Canadian democracy is a widely debated topic of discussion amongst many political scholars.
One specific area of democracy that is consistently questioned and analyzed is how Canadian
political parties’ actions affect Canadian democracy. Political parties are used to bring forth the
interests of the people, and ultimately represent the average citizen in government actions. With
multiple parties in Canada and different mandates for each one, voters are able to choose from an
array of candidates, but even with this variety of options, not everyone’s political opinions are
able to be expressed.
Canada’s party system has evolved into a ‘two party plus’ system as described by Rand
Dyck in his 2011 book titled Canadian Politics, Critical Approaches. This system he says is
centered on the democratic election of only two major parties that are centered around brokering
to the public while the other two parties are focused more on an ideology (pg 338). But when a
party does achieve power, the actions they may take while being in power can be undemocratic.
Utilizing party discipline to ‘whip’ party members into voting on a bill that conflicts with their
personal, or riding they represents’ view, is common in the political sphere. This silencing of
opinion for members also leads to question whether or not political parties are the best method of
articulating and aggregating issues that matter to the Canadian public. These two actions in the
Canadian political spectrum have led to questions being debates on whether or not political
parties are good or bad for Canadian democracy.
This essay will be arguing that political parties are ultimately good for Canadian
democracy, as they provide a system of formal representation for citizens, but there are still
many controversial actions that parties commit which are not democratic. Expanding on this
argument, this paper will firstly describe how party discipline is used to silence opinions within
interparty conflicts, but is needed to have an efficiently run a party. It will then discuss how political parties articulate and aggregate issues for the public, but issues that do not benefit their
political positions are not openly discussed on the political stage. Lastly, this paper will conclude
with suggestions for electoral change in an attempt to better Canada’s political parties.
Political parties within Canad