Harper claims that fixed election dates, which some provinces already have for their own elections, will level the playing field by preventing governments from calling elections for short-term political advantage.
According to this CBC article, Canada's current system is in the minority. But that doesn't necessarily mean its broken and needs fixing. One expert claims fixed election dates would increase voter turnout, but that's subject to debate.
Henry Milner, an eminent student of Canada's electoral system, points out that of the 40 comparable democracies in the world, Canada is one of only 12 that does not have fixed election dates. That is statistically interesting, but significant only if the 12 are prone to murder, mayhem and other consistently anti-democratic behaviour.If a government could be defeated in Parliament anyway, I don't see how fixed-date elections are either a drastic change or a huge improvement. But as I'm new to the parliamentary system, I may well be missing subtle - or not-so-subtle - issues.
Milner argues that fixed election dates would reverse the trend to increasingly lower turnout in Canadian elections. Unhappily, turnout seems to have a life of its own, unaffected by winter, summer or voter contentment; and the consistent trend is downwards.
Canadians curious about the effect of fixed election dates could consider the U.S., where elections have long been carved in stone. American voter turnout is so consistently low that the U.S. now ranks 139th in the world in voter participation - although Canada at 77 is hardly in a position to boast.
Your thoughts? I know many of you don't read on the weekends, so I'll look for your replies on Monday.