Canada’s democratic system is in distress, with low voter turnouts and distorted results. The speaker will give examples of these and other problems and will suggest that much of the difficulty stems from our “first-past-the-post” electoral system.

It will be argued that both federal and provincial legislatures should join the overwhelming number of countries who have chosen to use some form of Proportional Representation. While PR may have some disadvantages, the benefits of such a system overwhelm them.

Speaker: Phil Elder

After a B. A. at Queen’s University, Phil Elder obtained his LL.B. at the University of British Columbia and then an LL. M. at the University of London (London School of Economics) in 1967. From 1967-70 he was an Assistant to various Liberal Cabinet Ministers in Ottawa, including Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. From 1970-73, Elder taught criminal law at the University of Western Ontario, then joined the graduate Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, where he taught environmental and planning law until taking early retirement in 1997. He was Associate Dean for eight years.

For several years, he was active in city and provincial politics, founding an urban political party in 1977 and running, unsuccessfully, for both municipal and provincial office. Elder has written widely, on renewable energy policy, environmental and planning law and environmental philosophy. He is Co-chair, Democratic Renewal Project (Calgary).

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