Meaningful Participation? The Judicialization of Electoral Reform in Canada Post-Figueroa v. Canada

Greg Flynn, Tanya Kuzman


Despite pressure for reform and the concomitant benefits of more inclusive and participatory electoral systems, major electoral reform in Canada rarely takes place through legislative or public deliberative processes. As a result, citizens demanding electoral reform have turned to other venues to pursue their claims for democratic change. This article considers such venue shifting efforts through the use of the courts to pursue electoral reform in Canada. Using precedent tracing and content analysis approaches, it considers all the final judicial decisions citing the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on democratic rights in Figueroa v. Canada. It finds that courts were willing to intervene in some cases involving technical aspects of the exercise of democratic rights, but tend not to entertain more major systemic based reforms. As such, the article concludes that such pursuits for democratic reform through judicialization are likely to fail.


electoral reform; judicialization; courts; law

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125