Ontario's vote for change (MMP)

This is from a Quebec source. As the article notes Quebec has been talking about electoral system change for quite a while but so far has done nothing.


October 4th, 2007
Will Ontario vote for election reform?

Ontario's vote for change
Meg Hewings



Will MMP cure that bad ballot box buzz?


The voting booth on election day in a democracy shouldn't feel like a dirty act, but who among us hasn't wasted a vote on a losing candidate, voted strategically against a party s/he dislikes, or been confronted by a list of unappealing options?
Voter change may soon be on the way for Ontarians.

In the upcoming Oct. 10 election, a referendum question will be put to voters asking them whether they want to adopt a revamped electoral system, called "mixed member proportional" (MMP), which advocates say would give the province a more co-operative government and prompt electoral reform across the country.

Under the proposed system, currently used in Germany, New Zealand and Scotland, voters would have two choices on a ballot - one for a local representative and another for a political party. Based on a province-wide share of votes each party receives, it gets top-up representatives drawn from a party list that's publicized in advance. So each party's total share of seats would roughly equal its share of the popular vote (this means fringe parties like the Green Party, which gets more than 3 per cent of vote but not enough to elect candidates in ridings, would be better positioned to have seats in the legislature).

"We debate the pros and cons of potential new voting systems, but the most important thing [with MMP] is that results are proportional. This is a change that would affect what people care about [...] and what people actually vote for: parties and policies," says Dennis Pilon, a
professor of political science at the University of Victoria.

Voter reform won't necessarily be an easy sell. In Ontario, slim funds have gone towards educating voters on their referendum choices and there's a 60 per cent threshold set by the government for the "yes" vote to pass. In a similar referendum in B.C. in 2005, the yes-vote fell just 2 per cent short. Commissions in B.C., New Brunswick and Quebec have recommended similar alternatives, but governments in every province have been slow to implement them.

"Quebec has been playing footsy with the idea of electoral reform for a long time," says Pilon, who believes a "yes" vote in Ontario would likely make voter reform an important issue for the ADQ.

Montreal's Fair Vote Canada chapter will host an informal "meet up" for those interested in discussing the Ontario election results and voter reform on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 3 p.m. at Café L'Utopik (552 Ste-Catherine E.).

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