Innovative Policy Ideas

It's time for a progressive government that reflects Canada's values.  

November 29, 2011

Improving our democracy

Nathan Cullen knows Canadians are losing faith with their democracy.  Participation in elections is down; in 2011, almost nine million citizens chose not to cast their ballot.

At the same time, Stephen Harper was elected to a majority government with less than 40 per cent support.   This warping of Canadians’ democratic will is not new, but is particularly dangerous given the large environmental and economic challenges coming our way.

Nathan is committed to modernizing our democracy, making it more responsive, representative and reflective.  The need to form a progressive government that reflects, rather than attacks, Canadians’ values has never been more urgent.

As Prime Minister, Nathan Cullen would:

Work to improve how our democracy reflects the will of voters, by making voting reform a priority.  Proportional representation is already used in more than 75 democracies around the world, putting Canada in the minority.

Hold a national referendum on voting reform, asking Canadians if they a) want to change the voting system; and b) which new model they prefer.  Nathan supports mixed-member proportional representation based on the German, Scottish and New Zealand models, which:

  • Ensures every riding has a local MP, elected as they currently are, while ensuring the total composition of the House reflects each party’s share of the national vote.
  • Avoids instability and fragmentation by requiring parties receive broad support—five per cent—before being awarded proportional seats.

Work to abolish the Senate, an outdated, expensive institution that enjoys little faith among citizens and serves no real purpose.  In the meantime, Nathan would work with provinces and territories to shrink the Senate’s size and relevance.

But voting and institutional reform is not enough.  Nathan would also:

  • Restore public financing of political parties, which costs less than half as much as operating the Senate for a year.  This would also help avoid undue corporate influence returning to politics.
  • Hold a plebiscite on the future of the monarchy in conjunction with a referendum on voting reform.  This would be the first time citizens have been asked about whether the monarchy plays a valuable role in 21st Century Canada.  It’s hoped the results would guide Parliament and legislatures on Constitutional changes, should Canadians indicate a desire for change.