Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 26, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 26, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

O’Toole in ‘listening mode’ on idea of mandatory voting in Canada

Erin O’Toole has said he did not support proportional representation electoral reform

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he’s simply in “listening mode” on the idea of making voting mandatory in Canada after recently raising it before a virtual crowd.

The remarks came when O’Toole was asked about proportional representation during an event hosted by the Delta Chamber of Commerce in British Columbia earlier this month.

O’Toole said he did not support that kind of electoral reform, but added that he has been “thinking about and talking about” how Australia requires its citizens to go to the polls.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world that has made it compulsory to vote at all levels of government, or else risk a modest fine, and voter turnout is relatively high.

The Conservative leader noted Canadians living abroad can vote, a right that has been protected by the courts.

“Now that people can live in Hong Kong or Europe and vote — shouldn’t we be following the lead of one of our sort of peer parliamentary democracies, like Australia, and thinking that basic element of citizenship is voting, even if you mark none of the above?” O’Toole told the virtual crowd on April 16.

“I think that’s a civic duty that we should encourage. I’m going to look closely at what Australia’s been doing. I think there’s a lot of things we can do to bring up confidence.”

Asked about his comments on Tuesday, O’Toole said he has heard from some people who believe mandatory voting would allow citizens to see the value of the democratic process at a time when public belief in federal institutions is low.

“How can we examine ideas to recommit to our parliamentary democracy? We’re just in listening mode,” he said.

“Some people look to Australia, a similar parliamentary democracy, with their approach with respect to mandatory voting. It comes up occasionally … we haven’t announced any policy whatsoever.”

O’Toole has promised a Conservative government would bring more transparency and accountability to Ottawa in hopes of restoring people’s faith in the system, also using it as a way to point to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s past ethics breaches.

Trudeau repeatedly promised, both as Liberal leader on the campaign trail in 2015 and then in his government’s first speech from the throne, to get rid of the first-past-the-post electoral system in time for the 2019 election.

Trudeau later ditched that pledge after the issue was studied by a House of Commons special committee on electoral reform, which also examined mandatory voting.

The committee recommended against bringing compulsory voting to Canada.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he’d rather see voting made more accessible than mandatory.

“I’ve talked about lowering the voting age, getting kids in high schools to start voting and to create that culture of voting there. I think those are some of the things that I’d put more of my emphasis on,” he said Tuesday.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Trial begins for driver involved in car crash that killed retired Abbotsford police sergeant

RCMP accident reconstructionist takes stand in trial of Conrad Nikolaus Wetten

This vehicle is suspected of being involved in a suspicious incident on Friday (May 7) on Mouat Drive in Abbotsford.
Driver in Abbotsford tries to lure teen girl into his vehicle

Man tells 14-year-old that her mom sent him to pick her up

The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 25 to May 1. The darkest areas indicate communities with a daily average of more than 20 cases per 100,000 population. (BC Centre of Disease Control)
Surrey and Abbotsford battle for top COVID hotspot in Fraser Health

Two communities are among areas across province showing highest transmission

Country music star Brett Kissel enters the Clayburn Village Store, which is one of several featured Abbotsford locations in his recent video “Make A Life, Not A Living”. (YouTube)
VIDEO: Abbotsford featured in Canadian country star Brett Kissel’s latest music video

The Clayburn Village Store, Nomad Auto Sales and farm land in Matsqui showcased in popular video

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read