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REF NO.: 208

SUBJECT: Expert will ask: Is it time for electoral reform in Canada? Webcast will bring the lecture to residents throughout province
DATE: March 1, 2006

The 2005 Galbraith Lecture at Memorial University on March 8 will feature one of Canada’s foremost authorities on electoral systems and political parties, Dr. R. Kenneth Carty, who will speak on Doing Democracy Differently: Is it Time for Electoral Reform in Canada? Residents throughout the province will be able to hear the lecture, which begins at 8 p.m., through a live webcast, available through a link from www.mun.ca/harriscentre.

According to Dr. Carty, professor of political science and the Brenda and David McLean Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of British Columbia, citizens have lost faith in their politicians and are increasingly eager to address the “democratic deficit” by changing the way governments are elected.

“There’s this whole argument that the unelected people in Ottawa have more power than those who are elected,” Dr. Carty notes. “That suggests that Parliament is not the kind of institution our constitutional and legal theories would lead us to believe it should be.”

Dr. Carty argues that several factors have fostered a desire for reform. These include a fragmented party system that frustrates citizens. Successive minority governments in Ottawa have also lessened support for the status quo.

“This has made electoral reform a pressing issue,” Dr. Carty asserts. “Not surprisingly, the issue is bubbling up from the provinces, and at least half of them have actively engaged the question of electoral reform.”

In 2004, Dr. Carty served as chief research officer for B.C.’s Citizens’ Assembly, a non-partisan project that brought together 160 citizens to examine the province’s electoral system. After 11 months of research and input, the assembly recommended a new system of voting that will face its second referendum next year. This unique project has served as a model for citizen involvement in other parts of Canada, and in other countries.

In his Galbraith lecture, Dr. Carty will explain what provincial initiatives like this reveal about the possibility of genuine democratic reform. “There are real prospects in Canadafor learning to do democracy differently.”

The Galbraith Lecture will take place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8, in the Inco Innovation Centre on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. All are welcome to attend. Those who cannot are encouraged to link via internet to the live webcast.

The Galbraith Lecture Series in Public Policy, made possible through a generous donation from Dr. John Kenneth Galbraith, is an initiative of Memorial’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development and the offices of the president and the dean of arts. The annual event brings to Memorial outstanding figures whose work reflects excellence in scholarship and public affairs.

Dr. Carty will be available in St. John’s for media interviews on Tuesday, March 7 and Wednesday, March 8.

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