7 things to know about Canadian politics

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting India. What is there to know about his country’s politics?

1. Canada is a constitutional monarchy

Like the UK, Canada’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who remains above the country’s politics. The monarchy is currently represented by Governor General Julie Payette.

Canada's prime minister, like the UK's, is only the head of government - not state.

2. Provinces and territories

Canada has ten provinces and three territories, each one with its own legislative body. The largest province by population is Ontario, which is currently led by Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.

3. The Westminster Model

Canada’s parliamentary system is based on London’s Westminster model. The country has a lower chamber – the House of Commons – and an upper chamber – the Senate. The senate is similar to the House of Lords in Britain, but has regional quotas and seat limits.

4. The Voting System

Canada, like the UK, uses the majoritarian voting system of FPTP. Voters across Canada vote in 338 single-seat constituencies (called ridings) up and down the country.

5. The Party System

Canada has three main parties: the centrist Liberals, the centre-left New Democratic Party and the centre-right Conservatives. The Greens have made progress in recent years.

It is also worth noting that presence of the Bloc Quebecois, who are a Quebec nationalist party. Interestingly, following the 1993 election, Bloc Quebecois were the country’s second largest party making them the Official Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons.

Imagine the SNP leading the opposition in the United Kingdom.

6. The 2011 election

In 2011, the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper did a David Cameron by turning the Conservative minority into a majority. The election was also significant because of the replacement of the Liberals as the second largest party by the NDP. Much of the NDP’s success was noted to be largely a result of Jack Layton’s leadership.

7. The 2015 election

Either way the people should have their say.

5. Improved Political Education

Education is the key to advancing individuals in society and advancing society itself.

Specifically, substantial, obligatory and non-biased political education is long overdue. If people are to be informed for elections, they need to understand how the system works, who the main political players are and the importance of voting in the first place.

The key to a healthy democracy is a knowledgeable population. Political education in schools is a much-needed solution to our ill democracy.

6. Automatic Voter Registration

One barrier to voting in the first place is the fact that individuals must register ahead of polling day. Generally, this is a simple procedure that takes a few minutes, however, that’s not the point. Individuals should have an automatic link with the political system via being able to vote from the get-go.

Automatic registration takes place in other countries, why not here?

Let’s make voting easy.

7. Compulsory Voting…For First-Time Voters

Many individuals, including myself, are very vary of making voting compulsory. The freedom not to vote is an important freedom and people should vote for the sake of it.

However, the proposal for first-time compulsory voting is a compromise that could set voters on a path to consistent engagement as there is strong evidence that voting is habitual, meaning that once individuals start they will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Perhaps it would be worth piloting this to see its impact.

The proposal Pierre Trudeau, took his party from third to first place, leapfrogging both the Conservatives and the NDP.

The Liberals won a majority with almost 40% of the vote.

Have something to tell us about this article?