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Archive for October 8th, 2007

Ontario’s Referendum: to MMP or not to MMP, that is the question

October 08, 2007 @ 23:56 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

On Wednesday, October 10th, voters in the Province of Ontario are being asked to cast two ballots: one for the person you want to represent you in the legislature and one to determine the future of voting in Ontario.

Currently, we use a system commonly called “First Past The Post” (FPTP) where people cast votes for the person they wish to have represent them in the legislature. The person who receives the most votes is the person elected. If the votes in a riding are distributed thusly:

  • Joe Blow (Party B): 40%
  • Jane Doe (Party A): 25%
  • Jason Bourne (Party D): 15%
  • James Bond (Party C): 10%
  • Ernst Blofeld (Independent): 7%
  • Joe Q. Public (Independent): 3%

Joe Blow would be elected to represent everyone in the riding, including the 60% of people who didn’t vote for him.

If the results in the rest of the province are similar, you could very well have Party B end up with a majority of the seats in the legislature, even though the majority of the votes cast in the province were not for Party B. This has happened in the past, and it will almost certainly happen again in the future.

So, what’s the solution?

Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) is the solution put forward by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. The Assembly was made up of one randomly selected voter from each riding in Ontario and was tasked with looking at the current system and coming up with changes that the government promised would go to a binding referendum.

The Mixed-Member Proportional system would see a legislature with 129 seats, 90 of which are for directly-elected representatives and 39 allocated to political parties.

Under MMP, you still cast a ballot for your representative in the legislature, but you also cast a ballot for a political party. The representative who wins the seat in a riding is determined using the same method as FPTP — the person with the most votes wins.

After the 90 directly-elected seats are filled, if a party has fewer seats than its portion of the party vote, that party wins some of the additional 39 province-wide at-large seats to ensure it has a fair share of the total seats in the legislature. Each seat represents roughly 3% of the population of Ontario, so a party must win at least 3% of the party votes to win a seat from the at-large seats.

For example, if a party wins 40% of the party votes, and the number of riding seats they win falls 10 seats short of giving that party 40% of the seats in the legislature, then the top 10 at-large candidates on that party’s candidates’ list are elected to fill those seats.

Each political party identifies a list of people who will fill the 39 seats prior to the election. Well in advance of an election, they’ll be required to make public the names, background information on each person and the process used to create their list.

I could go on about it, but it boils down to this: MMP is superior to the system currently in place because it will see a more-balanced legislature and give the smaller parties more of a chance to be heard.

It also allows you to vote for someone you want to be represented by even if they’re not in the party you want to support, because you get to cast a vote for your party, too.

On October 10th, vote for MMP. You can learn more about MMP at www.voteformmp.ca.