An ineffective reform: the failed experiment with fixed date elections in Canada

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Watson, Chris
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Fixed date election legislation has been enacted throughout most of Canada by the federal government and governments of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories. The two most common reasons used for adopting fixed dates were to reduce the power of first ministers to manipulate election dates and to improve rates of voter turnout. Due to the non-binding nature of this reform it is unlikely that it will have much impact on the power of first ministers. Four out of the first five Canadian elections to be held on fixed dates saw decreases in the rates of participation. Despite the importance of the issues that this reform was intended to address, it seems that this is an insufficient approach. In order for real improvements to take place, a concerted effort on the part of legislators, academic researchers, and the public will be required.
Election, Reform