"Developing a more robust civics school curriculum would positively affect engagement. The Canadian public’s general lack of engagement in the political process [is] endemic and symptomatic of a low priority placed on educating the public at the primary and secondary school levels on civic affairs."
from from Parliament 2020: Visioning the Future of Parliament
Prepared by NANOS, Commissioned by the Library of Parliament (February 2010)
". . . in a modern democratic society citizenship requires of us that we not only be law-abiding but that we also participate in our own governance. To do so effectively requires that we have the requisite skills and this, of course, raises questions of how we can best impart these to our children and to the citizen body at large.
". . . Given the importance of teaching fundamental democratic values, we were also somewhat concerned that political education in our schools is taught in a 'passive sense,' limited to the factual description of government structures. Little, if anything, is taught about the actual dynamics of democratic conflict resolution or the importance of active political participation."
from Canadian Citizenship: Sharing the Responsibility
Report of the Standing Senate Committee of Social Affairs, Science and Technology (May 1993)
"There is one key element of our responsibilities that stands out above all others. It is the importance of participation. Participation in Canadian life goes far beyond voting."
from Canadian Citizenship: A Sense of Belonging
Report of the Standing Committee on Citizen ship and Immigration (April 1995)
"It is in the schools where citizenship is shaped that there is the greatest need to bolster the educational resources or our parliamentary democracy. Here, the need is not only for teachers who are knowledgeable about the workings of our parliamentary institutions, but also for the teaching materials that can engage and inform young Canadians in their formative school years. . . . Civic education is of vital importance for sustaining parliamentary democracy. It must be attached a sense of urgency. Nothing less than the essential popular foundation of our parliamentary system is at stake."
Professor Emeritus (Political Science), University of Toronto
from Two Cheers for Minority Government
(2008, pp. 165-66)
"At first blush, the most likely method of improving levels of civic literacy is civics education. . . . Given limited resources, the best course of action, it appears, would be to aim civics (i.e. introductory political science) courses at 16 to 18 year-olds still in school."
Canada Research Chair in Electoral Studies, Université de Montréal
Fellow, Institute for Research on Public Policy
from Civic Literacy in Comparative Context: Why Canadians Should Be Concerned
(IRPP: 2001, p.22)
"For a generation, the young have endured a cycle of neglect and now they are opting out of the political system in unprecedented numbers. The first item in any democratic agenda must be to end the disengagement of our youth from politics. The way to do so is first to increase their basic civic literacy . . ."
Thomas S. Axworthy
in Policy Options magazine
(December 2003-January 2004 issue)
"For half a century, we have been busy putting in place, on an ad hoc basis, structures and programs that have successfully produced a reasonably just society, at least in comparison to what came before. . . . Our accomplishments, however, now resemble a large mound filled with legal and administrative details. For most people, whether citizens on the outside or working on the inside, it is an impenetrable mass. . . . the obscurity of the mound is one of the key elements preventing citizens from participating as citizens."
John Ralston Saul
from The LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture
March 23, 2000
"Kids aren't born with the techniques of democratic problem solving, but they are born with one of its key components - the desire to speak out . . . And that's where the struggle for democracy begins."
from The Struggle for Democracy