Canadians don’t trust Members of Parliament or political parties and believe they largely fail to perform their core jobs:
- Only 40% of Canadians report that they trust MPs to do what is right and only 42% of Canadians place some trust in political parties.
- Canadians give MPs and political parties failing grades on nearly all their responsibilities, ranging from reaching out to citizens to their work in Parliament. Overall, Canadians feel MPs do a better job representing the views of the party than they do representing their constituents.
Politics is seen as irrelevant and, as a result, Canadians are withdrawing from the democratic system:
- Only 31% of Canadians believe politics affects them every day.
- Only 37% give any time or resources to formal political activities between elections.
- A surprising number (39%) say they haven’t had a single political conversation—online or offline—in a year-long period.
- With a federal voter turnout of 61% puts Canada in the bottom fifth among democracies, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
To make politics relevant, Canadians will need to see the value in politics and democracy. This will require the following changes:
- MPs who serve as reliable, vibrant, two-way links between citizens and government.
- Citizens who become more politically active at and beyond the ballot box.
- Political leadership that acts in ways that encourages Canadians’ involvement and demonstrates how politics is a worthwhile way to invest time in order to make a difference.
Despite an overall unhealthy picture, the Democracy 360 also reveals several positive signs on which to build:
- MPs make considerable efforts—through social media, householder mailings and their websites—to reach out to Canadians. With small changes, they can communicate much more effectively.
- Over half of Canadians petition, donate to charity and volunteer, revealing a desire to connect to causes rooted in and affected by politics.
An election in 2015 presents a real opportunity to build momentum towards a more engaging political culture:
- Individual volunteers, candidates and parties, as well as community groups, can all take simple steps to change how citizens get involved and demand a more responsive democracy.
- Under #TalkActLead, anyone can contribute ideas and solutions to improve how politics works. To spur engagement, Samara Canada will be releasing tip sheets and resources as the election approaches.