Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Minority, Minority Government

It is interesting to look back at the statistics from the 2008 Canadian election. We all know that there was a record low turnout at the polls with only 58.8% of registered electors taking the time to cast a ballot. It is most unfortunate that Canadians are becoming increasingly disillusioned and disconnected from the political process in Canada. It is this disconnect that allows our Prime Minister to comment that Canadians are not concerned about the most recent prorogation of Parliament.

The Elections Canada website is a goldmine of data about all Canadian elections. From their data I have extracted the following statistics for the 2008 Canadian election:

Total number of registered voters: 23,677,639
Total number of votes cast: 13,929,093
Average % voter turnout: 58.8%
Highest % Provincial turnout: Prince Edward Island at 69%
Lowest % Provincial turnout: Nfld and Labrador at 47.7%
Number of votes cast for the Conservative Party: 5,209,069
Number of votes cast for the Liberal Party: 3,633,185
Conservative % of total votes cast: 37.4%
Conservative % of total registered voters: 22%

Let's compare this to the September 1984 election:

Total number of registered voters: 16,774,941
Total number of votes cast: 12,638,424
Average % voter turnout: 75.3%

It is interesting to note that there were only 1.3 million fewer voters in the 1984 election even though there were nearly 7 million fewer registered voters than in the 2008 election. Average voter turnout dropped by 16 percentage points.

From the results of the 2008 general election, it becomes quickly apparent that it is rather amazing that the Conservative Party, which garnered only 37.4% of the total votes cast, is governing Canada albeit in a minority capacity. As well, because of the record low voter turnout, they are governing with only 22% approval of all eligible voters. That is why I refer to this government as a "minority, minority".

Canadians are becoming increasingly disenfranchised with and disengaged from our politicians and our political system. We are becoming increasingly apathetic toward our system of government because many Canadians do not believe that our elected officials have the interests of the electorate at heart. We feel that many of our politicians are more interested in re-election than they are in public service.

While we cannot control the quality, qualifications, effectiveness and honesty of our politicians, we must demand changes to the electoral system to encourage voter participation from a much higher percentage of Canadian voters. We must all feel that we are well represented in Ottawa. We must feel good about voting.


Elections Canada Website with statistics from the 2008 Election
(expand the "Tables" button on the left side of the page to see the raw data)

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