Direct Democracy: Plebiscites and Referendums

Lesson Three: Saskatchewan’s Referendum and Plebiscite Act

Students will learn about the direct democratic powers granted to citizens in Saskatchewan law, and consider when it is appropriate to use these powers.

1.Voting is not the only way that citizens can participate in the creation of laws and public policy. Citizens can also:
• engage in letter-writing campaigns to sway public opinion
• create social media and online petition campaigns
• request meetings with elected representatives
• join or form a political party
• join or form a civil society group to advocate for an issue
Ask students to think of these and other ways to participate in the creation of laws and public policies. What are the benefits and drawbacks of each method?

2. Lead class discussion of the following question:
• Are some issues better determined without the use of a referendum or plebiscite?

3. Read Direct Democracy in Saskatchewan Today.
• For a citizen-initiated plebiscite to take place today, over 100,000 signatures would be required. Is it possible for an individual to gather this many signatures? If not, what kind of political, organisational, and financial resources would be required?

4. If necessary, review with students the specific powers of each level of government. An outline can be found in the background information of Lesson 2: Why Laws in Our Government Our Election.

Case Study: Setting Minimums: PEI Votes on Electoral Reform
5. Use case study to explore the reasons government may have for not implementing the results of a plebiscite.

Further Exploration

6. The Government of Saskatchewan’s A Citizen’s Guide To Shaping Council Decisions explains how citizens can force their municipal council to meet to discuss a particular issue. It also spells out the rules for launching a municipal referendum. Find the guide at the Government of Saskatchewan's tools, guides, and resources for municipalities.

7. Saskatchewan’s Chief Electoral Officer recently issued a discussion paper
on The Referendum and Plebiscite Act.

Direct Democracy in Saskatchewan Today


Setting Minimums

Case Study

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