It’s My Party: Parliamentary Dysfunction Reconsidered

Samara Canada today released a report in which they present parliamentary dysfunction as viewed by MPs themselves – it’s a fascinating read!

From Samara’s introduction to the report:

“[W]hen we asked those on the front lines of Canadian democracy—Members of Parliament— they pointed their fingers in a different direction. To them, it is often the way political parties manage themselves, their members and their work that really drives the contemporary dysfunction facing Canadian politics.”

Check it out – click here to download PDF

See also a story in the Toronto Star on this report.

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Irish Labour Party Releases ‘New Government, Better Government’ Proposal

The Irish Labour Party recently released a new report entitled ‘New Government, Better Government’ outlining 140 democratic reform proposals.  Fair Voting BC has not yet had time to review these, but they touch on many aspects of democracy ranging from accountability mechanisms such as independent oversight commissions and whistleblower legislation to finance reform, the Electoral Commission, workload issues and more.  You can find some informed commentary at PoliticalReform.ie.  We’d love to have your comments.

Worst of Both Worlds: Why First-Past-the-Post No Longer Works

Click to Download IPPR Report

The British Institute for Public Policy Research today released a report entitled “Worst of Both Worlds: Why First-Past-the-Post No Longer Works“.  The abstract for the report is as follows:

“In a time of greater political pluralism, British politics is no longer well served by a voting system that was designed for a two-party era. Nor are the interests of British democracy. 

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2007 Federal Public Consultations on Democratic Reform

In 2007, the Canadian federal government undertook a public consultation on democratic reform.  This consultation addressed five main areas:  the role of the citizen in democracy, the House of Commons, the Senate, political parties and the electoral system.

The consultation process the government used was critiqued from across the political spectrum.  For example, see critiques by Democracy Watch, NDP Democratic Reform Critic Catherine Bell, and the Globe and Mail’s columnist John Ibbitson (cited by blogger IdealisticPragmatist)  The consultation was also described without significant comment in the 2009 text, Canadian Politics, by James Bickerton.

The consultation summary, along with the full report, appendices and participant guide, is available on the Government of Canada’s Democratic Reform website.  One brief excerpt from the summary follows:

“Most forum participants believed that governments do not consult people regularly and felt that consultation was often not genuine. As remedies for encouraging public engagement in the democratic process, forum participants tended to recommend better, more respectful consultation and stronger civics education to give young people a greater appreciation of our system. A desire for stronger civics education emerged spontaneously in discussions of all topics.  The survey data revealed exceptionally high levels of interest in more government consultation.”

Click on the links below for selected documents:

2003 Book – Fixing Canadian Democracy

This book was written by Gordon Gibson (who later played an important role in BC’s Citizens’ Assembly) and put out by the Fraser Institute.  It argues that “multiple significant reforms are available to restore voter confidence in our public institutions.”

Excerpt from summary:

Fixing Canadian Democracy points to a variety of ways to improve our governance system. The book is the result of a major Fraser Institute conference on democratic reform during which some of the finest practitioners and thinkers from British Columbia and Ottawa were brought together for presentations on selecting and empowering representatives, the place and limits of direct democracy, constitutional constraints, and how to make any of the above a reality.

Some versions of democracy work better than others. Gordon Gibson, the book’s editor and a contributing author, points out that Canada’s democratic system is one of the most primitive in the western world and that Canadians are — for all practical purposes — governed by four-year elected dictators as things stand now.

“We ought to be the most prosperous and harmonious country on the face of the earth, yet clearly we are not,” says Gibson, senior fellow in Canadian Studies at the Institute. “Our living standard is much lower than in the US or many other smaller countries and the public is broadly cynical and apathetic with respect to our political process – and rightly so.“”

Roy Romanow and the Canadian Index of Wellbeing Report on Democratic Engagement 2010

Democratic Engagement measures the participation of citizens in public life and in governance; the functioning of Canadian governments with respect to openness, transparency, effectiveness, fairness, equity and accessibility; and the role Canadians and their institutions play as global citizens.

Key findings are:

  • Many Canadians are not satisfied with the state of their democracy.
  • An overwhelming majority of Canadians feel that the policies of the federal government have not made their lives better.
  • Canada’s global engagement record is poor.

The Democratic Engagement Research Report was released on January 27, 2010: