An outsider's view on MMP
Thursday, September 27, 200713 Comments
It took me a little time to understand Canada and Ontario's parliamentary systems because I am an ignorant American. That's not meant to be sarcastic, in the States you aren't really taught how any other representative system works, only the American system and even that is a poor education. I was a bit alarmed when I showed up and learned that in order to choose the person that runs the province and the country, you don't actually vote for that person. Instead, you vote for a local representative and if enough representatives from the party you choose get elected then the the person you want to be in charge gets the position... Maybe it's just me, but this system seems indirect and inefficient.
To me, the system currently used restricts people's choice. I'll give you a Guelph example:
Let's say that you are a Guelph voter and you really want Dalton McGuinty to continue to be the Premier of Ontario. However, you have had poor experiences with Liz Sandals and do not want to vote for her. In order to get the outcome you want, Dalton McGuinty as Premier, you have to do something that you don't want to do, vote for Liz Sandals.
Now this is just an example that you can use with any of the parties and candidates. The point is important though. When I attended the on campus debate, I noted something. Numerous times when the question rolled to Bob Senechal, he prefaced his statements by saying "John Tory believes..." I understand the reasoning for his responses. The PC campaign is focusing on John Tory as a leader and focusing opposition on to Dalton McGuinty. This campaign strategy highlights the way that the system works. The goal is to control the position of Premier and to do so seats must be elected.
However, there seems to be a problem to me on par with the problems that some people are listing in regards to MMP. Some people say that having MPPs that are assigned a seat from a party list is dangerous and anti-democratic. I charge that this is already taking place. Each party needs to field candidates in as many ridings as they can so as to win a majority and control Parliament. However, these politicians that fill out the ridings are not necessarily the best candidates and are sometimes just fillers for the party. The fact that they are filling in on a riding rather than on a list isn't that much different.
Another criticism is that MMP "list members" will be more dedicated to the party line. However, at the debates each candidate, except Drew Garvie as best I could tell, had a large binder with every topic that could be asked about. After each question the candidates turned to the appropriate section to check notes and check the party's position. Again, sticking to the party line often already takes place.
To me, the MMP system offers more choice. There are definite limitations to the system but you are able to vote for the person that you believe will best represent your riding and you are able to vote for the party of the person you want to run the Provence. This is a way to pick someone that will do the best work locally and someone will set the tone provincially and work on a larger scale.
However, I'm an outsider and I can't vote. So you all need to decide. I strongly advise everyone to vote on the referendum and to make sure that you are educated on the ramifications of switching to MMP. Here are some places to look for information: