SFU study has found that most Metro Vancouverites don’t think they can influence the democratic process. (Heather Mount/Unsplash)

Less than half of Metro Vancouverites feel they can influence government: study

SFU researchers suggest most people believe elected officials don’t care

More than 50 per cent of Metro Vancouverites don’t believe that they can affect the way government runs, a new survey suggests.

The study, released Monday by Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, said residents like democracy in theory, but many are frustrated by it in reality.

Seventy-three percent of those surveyed said it’s “very important” that Canada be governed democratically, but 41 per cent felt the act of voting didn’t actually affect how government operated. Another 65 per cent believed elected officials “do not care” about what their constituents think.

“This research hints at an underlying sense of unease and frustration with the way government works in Canada,” said executive director Robin Prest.

“Metro Vancouver residents believe strongly in democratic values, but feel their democratic institutions and processes are not living up to the core set of values and principles they feel are so important to a healthy and functioning civil society.”

In the last provincial election, only 58 per cent of people voted.

READ MORE: B.C.’s civic election campaign period kicks off

READ MORE: Proportional representation means more B.C. parties, coalitions

Canadian democracy is “not under imminent threat,” Prest said, but he did note people are highly disengaged with the process.

Although 76 per cent of residents believe that democracy is the best form of government, 24 per cent don’t think it matters what kind of government they live under and believe authoritarian rule is “acceptable in some circumstances.”

The survey suggests 40 per cent of Metro Vancouverites have never taken part in most democratic activities.

Only 29 per cent had ever attended a public consultation meeting, despite 82 per cent of them believing citizen participation is a responsibility, not a right.

Voters go to the polls in B.C.’s municipal elections on Oct. 20.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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