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

Creston Town Hall. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Ellen Tzakis resigns from Creston Town Council

Council is preparing to hold a by-election later this year

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

School District 8 employees Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall officially began their retirement with a COVID-friendly send-off outside of Prince Charles Secondary School. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
School District 8 employees Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall officially began their retirement with a COVID-friendly send-off outside of Prince Charles Secondary School. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Three women retire from School District 8 with COVID-friendly celebration

Shannon Tetz, Cheryl Rendek, and Janet Wall shared 87 years of service collectively

The Salmo Public Library’s director Taylor Caron with her award. Photo: Submitted
Salmo Public Library director wins provincial award

Taylor Caron has been recognized by her peers for innovation and advocacy

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

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

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read