A New Democracy for Canada!

Please ask yourself:

1) Is it democratic when a minority of voters in your constituency elects your representative?

2) Is it democratic when your elected representative is for all intents and purposes a puppet controlled by his/her party leadership?

3) Is it democratic for a legislative assembly to be appointed?

4) Is it democratic for an appointed person to have the final say on a democracy's legislation?

5) Is it democratic to implement reforms that would allow 1, 2, 3 and/or 4 to continue?

If your answer to any of the above is "No", please read on and consider the five reforms that will return control of our parliament and our parliamentarians to the people - where it is meant to reside in a democracy.

Democratic Renewal

...will make governments and individual legislators more accountable to you. This would be accomplished by means of the following improvements to our electoral system:

- Members of a legislature would have the support of a majority of voters in their riding.

- The essentially absolute control exercised by a party's leader over its elected members would be drastically reduced.

- Voters would have the means to respond more quickly to governments which fail to keep their promises, or which are unable or unwilling to reflect the will of the people.

There are five components to Democratic Renewal:

1) A preferential ballot

2) Six year terms for elected members

3) One-third of the seats in a legislature contested every two years

4) Senate Reform

5) Elimination of the constitutional monarchy

A preferential ballot

ensures that a majority of voters in a riding elects its Member. When you vote this way, you may rank your candidates instead of choosing just one. If your first choice was the Liberal candidate, you would place a "1" by their name. If your second choice was the New Democratic Party candidate, a "2" would go by their name, and so on down the ballot. When the votes are counted, the candidate with 50% plus one of the first choice votes is the winner. However, if no candidate has achieved that number, the candidate with the fewest votes is dropped from contention, and those ballots re-examined. The second choice indicated on each of those ballots is added to the totals of those still in the race. This process continues until one candidate has received a majority of the votes. At present, the first past the post system is used. This means that the candidate with a plurality of votes may win, and that a minority of voters can elect a Member. It is fundamental to democratic governance that each representative be chosen by a majority of voters in each riding. That often doesn't happen today. For example, imagine that 10,000 people vote in your riding. 4500 vote Conservative, 3500 vote NDP, and 2000 vote Liberal. With the present system the Conservative would win, despite receiving less than half of the votes cast. Democratic Renewal would require that the Liberal votes be re-examined and the second choice on each ballot be added to the totals of the Conservative and NDP candidates. The final result would more accurately reflect the wishes of the voters in your riding.

The preferential ballot is already used in single-member constituencies in Australia, and most political party leadership conventions in Canada. Slight variations are used in Sri Lanka and some mayoralty elections in England.

Six year terms for elected Members

entails a number of benefits for citizens, mostly because it would give individual representatives a much greater degree of independence from the influence and demands of their party leadership. It would also result in higher quality candidates making themselves available because of the comparative security that a six year term would offer.

The United States Senate elects all of its members for six-year terms.

One-third of the seats contested every two years

is another critical component of democratic renewal. It would ensure that governments kept their promises. It would enable citizens to make changes based on changing circumstances on a regular basis, rather than having to wait until an election was called in four or five years. And even though the member in your riding would be in office for six years, there would be nothing stopping you from participating in the campaigns of other ridings every two years.

The United States House of Representatives elects all of its members every two years. The US Senate elects one-third of its members every two years.

Senate reform

would affect only federal politics at this time, but the suggested remedy has implications for provincial and territorial assemblies as well. There is no place in a democracy for an unelected legislative body. However, there is a place for an elected body that would serve to offset the one disadvantage of the preferential ballot, which is the virtual disappearance of smaller parties and independent members from assemblies. Therefore, Senators would be elected at the same time as MPs, and in order to ensure the presence of said smaller parties and possibly independents, the Senate would be elected by proportional representation. But given that proportional representation gives a disproportionate degree of power to smaller parties, the Senate would forfeit its legislative role and become an advisory body to the House of Commons.

The principle of maintaining a degree of representation for smaller parties and independents in provincial and territorial assemblies could be achieved by setting aside a certain number of seats for representatives who would be elected under proportional representation. They would be permitted to participate in debates but would not be able to cast votes.

This component of democratic renewal would be unique to Canada.

Elimination of the constitutional monarchy

would be the final step in Canada's transformation to true democracy.

Why do we need it?