Oliver Schmidtke: Electoral reform: A viable option for Canada - lessons from Europe

Electoral Reform: A viable option for Canada - lessons from Europe

– Video clip of the webinar (0.5 hour presentations – 1 hour Q&A) https://youtu.be/5FIqIzkKQHk

In this webinar & online discussion, Oliver Schmidtke (UVic, Director of the Centre for Global Studies) moderates the discussion and presentations on electoral reform by two speakers: Dennis Pilon (York University) addresses the voting system reform as part of worldwide democratization efforts and points to comparative evidence concerning the effect of different electoral systems in particular in Europe. From this perspective, he looks into evidence of government stability, vote maximization, cooperation across parties, alternation in government, and representation of diversity.

Maxwell Cameron (UBC, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions) focuses on the implications of electoral systems for the functioning and quality of democracy. He relates this discussion to the local context and the issues that we face with electoral reform in British Columbia.

From a broader perspective, this webinar addresses the need to discuss the electoral reform debate in Canada. In his 2015 campaign, Justin Trudeau promised electoral reform and the end to Canada’s first-past-the-post system at the federal level. With this assurance, Trudeau expressed common public concern about whether Canada has the most appropriate way to organize elections as the key component of the democratic system. The built-in bias towards the winning party, the frustration over ‘strategic voting’ and the disadvantage for smaller parties as well as deficits in representing women and minorities are key issues in the debate. Yet at the same time, there are concerns about what an electoral reform and the introduction of proportional representation would mean for the democratic political process and the stability of government. With the current referendum on electoral reform in British Columbia, the weaknesses and strengths of the respective electoral system have become a matter of major public debate. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the competing electoral systems? What do they mean for the performance and quality of representative democracy?

Hosted since 2005 at the University of Victoria, the EUCAnet.org project focuses on stimulating public debate andexchange on EU-Canada topics. With the support of the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet project of the European Union “Communication and Media Strategies for EU experts in Canada” and the Centre for Global Studies, the webinar series brings together experts in Canada with various stake holders (students, practitioners, media representatives) to engage with ideas on critical issues of politics and policy making in Canada and Europe.