September 01, 2005 13:30 ET

Green Party of Ontario asks MPPs to respect citizen-led process

Deputy Leader calls on Committee to set parameters and then let people decide Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Environment Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 1, 2005) - The Green Party of Ontario today called upon the Select Committee on Electoral Reform to go beyond simply defending the interests of politicians elected under the current system and to facilitate an open and fair process that lets the citizens of Ontario decide how they want to elect their representatives. The Committee's mandate is to consider the procedure for a referendum to be held following a review of electoral reform by a Citizens' Assembly and to make recommendations on the requirements for a winning referendum.

"I believe the Select Committee can do some wonderful work to facilitate the process here in Ontario and prevent some of the unfortunate things that happened in BC from happening here," said Rob Newman, GPO Deputy Leader and Issue Advocate for the Democratic Renewal. "We congratulate B.C. for being the first, but it's important to learn from their experiences."

The Liberal government in British Columbia did follow through on a campaign promise to convene a Citizens' Assembly to review the existing electoral system and make a recommendation on an alternative. However, they set an artificially high target for success in the referendum that followed to vote on the recommendation. By demanding that 60% of voters in 60% of the ridings vote yes before the government act - a standard that would see very few if any MLAs elected let alone a single party - the B.C. government contradicted the purpose of the exercise.

Despite having a great deal to gain from a move to a system that allocates seats proportionally, the Green Party of Ontario refrained from endorsing any particular system in favour of asking the Committee to ensure an open and fair process that respects the wishes of the citizens of Ontario. "We know that the Green Party of Ontario has too much invested in the outcome of such a choice to be an impartial contributor. Rather, we will be putting our efforts into our commitment that the citizens of Ontario have their say through a Citizens' Assembly followed by a referendum on the Assembly's recommendations," said Newman.

The Green Party of Ontario has been a long-time proponent of allowing Ontario citizens to have an open and frank discussion about their electoral system that would generate one or more final recommendations to be implemented by the government of the day. According to Newman, it is also the obligation of the Ontario government to ensure that voters understand any recommendations that go to referendum. "When we see a commitment to education, then we'll know that the government has the best interests of all citizens at heart and is going beyond mere lip service to electoral reform."

"We call upon this committee and the current government of Ontario to establish the terms of reference for a Citizens' Assembly and then step aside so that the assembly can get on with the work of improving the democratic process," said Newman. "The terms should be fair and flexible. The Citizens' Assembly must be free to devise their own solutions and they should expect to have their recommendations voted on by an informed public." /For further information: Text of the presentation:

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Contact Information

  • Rob Newman, Deputy Leader, Green Party of Ontario
    Primary Phone: 416-932-8038
    Secondary Phone: 416-929-2397