Few people in Ontario seem to realize there is a referendum on electoral reform this fall.
Ontarians will vote on Oct. 10th 2007, at the same time as they vote in the provincial election.
The Referendum question, posed by the Ontario Government, will be whether they want to continue with our present riding-based electoral system or want to change to a “mixed” system (called Mixed Member Proportional).
The Ontario referendum is a wonderful opportunity–and perhaps the last for many decades–to achieve reforms to our outmoded electoral system that would help more women get elected.
Canada is one of the few modern democracies still clinging to our old Westminster model of electing Members from local ridings (others are the UK and US, which have ever worse records in electing women). We stand 48th in the world in terms of the number of women in our House of Commons (just under 21 per cent), and in recent years the numbers of women, standing and being elected has started to decline.
This is why Doris Anderson, and others of us in the long fight for fair representation in politics, have concluded that we cannot hope to succeed without changing our electoral system. Out there in the ridings, local riding associations still conclude that white male professionals are the
best candidates, so we end up with party slates that are 80 per cent male even when party leaders are publicly calling for more women.
The Oct. 10 referendum could throw open the doors of the male political club. A victory in Canada’s most populous province would likely set off a domino effect. It is a last chance because efforts at electoral reform have failed or floundered recently in PEI, New Brunswick, Quebec and B.C. Not all women realize that political decision-making–particularly on issues
such as child care, home care, and choice–lies so largely in the hands of men. It is time more women were in office helping men make decisions which often effect women more.
The Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform (103 Ontarians randomly chosen by Elections Ontario) is recommending moderate change–keeping a majority of seats (90) still elected in the ridings in the old way, but a minority (39) elected by Proportional Representations. They are
calling it a Mixed Member Proportional system. Voters would get two votes–one for a local riding representative and another for their favourite party’s “list” of candidates for the PR seats.
As we know any type of campaigning or public education requires money. Mark Greenan of, Blogging for democracy and also of Fair Vote Canada has blogged a proposal to encourage those that can to help financially with the campaign for MMP.
If we are going to win the campaign for better democracy in Ontario, we’re going to need the resources to counter the spin and misinformation and reach out to the 70% of Ontarians who don’t know about the referendum.
That’s why I’m calling on all my readers who are fed up with politics-as-usual to dig into their pockets and make a small donation to the Vote for MMP campaign. Like I just did, you can take a minute and donate online to the campaign right here.
You can make donations here
This campaign is near and dear to my heart not only because my former riding president believed in it so strongly and not only because Doris Anderson did, but because I believe a government should be of, by and for the people and I believe this is a good step to a stronger democracy.
cross posted at Bread and Roses