Let citizen juries decide Canada’s election rules

My article in response to Justin Trudeau (Canada’s prime minister) breaking his electoral reform promise on February 1, and more generally about the absurdity of politicians deciding the rules they are elected under. (Trudeau, before and after the 2015 Canadian election repeatedly promised to make it the last one held under first-past-the-post.)

It is neither democratic nor desirable that the prime minister and the House of Commons keep deciding Canada’s election rules. There is a far better alternative.

In Classical Athens, the birthplace of Western democracy, much of the decision-making was done by juries chosen from the citizens by lottery. A modern version of Athenian juries could be used to decide election rules today.

Politicians should not decide the rules they are elected under because fair and democratic decision-making requires that those who decide do not have a conflict of interest. Election rules are far too important to our democracy to be compromised by the strong self-interest of politicians in rules that favour themselves.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shown that keeping his word is less important to him than keeping first-past-the-post (FPTP), which has given him and previous governments a majority of seats with under 40% of the vote, and could do so again. […]

Citizen juries would provide a way to decide election rules that is independent from politicians, is highly democratic, ensures an informed choice from a full range of options, and which does not underrepresent women or any other group. […]

A jury could be automatically convened each parliamentary term, perhaps six months after each federal election. It could consider whether any changes to Canada’s election laws are called for, and if so, refer specific questions to one or more other juries who would hear proposals and make a decision.

In addition, parliament could have the power to convene juries to decide on electoral reforms, but would no longer decide them itself.

For those interested in the details regarding Trudeau breaking his electoral reform promise here is an excellent and entertaining article by Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne, and here is a follow-up from him in response to a new reason Trudeau gave for breaking his promise.

One Response

  1. Andrew Coyne seems to have democratic sensibilities. Maybe he would be interested in sortition.

    Liked by 1 person

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