Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Politics, Elections, Voting, Canada, Nation, Sports, Democracy, United States

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/10/29

Why Are There So Many Non-Voters In Canadian Elections?

In Getting the Majority to Vote: Practical Solutions to Re-Engage Citizens in Local Elections, published by the Columbia Institute Centre for Civic Governance, Norman Gludovatz argues that “Key barriers include an increase in cynicism towards politics, a growing sense of alienation and disconnection to community and social networks, the difficulty and complexity of obtaining political knowledge in municipal elections,” continuing the pursuit of a long list of reasons why most Canadians fail to vote. In order to best understand this aspect of politics in Canada, an intelligent step backwards requires a brief historical review of the Canadian political situation in a reasonable attempt to explain its characteristic nuances. Myriad influences growing out of the various sectors of the country’s diverse interests, form part of the complexity. However, Gludovatz cites that the statistical reality reflects that under “60 percent of the eligible voting population” turns out to vote. Addressing the problem in this essay must include a deliberate attempt to flesh out the discussion. Hopefully, the reader may gain a better understanding of the issue surrounding Canadian voting politics, how the attitudes developed, and its significance, while defining any key concepts. The people of Canada are not a bunch of illogical idiots; they recognize the fact that the financial debauchery and shenanigans of global politics today has somehow – and largely – gotten out of control, and thereby looms over their heads as if they did not exist anyway.
One scholar has uttered a curious statement about the state of world politics, in terms of financial matters. In contemplating the concept of International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending to nations, and the financial politics involved, David Graeber notes from his book ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years’ about the macro-debt involved that “Consumer debt is the lifeblood of our economy. All modern nation-states are built on deficit spending. Debt has come to be the central issue of international politics. But nobody seems to know exactly what it is, or how to think about it.” Graeber immediately after stating these things comments that the fact that nobody really understands the whole idea, fuels the foundation of its power.
The party system in Canada thus developed from the early 1990s towards this view in mind. As the Liberal party gained strength in early 2000, the Bloc evolved as a legitimate player in Canadian politics somewhat raising a collective eyebrow from the international community in terms of its achievement of separatist success. Stephenson, et al. remind readers however, that loyalty to partisan politics originated in United States politics – not Canada. A comprehension of this foundation reality alone helps to compute some crucial differences that separates the cultural styles of political engagement. Findings from studies evaluating Canadian voter behavior during the 1960s showed that their electorate reflected “that only 49 percent of those interviewed had never changed their partisan identification.” This factor highlighted a stark contrast to political party switching in the United States. As partisan labels developed, along with the inevitable volatility, Canadian politics the Progressive Conservatives won the 1988-Parliament-elections prior to the crazy plummet in an unraveling of sorts in 1993, as mentioned above. In terms of ideology, Canada is no mirror image of what goes on in the United States regarding notions of political partisan affairs. Stephenson, et al. report that the distinguishing features of the Liberal and PC parties rooted a basis in bridging “the divisions of religion, region, and faction.” Thus, the road of thought leads us to how religious ideology and the culture of sports play a role in the Canadian political scene.
All people have their own interests. From this perspective, Canadians are no different from anyone else. Canada has its poor, its hockey-fan culture, and its Catholicism versus Protestant historical issues too. It is impossible to separate socio-cultural realities from Canadian politics. At the outset of the early 1800s, an effort by Bishop Alexander Macdonell sought to outweigh the heavily Protestant presence in Upper Canada. According to Corcoran and Smith, “Macdonell ingratiated himself with the colonial elite” in order to accomplish governmental supports in funding amidst a quickly burgeoning influx of Catholic immigrants – predominantly of Irish ethnicity. This blending of politics and religion aptly gives the article by Corcoran and Smith its title, Bishop Macdonell and the friends of Ireland: Mixing Politics and Religion in Upper Canada, thereby arguing the “position towards the introduction of the Irish Catholic Association in any form is unique,” but then again so is Canada. One would be quite mistaken to think or characterize Canadian politics as a duplicate of its American neighbor, simply due to a shared proximity on the Northwestern continent. The point of this background information helps set the groundwork why Canadian citizen-eligible do not vote.
The point is that all sectors play a role in politics. For example, the nature of Canadian ice hockey places a huge impact upon politics as Cvetkokvíc and Bubanj, argue and “on the national identity, and its origins and legacies.” One might observe as baseball, apple pie, and football are to those in the United States, so is hockey among Canadians. In fact, the sport is “an inherent part of almost everyone’s life in Canada” extending to “Canadian national identity and what its connections with politics and business” import. Conservative party leader, Prime Minster Stephen Harper, earns a position in how Canadian politics identifies its national socio-political identity. Canada’s global positioning with regard to ice hockey events and politics, showed a critical moment given “the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and Sidney Crosby’s goal and victory in overtime, which is of huge importance for Canadian sport and Canadian nation, confirming Canada’s number one place in hockey in the world.” So what does this signify? One might respond with a rhetorical question of, why does Canada need to care about what the rest of the world thinks of her anyway? Hockey then, as a national character links to partisan strongholds of the Conservative Party. Yet the poor have a voice, too.
In The Politics of Poverty in Canada Shauna MacKinnon taken from the journal Social Alternatives reveals another side of Canada, despite its being generally regarded as the land of immense natural resource-wealth, and a “kinder, gentler nation” than its ruder southern neighbor, many “structural failings create the conditions that leave too far many Canadians behind.” Although highly contested and politicized, poverty in Canada some conventional and dominant views falsely beckon that all people need to do to alleviate themselves from financial distress is to work harder. MacKinnon notes this sentiment “was recently articulated by Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who defended recent scaling back of Employment Insurance stating: ‘there is no bad job, the only bad job is not having a job’.” The attitude is familiar in the United States. Theory is one thing. The reality is quite another when persons open bare cupboards and are not able to keep up with the new global economics dictating the course of modern life. See the problem?
Only so much logics can be drawn from the erudite wisdom of academics, scholars, and journals. To get a true finger on the pulse of why Canadians are smart and therefore choose not to vote is because they are aware enough to recognize where this global-financial political end game is headed. If you want to sum up the reason in a single word, try: confidence. They have no confidence in the system. So far mentioned have been the various partisan interests, the elite power-politics that hockey brings to the table, Canada’s poor, the Irish Catholic roots, and now the homosexuals add their piece of political interests to the puzzle. In The Multiplier Effect of Strategic Voting Taylor-Vaisey in ‘The multiplier effect of Strategic Voting’ says that the rallying point of special interest groups drives the idea of strategic voting to new heights, because of the Internet, spurring on “disgruntled voters who could make an impact never before seen in Canadian politics.” Perhaps Canadians feel there are too many splintered groups and sub-groups (and sub-groups to the sub-groups) to realize that any adhesive-collective voice might be heard to mitigate any real problems, and implement workable solutions where possible. One history professor, Matthew McKean in Matthew McKean: Why we don’t vote stated “Canada already ranks among the worst of peer countries in voter turn-out,” and Canadians feel indifferent as its Feds grow more distant from reality. Canadian data reports that election statistics in 2011 found “10 million eligible voters stayed at home,” and less than half who did vote cast their lot for Harper’s Conservative partisan. Cut and dry, the bottom line is, bemoans McKean is that “voter turnout rates are intimately tied to confidence in parliament.” Let’s face it. People all over the world have become discouraged over the increasingly callous and marginalized body politic.
In other words, people are not stupid – and least of all, the Canadians. One blogger put it this way, as taken from ‘Canadian Politics and Democratic Reform’: “Why don’t Canadians vote? I’ll tell you why, because Canadians aren’t stupid and they see that after voting again and again their vote has no impact,” and “The real question is, how are Canadians ever going to fix what is wrong in our country if the media won’t do its job and assist in creating a national discussion on the real issue?” It is not that many folks in Canada do not believe voting is important, largely they think their own individual vote will not truly count – in terms of making a difference.
In conclusion, Jack Jedwab the Executive Director of the Association for Canadian Studies, sparked a survey in 2011 to find out about Canadian public opinion on voting. Interest levels varied by areas of politics, such as international politics, provincial politics, and local municipalities. A heavier interest among Canadians leaned towards provincial and national politics, with international politics running a close second. Additionally, while the majority of Canadians do not choose to exercise their voting rights, the majority (almost 70%) follow a close watch on elections. In the opinion of this observer, the reason for that is to sort of play ‘watch-dog’ as to what outcomes were, and how the reality matches up once all is said and done. Another part of the survey indicated that Canadians felt that others were better informed about political issues than themselves, despite the fact that at least a hefty third did discuss political issues with their neighbors and friends. However, at the end of the day Canadians know their country’s politics better than anyone else. If they are not voting, they must be intelligent enough to understand that little David may have to lose many battles, before gaining the confidence to engage in the process.


