Critical Summary of "Why Group Representation in Parliament Is Important" by Tim Schouls

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by: Shakir Jahangir

Tim Schouls in his essay, “Why Group Representation in Parliament Is Important,” argues that the parliamentary representation in Canada is unfair because it doesn’t represent Canada’s social diversity as a whole. He believes that democracy in Canada can be considerably deepened and enhanced when the composition of the House of Commons substantially reflects the social diversity of Canada (for example, Aboriginals, ethnic minorities, visible minorities, gays etc.) instead of geographical diversity (constituencies). He asserts there’s a big change taking place in Canadian politics; attachment to geography, language, and religion are becoming less important to Canadians while attachments to ethnicity and gender are becoming more significant. Therefore, it’s legitimate to call for a system that reflects this change. The main objective of democracy in a country is to form a parliament that represents its people. But Mr. Schouls complains that in the parliament Canadians are overwhelmingly represented by privileged white males from professional and business background, which undermines the interests of rest of the population that don‘t fit the category. In response to Mr. Redekop’s argument, which states that MPs get elected simply because they are better than their opponents in capturing the vote, Mr. Schouls argues that winning more votes doesn’t necessarily mean better services from the MPs. We elected members of parliament so they can serve us well. Marginalized people in the society will be better represented by those who are like them because their identities carry with them distinctive experiences that are different from white male MPs. Marginalized people can achieve this goal though special guaranteed seats in the parliament. Mr. Schouls then counters Mr. Redekop`s argument, which claims that by paying more attention to gender and ethnicity-based claims to inclusion will farther fuel division amongst Canadians, by saying that...
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