The Importance Of City Elections In Canada

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This paper will examine municipal elections in British Columbia, taking Surrey and Vancouver as direct examples to show that a ward system would be a much more fair and democratic way to elect city councils. Municipal elections in these two cities currently take place in an at-large system. The argument behind why this system is superior is that city councils have a more citywide approach to representation, as opposed to a regional one. Many political scientists have argued that a ward system, which splits cities into districts that are all represented by at least a single councillor, are a better way to hold more democratic and representative elections. Because of the current lack of representation for some lower income or underprivileged…show more content…
The goal of ward systems is to make sure that all sections of a city are equally represented by at least a single councillor. Even though cities such as Vancouver have for some reason rejected it (as seen in 2004), it is a much more fair system to all citizens of a city. The at-large system easily tends to favour wealthier communities in a city. When taking Vancouver as an example, the Berger Commission of 2004 found that “[it] is generally accepted that the majority of city councillors have been from the West Side.” As Rebecca Dhindsa puts it, the West Side is “an area with higher incomes and less unemployment than Vancouver’s East Side.” This shows that councillors tend to run from wealthier segments of a city in at large systems. This can be because they may be more financially well off than the candidates from the underprivileged sections, which can affect campaign financing, or as the Berger Commission states, the richer and better educated “have a greater chance of informing themselves on civic issues and participating in political affairs.” The defence that this system is better for a council with a citywide focus is also largely false. Royce Koop and John Kraemer found that many councillors in at large municipalities still favour a certain area. When interviewing Councillor Bruce Hayne of Surrey, they were told this by him; “I think everybody has some affinity to the geography of where they live. I live in Cloverdale so I
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