Electoral Reform: Are Canadians Ready to Replace the First Past the Post System?

September 29, 2016 :: Harold Jansen
Moderated by Michelle Day

Presently, federal elections in Canada use the first past the post (FPTP) system where the candidate with the most votes in a riding becomes its Member of Parliament. As a result, many candidates win their seats with less than 50 per cent of votes. During last year’s election campaign, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said he would, if elected, create a committee to look at alternatives to the FPTP system and promised that next election, likely in 2019, a new system would be in place. Alternatives include proportional representation, ranked ballots, mandatory voting and online voting.

Electoral reform often proves to be difficult to accomplish because it combines debates over different and often competing values, political party and politician self-interest, and the need for citizen acceptance, even though many citizens have only a poor understanding of the alternatives available to them. The potential impact of changes to our electoral system are huge and the stakes are high for politicians, political parties, and citizens.

The speaker, who supports a mixed member proportional electoral system, recently appeared as an expert witness before a meeting of the House of Commons all party Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

Speaker:     Harold Jansen

Harold Jansen is a political scientist at the University of Lethbridge interested in the ways in which Canadians and Albertans interact with their governments through political parties and new technology. He completed his B.A. at the University of Alberta and earned his M.A. at Carleton University in Ottawa before returning to the University of Alberta and finishing his Ph.D. in Political Science in 1998.

Jansen came to the University of Lethbridge shortly after receiving his Ph.D. and has been here ever since. His research has focused on Alberta politics, electoral systems and electoral reform, Canadian political party finance, and the impact of the Internet on political communication and democratic citizenship.

Passionate about teaching, Jansen appreciates the opportunities which smaller universities offer for mentoring undergraduate students. From July 2013 to June 2015, he served as one of the university's two Board of Governors Teaching Chairs and on July 1, 2015, Jansen became Chair of the Political Science department at U of L.

Moderator: TBA

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016
Time: Noon - 1:30 pm
Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S
Cost: $12.00 (includes lunch) or $2.00 (includes coffee/tea)

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