It may be time for Canada to take a look at making voting mandatory says federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, pointing to Australia.
Australia has made it compulsory to vote at all levels of government, or else risk getting fined to force higher voter turnout.
Only 66% of Canadians voted in the 2019 federal election. Municipal elections often see turnouts significantly lower than that.
The Canadian Press says that O’Toole, in an April 16 virtual speech, said Canadians have the legal right to be able to vote wherever they are in the world.
“Now that people can live in Hong Kong or Europe and vote — shouldn’t we be following the lead of one of our sort of peer parliamentary democracies, like Australia, and thinking that basic element of citizenship is voting, even if you mark none of the above?” O’Toole told the Delta Chamber of Commerce.
“I think that’s a civic duty that we should encourage. I’m going to look closely at what Australia’s been doing. I think there’s a lot of things we can do to bring up confidence.
“How can we examine ideas to recommit to our parliamentary democracy? We’re just in listening mode.
“Some people look to Australia, a similar parliamentary democracy, with their approach with respect to mandatory voting. It comes up occasionally … we haven’t announced any policy whatsoever.”
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told The Canadian Press he’d rather see voting made more accessible than mandatory.
“I’ve talked about lowering the voting age, getting kids in high schools to start voting and to create that culture of voting there. I think those are some of the things that I’d put more of my emphasis on,” he said.