The principle documents for the federal electoral system are the Elections Act (2000), Amended Elections Act (“Fair Elections Act” (Bill C-23; Committee Stage, 2014)), and the Canadian Charter (1982).
The Canadian Charter establishes freedom and democratic society as the basis for federal democracy. This includes the electoral system. The National Citizens Alliance (NCA) believes that based on this definition the electoral system should be fair and equitable and promote electoral competition to the highest and most reasonable extent. Competition in a fair and equitable electoral arena will produce election results that are most reflective of the Canadian people.
The National Citizens Alliance supports the following reforms of the Canadian federal electoral system:
● Support a national binding referendum on replacing the current federal electoral system with another federal electoral system(s). The NCA recognizes that the “first-past-the-post” system allows parties with minority electoral support to form a majority of the Canadian Parliament. Proportional representation, on the other hand, makes certain that a party with a majority of the Parliament represents the majority of the Canadian electorate. Moreover, a “first-past-the-post” system only factors in the votes of the winning candidate in each electoral district; whereas proportional representation allows most votes to count towards determining elected representatives
● Reform the process for determining number of ridings in each province, so that it is based upon the GDP and population of the provinces; the higher GDP of a province the more federal ridings the province will have, and therefore the stronger in number the political voice for the province. Currently, Alberta for example has a GDP of around $338 billion compared to Quebec at $365 billion. Therefore, under the NCA riding reform, Alberta would have more ridings, though less than Quebec which has almost double the population and a higher GDP.
● Create an independent and balanced citizen electoral committee to determine federal election laws, subject to consistency with the Canadian Charter. This committee will be comprised of a cross-section of Canadians, representative of the four regions and territories, selected from diverse economic, political, and social segments of society. The NCA believes the current arrangement, which allows the federal ruling party to determine election laws, is a conflict of interest that contradicts the objective of creating fair and equitable election laws and promoting the highest electoral competition
● Encourage broad and balanced media campaign coverage during the election period of all registered federal political parties that have at least 0.5 percent support from the electorate. Registered parties with between 0.1 percent and 0.499 percent electoral support will receive basic media coverage of their policies and candidates. The democratic standard of broad and balanced coverage applies to both private and public media
● Increase the campaign period to 60 days, and thereby allow smaller and new parties a greater opportunity to inform the public of their policies and candidates
● Create a 48-hour campaign blackout period that starts two days before Election Day. During the blackout period, media outlets are disallowed from broadcasting campaign information. This blackout period will give the electorate a reasonable amount of time to reflect independently on their voting choices
● Make the two federal national debates accessible to all registered federal political parties subject to a two-tiered system. The leaders of registered political parties with at least 0.5 percent national electoral support will comprise one group and the leaders of registered political parties with between 0.499 percent and 0.05 percent national electoral support will comprise another. There will be two national debates for each group
● Remove the word “Fair” from any association with the Elections Act. If the policy and practice of the electoral system guarantees a fair and balanced election, the word is merely rhetorical
● Make public subsidies for parties equally accessible and available to all registered parties that meet the 0.5 percent national electorate support threshold. Public funds will finance such subsides, distributed equally to qualified candidates and parties
● Designate one tenth of the above public funds to registered parties with national electorate support between 0.499 and 0.05 percent, distributed equally to qualified candidates and parties
● Empower Elections Canada to be solely responsible for monitoring and enforcing election laws. In addition, the NCA will create a position for an electoral ombudsman responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada fulfill its duty with the utmost objectivity and impartiality
● Require a by-election within two-months for any MP who crosses the floor to another party or becomes an independent
● Make lies by candidates about their platform and agenda during the campaign period an offense of the Elections Act, and punishable by fines, imprisonment, and/or removal from elected position if applicable.
● Regardless of electoral support, require that every registered party have equal access to media advertisement and reasonable cost of media advertisement
● Prohibit social media companies from political censorship before, during, and after the campaign period of registered political parties and their officials and candidates whilst social media content conforms to Canadian law
● Require candidates and parties who have robocall lists to attain consent from all citizens on these lists
● Ban federal party leaders from campaigning in local ridings other than their own during the campaign period
● Require that local opinion polls and surveys during the campaign period include equally all registered candidates for the particular constituency
● Implement limited compulsory voting by imposing a fine of $20.00 on any member of the electorate who could not reasonably vote
● Require on ballots the vote option as the last vote choose, “None of the Above”
The National Citizens Alliance believes that the current electoral system requires significant reform in order to generate the highest electoral competition and satisfy the democratic standards of fairness and equality for all registered parties. The NCA will work with any party that supports these principles.
The NCA welcomes feedback on its policies. Please send policy feedback to email@example.com