A great letter to the editor appeared today in the Toronto Star from Mississauga Citizens' Assembly member Patrick Heenan, in response to a recent column in the same paper by Peter McKenna, an associate professor from P.E.I.
Here's Heenan's letter in its entirety:
"Peter McKenna suggests that many P.E.I. voters rejected electoral reform because they "preferred the intimate relationship that exists with their MLA under the current system." With a population of under 140,000 and a legislative assembly of 26, each member in P.E.I. represents roughly 5,400 people. For Ontario's population of 13 million to enjoy this same level of intimacy, there would have to be 2,400 MPPs at Queen's Park, up considerably from the current 103. While this would conceivably make members more accountable to voters, a Legislature of this size would not be acceptable to the people of Ontario.
"With our large and diverse population today, the idea that a member "represents" all voters because of shared geographical location is antiquated. Ridings no longer reflect a particular economic interest or ethnic or religious background. Our current system does not provide for representation of parties that have widespread, but less geographically concentrated, support.
"To produce a Legislature that is more representative of the wishes of voters, without significantly increasing the number of MPPs, the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, of which I was a member, has recommended Ontario adopt a mixed member proportional system. This system would continue the tradition of the local member and local accountability, but would add a number of list seats that will improve proportionality and will allow not just representation of geographical communities, but also parties representing "communities of interest" with a high level of support across the province.
"If you are among the 60 per cent of Ontarians who are represented by someone you didn't vote for, you might just think that this new system has something going for it."
In other news, Elections Ontario is appointing referendum resource officers in various communities to help educate the public about their referendum choices on October 10th. Here's an article from the North Bay Nugget on retired elementary school principal Rob Fraser, who will working to educate the voters of Nipissing on the voting reform question. Here's another piece about Rick Swift who will be doing the same in Leeds-Grenville.
Fraser and Swift are among 100 resource officers hired to deliver local community information sessions throughout the province on electoral reform as part of the "Understand the Question" campaign.