- Look at these two ranking projects that are available online. Discuss the ratings of different real countries. Did you find anything that surprised you? Report back to your class.
- Freedom House is an American organization established in 1947 to promote democracy. It publishes a series of annual reports, including “Freedom in the World”, which scores countries on their degree of democratic rights and civil liberties and rates them “Free, Partially Free, or Not Free”. The reports and a map demonstrating the rankings are available free on the website. While there has been some criticism of a pro-American bias in Freedom House’s approach, it is otherwise a thorough resource.
- A 2008 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit expands on the methodology of Freedom House by also including data related to such things as voter turnout, female participation and international surveys of voter attitudes. It is produced by the British magazine The Economist. More information is available through the online edition of the magazine, but for a cost.
- Write a paragraph defining a very democratic country. What are the key five factors that make a country highly democratic? Compare this country with Canada.
- Volunteer in your community with an organization which promotes democratic rights either here or abroad.
Ward System vs. At Large System Debate: One common debate in BC politics is whether we should elect members of council using the current “at large” system, whereby all members of council are elected to represent the entire jurisdiction or if we should elect members of council to represent their own neighbourhoods or “wards”.
The City of Vancouver had a referendum on the Wards issue in 2004, with 54% of voters rejecting the idea. This result, however, was based on a voter turnout of only 22% of registered voters. Information about the wards referendum, including a map of the proposed wards in Vancouver, is still available at the Vancouver City Clerk’s website.
A class debate on At Large vs. Wards would still be relevant in many jurisdictions as the ward system is commonly used in other provinces and still has some popular support in BC even though it was not approved in the 2008 election. You can prepare this debate and then ask your teacher if you can take some time in class to present it.
- Invite a local reporter who covers local elections to visit the class to discuss local election campaigns. Prepare questions ahead of time for your speaker to answer.
- Contact your local Member of Parliament and conduct an interview on the election process. Consider:
- Campaign funding
- Campaign platform
- Campaign expenses
- Delegate independence
- Volunteer staff/staffing
- Party support/infrastructure
- You are a candidate in the next federal election. Describe five key issues that you would use to build your campaign platform around. For each issue explain the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why).
- Volunteer with Elections BC or local election committee to work at a polling booth. See www.elections.bc.ca or www.civicinfo.bc.ca.
Right and Responsibility to Vote
- Do some research on voter turnout at the 2008 elections in BC and Canada. Come up with some ideas of how to improve that turnout. Interview students at your school who are able to vote and find out why they voted or why they did not vote. Report back to your class.
- Research the idea of making voting compulsory in Canada, as it is in some other jurisdictions such as Australia. This issue was the topic of an unsuccessful Senate bill, S-22, sponsored by Senator Mac Herb in 2005.
- Create a public awareness project related to the importance of voting for a healthy democracy. This could include visuals such as posters, brochures or online public service announcement. Ask your school to support this issue.