Survey finds most Canadians polled happy with electoral system

But Canadians are willing to entertain changes to the system — provided voting process remains uncomplicated


 
Karina Gould is sworn in as Minister of Democratic Institutions during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan 10, 2017. report on the federal government's online electoral reform survey says two-thirds of Canadians who responded are happy with how the current voting system works.The report, quietly released online today by Gould, also suggests Canadians are willing to entertain changes to the system - provided they don't complicate the voting process.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Karina Gould is sworn in as Minister of Democratic Institutions during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Two-thirds of Canadians are happy with how their current voting system works, says a report detailing the findings of the Trudeau government’s online electoral reform survey.

The report, quietly released online Tuesday by Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, also suggests Canadians are willing to entertain changes to the system – provided they don’t complicate the voting process.

“Though satisfaction does not necessarily preclude a desire for reforming the electoral system, a majority of Canadians (67 per cent) report being somewhat or very satisfied with the way democracy works in Canada,” said the report’s executive summary.

“Canadians are receptive to options to express their preferences with greater specificity, but not if the result is a ballot that is more difficult to interpret.”

And while just over half of respondents – 53 per cent – said they were opposed to mandatory voting, a majority also supported the idea of being able to cast a ballot online, just so long as the system is demonstrably secure, the report stated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to make the 2015 election the last held under the current first-past-the-post electoral system, although he has since shown signs of backing away from that commitment.

Shortly after the survey was launched, opposition critics howled in protest, noting that none of its 30 questions made mention of a proportional voting system – widely seen as one of the most viable alternatives.

Conservative MP and democratic institutions critic Scott Reid predicted the Liberals would use the results to gerrymander the debate over electoral reform to the benefit of their own electoral gain. The Tories want Canadians to have the chance to pass judgment on any new electoral system in a national referendum.

NDP democratic reform critic Nathan Cullen, whose party has voiced a preference for a proportional system, called the survey a “pop-psych” poll that didn’t ask Canadians to choose a specific electoral system.

“When you insult Canadians with vague questions you get unclear answers, which may have cynically been what they wanted all along,” Cullen said.

Proportional representation, proponents say, would produce a House of Commons in which the popular vote is more accurately represented, with some MPs representing a geographical region instead of an individual riding.

Electoral reform proponents argue that the current voting system, which elects one MP in each of 338 ridings across the country, is unfair because MPs can be elected with less than half the votes cast when more than two candidates are running.

The government encouraged Canadians to take part in the MyDemocracy.ca survey, an online and phone survey about changing the electoral system that took place between early December and Jan. 15.

After the government mailed postcards to 15 million Canadians asking them to take part in the survey, approximately 383,074 people responded, 96 per cent of whom live in Canada, said the report.

The results, the report’s authors said, were “weighted to the census” in order to make the findings more representative of the findings and more reflective of Canadians’ views “on a number of key considerations within the electoral reform discourse.”

The report also found that an overwhelming 90 per cent of respondents supported placing limits on the length of federal election campaigns.

The 2015 campaign, at 11 weeks, was the longest in Canadian history.

As well, 66 per cent of Canadians are opposed to lowering the voting age from 18, the report said.


 

Survey finds most Canadians polled happy with electoral system

  1. Yup, I’d agree with this. Most people see no need for a change.

  2. Ranked ballot is easily understood. It is commonly used in many elections where there are more than 2 candidates. Proportional representation is too involved and too confusing in my opinion.

  3. Terry Pedwell’s story says “Two-thirds of Canadians are happy with how their current voting system works, says a report detailing the findings of the Trudeau government’s online electoral reform survey.”

    No, the report does not say that. Nor does the Minister’s press statement.

    The Ministry notes “Over the past quarter-century, Canadians have consistently expressed general satisfaction with the way their democracy works.” And the current survey shows once again “Canadians are generally satisfied with Canada’s democracy. A majority of Canadians (67%) report being somewhat or very satisfied with the way democracy works in Canada.” However, this does not mention the voting system, or how the voting system works.

    On the contrary, the report states:

    “With respect to leadership style, the findings suggest that Canadians generally prefer a deliberative government over a decisive one. They express a consistent preference for parties that compromise with one another rather than those that act unilaterally.

    This “consistent preference” trumps the arguments for one-party government. It can only be met by a voting system that “makes every vote count” as Justin Trudeau promised during the last election campaign.

    The Report says ”According to Figure 3.4.3, 70 per cent of Canadians prefer a government where several parties have to collectively agree before a decision is made rather than a government where one party governs and can make decisions on its own. This finding remains robust regardless of the trade-offs presented. Figure 3.4.1 shows that 62 per cent of Canadians strongly or somewhat agree that several parties should have to govern together rather than having one party make all the decisions in government, even if it takes longer for government to get things done. Similarly, as per Figure 3.4.2, 68 per cent of Canadians somewhat or strongly agree that a party that wins the most seats in an election should still have to compromise with other parties, even if it means reconsidering some of its policies.”

    And Canadians’ top priority for electoral reform was: 63% of Canadians deemed it a priority that governments should consider all viewpoints before making a decision, as Figure 2.1 shows.