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Canadian Democracy

Think about elections. Do you know anyone who votes? What are their reasons for doing so? Do you know anyone who can vote but doesn't? What are their reasons for not voting? Think of an event that draws a large number of people, such as a major movie or concert. What are some of the things that encourage people to be there and participate? Could anything similar be done to encourage participation in elections?

Use Further Research and Canadian Documents to help you with the activities below.


Activity 3: Writing a Political Speech

Compose Your Thoughts

Official statement by Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head (1793-1875) in response to demands that he dissolve the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, May 28, 1836

Official statement by Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head (1793-1875) in response to demands that he dissolve the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, May 28, 1836
Source ]

This document expresses allegiance to the King and proudly proclaims: "The people of Upper Canada detest democracy." How are democratic decisions influenced?

You decide to hold a press conference and make a speech presenting your party's most convincing arguments. You need to be the first to win over your voters! Some ideas to get you started:

  1. Refer to Further Research and Canadian Documents for examples of political speeches. What ideas can you get from speeches that reflect your party's political position? How are important topics presented?
  2. What is political rhetoric? Where can you find examples of it? How could you use it in your speech?
  3. Pick an intriguing or surprising way to begin your speech. This might be an unusual statement, a witty observation, an inspiring quotation, or perhaps some startling statistics. Your goal is to grab the attention of your listeners.
  4. Identify issues of concern to your voters. In your speech, engage their frustrations or fears. Use your arguments to explain how you will address these issues. How do you make your political position appealing to a wide variety of voters? Ideas include: pointing out how you are different than your competitors, using diversion, and making your position about a bigger issue.
  5. Are there issues you will have to emphasize or avoid? Plan to address one or two difficult questions from the press using political rhetoric.
  6. Make full use of your vocal expression and physical gestures. Consider using an unusual prop, a sign, or even a political "stunt" with the help of your supporters (a demonstration, cheer, or other planned performance).
  7. In your party, take turns presenting your speeches. Vote on one representative for the class press conference. At the press conference, it will be the job of the rest of the group, acting as reporters, to ask the party representatives some difficult questions! Will they handle the pressure like experienced politicians?

Activity 4: Protecting the Vote

Compose Your Thoughts

Notice describing the CLASSES OF PERSONS ENTITLED TO VOTE AT PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS FOR RIDINGS IN UPPER CANADA, printed after 1855

Notice describing the "Classes of persons entitled to vote at parliamentary elections for ridings in Upper Canada," printed after 1855
Source ]

Democracy is impacted when individuals or groups are excluded from voting. What is the connection between voting and democracy?

Voter turnout can make or break your career in politics. Of course, your party has strong democratic ethics, and you want to make sure all voters will participate. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity or the intention to vote.

What groups of people may be prevented from voting or may decide not to participate in voting?

Your challenge is to address voter turnout. Use Further Research and Canadian Documents to research and make a list of groups of people that may not have strong voter turnout.

In 250 words, summarize one or two key issues affecting voter turnout. Explain two or three strategies that you will use to address this issue. Consider new ways to encourage voter participation, anticipate any challenges that might arise, and outline a logical plan to accomplish your goals.

Photograph of Canadian nursing sisters in France voting in the Canadian federal election, December 1917

Canadian nursing sisters in France voting in the Canadian federal election, December 1917 [ Source ]

Explore The Canadian State Political Library, a digital collection of historical books related to Canadian politics and government.