Accompanying poll shows majority of Canadians want proportional representation
Council of Canadians
A major poll, conducted by Environics Research for the Council of Canadians, has found that 62 percent of Canadians support “moving towards a system of proportional representation (PR) in Canadian elections.”
The poll accompanies a report prepared for the Council of Canadians by Murray Dobbin on the “concerted attack on democracy” by the Harper government. The report, Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy, is available at www.canadians.org/democracy. The report details the two recent prorogations, Harper’s influence on the Senate, and his attacks on women’s rights, democracy and political advocacy.
A key finding of the Environics Research poll is that 36 percent of Canadians are more supportive of PR based on the view that such a system could make it more difficult for prime ministers to arbitrarily prorogue Parliament to avoid accountability. Harper’s Hitlist makes the case that this latter figure suggests that the anger over Harper’s actions has resulted in a determination by voters to deal with the situation permanently: by changing the system itself. To help build on this momentum for PR, the Council of Canadians is encouraging voters to sign the Declaration of Voters' Rights at http://www.fairvote.ca/.
In addition, the strong support for PR is consistent across the country – from a low of 59 percent in Alberta to a high of 65 per cent in Quebec. Young voters – prominent at the anti-prorogation demonstrations in January – were the strongest supporters, with 71 percent favouring a change to PR.
As Dobbin explains in the opening paragraphs of the report, “This study is intended to examine the most serious violations of democracy committed by the prime minister and his government. Some are clearly more serious than others. But taken as a whole they add up to a dangerous undermining of our democratic traditions, institutions and precedents – and politics.”
“These violations are not accidental, they are not incidental, and they are not oversights or simply the sign of an impatient government or ‘decisive’ leadership,” says Dobbin. “They are a fundamental part of Harper’s iron-fisted determination to remake Canada, whether Canadians like it or not.”
Murray Dobbin is an author, columnist, and former board member of the Council of Canadians. He is also the author of Word Warriors, an on-line activist tool hosted on the Council’s website at www.canadians.org/wordwarriors.
The poll on proportional representation was conducted by Environics Research between February 22 and 24, 2010. The results represent the findings of a telephone survey conducted among a national random sample of 1,001 adults comprising 501 males and 500 females 18 years of age and older, living in Canada. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.10 percent, 19 times out of 20.