Association for Canadian Studies. The Four I’s of Canadian Politics in 2011: Interest,
Influence, Impact and Involvement. Accessed February 3, 2015,
http://www.acs.aec.ca. {Jack Jedwab, Executive Director}.
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2009. [Web blog commentary]. https://popthestack.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/why-canadians-dont-vote/
Cvetkovíc, Tanja and Saša Bubanj. 2013. “HOCKEY, POLITICS AND NATIONAL
IDENTITY IN CANADA.” TEME: Casopis Za Društvene Nauke 37, no. 2: 881-886.
Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 3, 2015).
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Solutions to re-engage citizens in local elections. Accessed February 3, 2015,
Corcoran, Brandon S., and Laura J. Smith. 2013. “Bishop Macdonell and the friends of Ireland:
Mixing Politics and Religion in Upper Canada.” Historical Studies 79 7-23. America:
History and Life with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed February 3, 2015).
Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. New York: Melville House, 2012.
MacKinnon, Shauna. 2013. “The Politics of Poverty in Canada.” Social Alternatives 32, no. 1:
19-23. LGBT Life with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed February 3, 2015).
McKean, Matthew. “Matthew McKean: Why we don’t vote.” National Post, January 27, 2014.
Stephenson, Laura B., Thomas J. Scotto, and Allan Kornberg. 2004. “Slip, Sliding Away or
Le Plus Ça Change: Canadian and American Partisanship in Comparative
Perspective.” American Review of Canadian Studies 34, no. 2: 283-312. America:
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Taylor-Vaisey, Nick. (2008). “The multiplier effect of Strategic Voting.” Capital Xtra (Ottawa)
No. 194: 7-9. LGBT Life with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed February 3, 2015).

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