Participation

PARTICIPATION

Participation is the lifeblood of politics. But voting isn’t the only way to participate. By examining different kinds of activities, including volunteering with a charity or political party, donating, or protesting, the participation section takes a complete picture of how Canadians participate in political life in Canada—not just at election time but every day.

PARTICIPATION KEY FINDINGS

  • The participation score went up modestly because of high voter turnout in the 2015 general election.
  • That turnout number did not translate into increased engagement in other areas of political life, however.
  • While Canadians give a lot to their communities, even in an election year they are still not participating much in formal political life.

Voter Turnout

The percentage of Canadians who voted in the 2015 federal election.

Click on the chart to compare with the 2011 federal election

Why this indicator matters: Voting is one of the easiest ways for citizens to express their preferences, and higher turnout will likely bring about more complete and accurate representation.

Old and Young Voters’ Gap

The gap between the cohort with the highest turnout in the 2015 federal election (ages 65–74) and the lowest (18–24).

Click on the chart to compare with the 2011 federal election

Why this indicator matters: If voter turnout varies significantly by age, politicians are less likely to fully represent the population and its diverse needs.

Rates of Formal Engagement

The percentage of Canadians who participated in at least one formal political activity in the last year.

Click on the chart to compare with 2015

Why this indicator matters: Formal political activities get citizens closer to political decision makers and decision-making.

Tap or hover over region to view percentage

Alberta Atlantic British Columbia North Ontario Quebec Sask-Man

View percentages for all regions

Alberta:
41%
Atlantic:
39%
BC:
45%
North:
DATA NOT AVAILABLE
Man/
Sask:
35%
Ontario:
37%
Quebec:
33%


The percentage of Canadians who reported involvement in six activities that are considered more conventional forms of political participation, beyond voting or running as a candidate, in the last year.

Click on the charts to compare with 2015

Member
of a party

%
8 9

Attended a political
meeting or speech

%
30 29

Donated money to a
candidate or party

%
19 19

Volunteered for a
candidate or campaign

%
15 17

Gave political
speech in public

%
9 9

It is possible the low rates of formal political involvement are because of the partisan nature of formal political activities. Perhaps Canadians are unwilling to jump aboard a partisan ship, whether in an election year or not.

Source: 2016 Samara Citizens’ Survey

Rates of Activism

The percentage of Canadians who participated in at least one form of activism in the last year.

Click on the chart to compare with 2015

Why this indicator matters: These activities are a way for citizens to immediately express their political support or opposition in between elections, without direct contact with their Member of Parliament.

Tap or hover over region to view percentage

Alberta Atlantic British Columbia North Ontario Quebec Sask-Man

View percentages for all regions

Alberta:
63%
Atlantic:
64%
BC:
72%
North:
DATA NOT AVAILABLE
Man/
Sask:
64%
Ontario:
68%
Quebec:
69%


The percentage of Canadians who reported participating in three forms of activism in the last year.

Signed a
petition

%
59 64

Boycotted or
Buycotted

%
40 37

Protested or
demonstrated

%
21 22

Rates of Civic Engagement

The percentage of Canadians who participated in at least one civic engagement activity in the last year.

Click on the chart to compare with 2015

Why this indicator matters: Democratic life and community vitality are closely linked. Tracking civic engagement reveals ways that Canadians contribute to their communities beyond formal politics.

Tap or hover over region to view percentage

Alberta Atlantic British Columbia North Ontario Quebec Sask-Man

View percentages for all regions

Alberta:
88%
Atlantic:
93%
BC:
90%
North:
DATA NOT AVAILABLE
Man/
Sask:
90%
Ontario:
89%
Quebec:
85%


The percentage of Canadians who reported participating in four civic engagement activities in the last year.

Donated to
a charity

%
84 78

Was active in a group
or organization

%
41 38

Volunteered for
a charitable cause

%
59 53

Worked with others to solve
a community problem

%
46 40

Many more Canadians were engaged in community activities than were engaged in formal political activities.