The Fault In Canadian Democracy

By Amar Ramic

On October 21st, 2019, Canadians went to the polling stations to determine the future leadership of the nation for the next four years. Some polls showed a tight race between the major parties, and those polls were correct to a degree, even when they were also incredibly wrong.

To elaborate, throughout the campaign trail, it was reported that this race was between the Liberals and Conservatives once again; however as it is with all federal elections, estimates were skewed from the start as to which party would win the overall election.

Polls showed approval ratings lower for the Liberals, though more people preferred Justin Trudeau over Andrew Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party. With a Canadian style parliament, a party might win the popular vote, as the Conservatives did, but still lose the general election.

While this is very antithetical to the first thought of democracy being representative of the majority of the general population, it is nonetheless the method which Canadians practice. Even if any given person is unsatisfied with the result of the election, there is nothing that can be done at this stage as the final results have long been released. 

However, we should ask ourselves if this election truly was just.

_1_cover_imageTo begin this analysis, it must be mentioned that a genuinely good thing happened during this election, and that was the PPC not gaining a single seat, even Maxime Bernier losing his seat, which completely de-legitimized the party he founded without a real base to begin with. Bernier’s racist rhetoric is likely what costed him the election, though it is shocking to see that 292,000 people voted PPC in a nation that prides itself on its diversity. 

The Green Party gained two seats while having 1,160,000 votes amounting to three seats in total, however, injustice reared its head to squander the success of the Green Party. The Bloc Quebecois, which is openly seperatist and has stated that it will not cooperate with Ottawa on anything non-Quebecois, resurged with a whopping 32 seats in parliament. However, they achieved this with only 7.7% of the vote clocking in 1,377,000 votes. Despite there only being a 1% difference between the Bloc and the Greens, the Bloc amassed a staggeringly high 32 seats, while the Greens only pulled through a mere three. 

The nonsense peaks with the NDP, which waged an excellent campaign, yet lost 15 seats. They received 2,845,000 votes, amounting to 15.9%, which was more than double the Bloc. From what democracy should mean, the majority rules. The NDP should have come in third place based on the statistics.

All this is muddied even further as we have not taken into account the reason why people voted for the party that they did. A poll done by the CBC suggests that a large number of Canadians casted votes so that another party would not win instead of voting by their own morals, a number amounting to more than ⅓ of voters.

Many who voted Liberal intended to vote for the NDP given some very anti-union actions the Trudeau government issued, such as the back-to-work legislation passed which was directed to striking Canada Post workers. However, these voters found that Andrew Scheer’s policy platform was far more detrimental than Trudeau’s, coupled with the belief that Jagmeet Singh’s NDP could not win. This was a recipe for a large number of people to vote for the Liberal party with the sole intention of keeping the Conservatives out of power.

All this begs the question, are our elections even an honest democracy?

Voter turnout was roughly 65%, which is not a high number by any stretch. Among those who even cared to do their civic duty, another large chunk did not vote based on which party they support, instead, were voting to hinder another party in the most effective way possible. This could just be the way our system works, but there are other democratic parliamentary systems which are far more encouraging of voting for a party you personally believe in instead of voting to take down the opposition. 

This election has been murky, and the next will be impossible to predict at this point in time, but one thing is certain: Canadians have an interesting way of practicing democracy.