Last Monday was not just the start of the Ontario general election campaign—it was also the beginning of a campaign to change the way we elect our representatives to Queen’s Park. On October 10th, Ontarians will vote on a proposal by the Citizens’ Assembly (a randomly-selected group of 103 Ontarians) to switch to a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, similar to that used in some other countries including Germany and New Zealand.
A few months ago we advocated in favour of the change, observing that even though MMP isn’t perfect (what system is?), the Citizens’ Assembly concluded it’s still an improvement over what we have now (they voted 94–8 to recommend the change). That post quickly became the most commented of the month, as readers weighed in on the new system, as well as whether or not the author (yours truly) was an “operative” or a “parrot” engaged in spreading ““propaganda.” So, in other words, some people clearly feel pretty strongly about this issue.
If that “discussion” is any indication, next Monday’s St. Lawrence Centre Forum on the referendum should be packed. The four panelists are:
Rick Anderson: Campaign Committee Chair, Vote for MMP; former chief advisor to former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning; Director, Fireweed Democracy Project.
Edelgard Mahant: Senior Scholar, Glendon Research Group in Public and International Affairs; Co-founder of the No MMP campaign.
Catherine Baquero: recent University of Toronto graduate; former member of the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform mandated by the government to assess Ontario’s electoral system.
Jonathan Rose: Academic Director, Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform; Associate Professor of Political Science, Queen’s University.
In other words, there’s one person to argue in favour of the proposal, one person to argue against, one representative from the Assembly to explain their decision-making process, and one expert on voting systems to keep everyone honest.
Displaced from its usual venue due to renovations, the forum will be held Monday, September 17 from 7:30–9:30 p.m in the OISE Auditorium at 252 Bloor Street West, which is near the St. George subway station. It’s endorsed by three of the organizations supporting MMP (Equal Voice, Fair Vote Canada, and Vote for MMP), as well as the one organization that isn’t (No MMP). And since this referendum is the most important vote Ontario has had in, like, a really long time, it’s definitely worth attending.
Image courtesy Elections Ontario.