Modern states have matured and this has enabled their citizens to enjoy their democratic rights and freedoms. Elections have become common ways of selecting people to fill political positions. The need to ensure everybody has a right to vote has pushed nations to establish rules that determine the eligibility of voters. This promotes the effectiveness of democratic processes by ensuring mature citizens vote in general and by elections (Heard, 2011). Elections in Canada are very complicated because of the nature and number of seats to be filled. This paper presents an analysis of the 2011 riding of Vaughan elections in Canada.
Riding of Vaughan’s 2011 Elections
Vaughan was recognized as an electoral district in Canada (Ontario) and its positions have been contested in general and by elections since 2004. The political geography of this region is very complex because it constitutes of two diverse populations (Copland, 2014). The rural parts like the community of Kleinberg are made up of Conservative concentrations that are located in the northern and eastern parts of Vaughan and do not have a huge population even though they geographical coverage is wide. The population of these rural communities is scattered and this means that they form less than a third of the inhabitants of this region.
The southern part of this riding consists of Liberals that form most of the constituents. This area has a huge population because urban centers have many residential houses that accommodate people from different regions in the country (Jackson, 2013). Most politicians rely on this region to win election and this explains why urban dwellers have a higher say on matters that affect this region. In addition, politicians consider this region to have many votes and sometimes they ignore the rural folks. This riding has an estimated eligible voting population of about 196,068 according to the 2011 poll report.
The number of registered voters in the 2012 riding elections was around 120,000 people. This region hosts people from different racial groups with the whites making occupying most of this area (Vaughan 2012 by-elections, 2014). French and English are the two most spoken languages in this location. Most people are Catholics, even though members of other religions enjoy the freedom of worship in this region. The average income of Vaughan’s residence is estimated at $ 34,485 and this means that this is a rich area (Vaughan 2012 by-elections, 2014).
Candidates in 2011 elections
Vaughan is a constituency represented by a member of parliament. Julian Fantino won the 2010 by-elections held after the resignation of the former Vaughan Member of Parliament called Maurizio Bevilacqua (Heard, 2011). In addition, he also won the 2011 elections by defeating his close competitor with a small margin. Fantino got 19,290 votes against 18,326 garnered by his close competitor Tony Genco from the Liberal Party during the 2010 by-elections.
The 2011 elections in this riding attracted four candidates that include Julian Fantino, Mario Ferri, Mark Pratt and Claudia Rodriguez-Larrain. Julian had higher chances of winning these elections because of the huge support he received from the Liberal party and supporters (Copland, 2014). In addition, he had won the previous by elections and thus this offered him a competitive advantage over his competitors. The 2011 Vaughan elections were described by political analysts as the most competitive in Canada and it was a show of prowess and dominance between the liberals and democrats (urban and rural dwellers).
The characteristics of the local community
The local community occupying the Vaughan region does not have distinct characteristics from the rest of the population. This riding constitutes members from different economic classes, even though most of their incomes are above average. This means that the tax collected from the people of this region is high because of the productivity of its people. Vaughan was rated as the fastest growing city in Canada. Statistics Canada discovered that during the period of 1996-2006 Vaughan’s growth rate was 80.2% (Elections Canada, 2014).
In addition, the department presented that Vaughan’s population doubled from about 140,000 people to 288, 301 in ten years time (1996-2006). The history of this region explains that its current population displaced the Huron-Wendat people that occupied this district. The present townships were created in 1792 and this marked the beginning of sedentary life as people started to settle in this region.
This city was named after Benjamin Vaughan for his contributions in signing a peace treaty with the United States. Life in this region was difficult because it was located in a remote place and this discouraged people from settling here (Jackson, 2013). In addition, the state did not pay attention to remote areas and thus there were no social amenities to take care of the needs of the ancient communities that lived in this region. Pennsylvania Germans and French Royalists were among the first settlers in this region and they established townships like Thornhill, Kleinberg, Coleraine, Maple and others.
The Second World War contributed to an influx of people in this region and this became the start of civilization for its earlier inhabitants. Vaughan Township was established in 1850 and this helped this region to start getting social amenities like schools and hospitals. This region has made considerable progress because of the nature of its inhabitants and the bold strides it has taken on political and legal issues. First, it was the first municipality to have a youthful councilor in Ontario City. This region has several tourist attraction sites that boost its revenue and support local investments. In addition, it has institutions of higher learning like York University and other prestigious academies that enroll learners from different parts of Canada (Heard, 2011). The place is known for being the center of a television and motion picture production house called CineSpace Film Studios.
Single member plurality electoral system
This voting system has been used in Canada for many years and it involves electing people to fill various political offices. Single member plurality electoral system refers to the process of voting for people to fill various positions. These elections are usually done in one day. The person who gets the most votes wins the elections and becomes the holder of a political office. Canadians believe that all political contestants have equal rights of vying for different positions provided they meet the regulations set by Canada’s Electoral Commission (Heard, 2011).
There are usually winners and losers in all elections and but the person who gets many votes than others is ushered into office. Voters are allowed to vote once for their preferred candidates and the contestant with the most votes carry the day and all others are declared losers. This voting system has aroused a lot of controversy due to the challenges that arise during the determination of constituency boundaries (Copland, 2014). Candidates can easily predict their wins by studying the public’s response and interests in their meetings. In addition, election officials prefer this system because it is very easy to determine winners. All other contestants must concede defeat and support the winner. There is no guarantee that losers will have other chances of contesting for political offices in an election. This means that the plurality voting system allows contestants to vie for a single position during an election. In addition, voters must elect one person in each position and nobody has the right to vote more than one.
This system of voting has the following advantages to Canada. First, it is suitable in this country because it promotes awareness and competition between the Liberal and Conservative parties. This is an easy way of ensuring voters understand the key parties that have candidates for various positions. In addition, it ensures the one-man-one-vote policy is observed because there are no chances for an individual to elect two people of the same office at the same time.
Secondly, it moderates and influences the choices of voters in elections (Elections Canada, 2014). This means that most voters will not waste their votes by voting for candidates that have no chances of winning. Therefore, the one party plurality voting system ensures political parties and candidates enjoy the support of voters without even campaigning very hard in regions that have small populations. Moreover, this voting system promotes two-party systems and discourages the mushrooming of insignificant political outfits. The fact that democracy exists does not give people the right to establish political parties just for the sake of exercising their democratic rights. Therefore, this voting system ensures insignificant political parties are discouraged from presenting candidates in areas they know they do not have support.
Lastly, Vaughan spends reasonable tax payer’s money in organizing elections because of the single party plurality voting system (Heard, 2011). The cost of organizing for constituency elections is affordable because there are two major political parties that present candidates for different positions. However, this voting system is perceived to be dictatorial because it locks out minor political parties. It is necessary to explain that other candidates campaigned and expressed their interest to be members of parliament for Vaughan but they did not have equal chances to win the 2011 elections because of the single party plurality system. In addition, some candidates take advantage of the popularity of their parties to contest for different positions yet they do not have any development agendas for their constituents (Kanji, 2012).
This system is not suitable for determining a candidate’s win because it does not consider other important factors that contribute to fair victory. For instance, a candidate that gets the most votes is declared the winner, even if voter turnout was less than 50%. This system assumes that all voters turn out during elections and thus the candidate with many votes the most popular. In addition, constituencies are usually established to ensure some political parties win most seats during elections. This is not a democratic way of electing people into office since it violates the rights of individuals to have a fair representation in parliament.
Political party system
Political party system in Canada has experienced a lot of changes from the ancient single state in multiparty practices. The federal laws have changed to accommodate these transformations and enable Canadians to vote without restrictions. Liberal and Conservative political parties are the main players in Canada even though there are other minor parties that try to make their way in some constituencies. Vaughan is predominantly controlled by the Liberals and this party has won elections since this area became a constituency (Heard, 2011).
However, there is usually a cut-throat competition between these giant political parties and the winning candidate usually has very few votes on his side to trounce the opponent. Canadians support political parties based on their manifestos and the achievements of their office bearers. This means that the fact that Liberal has more members of parliament does not mean that anybody running on its ticket will win elections. Political parties support candidates that have manifestos that will improve their images and attract voters. Vaughans scrutinize political leaders and their manifestos before they vote for them and this means that there are high chances that an aspirant from a minor political party can win elections (Heard, 2011).
There is no rule of tradition that guarantees any political party a direct ticket to win elections. This means that political parties must work hard to ensure they get the attention of voters and persuade them to vote wisely during elections. Therefore, contestants do not just sit and wait to be declared winners they have to work hard and prove to voters that they have the best leadership skills and agendas that will transform their standards of living and guarantee the future of their children and investments. Political parties must meet the minimum requirements stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission and constitution of Canada (Heard, 2011). Political parties may be deregistered if they fail to meet any of the provisions stated in by these departments and thus they must ensure their supporters and aspirants uphold the recommended election practices.
