In the international community, Canada has earned respect. Aside from being economically prosperous, the country is also an example of a peaceful and orderly society. The government of Canada is also an exemplary of being a servant to the people. Despite diversity, the government has managed to create an environment that is suitable to every individual. However, a kind of discrimination is still prevalent in the country’s political system. Politics has become a place only for men. Women, on the other hand, are displaced.
At present, the electoral system of Canada is the single-member plurality system or first-past-the-post system. In the first-past-the-post system, the candidate that gets the highest number of votes is given a seat in the House of Common and the riding becomes the member of the winning candidate’s Parliament. In addition, a minority party or a party that is not based regionally that gets only a few votes is not given a seat at all. This system can be best explained by the case of Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party.
If for instance, the Green Party has accumulated a vote of 600,000 votes or 4. 3 percent and the Bloc Quebecois have 12. 4 percent, the seat is given to the latter. The Green Party, on the other hand is not given a representation at all. The present system, however, of Canada has been proposed to be reformed or changed on the ground that it does not reflect the desire of the voters. It is also unfair in a way that minority having a considerable vote cannot still be given a seat in the House of Commons.
Hence, the present system is a means of penalizing parties that ate not regionally based. Significantly, the present system hinders or establishes a barrier for women to participate in the electoral system. By having a lesser opportunity for women, it would essentially result to their under representation. Likewise, the parties are given a wider opportunity to choose the members of the party in disregarding a group or class of people. Aside from the women, the minority groups are also under represented through the present system.
According to the research, although the presence of minorities has increased in the House of Commons, their percentage is still considered to be diminutive when the total population of minorities is taken into account. By being under represented, the need of such group or class would not certainly be addressed by the government. Undeniably, women are essential class in the society. In the early history of creation, a woman was created as a partner of man, specifically a partner and not a servant. A woman is a partner not only in a chosen aspect but in all aspect of life.
However, in Canadian politics, women are denied of the opportunity. If not, their number is not enough to influence the government to advance a policy that addresses the needs of the women. In the present system of Canada, women are not much inclined to politics for various reasons. First, role of women are viewed to be limited only in the home. In line with this, women are hindered from joining politics because they “hold a disproportionate share of household and family responsibilities and, on average, have lower income.
” A lower income would not make them afford any financial demand of politics. Second, in a social view, women are not welcome in politics basically because it is believed to be an undesirable and unsuitable profession for them. In addition, women find the nature of the job in politics as an adversarial and combative that would require much of their effort and time. Third, women have a mentality that they are not qualified to run for election despite possessing the required qualifications. Last, women are discouraged from entering politics because of discriminatory practices prevalent in the field.
These issues have contributed much on the lesser number of active women in the field of politics. As a solution, several women groups and non-profit organizations have adopted means in addressing the issue. One of the known women’s groups is the Equal Voice. Equal Voice is “a multi- partisan non-profit organization devoted to the still-bold ides that more women must be elected to every level of government in Canada. ” The primary mission of the organization is to train and educate women about the need of having women in the parliament.
In addition, they propose several means that will enhance women’s participation in politics. Furthermore, several organizations have been campaigning for electoral reform in Canada. Remarkably, women’s participation in politics is also hindered by the fact that women have a slim chance of being part of a political party. In political party, women are less likely nominated for various factors. One essential factor is the so-called party gatekeepers. Political Parties are referred as gatekeepers because they “prevent women from winning nomination.
” There was no evidence that political parties have worked in increasing the number of women in their ridings. Another is the characteristic of districts. It has been observed that women are more elected in small or municipality level. This is due to the fact that gatekeeping is not observed in provincial level. The long existing political culture is another. In the political system of Canada, politics is a world only for men and women are not welcome. Through such culture, political parties tend not to nominate for women candidates because of the mentality and culture.
Notably, women are lacking the opportunity to develop a high-profile professional reputation as a political party candidate because they have already been under represented in the field of academia, law, and business which could have been a window for improvement. Essentially, women are not nominated and are hindered from participating actively in politics because they are unwilling to run for lack of funds, lack of encouragement, and disinterest in political affairs. In addressing these issues, several measures have been purported. First is to allot a special fund to help the expenses of women in their campaign-related costs.
Second, the method being used by the New Democratic Party (NDP) should be adopted by all political parties. In the NDP, the nomination is being freezed only when the riding association has proven that genuine search for women candidate has been made. Third, women candidates should be searched and nominated to run like the Liberals is doing. This method has proven to be effective because the party has exceeded its target. However, even applying these methods in the present electoral system, women’s participation is not also guaranteed.
