Canada given a "B-" on latest democracy report card

Mar 28 2017, 3:42 pm

Canada’s political engagement has improved over the past two years according to the latest report by Samara Canada.

Democracy 360 is the latest made-in-Canada report card issued by the national non-profit research organization, and it examines the relationship between citizens and political leadership and how they interact between elections.

Samara Canada

Two years ago, the overall grade was a “C”, and for the 2017 report card, Canada improved to a “B-“.

Among the improvement was a higher voter turnout of 68%, which is the highest its been since 1993, along with better communication between citizens and political leaders.

“Canada is seen internationally as an example of a vibrant and well-functioning democracy,” said Jane Hilderman, Executive Director of Samara Canada, in a press release. “However, these grades tell us that there’s still room for much improvement. Given recent events around the world, Canadians have reason to remain vigilant, avoid complacency, and redouble their efforts to strengthen their own democracy and engage more fully with it.”

Samara Democracy 360

So while there were improvements, there’s still much more work to be done according to the report.

Some of the key improvement points for a better democratic infrastructure included:

  • Citizen participation in the daily life of democracy in ways other than casting a ballot (e.g. joining a party, donating to a campaign), as those numbers remained low.
  • Trust in MPs and parties went up modestly, but still remains below 50%.
  • Improving MPs’ capacity to engage in meaningful consultation with the public. Canadians awarded barely passing grades to MPs and political parties on performance at doing their core jobs.
  • Improving diversity of representation in the House of Commons, which continues to be a challenge, with young people and women still significantly under-represented.

Samara Democracy 360

“While voter turnout increased an unprecedented amount in 2015, there was no associated bump in Canadians engaging regularly with politics,” Hilderman said. “The daily work of politics is still left to a few. A diverse and dispersed power base is important to a strong democracy.”

This is the second Democracy 360 report card to be issued by Samara Canada. By giving citizens greater insight into the health of their democracy, their goals are “to increase awareness and understanding, encourage discussion and debate, promote action and engagement, and, ultimately, lead to positive change.”

A B- might not feel like a great grade considering Canada is often lauded internationally for its achievements, but one thing is for sure, it’s better than a C. Which means that, however slowly, we’re heading in the right direction.

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