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 muses to virtual crowd about mandatory voting, looking to Australia

Australians must vote for all levels of government or face fines

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole recently told a virtual crowd he is looking closely at how Australia makes voting mandatory — and whether Canada should follow its lead.

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 cast a ballot.

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 being fined, and voter turnout is relatively high.

RELATED: Dominion Voting sues Fox for $1.6B over 2020 U.S. election claims

RELATED: Montreal latest Canadian city to consider granting voting rights to non-citizens

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 Tuesday about whether he supports mandatory voting and why he said he was looking at it, a spokesperson for O’Toole didn’t directly answer.

“Voting is a constitutionally protected right, and is an important pillar of democracy. Canada’s Conservatives will always stand up for the rights of Canadians to cast a vote in our electoral system,” read a statement from O’Toole.

During his talk in B.C., O’Toole also reiterated his party’s promise to bring more transparency and accountability to Ottawa in hopes of restoring people’s faith in their federal institutions.

Prime Minister Justin 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.

— The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

From now to November, WildsafeBC will be educating the public through its various programs in the community of Bella Coola. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bears are back, and so is WildSafeBC

Rae will be working hard to reach out to community members in new and innovative ways

Bella Coola’s new WildSafeBC co-ordinator, Rae Kokeš, has spent the last 10 years in Africa working in lion, human, conflict, and is a wildlife biologist by trade. (Photo submitted)
From the savannas of Africa to the Bella Coola Valley

New Wildsafe BC coordinator ready to tackle wildlife conflict

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Stolen truck found broken down on Highway 97C, Williams Lake suspect arrested near Ashcroft

A security guard first noticed the truck, and thought it looked suspicious

This will be the second year the Bella Coola Valley Rodeo won’t take place due to the pandemic. (Michael Wigle file photo)
Bella Coola Valley Rodeo cancelled for 2021

Club organizers say next year’s rodeo will be bigger and better than ever

Cameron Lang, (left) poses with his brothers Casey Lang and Colton Lang and their father Scotty Lang while volunteering at 100 Mile’s first Heavy Metal Rocks program in 2019. (Photo submitted)
Heavy Metal Rocks prepares alumni for professional world

Casey Lang got a new perspective from the class

(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’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

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

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read