Hence, there should be an electoral change. In order to effectively increase women’s participation in the Parliament, proportional representation should be adopted. Proportional representation is a “voting system that awards seats according to the percentage of votes received in an election. ” For example, a party winning 40 percent during election will also have 40 percent of the seat in the Parliament. Hence, every vote counts. Notably, proportional representation has been proven effective in increasing women and minorities’ representation in the parliament.
In some country’s adopting the system such as Norway, the voters’ turnout has remarkably increased. The number of women in politics has also increased. In Canada, it is about time to embrace proportional representation as the new electoral reform. Meanwhile, proportionality has been defined as “a means of inclusion and respect for diversity- to include different voices and to incorporate different needs in the highest levels of decision-making and public discussion. ” According to the Law Commission of Canada, the present system of Canada is already outdated.
In addition, Canada has also committed in several conventions in increasing the participation of women in its political affairs. There is therefore a need to change the system in a manner that will increase the women’s population in the field of politics. Some of these conventions and talks include the Charter of Rights and Freedom which guarantees equality among men and women. Another is the UN World Conference on Women where Canada has committed to “take measures to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structure, decision-making and leadership. ”
There is undoubtedly a need for women in the parliament. It cannot be denied that a government of men hardly determines the need of all sectors in the society. By having women in the parliament, several issues of women and children will be addressed. The involvement of women in the policy-making process will certainly bring forth productivity in the government. In addition, unlike men, women are not susceptible of yielding to illegal activities such as corruption. Significantly, women can also help improve the welfare policies because women have a broader experience with regard to care.
Through the proportional representation, the women will have a greater chance of being nominated. This is because political parties would be engaging women in the political race as a winning strategy in an electoral environment where numerous political parties are competing. The system will also encourage women to participate in politics because the electoral system has opened its door for women. The liberty of politics will also leave an impression among women that democracy is alive. Hence, more women in the political race would eventually create an impression among voters that women are capable of holding public office.
Additionally, through the proportionality, minority groups will also have a seat in the parliament depending on the vote they earned. The system will also increase voter turnout because it encourages cooperation of those sectors which were not given much attention before. The turnout will also be a result from the positive change in policy-making. Through wider cooperation and diversity of sector represented, many issues will now be addressed and dealt with by the sector’s representative. Remarkably, through proportional representation, accountability is reiterated among the representative of each political party.
In the study purported, proportional representation has been proven effective and exhibited satisfactory levels of political stability in New Zealand, Scandinavia, and Scotland. By applying proportional representation in Canada, there would more likely political stability because more women and marginalized groups would be joining politics. The policy-making will also be effective and will have a broader scope because all sectors having unique needs will be raised and be addressed in the parliament. Interestingly, discrimination against women and minority groups will certainly be eradicated by changing the political environment.
More importantly, in proportional representation, justice and equality is reflected. There is justice in the sense that every vote by a voter is counted and given an importance. In addition, political parties which were trusted and chosen by voters will be given due representation in the parliament. On the other hand, there is equality because both men and women are now equal with regard to their opportunity in politics. All said, Canada needs a political reform. The present system is not suitable for a democratic country that adheres to justice and equality.
In addition, the era of discrimination has long been survived and been a part of history. Every country is already free in all aspect including freedom in politics. Significantly, all member of the International Community has adhered to the present essence of democracy. Even communist countries have opened their government to women who are willing to be a servant. Hence, Canada is still left behind with regard to political freedom. It has also been observed that women’s participation has never increased under the present system.
Despite the increasing need of women’s voice in the parliament, the system has hindered the women from enjoying the opportunity of advancing their interest and welfare. Notably, women around the world have also been given recognition for their remarkable and superiority in almost all fields that were dominated by men. Women have earned a degree of respect and considered capable in entering politics. However, women in Canada are still struggling for their right to be heard and granted. Hence, by adhering to the present system, Canada is failing the expectations of the International Community.
In fulfilling Canada’s commitment to the international conventions, it should start reforming its electoral system. In addition, it should also consider the benefits enjoyed by other countries that have embraced proportional representation. Likewise, it should also evaluate its present system and consider the need of a change. As has been said, proportional representation cures the flaws of the present system. It will also bring forth equality and justice in the political system. More importantly, it will heighten women’s participation as has been committed by the country in various conventions.
Hence, Canada should adopt proportional representation as its electoral process.
Black, Jerome. “The 2006 Federal Election and Visible Minority Candidates: More of the Same? ” Canadian Parliamentary Review. 2008. Cool, Julie. “Women in Parliament,” Library of Parliament, (2008). http://www. parl. gc. ca/information/library/PRBpubs/prb0562-e. htm#aproportional, accessed March 3, 2009 Childs, Sarah. Women and British Party Politics: Descriptive, Substantive and Symbolic Representation. New York: Routledge, 2008.
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