Ontario - Thursday, April 05, 2007 @ 12:00
Ontario voters will be free to make up their minds when it comes to electoral reform without any influence from the government, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday.
The Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, which is deliberating whether there's a better way to elect politicians, is studying a system called mixed member proportional.
Under such a system, voters mark two ballot boxes - one for a local representative and one for a political party.
The group of 103 randomly-selected citizens will vote next weekend on whether the new system should be presented to the public in a referendum question on Oct. 10, election day.
While the Liberals haven't yet formulated an official position on electoral reform, they wouldn't try to influence the voting public in the run up to the election, McGuinty said.
"I think it's really important that the people of Ontario know they have a completely free hand in making a determination as to the best system they want," McGuinty said.
"I'll live with any arrangement chosen by the people I work for."
Supporters of the proportional system say it would usher in a more fair, inclusive process that would make the popular vote better reflect the distribution of seats in the legislature and help introduce more women and minorities to government.
It would also let people choose which party they want to run the province, while still being able to support another party to represent their local riding.
New Democrat Michael Prue studied the impact of reform in countries that adopted the proportional system. He found the number of female representatives in government went through the roof immediately after the changes were made.
"The best examples that I saw were Wales and Scotland. With the advent of (mixed member proportional) they went from about 10 or 15 per cent representation in those respective parliaments to one at 48 and one at 52 per cent," he said.
"We have never had an aboriginal person elected to this legislature. It would be an opportunity for all parties to support and have people ... representing those communities."
This reform is badly needed in Ontario, numerous Elections in this province have left many parties who have recieved as much as 40 percent of the vote with almost no seats. The existing system has resulted in a large portion of the population in Ontario with almost no representation, and contributed to voter un-rest and lost confidence. I for one would urge all in Ontario to vote in this election and choose the reform as recommended by the citizens council, as it has the potential to be a monumental change for the better in Canada as a whole.