Social Studies – Grade 6 Close this window
CC graphicPrint   What's this?

Is Canada a Good Model of a Democracy?

Considering the four principles of democracy, decide if Canada is a good model for other countries to follow.

Suggested Activities (selected) Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students explore democratic and nondemocratic decision-making processes. They use the four fundamental principles of democracy as considerations to decide if Canada is a good model of democracy for other countries to follow.

Use a Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction (RAN) chart to organize knowledge
Provide each student with an adaptation of a RAN chart similar to the one below. RAN charts help students summarize their background knowledge before they locate content within a new text. You may want to adapt Reading and Analyzing Nonfiction (RAN) Chart (Support Material).

Ask students to describe what they already know about Canada's democracy by completing the first column of the chart. Later in the lesson students will complete the remaining columns.

RAN Chart: Canada's Democracy

What I Think I Know

Confirmed (or Yes, you were right.)


New Information


(Record prior knowledge)

(Confirm prior knowledge based on the reading)

(Recognize that not all prior knowledge may be accurate)

(Identify new information)

(Propose new questions or wonderings)

We vote
Only vote if 18 or older
People have a say in how the country is run


Mostly through representatives

Citizens do not directly participate in decision making, but elect representatives

Four principles of an effective democracy— justice, fairness, equity, representation
The term democracy comes from demokratia, from demos— "common people," + kratos— "rule, strength"

Is there a way for citizens that are under 18 to have a say in government?
Why do you have to be 18 in order to vote?

Model a nondemocratic decision-making process
To demonstrate a nondemocratic process, inform the class that they will have a free period on an upcoming Friday. Ask students to provide suggestions for activities and then poll the students for their preferences. Override their first choice, choose the least popular option or impose a choice not mentioned by the students. Support your decision with the rationale that, as the teacher, you are in charge of the classroom and, therefore, what you say is final.

Discuss the way the decision was made and ask students to share examples of situations where they have experienced this kind of decision making. Tell students that what they experienced was a nondemocratic form of decision making.

Consider other models of decision-making processes
Invite the students to suggest how the decision-making process could be made different. Guide the discussion by encouraging students to consider the following:

  • Who should make decisions? (one person, the entire group, a small group chosen by the larger group)
  • How should decisions be made? (by voting, by one person, by a group, by discussion and negotiation)
  • Are there situations where it would be best for the entire group to make decisions?
  • Are there situations where it would be best for one person to make decisions?

After discussing these ideas and situations with students, you may want to introduce the concepts of representative democracy, consensus decision making and authoritarian decision making.

Provide examples of these decision-making processes. Democratic processes are often used to elect a class representative or team captain. An authoritarian process is used when a boss fires a worker without discussing the decision with anyone. Consensus is the achievement of agreement through a process of consultation in which all parties affected by a decision have equal power and equal voice. This process is often used in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

Define the term democracy
Provide students with the etymology of democracy—demokratia, from demos meaning common people + kratos meaning rule, strength. Ask students which process was more democratic—the process used to make the decision regarding the free period or a process that uses their suggestions for decision making.

Introduce four key principles of democracies
To function effectively, democracies must ensure an active role for the people through four key principles:

Justice: All citizens are equal before the law; they have the right to a fair trial; and, governments are subject to the rule of law.

Equity: All citizens have the opportunity to participate fully in the democratic process regardless of income, gender, religion, race or ethnicity.

Freedoms: All citizens have fundamental freedoms protected, such as the right to free speech and the right of assembly.

Representation: Citizens are involved in the selection of the members of government to ensure government reflects the will of the people.

Introduction to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
In 1982, a document very important to Canadians was signed by the Canadian prime minister and the queen. This document, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, sets out Canadians' fundamental rights and freedoms and ensures they are protected in law.

Give each student a copy of Excerpts from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Background Information). Ask students to work in pairs to determine which of the four principles is addressed by each of the excerpts. Remind students that more than one of the principles may be addressed by each excerpt.

Consider strategies to support student understanding of the excerpts. As a whole class, read and interpret the statements with guiding questions before linking the excerpts to the four principles of a democracy. Alternatively, students may work alone or in pairs to   interpret the statements. Students may highlight any unfamiliar words and use the context to determine meaning. Students may rewrite each statement in student-friendly language. You may want to refer to the following examples of rewritten statements:

                        Excerpt                                                           Rewritten Version

"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."

All Canadians have the right to be safe from harm and to enjoy freedoms.

 "Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein."

All Canadian citizens have the right to vote and to run in an election.

"Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and,
(d) freedom of association."

Canadians' fundamental freedoms are freedom of belief, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom to gather in groups and freedom to belong to groups.

"Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

All Canadians are treated equally under the law and are not to be discriminated against.

Identify principles of democracy in our Canadian system
Provide students with a concise summary of how Canada's democratic system functions from basic authorized student resources or other sources (see References). Ask students to organize information using such tools as a database, spreadsheet or electronic spreadsheet to classify aspects of our democratic system by the four principles of democracy.

Canada's Democratic System

Principles of a democracy

Evidence of principle in our democratic system









Complete the RAN chart
Ask students to revisit and complete the RAN chart based on what they have learned about Canada's democracy.

Peer review of the RAN charts
Ask students to exchange their charts for peer assessment. Students should check that each chart contains all the important information and that the information is accurate.

Decide if Canada is a good model for democracy
Ask students to propose a method for voting (show of hands, ballot, two colours of tokens) on the following resolution:

Be it resolved that Canada be used as a model of democracy by other countries.

Conduct the vote and tally responses to the resolution. Discuss the benefits of democratic voting procedures and the class decision regarding the proposed resolution as determined through the voting process.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
Copyright | Feedback
Back to top