As Mark Twain famously observed, a lie can go half way around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on.
The lie in this referendum debate we've often heard from supporters of our antiquated voting system is that the new province-wide Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) under Mixed Member Proportional will be "appointed" or "selected" or "chosen" by party leaders.
In fact, all province-wide MPPs will be elected by voters. Even Elections Ontario, the unbiased referee in this referendum, states on its website: "If a political party is entitled to more seats than it won locally, 'List Members' are elected to make up the difference."
Under the new system, voters will have two votes: one vote for their local representative (just like now) and one vote for a political party.
Political parties will be required to present their list of nominated province-wide candidates to the public well in advance of election day through Elections Ontario, and explain what process they undertook to elect them. Parties will likely ensure their nominees are very representative of the province's population and regions, including rural and Northern Ontario. If a party nominates only urban nominees, this will hurt that party's electoral chances in rural regions of the province. It's foolhardy to suggest a political party would deliberately alienate all rural voters by nominating an all-urban province-wide list.
Parties will rank their lists in the order nominees are to be elected. For example, if the Liberals win 60 riding seats, but their popular vote means they should have 62, the first two from their province-wide list are therefore elected.
The voters determine who and which number of province-wide candidates get elected with their party votes.
Some say these new members won't be directly elected by voters. But in reality they are directly elected by voters as voters will know who's on the list and in what order before they cast their ballots for that party. Some say these new members won't be accountable to voters as they don't represent a constituency. In truth, province-wide members will represent all Ontarians, not just one constituency like now. The entire province will be their constituency.
Under MMP, when we vote for the party, we're essentially voting for that party's province-wide list. The province-wide list is a party saying to voters, "Here is our team, vote for our team." If you don't like the people on the party's team, you can vote for another party, or no party at all.
This is better than our existing system where you only get one vote in one riding for one local candidate. You don't determine who those local candidates are, the parties do. The parties sometimes appoint those local candidates. Your vote today has no impact across the province, only in your local riding (and only if you vote for the winner.) You can't vote for the leader of the party, you can't vote for the party as a whole. If you want to vote Liberal, but you hate the local Liberal candidate what do you do? Under MMP, you can vote for a strong local candidate of any party, and still cast your ballot for another party.
The Ontario MMP proposal is a mix of members & proportional systems. Some proportional representation systems have only lists, no members (Netherlands). Some have half and half. Ontario has 70% riding, 30% list. This is one of the highest percentages of local reps under any mixed system.
Coming soon on this site, "Why Backroom Cronies Won't Make It Onto Province-Wide Candidate Lists..."