York expert to discuss Canadian electoral institutions at public talk

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Dennis Pilon, associate professor of politics at York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), will give a public talk on Nov. 17 to explain some of the myths in public debates about voting system reform in Canada.

The Canada Watch Fall 2022 Launch & Talk, titled “Myths, damn myths, & voting system change: How Canadian political scientists mis represent democratic reform,” takes place at 3 p.m. in the Senate Chamber on the Glendon Campus, and will also highlight the most recent issue of Canada Watch.

Denis Pilon
Denis Pilon

Pilon, an expert on Canadian electoral institutions, will discuss how academics have framed voting system reform in misleading ways by presenting it through a value trade-offs lens, where instead it should be first and foremost understood as an attempt to apply democratic values such as inclusion, equality and equity.

“The way we talk about voting system reform matters,” says Pilon. “The conventional political science approach focuses public attention on things that do not matter and do not deserve legitimate consideration while obscuring what is really at stake in the recent push to gain voting system reforms.”

This public talk will be held in the context of a graduate colloquium of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs. Speaking on the importance of this topic for both graduate students and a wider Canadian audience will be Glendon Associate Professor Francis Garon, graduate program director for the Master’s in Public and International Affairs.

“The voting system is at the core of our democracy,” says Garon. “It is a highly relevant topic for our students in the Master of Public and International Affairs to reflect on the fundamental issues that are associated with this system. We are pleased that Professor Pilon, an expert in the field, accepted our invitation.”

Pilon’s research on the topic has been published in the most recent issue of Canada Watch, “Myths, damn myths, and voting system change: How Canadian political scientists misrepresent democratic reform.” Canada Watch is the flagship publication of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University. Canada Watch has offered practical analysis on contemporary issues affecting Canadian society since 1992. The Fall 2022 issue of Canada Watch is available at https://www.yorku.ca/research/robarts/wp-content/uploads/sites/466/2022/11/CW-Fall-2022-Pilon-Final.pdf.

For more information about the event, email robarts@yorku.ca.