In some countries, voting is an obligation or legal responsibility. Mandatory voting is promoted as a means of addressing low voter turnout and ensuring election results reflect the will of the majority. In Australia, which has an established tradition of compulsory voting, recent polls show ¾ of the population supports the practice. In Canada, voting is a right which a citizen can choose to exercise or not.
What happens when citizens stop exercising this right? The 2008 Alberta election recorded the lowest voter turnout ever for a provincial election (40.6%), and voter turnout in federal, provincial, and municipal elections has been in steady decline across the country for decades.
This debate sponsored by SACPA, the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership and the Famous 5 Foundation will explore compulsory voting as a possible solution to record low voter turnout in Canada. Arguments for and against compulsory voting using experiences of other countries will be debated. The audience is encouraged to question the speakers and to join in the discussion on how to address voter apathy and disengagement at all levels of Canadian politics.
Speakers: Heather MacIntosh, Dan Shapiro and Dr. Gordon Campbell
Heather MacIntosh, Sheldon Chumir Foundation Program Director - Democratic Development and Human Rights, joined the Foundation in April, 2005. Over the past 20 years, Heather has worked with the Canadian International Development Agency, University of Calgary, and with several international NGOs. She holds an MA (Public Administration) from Carleton University in Ottawa and a B.A. from University of Alberta.
Dan Shapiro is a Research Associate at the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. He completed his M.A. at Queen’s University and his B.A. (Hons) at the University of Winnipeg, both in philosophy. Dan works on ethics, human rights and civil liberties – especially freedom of expression. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2006, he taught moral philosophy and critical thinking at the University of Winnipeg.
Gordon Campbell, Professor Emeritus of the University of Lethbridge and instrumental in the formation of both SACPA and the Lethbridge chapter of Friends of Medicare. He also served as the founding National Secretary of the World University Service of Canada, whose mission is to foster human development and global understanding through education and training. Dr. Campbell is the recipient of many awards including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the Alberta Centenary Medal and the Annual Award of Great Distinction from the World University Service of Canada.