above report, but the survey, experts say, should be read with caution (Mendes 35). According to the analysts behind the report, this improvement is a consequence of better performance after the 2015 federal elections, but also includes a general perception of Canadians' satisfaction with their representatives in Parliament (Stefanick & Meenal 38). According to the report, 71% of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with Canadian democracy, a proportion six points higher than in the same 2014 study. Also, 47% of the interviewees said they have confidence in their representatives in Parliament, which represents an advance seven points. The same proportion of citizens (47%) said that they also relied on the parties, with an improvement of five percentage points compared to the previous survey. Despite the advances, one can see mixed results in the survey.

Canada is a democracy and respects the "conditions" associated with it. On the other hand, one can well respect the conditions of a thing without excelling there. There are different types of democracies, each with their subtleties, qualities, and flaws around the world (no system is perfect). Canadas political system, which is used to designate state officials (also known as MPs and the government), is the single-member system and is characterized, in its election process, by the following elements: they only vote once in an election for a representative of a party in our riding or constituency (Stefanick & Meenal 33). The candidate who wins the most votes, regardless of the percentage of total votes, wins the constituency. The party with the most ridings won forms a majority government, in which it can technically do pretty much what it wants, or a minority government, in which each bill is an opportunity to bring down the government in place and start new elections.

This type of system leads to two observations: it is possible to form the government by winning a majority of constituencies without having obtained a majority of votes (this is the case of the current Conservative government). However, when a candidate wins a constituency, even with a percentage as low as 30%, the vote allocated to his opponents loses all value and significance (Griffiths 43). This is the first point that casts doubt on the quality of democracy in Canada. The second point concerns the second chamber which, in addition to the House of Commons, sits in Ottawa: the Senate. Although judged without real power by most people, it is important to mention that ALL bills must receive Senate approval to be put in place.

However, the Senate is not a democratic chamber, because it is composed not of elected men and women, but of members selected by the prime minister himself by services rendered or by ideological affinities. The Harper government did this by appointing several senators whose only merit were to be a fundraiser or former members of the political party. Without a real obligation to sit, with a huge salary, the members of the Canadian Senate owe nothing to the people and represent for it an old anti-democratic concept of the past without any legitimacy (Halifax 25). People may be cynical about politicians, but they have the power to send them home every four years. It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems to have abandoned his idea of Senate reform when logic dictates that decisions about our country are made by a single elected and democratic political chamber.

Third, the lingering monarchical connection between the English Royal Family and Canada is outdated. In our country, the head of state is not your prime minister, but an old lady, just as honorable as she is, in front of her position only at the vagaries of life and the fact that she was born in a Royal family. Royalty, by definition, is based on genetic conditions and not on a certain idea of merit, let alone democracy. Also, it is strictly impossible for any Canadian to access this monarchy because, ridiculous, our head of state is foreign. The main argument put forward for maintaining this link between British royalty and Canada is the preservation of the existing tradition (Barnes 53). This reasoning raises two problems for the democracy: The functioning of a state should be aimed at one thing only: to ensure the well-being, security, and prosperity of the people who contribute to it. It should be subject, in its structure and orientations, only to these three criteria and to no other.

Although Canada is considered a democracy, some questions still arise. Does Canada still have an extraordinary quality of life by comparing itself to the rest of the world? Yes, but that should not stop Canada from questioning itself about how our country works. The environmental causes of cynicism may not be so much in the recent events of political news as in a deep sense of the population that the state to which it is contributing and contributing no longer represents it and seems rather a model dysfunctional inherited from the past (Griffiths 33). To use the analogy of the beginning with students passing each other and the others looking only at the passing grade, Canada seems to be this smart but lazy student, wallowing in a mediocre 70%, thinking that as long as he has the pass mark, why try to improve?

First, how is it that in 2017, Canada does still not have the right to vote, in a democratic country like Canada? Some people would argue that there would not be an election if Canadians did not have the right to vote (Barnes 56). What kind of voting rights are there, when one has to choose between two options, even though there may be five candidates and more? Because in the good old first-past-the-post system, how can Canadians do anything other than vote for the "least worst" of the two candidates with the best chance of getting the most votes, if Canadians do not want to, by depriving a voice of the "worst" of the candidates, to find themselves doing no more and no less than giving a voice in advance to none other than the worst possible candidate, in the end?

And how is it that Canada, by clinging to an archaic and anti-democratic system of voting, is just like an old dinosaur refusing to disappear, in a world where almost all "advanced" countries already have a proportional representation system? So, why not make it so that it can also be said that if there were 10% votes for the Green Party, for example, then that should mean getting 10% for that party seats in Parliament? And above all, why not make sure that there are no other questions to ask people, on the day of the vote, than to know which party one would like to choose to represent them, quite simply?

And in the absence of such a system, how is it that the candidates of progressive parties (read non-conservative!) Have not known, so far, to be able to work together, avoiding, for example, to present candidates in a constituency likely to be won by another progressive candidate? Has Canada not found anything better to do than divide itself? And, by the way, how is it that the progressive parties are not currently in power in Ottawa, when together they are collecting more than 60% of the votes? Do we believe, however, to honor democracy by keeping in power a party that represents only a minority of voters? All these questions question the authenticity of democracy in Canada.

Everything must evolve. Canada is no longer the English colony it was more than a century ago. It has evolved, like its population, and must, therefore, adapt its political bodies and its symbols accordingly. It is healthy to keep memories of our past and to know our history. Nevertheless, it is less healthy to maintain institutions and ways of doing things that belong to an era that is no longer and cannot adapt to the current period.


Works Cited

Barnes, Andre et al. Reforming the Senate of Canada [electronic resource] : frequently asked questions. Gibson Library Connections, 2009.

Griffiths, Rudyard. HYPERLINK "" Canada in 2020 : twenty leading voices imagine Canada's future . Key Porter Books, 2008.

Halifax, N.S. Election commissions and the provision of information : a comparative study of better practices globally. Center for Law and Democracy, 2012.

Mendes, Errol. Canadas constitutional democracy: the 150th anniversary celebration. LexisNexis, 2017.

Stefanick, Lorna, and Meenal Shrivastava. Alberta oil and the decline of democracy in Canada. AU Press, 2015.


Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: