Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Residents call for electoral reform
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 6 Dec 2006, p. 8

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About 25 area residents voiced their opinions and discussed different electoral systems in use around the world at a meeting in Georgetown recently. The meeting was just one of several public consultation sessions held across the province by the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform-- a group of Ontario citizens charged with the task of recommending if the province should retain its current electoral system or adopt a new one. The assembly wants to hear what the public thinks about the province's electoral system and if they prefer a different one. If the assembly recommends a change, the government will hold a referendum on the proposal during the 2007 provincial election. Local assembly member John Daley hosted the Georgetown meeting. Most who spoke at the session, held at MoldMasters SportsPlex, appeared to want a change from the province's current electoral system, which is a single member plurality where the winner in each riding is the candidate who finishes ahead of all other candidates. "We've got a situation where once every four years we get to vote for who we think is telling the best story, then they rule with 100 per cent of the power," said one local man, who added that a proportional representation electoral system could work in the Canadian parliamentary system. He complained about the fact the Ontario government is requiring 60 per cent support for any different type of electoral system recommended by the citizen's assembly in a referendum. "Fifty plus one per cent constitutes a majority, it should be a simple majority," he said. Another audience member agreed, saying she supports changing the current electoral system and added the parameters for the committee "are extremely restrictive." She wondered how the committee would be able to inform and educate the public about the issues in such a short time frame. "We need to say this is not enough time." Another audience member suggested the citizen's assembly was set up to fail. A representative of the Citizens' Assembly Secretariat recommended citizens concerned with the process and the timeline let their MPs know. Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette, who attended the meeting, agreed there wasn't enough time to address the issue properly and suggested people try to get all three provincial parties to agree to continue their debate on electoral reform beyond the next election, so any suggested change can be addressed in a referendum in 2011. Another audience member was concerned about the poor voter turnout. "Maybe people from other countries (who now live here) aren't seeing (the current electoral system) as a legitimate way of electing people," he said. Through a cartoon video, participants got a crash course in the different electoral systems in use around the world. Along with the Canadian system those discussed included Alternative Vote (used in Australia) and the Two-Round System (France), which are both majority electoral systems. In a Proportional Representation (PR) system voters usually vote for a party, then each party's share of votes is translated into a corresponding share of seats in the legislature. There are several different types of PR including List and Single Transferable Vote. Mixed systems such as Mixed Member Proportional and Parallel Systems combine features of two families of electoral systems. The Citizens' Assembly is holding public consultation sessions across the province through January. Written comments from the public can be sent on-line, by mail or fax by January 15, 2007. Send comments to Citizens' Assembly Secretariat, 1075 Bay St., Suite 830, Toronto, On, M5S 2B1, or fax them to 416-325-8390 or on-line to www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca. Phone the Assembly Secretariat at 416-325-0758 or 1-866-317-3208.

Tallyn, Lisa
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6 Dec 2006
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MoldMasters SportsPlex
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Residents call for electoral reform