The ballot question for the October 10th Ontario referendum on electoral reform will ask voters to choose between “The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post),” and “The alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizensâ€™ Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional).” A number of grassroots campaigns have sprung-up to argue that MMP is the best voting system for Ontario, including Vote For MMP, Equal Voice In Politics (women for MMP), Liberals for MMP, and more.
So, where’s the campaign to argue that FPTP (the current system) is the best for Ontario? It doesn’t exist. Instead, we get this, the “No MMP” campaign. Some of their criticisms are legitimate (no one ever said MMP was a perfect system), others are intentional distortions of the truth. (Isn’t there a word for when someone intentionally distorts the truth? I’m sure I’ll think of it later….) What the campaign doesn’t do, however–because it can’t–is defend or advocate for our current system, which the majority of Ontarians and Canadians acknowledge is no longer serving us well. If we actually had a province-wide discussion that pitted the merits of MMP against the merits of FPTP, MMP would win hands down. The “No MMP” folks know this, which is why they’re instead basing their campaign on fear of the unknown and misinformation.
By the way, who are the “No MMP” folks? We don’t know. While Vote For MMP and other progressive referendum campaigns are comprised of grassroots citizens and politicians of integrity from all political parties, the No MMP campaign has decided to remain anonymous (they announced their campaign through one unknown spokesperson, and have placed no detailed “contact” or “about” information on their site). How much credibility should they therefore be granted? Until they can demonstrate that they’re a legitimate group with at least some popular support and backing, next to none.
Update: Cam helpfully points out that the above sounds to him as if I’m saying that individuals who don’t support MMP lack credibility. That’s absolutely not my intention. (As I do mention above, some criticisms of MMP are legitimate.) I am, however, suggesting that we deserve to know what kind of support and membership the No MMP campaign has so that we can assess their credibility as an organization.