I couldn't stay away; you were so fascinating. It is important.
The fifth one is that the Canadian reality must be reflected in the system of representation. By that I mean we simply have to take into account that there are 36 million of us in the second-largest country in the world in geographical expanse. We're sparsely populated in many of those areas—as a matter of fact, across most of the country—and yet we're significantly urbanized for the population we have. Ingenuity and compromise will be required. In other words, we may have to borrow from one system for one part and another system for another part. Nothing prevents us from considering this.
Canadians must be able to see themselves in their representatives and in the system by which they choose them. This is what I mean by “must reflect the Canadian reality”. This is what we're aiming for. That's why I'm talking about parity between men and women. The corollary to the constitutional right to vote is effective representation. It's all right to have the right to vote—section 3 of the charter—but it has to mean something. It has to be effective representation, and the Supreme Court has used that expression in citing our right to “effective representation”.
I have a few words about compulsory voting. Compulsory voting is, first of all, a misnomer, or at least it should be made a misnomer. No system should be contemplated whereby electors must choose only among candidates. That is unthinkable. There needs to be the right to have a choice in the marking of the ballot. “I do not wish to vote” should be one of the choices, okay? In this way you would no longer have compulsory voting, but compulsory attendance at the polls. You have free choice. If you don't like any of them, you don't even have to say you don't like any of them. If you're not aware of the issues, you don't have to be aware of the issues, and you can just say, “I do not wish to vote”, or words to that effect.
Some people will consider it—and I can hear the arguments, because this is a value-laden consideration—as opposing a fundamental human right not to participate. One can only wonder what debate would be taking place in Australia if compulsory attendance at the polls was being debated over there and they wanted to go to the system we have. I can only assume the debate would centre on the civil obligation to fulfill one's civic duty. I can hear them discussing it: “Why do we want to leave our system? Right now our system's citizens have an obligation to let us know what they think, and this is all part of....” It is not.
The point I'm trying to make is in Canada and in Australia it is not the fundamental value of our system. We have to answer the question of what best fits the temper of Canadians and what minimal level of electoral participation gives legitimacy to our elected representatives and to our government.
Legitimacy is tied to participation; it is not tied to legality. Legality is, of course, subsumed. It is assumed. If you don't have legality, you don't have legitimacy. However, even if you have legality and you have the best processes, at what stage do we say, “Pftt, we flipped. There's doubt about this government's legitimacy in terms of participation.”
What else can we do about participation?
Online voting is coming fast. That light at the end of the tunnel is a train. The manner and speed of its implementation are critical. The analogy with online purchasing and banking—and I heard the arguments this morning—is flawed. The argument is flawed, and Marc Mayrand answered that question. Banks and other institutions hedge the risk and they remove the risk, at least most of the time, from the individual. A margin of error is acceptable, against which they successfully hedge, but what margin of error is acceptable to us with the electoral system?
Online voting should be considered initially—and I repeat what Marc said this morning—for electors with mobility difficulties. I will add one: Canadians who are not in their riding. Maybe one day we'll have voting in the riding, as opposed to being tied to a poll—that should be coming, and let's see what Marc has to say about it—but from one end of the country to the other, if you're not in your riding, you should still be able to vote, and this would be one way of doing it.
For Canadians abroad, there's still a legal case before the courts as to whether or not this applies universally to Canadians or to those who have been gone for fewer than five years.
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: the moment we start to introduce it, what are the ID requirements going to be? When I want to register, what do I have to give? Is it my driver's licence, my fingerprints—Mexico has fingerprints, all 10—a photograph of my left iris? Then, how do we check that identification when people are voting? What do we have at the centre?
What's required at the beginning, then, is one issue about security of voting. The other one is is the security attached to the transmittal of the vote and then the transmittal of the results. Here I'm going to suggest that we will have to consider doubling systems, and having separate systems whereby we control that.
I may be completely wrong. There may be a new technology that will be invented, but at this stage I'm thinking one way of introducing it would be in that way. Eventually we will see it. People of a certain age have less of a tendency to live at the end of their gizmos, but there are several generations who are living at the end of their devices now. They're going to be old people one of these days, and they're going to say, “How come I can't vote on this device? This is my only way to relate.”
Those were comments I wanted to make. Again, I appreciate the opportunity.