Civic engagement has reached a post-war low in Manitoba. Voter turnout in the 2003 provincial election ebbed at 54.2 percent, recovering to just 56.8 percent in 2007. Surveys indicate many non-voters feel alienated from the political system, or have other priorities on Election Day. Among the disaffected, approximately six-in-ten report being too ill-informed about the political process to cast a meaningful ballot.
To address this aspect of Manitoba’s democratic deficit, University of Manitoba political scientists Jared Wesley and Andrea Rounce have partnered with the Manitoba Institute for Policy Research (MIPR) to convene a series of “Cafés Politiques” surrounding the 2011 Manitoba election. These events are all about accessibility – connecting citizens with experts in various public venues, like restaurants, coffeehouses, schools, bookstores, and shopping malls.
Monthly cafés will be held throughout Manitoba in the nine months leading up to the October 4, 2011 election. Discussion topics range from the political engagement of women, youth, and Aboriginal peoples, to the rules and regulations surrounding the electoral process.
At these events, citizens will have the opportunity to interact with experts drawn from across the Canadian academic, political, and journalistic communities – posing questions and challenging commonly-held views about politics in the province.
A series of academic lectures will accompany these public events, with talks taking place on campuses throughout the province.
Admission to all events is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.
The U2011 Series is not about raising the level of debate surrounding the Manitoba election. That is the responsibility of politicians, parties, the media, and other political actors. Instead, these cafés are intended to raise the level of knowledge and awareness of politics in Manitoba, so that more citizens may engage meaningfully in the democratic process.
U2011 Directors: Jared Wesley and Andrea Rounce | Political Studies
532 Fletcher Argue
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 Canada