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  • Ratu Eqivalen Fikri Faidah

Why the World Needs to Learn from Canada

Nowadays, democracy is experiencing a state of deep crisis. In the West, growing political polarization, economic frustration, and the rise of populist parties have eroded the promise of democratic institutions to offer governance that is not only popularly supported, but also stable and effective. Meanwhile, in developing countries, the profound challenges of corruption, intergroup conflict, and urban violence undermine the essence of democracy.

However, amid political instability and declining trust of democracy, Canada continues to shine out to be the one of world's strongest democracies and affluent nations. As one of the world’s most transparent countries, Canada has a remarkable reputation on open business and government practices, well-distributed political power, high levels of trustworthiness, and low levels of perceived corruption. There are three main lessons that the world needs to learn from Canada.

Diverse Political System

In 2015 visible minority groups represented 12.9 percent of the all the candidates from the five main parties (Liberal Party of Canada [LPC], Conservative Party of Canada [CPC], New Democratic Party [NDP], Bloc Québécois [BQ], Green Party of Canada [GPC]). In 2019 that proportion increased to 15.7 percent (with the addition of the People’s Party of Canada, the PPC). The total number of visible minority MPs elected increased from 47 in 2015 (13.9 percent) to 51 in 2019 (15.1 percent). In all the parties the proportion of visible minority candidates increased in 2019. Even the People’s Party of Canada, which argued for less immigration and an end to multiculturalism, fielded a seizable proportion of visible minority candidates.

Andrew Griffith, a former official at the department of citizenship suggests three potential benefits of diversity in appointments that “it allows Canadians to see themselves represented in government institutions, it brings a range of experience and perspectives to government policies and operations and it reduces the risk of inappropriate policies (for example, an RCMP interview guide that asked asylum-seekers about their religious practices).”

High level of transparency and accountability

Accountability and transparency are treated as major building pillars for governing democratic nations in recent years. Democracy needs accountability and transparency as ingredients, with parliament executing a major role as regulator. Sometimes it will be assumed that parliament and its supporting organizations are the appropriate zones to eliminate political allegations, corruption activities and maladministration made. But it has often happened that various attempts to institutionalize a culture of transparency and accountability have been avoided.

The Government of Canada is committed to open government. Open government is an approach to governance that focuses on transparency, accountability, and citizen participation. Canada has made good progress in recent years, working with partners in government and civil society across Canada and around the world to support and promote the principles of open government. Through the 2018-2020 National Action Plan on Open Government, The Government of Canada shows its full commitment to the people of Canada and planning for how they will continue to raise the bar on open government.

Canada continues to expand and transform its open government efforts, the main core is to achieve "a governing culture that fosters greater openness and accountability, enhances citizen participation in policymaking and service design, and creates a more efficient and responsive government." But this next stage is about enshrining open government into everything we do. It’s about shifting the capabilities, behaviors, and processes, and making government open by default. Most importantly, there is a growing recognition that the government is not open unless it is open to everyone. Canada believes that when the governments open up opportunities for citizens to speak up and participate, they need to ensure that all people can make their voices heard. It is critical that governments design public engagement processes that are welcoming to communities that have too often been marginalized or under-represented.

Strong Protection for Citizens’ Freedom

According to the Freedom House, Canada is “one of the world’s most free online environments” due to reliable and affordable internet access for a majority of the population and the users enjoy protections for free expression and press freedom. Moreover, Canada has a strong history of respect for political rights and civil liberties, though recent years have seen concerns about the scope of government surveillance laws. In 2019 Canada is 14th in the overall Prosperity Index Rankings. Canada performs most strongly in Education and Personal Freedom but is weakest in Economic Quality. The biggest improvement compared to a decade ago came in safety and security.


Canada, Democracy, Canadian Democracy, Diverse Political System, Justin Trudeau, Multiculturalism, Ratu Eqivalen, change4humanity, blog posts, democracy reports

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