Among the controversial proposals in the Conservative government’s proposed Fair Elections Act is one to eliminate Elections Canada campaigns encouraging Canadians to vote – no matter who for. Pierre Poilievre, federal minister of state for democratic reform, says Elections Canada’s out reach campaigns – which began in 2003 in response to decades of declining voter turnout, particularly among young voters – have failed to combat the troubling trend. “I am not arguing that Elections Canada’s advertising drives turnout down,” Poilievre said in an email to Postmedia News on Wednesday. “Rather, it fails to drive turnout up, because it does not address the practical obstacles that prevent many from voting.”
Jon Pammett, a political science professor at Carleton University, said Poilievre’s equation reflects a flawed understanding of cause and effect. “There’s a name for this in statistics,” Pammett said. “All this is based on simply a correlation.”
True, voter turnout in Canada has failed to rebound significantly in the last 10 years. After falling sharply in the 1990s – from 71 per cent to 61 per cent – it hit an all-time low of 58.8 per cent in 2008 before recovering in 2011 to 61 per cent. But in the relationship between voter outreach and voter turnout, Pammett cautions that A plus B does not always equal C. “You simply don’t know from simple observation of two things. It’s quite possible that the decline would have been even greater if the campaigns weren’t working.”
Full Article: Bill would end Elections Canada vote drives.