ON Election 2018

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Party-leaders

- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

This provincial election may be the best argument I have seen for electoral reform to a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system.
Do you like one local candidate but not their party leader or vice-versa? This system is for you.
You would get two votes: one to decide the representative for your riding, and one for a political party. It was the preference of Ontario's Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform in 2007, but maybe we weren't ready.

Here's why I think this election may change some minds.

Bill Walker is a hard-working MPP by anyone's standards, in and out of the legislature. But twice in a row now Bill has backed a losing horse for the Progressive Conservative leadership. Neither Patrick Brown, now quite disgraced, nor Doug Ford received Bill's endorsement during the leadership race, and the PC members in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound appeared to agree with him. Under the current system, a vote for Walker is a vote for Ford – there's no way around it.

So, if you wanted Bill to represent you as your MPP but you were not so keen on Doug – a Mixed Member proportional system would allow you to cast one ballot for Bill and one for a party whose leadership was more to your taste.

Francesca Dobbyn has been Executive Director of United Way Bruce Grey for fifteen years, fighting for the needs of local residents, sometimes with members of the government she now hopes to join. Like her fellow candidates, she has earned the respect of many in the riding. But she is already hearing "if only you were running for another party."
So, if you wanted to send Francesca to be our voice at Queen's Park, under a Mixed Member Proportional system you could vote for her and cast a vote for a different provincial leader.

Karen Gventer, the NDP candidate, ran in the federal campaign that saw the famous "orange crush" of support for Jack Layton and her strong second-place may have reflected that. Andrea Horwath is currently polling well among the provincial leaders, and an MMP system would allow you to register support for her whether or not Karen wins the local seat.

In 2007, just over 33% of those who cast a vote in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound gave it to the Green Party candidate, Shane Jolley. We will never know whether it was the man or the party that those voters liked, but many people at their doors indicated simply that they would like there to be a "Green voice" at Queen's Park.

Mike Schreiner has been the full-time leader of the Green Party of Ontario since 2009, and has been representing the almost five percent of Ontarians who voted Green in 2014. Perhaps there are others who may like Green policies but vote strategically for fear of splitting the vote in their riding.

Under our current system, Mike cannot bring the perspective of those 230,000 Ontario residents to Queen's Park unless the majority of voters in one particular riding – in his case Guelph – choose him over the other candidates there.

We have three other registered candidates in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound in this election – Liz Marshall for the Ontario Trillium Party, Jay Miller for the Libertarian Party and David Ebenstreit for the new None of the Above Direct Democracy Party. These parties also need to win the majority of votes in a single riding to be able to bring their perspective to the debate in the Legislature.

Electoral reform is not on the Ontario ballot this election. But the frustration of the choices in the first-past-the-post system may show itself in the voter turnout, and interest in alternatives may rise again.


 

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