Referenda in Canada

From Academic Kids

National referenda are seldom used in Canada, and have tended to be disasters. The first two saw voters in Québec and the rest of Canada take dramatically opposing stands, the third saw most of the voters take a stand dramatically opposed to that of the politicians in power.

Contents

National Referendum on Prohibition

Results of the National Referendum on Prohibition (September 29, 1898)

Province For Prohibition Percent For Against Prohibition Percent Against
Ontario 154,498 57.3 115,284 42.7
Quebec 28,436 18.8 122,760 81.2
Nova Scotia 34,368 87.2 5,370 12.8
New Brunswick 26,919 72.2 9,575 27.7
P. E. I. 9,461 89.2 1,146 10.8
Manitoba 12,419 80.6 2,978 19.4
British Columbia 5,731 54.6 4,756 45.4
Saskatchewan and Alberta 6,238 68.8 2,824 31.2
All of Canada 278,380 51.2 264,693 48.8

National Plebiscite on Conscription

Results of the 1942 National Plebiscite on Conscription. The Plebiscite Question:

Are you in favour of releasing the Government from any obligations arising out of any past commitments restricting the methods of raising men for military service?

The plebiscite was held on April 27, 1942 (see also: Conscription Crisis of 1944)

Province Voted Yes Percent Yes Voted No Percent No
Prince Edward Island 23,568 82.9 4,869 17.1
Nova Scotia 120,763 77.135,840 22.1
New Brunswick 105,629 69.845,743 30.2
Quebec375,65027.9971,925 72.1
Ontario 1,202,953 84.0229,847 16.0
Manitoba 218,093 80.353,651 19.7
Saskatchewan 183,617 73.167,654 26.9
Alberta 186,624 71.175,880 28.9
British Columbia 253,844 80.462,033 19.6
Yukon 847 74.4291 25.6
Total civilian vote 2,670,088 63.31,547,724 36.7
Military vote 251,118 80.560,885 19.5
Total 2,921,206 64.51,608,609 35.5

National Referendum on the Charlottetown Accord

National Referendum on the Charlottetown Accord (October 26, 1992)
Province Voted Yes % of Yes Votes Voted No % of No Votes
Newfoundland 133,193 63.1 77,881 36.9
P.E.I. 48,687 74.0 17,124 26.0
Nova Scotia 218,618 48.7 230,182 51.3
New Brunswick 234,010 61.7 145,096 38.3
Quebec1,710,11743.42,232,28056.6
Ontario 2,410,119 50.1 2,397,665 49.9
Manitoba 198,230 38.0 322,971 62.0
Saskatchewan 203,361 44.6 252,459 55.4
Alberta 483,275 39.8 731,975 60.2
British Columbia 525,18831.81,126,76168.2
Yukon 5,354 43.6 6,922 56.4
N. W. T. 14,750 61.0 9,416 39.0
Total Canada 6,185,902 45.0 7,550,732 55.0

Proposed Referenda

During the Canadian Federal election of 2004, the NDP stated that it would require the federal government to hold a national referendum on electoral reform (specifically Proportional Representation) for support from the NDP should the Liberals win a minority government. The Liberals won a minority, and the NDP announced they would press for electoral reform through a referendum (the two other parties in the House of Commons, the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois, have historically supported electoral reform and are expected to support NDP legislation on a national referendum). The possibility of a national referendum on electoral reform was made more likely through the throne speech that opened Parliament in October, 2004,in which Prime Minister Paul Martin included electoral reform in his plan for the next Parliament.

There has been discussion on a national referendum over the issue of same-sex marriage, which is a highly divisive issue in Canada (and most other countries), it has been suggested by Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and some Conservatives and Liberal backbenchers, however it is unlikely to take place.

Provincial Referenda

The provinces of Canada have held a variety of referenda on various issues over the years. The best known are the two Quebec referenda on sovereignty.

Recently, in 2004, Nova Scotia held a referendum on whether to allow "Sunday shopping" and British Columbia will hold a referedum on electoral reform in 2005.

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