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January 03, 2013

CBC's At Issue: Time to adopt electoral reform in Canada?

by Fiona O'Connor
Speaking of highlights from 2012, Samara is proud to share a little shout-out we received on a recent episode of CBC’s At Issue. The special edition of the program, aired on December 20, saw panelists Chantal Hébert, Andrew Coyne, Bruce Anderson and Rex Murphy respond to viewer questions about Canadians politics.

One viewer, Andrew Bidens of Victoria, B.C., (we hope we got your name right!) prompted a lively debate among the panellists when he asked whether findings from Samara’s latest report, showing that only 55% of Canadians are satisfied with their democracy, might give renewed energy to a discussion on electoral reform.  

Panelists offered a diversity of viewpoints on the value of switching to a proportional model. Chantal Hébert was quick to note that electoral reform already forms part of Green and NDP platforms, and is now beginning to gain momentum among the Liberals. She argued that the current party system hinders the goal of national unity, saying: “The way our parties are configured, you’re going to have one [region] in and one out every time, and that’s not healthy.” 

Across the table, Rex Murphy argued against reform, describing it as “the continued lament of people that can’t get elected,” while Andrew Coyne gave the opposite view, attributing Canada's toxic political culture between elections to our current “winner takes all” model.

Finally, senior political strategist Bruce Anderson noted that the prospect of overhauling the electoral system can be as contentious for citizens as it is for politicians. Failing to see “the impetus towards change in the system”, Anderson said that while voters may know they’re not happy with the system in place, they’re ultimately “risk averse” when it comes down to deciding on major changes to how we elect our leaders.
 
Andrew Bidens’ question on electoral reform, and his reference to our survey research, echoes a concern that we hear frequently raised, whether it be through our Democracy Talks discussions or in response to our reports exploring the relationship between Canadians and their political system.

As we continue this work, we’d like to know: Is the At Issue debate on electoral reform one you’d like to see expanded, both among citizens and in the House of Commons, in 2013? If so, how would you like to see it discussed, and ultimately implemented? If not, tell us why you think our current electoral system is our best option. You can let us know by commenting here or by contributing to our ongoing Redesigning Parliament series.  


LABELS:
  • CBC
  • political parties
  • proportional representation
  • electoral reform
  • issues
  • Redesigning Parliament

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