Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Clearing Up MMP Issues (e-mail)

Hey all,

It concerns me that our message hasn't been getting out as well as we want it to. People have questions about MMP and how it will affect them, and they aren't receiving any answers.
I spend most of my time recently answering phones in the office and taking take of all the emails that come through the voteformmp website. In that capacity, I've been fielding questions from the public about every aspect of MMP. Overwhelmingly, the two biggest concerns have been about the accountability factor of list members, and the costs of adding more representatives. Reports I'm getting from volunteers talking to people in their communities are echoing these concerns, especially in the more rural areas.

My goal for this email is to address these two concerns and try to have it reach as many people as I possibly can. Below are two things I've written that I use anytime anyone asks me about either of these issues, and the vast majority of people have found them helpful. I'm asking you to forward this as widely as you can as quickly as you can. We only have 24 hours for people to read it. An important thing to do is to send this along to the candidates in your riding that you've identified as being in support of MMP and ask them to spread it as widely as they possibly can. They're sure to have databases that would be unreachable by us otherwise. If they express hesitation about doing this, let them know that the Conservative Party has sent an email to all their members, and asked them to forward it, telling people to vote against MMP and why. We desperately need a similar email going out to everyone across Ontario addressing these major concerns.

This addresses the concerns about costs:

Ontario's annual budget is over $90 billion. The 22 additional MPPs would cost about $44 million. That is %0.048 of the current budget. With the additional oversight on that total spending, all they have to do is save $44 million of our $90 billion and they will have paid for themselves.

How might hey save it? By preventing the massive waste we see each time government shifts from one party to another and they then waste hundreds of millions of dollars filling in the holes the last government dug, literally in the case of the Eglington subway in Toronto a few years ago. The money wasted there ALONE would have paid for 22 MPPs for most of a decade.

Also, when Mike Harris cut the MPP's from 130 to 103, costs actually went up! The reason for this was they now had to serve a greater area and deal with more issues, so they had to have a bigger staff and more offices and advisors to help them do their jobs.

If you don't trust MPPs and politicians can I suggest to you that your cynicism is a product of the present system and that if we do not change it, then nothing will change?

In New Zealand, when MMP was introduced, seats went from 99 to 120 and they had the same worries about the cost of extra MP's. This proved not to be an issue, as since then they've continually had budget surpluses in the $5 billion range in the 11 years since it was implemented.

The lesson? You want to save money? Don't skimp on your democracy. They are the people keeping an eye on the spending and they can only do a good job if there are enough of them. Ontario already has the worst ratio of voters to MPPs in Canada at 113,000 people per MPP. Quebec is second-worst at 60,000 people per MLA there.

This addresses the concerns about at-large members:

The at-large candidates will be voted on by the parties at their nomination meetings just like they are now. The only difference is that under MMP the parties will be required to make public the way in which they choose these candidates, which doesn't happen now. They are then put on a list and ranked with consideration given to seniority, regional balance, gender balance, and ethnic balance. The list and the selection process then has to be made public before the election so everyone can see who`s on the list and how they were chosen. We then get to vote for the party based on these lists.

In countries that use MMP most parties tend to `zipper`` their lists, meaning man - woman - man - woman and so forth, as well as making sure the regions are equally represented all the way down the list. So when we place our party vote, it`s like a ``team vote`` where you get to see the team, and if you like that team the best, that`s who you vote for. So these list candidates are elected by and accountable to every person across Ontario that votes for them, as opposed to the riding candidates that are only elected by and accountable to the often less than 50% of the people in their riding that vote for them. In our current system you don't have anyone in the legislature outside your riding that's accountable to you.

Proportional list seats, the greatest strength of this system, are also what draw the most attacks from those who oppose MMP. They create a misguided, imaginary, and fear based story about how party leaders would appoint backroom party hacks to their lists (All four parties in Ontario have been on the record saying they'll democratically elect their at-large candidates), and that they'd be unaccountable to anyone. In the real world this is not an issue, and as evidenced by how the process actually works in countries that use MMP, does not happen. Any party that did use such backroom tactics would quickly draw criticism from the media and the people of Ontario. Would you or anyone you know vote for such a party? It's a safe bet that this party would lose a very large amount of votes for such a policy.

Therefore, it is in every party's best interest to create their lists in as democratic and representative fashion as they possibly can. It is this feature that creates a responsive government that is more beneficial to the people of Ontario than any government we've seen in our lifetimes. The reason for this, is now every vote in Ontario now counts towards a party's share of the seats, making every vote in every riding a swing vote. People that have been traditionally unrepresented due to living is "safe seats" dominated by a party they don't support will finally have a chance to elect someone they want to see in government that will represent their views. Traditionally in other countries, at-large representatives will have offices in these areas where they didn't elect anyone from a riding, so as to serve those voters who wouldn't generally have a representative from their favoured party in their riding.

If you have any more questions please feel free to ask. Let's make democracy better.


Rob McDonald
Vote for MMP

1-866-283-3667 ext 5

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Letter to Citizen

Methinks the letter was too long. Here it is now.

Dear Editor,

The NO campaign's hopes lie in their belief that we the people do not have faith in each other to shape our destiny together.

They want us to have no faith in the 94-8 near consensus of ordinary citizens picked randomly from each riding of Ontario. They want us give no credence to a proposal that was based on 8 months of studying and consulting Ontarians. They give us the message that politicians are just plain bad, so we don't need more of them, even though Ontario is considered underrepresented already. Of course these are the same politicians who are the local representatives so 'accountable' we can picture them painting our fence. Are the bad guys among the other 102 MPP's we can do absolutely nothing about in the current system? List MPP's are labeled unaccountable before they've even had a chance. The NO's underestimate your ability to understand that in MMP you have the power to vote them out. They predict back-room politics as the method of nominating the list, even though the recommendation clearly states that the process must be entirely transparent and published before the writ is dropped. They crave majorities and fear coalitions, but how many Conservatives are happy with the Liberals 70% seat majority earned with 46.5%? How did Liberals feel about the NDP's 37.6% majority government years ago? If we think about it, we might be better off sharing power according to how the population votes. The population works together quite well every day, despite our differences.

The NO campaign believes you cannot understand a ballot where you have the choice to vote for a party and a local candidate and that the folks at Elections Ontario won't be able to count them. The NO campaign doesn't respect your struggle in our system if you have to punish a good local representative because their party messed up. The NO campaign actually distrusts voters so much, that they can picture 3 out of every 100 people at your neighbourhood poll voting for a Muslim party or the White Supremacists.

It all reminds one of when women got the vote. The NO side of that time was full of all kinds of fears we'd find amusing today. They said that women voting would invite foreign aggression and weaken national defence. They said that if women voted they'd stop marrying and having kids, and the human race would die out.

We could take a break from the political hacks and pundits on either side, take a breath, clear our minds and consider the recommendation and its credibility. Then let's judge for ourselves.

Arif Jinha
Carleton Place

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Answering TVO's Battle Blog Question - Voters WIN!

TVO.org's Battle Blog of Sept. 17 asks Who's Afraid of MMP? Who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose if Mixed-Member Proportional representation goes forward?

All the bloggers got it wrong in my books. They saw it in terms of which parties would win and lose. I think its about voters winning. And the anti people are afraid of us. Maybe the NDP and the Green should be afraid of us too, especially if they start thinking that politics is about what's best for them.

My answer - Voters Win.

Voters win
Candidates can win and lose, voters shouldn't.

In the current system, half or more of Ontarions cast votes that didn't elect anyone. So they are represented solely by an MPP they did not vote for. This creates winners and losers in a riding. Someone will say, 'this riding is sooooo Liberal, or soooo Conservative, or NDP,' and when they say it they feel disempowered. They support another party different to what the largest minority does. They skulk around sometimes, not wanting to admit their affiliation. And yet, the riding that is sooooo 'Whatever' - maybe 55% of the people didn't vote 'Whatever'.

Candidates and parties win and lose. Voters are not losers, and every vote should have equal weight. The 3% bar is an exception to that, but it makes sense to make a party work hard enough and get enough broad support to be serious.

MMP gives voters more power. We can turf parties, we can keep their good local representatives at the same time. We can reject bad MPP's, while continuing our support for the party. We can vote together province-wide on the party vote, we don't have to be clumped in arbitrary ridings with our neighbours, god love 'em, who we love but don't have the same politics. We don't have to conform, we don't have mix our loyalties, we don't have to vote for weak candidates to support our party. Every party and candidate will have to work harder for our vote. We'll be forced to pay more attention.

And this is what the NO side is afraid of. They're afraid of US. They don't think we can understand the ballot, they think we'll elect radical parties, they think we'll accept list MPP's that are unaccountable, they think we can't handle representation of who we are. They think we need to be lorded over by false majorities to ensure 'strong government'.

As I read your blogs, I see the problem. Everyone answered in terms of what's better for parties (with an exception or two). This poitical culture we have is in part created by FPTP.

It's time to give power to the people. With MMP, the people win.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Campaign Doesn't Have Faith in You!

The No campaign arguments are based in a lack of faith in Ontario voters to determine their own destiny.

I was on CHIN radio debating a Conservative party hack. I started off by saying that we needed to give creedence to the 94-8 near consensus of regular Ontarions who studied electoral systems and Ontario politics for 8 months. But the NO people are all of special insights, keener than the rest. But are they smarter than a 5th grader?

Lowell Green woke me up this morning on my clock radio with the bold statement that first past the post was the majority for democracies in the world. So I called him up. After being interrogated as to why I wasn't at work and having assured him that I pay taxes I was allowed to say something. I called him on the fact that the that 101 countries have PR and only 47 have the FPTP system. "But most western democracies have FPTP" said Lowell. Wrong again, only 4 do.

Anyway, back at CHIN radio, the first argument was that MMP is too hard to understand. It was accompanied by the critique that the message has not been communicated. I had to agree that the message didn't get out clearly or early enough. There's lots of improvement to be had in this campaign. That said, some of this is the government and media's fault. I pointed out that we just had a leader's debate, but nothing like a 2hr televised special for MMP.

The PC hack gave the argument that his grandmother couldn't understand MMP, and therefore it's too mysterious for us to accept. I was somewhat stunned by this and missed an opportunity that I'll take here. My grandmother likely doesn't understand public-private partnerships in health, or the funding formula for schools (how many people understand that?). Our job for our grandmother's, or the dumb blonde in the next office, or those too busy for politics, is to make it simple enough that the key points are understood.

You get a ballot. There's one vote for the party, one for the local candidate. The local candidate who gets the most votes wins. The party gets the percentage of seats at Queen's Park that's the same as the province-wide vote. 46% vote liberal, they get 46% of the seats (not 70!). Easy!

Then there's the thorny issue of more politicians. This really gets me. Ontario's the most underrepresented province, (Member to population) in the country. But to the NO side, politicians are just bad guys who cost too much. We want democracy but not politicians? How does that work? More politicians means more representation, and to a point more is better. These extra politicians are going to be representing all those voters who don't get representation for now. Half or more of people that vote in this system are represented by someone they didn't vote for. All those votes will be electing representativees in MMP.

A lot of this rides on the cynicism about politics. We can't forget that this cynicism was created in the current system. There's more to it that the voting system, and I don't think people and politics are as bad as the cynics say they are. People get more cynical when the feel they lack power. MMP gives you more power to chose, more ways to express your dissatisfaction or approval.

Some NO arguments are afraid of that power. I've replied to letters that stated a fear of fringe parties. There were worried about White Supremacists and Religious Parties. But, can they actually imagine 3 out of every 100 people at their neighbourhood poll voting for such radical ideas? Muslims, all of them together, make up 3% of the province, and I think they are the largest religious minority that is not Christian. Between Sunnis and Shias, moderates and fundamentalists, secular Muslims, gay Muslims, progressives, generational vs. new citizens - it's kind of insulting to think that all these people will wake up one day, form a party and having every single one of them vote for in order to get one seat!

Then they worry that the small party with one seat with hold the dreaded 'balance of power'. We forget the recent federal budget, where a single Independent MP held the balance of power and could have brought down the government. We survived.

The truth is 'balance of power' is an artifact of equivalence of power where two sides that disagree are almost equal. Democratically, the validity of either outcome is already roughly equal. The bringing down of government, democratically, was just as valid as letting it stand in that case. The outcomes are already democratically equal, and the main decision is between major parties view of issues that they have framed. These small number of seats have limited power, even when they hold the balance. In order to stop this, the NO people want us to shut out a good percentage, such as the Greens with say 10% of the population, from representation.

A party would be very irresponsible and likely voted out if they made unreasonable concessions to one or a small number of seats just to get win a vote in the Legislature. Concessions that would be outside their ideology, platforms or promises would not be accepted by voters. The small seats can only win concessions that the major parties can align themselves with.

The NO side wants you to think that list candidates are automatically unaccountable and unelected. They are not unelected. You vote for them when you vote for a party. They get in in a slightly different way. If the local candidates were more popular than the province-wide vote, the list members won't get in. That's good, because in that case, the party wasn't stronger overall than the sum of their local members success. If the province-wide vote was better than performance in local ridings, these people are elected by those province-wide votes, including all those whose vote for a local candidate didn't elect them, all those votes that weren't represented before. In a sense, these people are elected by all those people who are represented now by people they didn't vote for.

You don't count the same as others in your riding right now and politicians know it. The NO side wants you to continue to be unequal. The NO side wants you to punish your local member who you like if their party didn't perform well. The NO side doens't want to give you the power to punish the party, especially if you're in a riding where that party's an easy winner. They complain that there are candidates being elected that you don't vote for directly. You won't be able to vote them out, because those annoying other people in the province vote for that party. Don't forget that you have absolutely no say in how 102 ridings vote for their members in this system. If the neighbouring riding's MPP is a tool and wins all the time because there a Liberal, nothing you can do, nor can you do anything about the Toronto MPP's who don't know that LFL&A exists! At least with MMP, you know that your vote will matter in the province-wide election of parties.

And this is where the NO people decieve you. Politicians are bad, but local politicians are great. Parties are horrible, but local party representatives are there for you all the time. Local representation is so great and accountable that you can get local MPP's to come and wash your dishes, even if you didn't vote for them! But I listened to the radio comments after the Leader's Debate. Everyone was deciding based on the leader and the party. They vote through their local candidate for the party. Only one person said they would consider the local candidate in about twenty calls. No wonder some ridings could elect a lamppost if they ran for right party, some seem to have come close. People vote for parties, and some care about the local candidate. Some people will just read up enough on the local candidate to make sure they fit, some people will go the polling station and read the name of the local candidate for the first time. Most people vote for parties, and in that case it seems like in this system, winners are demographic accidents.

The NO people worry about how the parties come up with their list, fearing back-room deals. Putting the cart before the horse! But the recommendation clearly states that the process must be fully transparent and stated before the writ drops. The list is stated before the writ drops. Now, as a voter I can take a look at that list. I can take a look at the slate of local candidates. I can take a look at what this party might look like. I look at their platforms and recall their past experience. Then I look at my local candidates. Which party do they belong to? What's their background and experience, what kind of person are they? Did I like them at the door? What's their position on local issues?

In our current system, if you even get past the first question, you might end up in conflict based on the answers to the other questions. The best candidate might not match your party. So now you have to choose whether to reward your party and vote for the lesser candidate, or vote against your party for the candidate you like.

There's all kinds of voters. Many are just habitually voting for the party that people around them vote for. Some are voting on particular issues. Some have changed parties because of a leader or a policy. Habitual voters will have new choices to consider in MMP. This might engage them more, or they may just vote for the same party on both ballots. Either way it's fairer to all of us and will invigorate politics, making local races more exciting and parties more accountable to all voters. Voters like those who work in the 'social' professions but in very Conservative ridings. Green voters everywhere. Conservatives in Toronto, NDP in the suburbs. Liberals wherever they come in last!

We should come to share province-wide concerns, and get a better sense of how they relate. I always worry about the North, in the system too little attention is given them. But today, the most politically marginalized must be voting minorities in the North who must feel their votes are cast into a vaccuum. The North must demand lists from every party with representation for the North. If they do, they'll get more than one member for their ridings. Rural areas do have concerns that are not addressed by Conservatives! In MMP, rural people will get representation from Liberals, Greens and NDP, those who voted for them are other 40-55% of people in the riding that didnt' vote Conservative. Instead of one cohort dominating the other, it will be balanced and proportional.

Parties and candidates can win and lose, voters shouldn't! Voting demands counting that vote. It demands accountability, it demands representation!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MMP Supporters Do Their Homework/MMP International

To: Andy Barrie, CBC - Metro Morning program
Re.: Correction request re false statements by David Fleet
Dear Andy:

On your program today, Mr. Fleet made several statements that could easily be refuted if someone pays attention, ... but most listeners and voters will not, I fear. Therefore, at least the most glaring factual ones should be exposed, to - hopefully - raise the flag for those who can easily be mislead by demagoguery, unsubstantiated claims, misinformation, and simple lies. Let me draw your attention to two false references now. Mr. Fleets claims that (1) MMP (or proportional representation) was not selected in the newly democratizing countries of the former Soviet bloc, and (2) that most of the democratic countries in the West use the same or similar electoral system than Canada.

Please check it out yourself at the website of the International Institute for Democracy and electoral Assistance (http://www.idea.int/esd/world.cfm ), and you will see the following: Out of 26 countries listed there that can be considered as part of the former Soviet bloc, actually not even one picked a Canadian-like system. Two countries (Albania and Hungary) have MMP, 13 countries picked List Proportional Representation (that is even farther from the FPTP model than MMP is), 7 countries picked Parallel Systems (again, with strong element of proportionality in it), and four countries selected so-called Two-Round Systems.

After looking at the post-Soviet group, I checked out two more things.
Where exactly is the FPTP system used, beyond the ones (Canada, US, UK, India) that Mr. Fleet mentioned, and what kind of system is used typically in the countries of Europe and the OECD.

Yes, the list of FPTP users is long (47 countries), from Anguilla to Zimbabwe, with such bastions of democracy as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, Yemen, ... just to give a few examples that somehow Mr. Fleet forgot to mention. There is no European or OECD country in that list, beyond the ones already mentioned. I didn't make a detailed summary of what systems are used in Europe, but clearly some kind of proportional representation seems to be a norm, ... my impression is that List Proportional Representation is probably the most often used.

I found it interesting how well the trick of offering a bluff worked again this morning: neither You nor Wayne Smith rejected the factual claims off the cuff, probably because you try to stick to what you know about. However, this is not a requirement for some. Allegedly, when one of his generals cautioned Napoleon once that the facts contradict one of his statements, Napoleon's answer was: It's all the worse for the facts!
It's time to turn this around by publicly unveiling ignorance and/or shameless lies. It should be all the worse for the liar.

As a very last point, in this particular situation, and in the whole Referendum debate more attention should be given, I think, to the credibility of the recommendation of the Citizens Assembly. This representative group of ordinary Ontario citizens invested a lot of time and effort into studying and debating a complicated issue, ... and at the end they come up with a strong majority recommendation. I'd challenge all the nay-sayers whether their level of literacy in this field is at least remotely comparable to that of the Assembly members. I'd give more opportunity for these members to speak, and would ask them also about why didn't they suggest to introduce even more proportionality in the system, that would make ours probably even more similar to the ones used in many advanced democracies.

Best regards,

Laszlo Kramar, Toronto

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Steve Withers and the Real Deal of Living and Loving MMP

For the past 11 years, I've lived under the MMP system used in New Zealand since 1996.

The propaganda about list MPs is fanciful and lots of fun, but disonnected from reality. Here is the reality of MMP in the town where I live.

I live in the Otaki riding, at the north end of the Wellington region at the lower end of the North Island. You can see it here:


I live just north of Foxton, where I own a farm. The local MP is Darren Hughes (Labour Party). He has a riding office in Levin. Not far from Darren's office is the riding office of National Party list MP, Nathan Guy. You can see their local contact details here:


Also serving Otaki is the Green Party list MP, Sue Kedgley. She is based in Wellington and covers the 10 ridings of the Wellington region for her party, which has 7 MPs out of the 120 in the Parliament.

The reality of MMP is that I have at least 3 "local" MPs I can call upon for any issue of concern to me. If the MP from one party isn't sympathetic to my view of the world or my values, I can go to another. This the BEST thing about the list MPs. They offer voters the chance to talk to an MP other than the local one if they aren't getting the hearing they feel they deserve. MMP provides stronger representation for this reason and I am very happy with it.

To be honest, I can't tell a list MP from a local MP unless you tell me someone is one or the other. They all work in their local communities, serving voters in the hoe of winning the all-important party votes that define how many seats each party gets overall.

If you look at all the list MPs for the parties with more than 5% of the vote, you'll see that almost without exception they all have local riding offices in the towns where they live. You will also note they are well distributed around the country. The links are below.


As to who selects the list candidates prior to their election, it is, of course, the members of their party. I have taken part in democratically electing people to my party's list as candidates. This is better under MMP as I get to support not just one person for the local riding, but also several people from my region as our part of the national party list. EVERY party in New Zealand democratically elects candidates to their party list of candidates. If you want to help choose candidates, then join the party you prefer and get involved.

Just so you know, the same is true in Scotland and Wales, where MMP is also used. In Germany, democratic candidate selection procedures are prescribed by law, so the same applies there, too.

Of course, before we voted to bring in MMP in 1993, we heard all the same dire warning about "party bosses picking party hacks". Looking back, it's all a bit funny now as no party leader in his or her right mind would DARE to attempt such thing. MMP introduces "market forces" into politics and party members and voters no longer have to tolerate such nonsense from "party bosses". They have other choices. MMP gives voters both a vote that counts and more choice as to who to elect.

The reality was that it was under First Past the Post that party bosses REALLY held sway.....which is why they are so determined in their opposition to MMP here in Ontario. MMP will make them MORE accountable...and they don't like that and more than their NZ counterparts did in 1993 - or now, for that matter. Politicians don't like being accountable and will seek to avoid it under any system. MMP makes that harder to do.

I know his information conflicts head on with the - in my view - propaganda about MMP. I hope you feel the reality of it. You will not find any similarly credible information to support the "no" case. There just isn't any.

This is the daily reality of life under MMP. It really IS better. You DO get more choice. Election results ARE more fair...and with several MPs to call upon - list and local - you DO get better representation overall. All because you get a vote that actually counts toward representation and the List candidates are a key part of making that practical and possible.

I hope that you will consider the evidence and see that I can prove my case and that the "NO" folks can't offer you a single example to support their claims about MMP.....and they certainly can't demonstrate endemic, systemic problems. Not even close. The evidence just isn't there.

I know why the Citizens Assembly voted 94 to 8 in favour of MMP. They knew what I know from personal experience. Unfortunately, the Ontario government isn't sharing WHY the Citizens Assembly voted for MMP. If you did that, you would e much more likley to vote for it and they don't want that. So you aren't being told the "why".

Are you the sort of person who looks at the evidence before coming to a conclusion? I hope you are. There are too may of the other sort.

Thanks for you note.

Steve Withers

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

From the listserv!

Sign up for the listserv! at www.voteyesformmp.ca Here's a sample.

The CBC has some interesting materials on their site.

One is an image of an interactive legislature where as you pass your mouse over a miniature of the representative, a larger picture often pops up with a description—useful reference tool.


Also their coverage of the referendum has an interesting chart comparing debating points re MMP--see last item.

The Toronto Star has several articles on the probable continuing lack of representation of women and minorities in the legislature after October 10. Likely another legislature where diversity is once again depressed by the FPTP voting system.]

1- TheStar.com - Ontario Election - Legislature still won't reflect population

Legislature still won't reflect population

Number of candidates who are minorities, women `disappointing'
Toronto Star, Sep 04, 2007 Kerry Gillespie

2- Strong female voices say goodbye

5 of 7 legislators calling it quits are women; some are prominent, including 2 cabinet ministers
Robert Benzie, The Star, Sep 04, 2007


3*- There is nothing wrong with party politics

Eleanor Weekes, Toronto. Toronto Star, Sep 03, 2007

RE Questions surround MMP, Letter, Aug. 30


[She is responding to the Aug 30 Remy Landau letter in the Star, The “bunch” she appears to be referring to seems to be the Citizen’s Assembly since the original letter was prompted by Assembly member Patrick Heenan’s excellent letter.]

4- A few more candidates in favour or opposed, The Skinny,
Monday, September 3, 2007
[interesting blog which has an image comparing all the ridings regarding their representative’s declared support for the referendum—also a poll based on the referendum question.]

5- Ontario referendum 2007:Electoral reform or not?
By Emily Chung
CBCNews.ca Updated Aug. 31, 2007


[Interesting news article on the referendum—particularly a comparison chart of debating points—fairly good—some points could be expanded especially the point on the cost of more politicians—see Vote for MMP website for more detailed points.[


1- TheStar.com - Ontario Election - Legislature still won't reflect population

Legislature still won't reflect population

Number of candidates who are minorities, women `disappointing'
Toronto Star, Sep 04, 2007 Kerry Gillespie
Too many names like Tom, Dick and Harry.

Not enough Mohameds, Samys and Sunitas.

There aren't enough Janes either.

Ontario's MPPs are predominantly white, middle-aged and male.

Many hoped the Oct. 10 election would help change that, but it doesn't look like the three main parties have nominated enough women and visible minority candidates to make a big difference.

"It is disappointing that, notwithstanding the demographic reality of Ontario ... the number is so low," said Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Maytree Foundation, which supports social justice and immigrant integration projects.

Right now, only 25 per cent of the 103 seats in the Legislature are held by women and less than 9 per cent are held by visible minorities.

There are 107 seats up for grabs in this election. Here's who's looking to fill them:

Visible minority candidates: The Liberals are running 16, New Democrats 16, Progressive Conservatives 11 and Greens 3.

Women: The Liberals are running 38, New Democrats 36, Progressive Conservatives 24, Greens 10.

(There's some overlap between women and visible minority candidates, and the New Democrats have 17 nominations yet to be filled and the Greens have 45.)

There has been some improvement in the number of women candidates, but it's still not enough, said Rosemary Speirs, head of Equal Voice, an advocacy group devoted to getting more women elected at all levels of government.

The Liberals have increased their percentage of female candidates and have met Premier Dalton McGuinty's target of running women in 50 per cent of the ridings not held by the party. The NDP, the only party with an affirmative action policy to give women and visible minorities a better shot at becoming candidates, have "done their part." But the Conservatives aren't improving much, Speirs said.

"I don't doubt (Progressive Conservative Leader) John Tory's sincerity, I don't doubt that he has tried to find women but ... he doesn't seem to have been able to fulfil his pledge," she said, referring to his goal that a third of the party's candidates would be women.

Even Tory isn't happy with the number of women running for his party. "It's less than I had aimed for," he said, adding that, unlike McGuinty, he can't appoint candidates. Under Liberal rules, McGuinty can appoint candidates in a maximum of five ridings. For this election, he used the power twice and appointed two women.

If all the parties followed the NDP's practice of forcing riding associations to make genuine searches for women and visible minority candidates, the results would be better, Speirs said.


2- Strong female voices say goodbye

5 of 7 legislators calling it quits are women; some are prominent, including 2 cabinet ministers
Robert Benzie, The Star, Sep 04, 2007

Seven MPPs – five of them women – are not running for re-election in the Oct. 10 vote.

The Legislature already lacks any semblance of gender balance, and now some prominent women at Queen's Park are leaving electoral politics behind.

Democratic Renewal and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Marie Bountrogianni, Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers, rookie Liberal MPPs Judy Marsales (Hamilton West) and Jennifer Mossop (Stoney Creek), and veteran New Democrat MPP Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt) are calling it quits.

Also not seeking re-election are long-time Liberal MPPs Ernie Parsons (Prince Edward-Hastings) and Richard Patten (Ottawa South).

Parsons, 61, has received a patronage appointment as a justice of the peace and Patten, 65, a former cabinet minister, told the Ottawa Citizen last March he was fed up serving in a Liberal government too fixated on Toronto issues.

Of the 103 MPPs in the Legislature, only 26 are women, which has made the departure of the five that much more significant.

Chambers, 56, who has represented Scarborough East since 2003, is retiring for health reasons. She has declined to specify, saying only: "I'm not dying or anything like that."

Bountrogianni, 50, the Hamilton Mountain MPP since 1999, is "leaving for personal reasons," including a desire to spend more time with her family.

Mossop, 47, lured into the Liberal fold during the 2003 election after the previous candidate dropped out, wants to be with her husband, Honeymoon Suite drummer Dave Betts, and their young daughter.

Marsales, 55, needs to devote her energy to her family and her thriving Hamilton real estate business, which has 45 salespeople and a third office opening this month.

The departure of three Hamilton-area Liberal incumbents has New Democrats boasting that they can sweep the Steel City in the election.

But the NDP is also losing a valued veteran in Martel, 44, a cabinet minister in former NDP premier Bob Rae's government.

An MPP since 1987, she and husband NDP Leader Howard Hampton, who represents Rainy River, have two children and have for years been forced to juggle three households.


3- There is nothing wrong with party politics

Eleanor Weekes, Toronto. Toronto Star, Sep 03, 2007

RE Questions surround MMP, Letter, Aug. 30

This is the age of party politics – not personality contests. When a candidate runs for office under the banner of a political party, the electorate has a right to expect that that person believes and upholds the principles of that party.

The opportunity is there for anyone to run for office, and if a candidate is not affiliated with any party, then that person runs as an independent.

The electorate knows that independents do not hold power and they have to negotiate with the other parties to get their constituents' wishes drafted into law.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with that.

I wholeheartedly agree with the letter writer's questions surrounding MMP. This bunch looks like an exalted sore-losers club with a hidden agenda, and I hope their idea gets treated as such come October.


5- Ontario referendum 2007:Electoral reform or not?
By Emily Chung
CBCNews.ca Updated Aug. 31, 2007

Excerpt Heated debate
Here are some arguments for and against MMP that have been put

forward by proponents and opponents:

Against MMP:
For MMP:

It's undemocratic because legislators chosen from party lists, who might even include the premier and cabinet ministers, are not elected directly by voters.

It's democratic: all representatives will be elected by voters either directly or through the party that gets the most votes. MMP will produce results that more closely reflect what voters want.

Legislators chosen from party lists won't represent specific ridings and therefore won't be accountable to voters.

Legislators chosen from party lists can focus on big issues instead of local ones, and will be accountable to citizens who voted for their party. Also, they can represent voters in areas where their party won no local seats.

MMP is too complicated.

Voters in other countries have not had trouble understanding it.

Because there will be 17 fewer ridings in Ontario, each voter will have less contact with his or her local legislator.

Having both party list and local legislators that voters can contact will increase each voter's representation.

Allowing at-large candidates to be elected from party lists will give politicians and political parties too much power in the choice of legislators.

Publishing party lists of at-large candidates in the order that they're ranked and giving descriptions of how the parties came up with the lists will ensure voters know who they are electing. Party members are already the ones who choose who will run in each riding. As well, these party members aren't necessarily politicians themselves.

MMP will allow "fringe" parties to hold the balance of power with two or three seats.

MMP will allow people who vote for smaller parties to have their voices heard in the legislature.

MMP will result in minority governments that change their policies after the election to gain needed support from other parties.

MMP will result in minority governments that must debate and gain the support of other parties instead of ramming legislation through.

Canadians don't like minority governments and feel they are weak and indecisive.

Canadians are comfortable with the balance of power in minority governments. Voters have handed minorities to a number of provincial and federal governments, including Stephen Harper's Conservatives in the 2006 parliamentary election.

MMP allows politicians to be elected who have no support in their own communities.

MMP encourages parties to seek votes in all parts of the province and not just their strongholds.

22 extra legislators will cost more.

Extra representation is worth the cost of 22 more legislators.