Crossposted to tvo.org. Todayâ€™s question: â€œWho has the most to gain if Mixed-Member Proportional representation goes forward?â€ (400 word limit)
For me, the most important thing to remember about the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) recommendation is that it was designed by people, not just politicians. 103 randomly-selected Ontarians worked for eight months on our behalf studying, consulting, and deliberating on which voting system is best for Ontario. They were not beholden to any political party or special interestâ€”they were just everyday Ontarians trying to make the best decision they could. And in the end, by an overwhelming vote of 94-8, they decided that itâ€™s time for change.
It’s also interesting to note that MMP is supported across the political spectrum, by Conservatives like Hugh Segal, Liberals like Carolyn Bennett, and New Democrats like Ed Broadbent. Therefore, we must conclude that the people most likely to benefit from this new system are voters themselves.
Hereâ€™s what I mean by that. Under MMP, we would each get two votes: one for a local candidate, and one for a party. So, we could decide to vote for a good candidate but not her party, or vice versa. In this way, MMP gives voters more choice. Then, the percentage of the vote each party wins determines how many seats they get, so that 10% of the vote would mean approximately 10% of the seats (unlike our current system). In this way, MMP produces fairer results. Finally, voters would be able to hold every party accountable or go to any party’s “list MPPs” with a request, since the fact that every vote counts forces parties to work hard for every vote in every region of the province. In this way, MMP provides for stronger representation.
Of course, no system is perfect. Opponents of MMP are quick to point out its flaws, conveniently ignoring all of the flaws with our current system (most notably that a party can, with less than 40% of the vote, get 60% of the seats and 100% of the power). They also ignore the fact that no group of people is more familiar with the advantages and flaws of both our current system and MMP than the Citizens’ Assembly that recommended the change.
Whatâ€™s worse, some opponents of MMP resort to fear tactics and distortions, making claims about MMP that are not substantiated by any examples from countries that use the system (New Zealand, Germany, Scotland, and Wales). They do this because they know, as we learned from the Citizens’ Assembly process, that when Ontarians learn all of the facts about MMP, they overwhelmingly favour it to the status quo. October 10 is an exciting opportunity to make democracy better.