16 September 2007

Ontario's referendum

Our family finally received in the mail a flier about the upcoming referendum on reforming the province's electoral system. This was published by Elections Ontario, which maintains this website to provide information to voters. I, of course, will definitely be voting in favour of the mixed-member-proportional system (MMP). For those still in doubt, it needs to be emphasized that it entails, not an abandonment of our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, but an addition to it to ensure that every vote truly counts and that the diversity of political visions is better represented in the legislature.

In the meantime, Hamilton's own Sheila Copps defends our current electoral system with this measured and thoughtful op-ed piece: Foolish Ontario could muck up country. To her credit, Copps uses the words extreme or extremist only 5 times, which must have required considerable restraint on her part.

Conservative leader John Tory is hinting that he will vote no in the referendum. Why? Ostensibly "because some MPPs would be 'appointed by party bosses and accountable to no constituents'." The real reason? Both his party and the Liberals would no longer monopolize the political process as they do now. In short, Tory's Tories would lose out.

The October issue of The Walrus carries this article advocating MMP by Daniel Aldana Cohen: Blown Into Proportion. Cohen holds out an intriguing possibility for our future:

If Ontario’s voters opt for change, Canada could follow. Imagine Ottawa’s metamorphosis: a small but strong Green Party; the Bloc Québécois cut almost in half; Liberals and New Democrats from Alberta, Tories from the big cities; a new party or two; many more female and minority members; a bump in voter turnout; the pmo reined in by Parliament; stable coalition governments. For much of the old guard, this would be a nightmare.

No wonder Tory is so skittish. Now we have to convince our fellow citizens of the merits of adopting MMP. It really will give them a stronger voice by ensuring that votes are not wasted. Without adequate information ordinary citizens are inclined to stick with what they know. When MMP is explained to them, they tend to become enthusiastic supporters. Let's break the conspiracy of silence in the corridors of power and vote YES on 10 October!

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