US & Canada

Canada unimpressed with Trudeau government's #mydemocracy survey

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau stands on stage at the Liberal party headquarters in Montreal, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. Trudeau, the son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, became Canada’s new prime minister after beating Conservative Stephen Harper. Image copyright Associated Press / The Canadian Press
Image caption Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that the 2015 election campaign would be the last under the 'first-past-the-post' system

Canadians are skewering the federal government's new attempt to engage the population on electoral reform.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to scrap Canada's first-past-the-post voting system in the last election.

But after his party won, Mr Trudeau has been accused of trying to backtrack on his promise.

An online poll, described by one opponent as "a dating website designed by Fidel Castro", is the latest stumble.

People accuse the poll of being misleading and confusing, and another example of how the government is stalling on taking action.

Twitter users are making fun of the federal government's online survey by co-opting the government's #mydemocracy hashtag. They have also added the tag #rejectedERQs (electoral reform questions).

The survey asks people about their political values and preferences, like how they feel about online voting and proportional representation.

For instance, one question asks "Which would you prefer: Members of Parliament that always support policies that they think are best for their constituents, even if their constituents disagree OR Members of Parliament that always support policies their constituents want, even if the MPs themselves personally disagree?"

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Twitter users poked fun at the questions in the survey

Others made fun of how the survey assigned respondents a sharable label like "guardian", "co-operator", or "challenger" that the questionnaire said best aligned with their views on how a democracy should function.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Filippone is the director of communications for the New Democratic Party.

A twitter user created a template to replace the official answers with fictional or historical characters.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption User J.J. McCullough was pushing the #mydemocracy
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption #Mydemocracy mocked the democracy 'personality types' the questionnaire assigned to respondents

Political opponents were also critical, calling the Liberal Party's questionnaire for Canadians about electoral reform poorly worded and insincere.

The survey did not ask if people wanted a referendum on electoral reform, which the official opposition in Ottawa is demanding.

Mr Trudeau has told reporters his government is popular, so electoral reform is less of a priority.

"They now have a government they are more satisfied with. And the motivation to want to change the electoral system is less urgent," he told Le Devoir in October.

Federal Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef said the online survey will "empower all Canadians to take part in a value-based conversation about their democracy, about the way they would like to be governed".

The first-past-the-post voting system tends to favour larger established parties. Under the system, whoever has the most votes wins their district, regardless of whether they win a majority.

Federal politicians are weighing a range of options that could change the way Canadians elect government, from ranked ballots to proportional representation and online or mandatory voting.

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