All electoral processes have interest groups that play various roles in ensuring there is free and fair elections at all levels. Vaughan constituency has several interest groups that perform different roles to ensure elections are successful and credible. First, civil societies play significant roles in influencing members of parliament to draft legislation and policies that have impacts on the lives of citizens (Kanji, 2012). They influence governments to make changes that will ensure the rights of citizens are not violated. In addition, they also monitor how members of parliament spend money and have a right to go to court to initiate probes that would unearth corruption and other malpractice in public offices.
Most interest groups educate the residents of Vaughan to understand their civic duties and participate in elections without being influenced by others. This means that these groups conduct public rallies and educate the masses on the importance of electing leaders that have good performance records that are not tainted with misuse of office (Heard, 2011). It is necessary to explain that Vaughan has various forums where civil societies exchange ideas with political aspirants before elections to ensure the public understands what they have to offer them if they are elected.
In addition, these groups protect the interest of their members and this explains why there have different fonts. Some of them advocate for the need to include women in leadership while others demand the fair allocation of resources to the disabled people. Lastly, interest groups offer guidance to political parties and government on issues of national or regional importance (Heard, 2011). For instance, religious and activist groups played significant roles during the formation of Vaughan constituency and were very active in advising the first Member of Parliament on how to improve the welfare of people living in this district.
Role of the media
The media is an indispensable party in any election. Vaughan has three key media houses that play important roles in shaping the opinion of the public. They include Vaughan Citizen, Dolce Vita Magazine and CityLife Magazine. The media played a significant role in advocating for the establishment of Vaughan constituency. Presenters were never tired of presenting the views of citizens who felt that they were not represented fully by the former constituency. Therefore, they used the media to express their views and interest in making their constituency independent.
Vaughan has not yet been classified as a city in most directories, but it has attained and been certified as one of Ontario’s cities. This means that the locals were very influential in presenting their views through the media that it was time for this region to be identified as independent. Secondly, the media educated the locals on the meaning of being a constituency and the expected benefits. This means that there was the need for the local population to understand the expected changes when this region becomes a constituency (Kanji, 2012). Therefore, this enabled them to prepare in terms of administrative and social roles and ensure their normal activities were not affected during the transition period.
In addition, the media presented the demographic characteristics of candidates that were vying for different positions and this enabled the masses to make their choices wisely. Debates were held on televisions and radios to show how each contestant would transform the lives of his people if elected as a member of parliament. These forums enabled citizens to ask contestants questions that showed their ability to manage various issues, including improving the infrastructure, security, education and economy of Vaughan (Vaughan community profile, 2014). There was the need for candidates to be scrutinized to ensure voters understood their abilities. This offered a convenient platform for contestants to prove that they were the most suited to fill the political office created by the new constituency.
Moreover, the media updated the public on the performance of contestants during elections. This means that people watched the process of voting and counting of votes and knew their elected leader before the electoral commission announced the winner. This helped them to continue with their daily activities and at the same time know what is happening in the political scene. The need to keep the public updated on election processes enabled people to express their opinions regarding the outcome of the district elections. People were informed about the votes each candidate won during the elections and what influenced their choices of candidates.
The debates that preceded the 2011 elections were aired on national televisions and this had a major impact on the votes of all candidates (Elections Canada, 2014). Lastly, the media exposed the malpractice that accompanied the 2011 district elections in Vaughan. Cases of voter bribing, manipulation and propaganda were reported in some parts of Vaughan like Kleinberg and Coleraine. Some contestants presented their petitions in court to dispute the results, but their cases were rejected on grounds of lack of evidence.
Canada has the best electoral system in the world because of the democratic space that prevails during elections. Vaughan is a new constituency created to ensure services were devolved. There are higher chances that Julian Fantino may be elected in the next general election because of his outstanding performance. In addition, the media and other interest groups have supported his leadership and argue that he understands and addresses the needs of his people in a professional manner. The Liberal party continues to enjoy massive support from locals because of its national appeal and professional leadership.
Copland, C. S. (2014). How to elect Conservatives in Canada: Everything you need to know to plan and manage winning campaigns for local, provincial, and federal elections throughout Canada. Ottawa: Conservative Growth, Inc. Web.
Elections Canada (2014). Election in Canada. Web.
Heard, A. (2011). Elections. Riding by riding information. Web.
Jackson, R. (2013). Politics in Canada: Culture, institutions, behavior and public policy. New York, NY: Longman. Web.
Kanji, M. (2012). The Canadian election studies: Assessing four decades of influence. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Web.
Vaughan 2012 by-elections (2014). Web.
Vaughan community profile (2014). Web.