Democratic rights - Macleans.ca

Democratic rights

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Elizabeth May is joining an attempt to challenge the first-past-the-post electoral system as a violation of the Charter.

The case would argue that the Constitution protects the right of Canadians to have “effective representation,” which goes beyond having the right to cast a ballot. The two groups, the Association for the Advancement of Democratic Rights and Fair Vote Canada, have also earned an endorsement from Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“The key issue is not that it’s unfair to the Green Party,” May said Tuesday at a news conference with representatives from the two groups. “It’s unfair to democracy. It’s unfair to voters, and I think it’s a big reason for the decline in voter turnout.”

Ms. May argues that voter turnout is higher in countries with proportional representation. Going back to some numbers I posted last year, that’s somewhat true: all of the countries listed there, with the exception of Canada and France, use some kind of proportional representation. So while proportional representation is present in Denmark, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands (all with turnout over 80%), it is also present in Portugal (under 60%) and Switzerland (under 50%).