Cast your ballot for change

Electoral reform has been a longstanding issue in Canadian politics, and tomorrow’s referendum will determine whether Ontarians are ready for a change in the form of a switch to a mixed member proportional (MMP) system from the of first-past-the-post (FPTP) system.

When voting for their representatives tomorrow, Ontario electors will be handed a second piece of paper asking them if they’re for or against implementing the new approach.

By allowing voters to cast two votes—one for a local candidate and another for a party— this would be more democratic than FPTP as it enhances the voices of smaller parties and encourages stronger representation of constituent needs. MMP ensures each party’s number of seats at Queen’s Park reflects its proportion of the vote.

One of the benefits of adopting MMP would be to reduce the significant power dichotomy that’s often the result of majority governments. MMP would allow for a greater diversity of viewpoints and would also, in the case of a minority government, demonstrate the ability of the smaller parties to affect the vote. As a result, the overly dominant tendencies of majority governments would be subdued.

Another plus to the proposed system is that the apathetic notion of voters that their vote won’t count at all will no longer hold true. Constituents will find candidates in their riding will cater more directly to their interests, and at the same time parties with widespread support will have improved representation in the Legislative Assembly.

MMP gives voters a greater capacity to influence the make-up of their legislature, because their vote will be counted toward their preferred party’s total regardless of whether their local candidate wins. In contrast to this, the disconnected results from FPTP elections discourage voters from supporting any party that doesn’t have a concentrated following.

MMP isn’t without flaws, however. It doesn’t offer a viable solution to the undemocratic process of local candidates being selected by a minority of the population instead. The “list members” aspect of MMP is such an indirect selection process that it’s hardly democratic.

It’s doubtful MMP will receive the necessary 60 per cent vote to pass tomorrow night. The proposed system’s success is dependent on people’s motivation to both understand it and care about its outcomes.

If adopted, MMP would certainly improve upon the shortcomings of Ontario’s current system. Regardless of whether Ontarians vote in favour of introducing MMP, they should all agree that our provincial electoral system undoubtedly needss a change.

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