Tanguay, A. Brian, “Reforming Representative Democracy: Taming Canada’s
Democratic Deficit” in James Bickerton and Alain Gagnon (eds.) Canadian
Politics (4 ed.)(Broadview Press: 2004) pp.263-285.
Need to revitalize democratic institutions, especially because of voters turnout at
elections. “democratic deficit”
What is a democratic deficit and does Canada have one?
Term first used in Europe in 1970s
Commision Béland au Québec: minorities are underrepresented, too much power
in too little hands and democratic institutions seem to lack power.
Reform initiatives in many provinces (even if not public policies, just intentions)
reflects the growing concern among political decision-makers about the health of
democratic institutions in the country
Also, growing numbers of civil groups using the government to restore public
faith in our democratic system (Democracy watch, fair vote Canada)
Single most important indicator of democratic malaise is the declining voter
17 of the 19 nations in the Organization for Economic and Cooperative
Development (OECD) the voter turnouts are lower than in the 1950s
Negative public attitudes toward the performance of politicians and political
institutions are the principal factor of declining voter turnouts. Widespread
perceptions that politicians are selfish, untrustworthy, etc.
Public mistrust of politicians has been growing in most of the established
Political parties membership and partisan attachment have also declined
However, voters follow the political process more closely, because the general
level of education of the population is higher than in the 1960s and 1970s
The effect of age on political attitudes: individuals born after 1970 vote less. (25
years and under). Far less interested or informed about politics. More likely to
experience problems with the registration process or too busy.
No part of “life cycle”, the whole generation is less likely to vote then their parents
The political disengagement is not likely to be reversed or halted. It might even
drop even more during the upcoming elections.
The democratic malaise is not a crisis of democracy
The commitment to the ideal of democracy is more widespread and intense than
Widespread idea for voters that their vote does not count, since Harper holds a
“friendly dictatorship” (democ