Standard General Election Date

Winter 2001 CSANews Issue 41  |  Posted date : Apr 03, 2007.Back to list

Dear Bird Talk,

Am I missing something here, or are you and some CSA members spending too much time in the United States and thus losing touch with our parliamentary system? In the fall 2001 issue 40, you print a letter from H. Steeves suggesting a standard general election date of every four years in Canada. And in the editorial comment, you refer to a similar suggestion from Walt Huber, then comment that this sounds like a great idea to you.

But in Canada's multi-partied parliamentary system we have the chance, and a very likely one, of having a minority government. A minority government may be forced to resign at any time during their mandate, if they are defeated by a majority vote of the other parties in Parliament. Such a defeat could come in any number of days, weeks, months or years after the last general election. Although the Governor General does not have to call a new general election, the alternative choice has rarely been used in Canadian political history. Given this fact, a set mandate between general elections seems impossible, though the possibilities are intriguing ­ for example, a minority government with a guaranteed four-year term would have an interesting time passing legislation based on the platform on which they were elected, especially if the differences were as great and as varied as seems to be the case among Canada's five (or is it six?) federal parties today.

As an afterthought, I should mention that my wife and I and my in-laws had no problem getting the election kit for the 2000 general election delivered to us in Florida, completing it and getting it back to Elections Canada in time to have our votes counted. It did take a bit of work and it might be preferable to have in place a system that would allow us to vote by phone (something we are able to do at the municipal level here in Severn Township).

Michael Oliver
Severn Bridge, Ontario

Response:
Mr. Oliver is absolutely correct. Any preset election dates would result in several complications which would have to be resolved. Voting by phone is already a reality in many jurisdictions, and the Internet raises even more possibilities.