In the days ahead, Canadians have an important task: to rid themselves of the spurious notion that the responsibilities of citizenship—voting, knowing Canadian history, volunteering, etc.—apply first and foremost to immigrants. Here are three ideas whose time has come.
1. Mandatory Voting
In the 1970s, Canadian elections had a healthy 75 percent voter turnout. That plunged to a dismal 59 percent in the 2008 federal election. Each new cohort of eligible voters since the mid-1980s has turned out in fewer numbers than its predecessors. And the decline in the overall voting rate will only get worse as older, high-turnout voters dwindle in number.
As political scientist Henry Milner correctly points out, voting “is the sine qua non of political participation. People who do not vote do not take part in more active forms of politics.” In other words, much of the civic machinery—healthy political parties, sophisticated NGOs ...