Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Dalton McGuinty should publicly state his position on the referendum question
Three out of the four major party leaders have, for the most part, let Ontarians know where they stand on the proposed Mixed Member Proportional system before voters on October 10th. NDP Leader Howard Hampton and Green Party Leader Frank de Jong have come out in favour of the proposal. Conservative Leader John Tory has criticized it, going so far as to spread misinformation about it and hinting he might appoint Tory backroom cronies to his province-wide list of candidates if it passes.
But the exception on the issue continues to be Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Liberals For MMP have praised the McGuinty government for keeping its word to put the issue of electoral reform in the hands of the people. The McGuinty government initiated the Citizens' Assembly process in 2006, which has resulted in this referendum. The Citizens' Assembly was a group of 103 ordinary Ontarians selected at random by Elections Ontario (one person from every riding in Ontario, plus chair George Thomson.) They were asked to take a very close look at our current First-Past-The-Post voting system and consider possible replacements.
After months of study, they decided that our First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system should be replaced with a made-in-Ontario form of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP).
But as voting day approaches, it seems that many Ontario voters remain uninformed about their choices in the referendum.
Yet Premier Dalton McGuinty thus far has refused to let Ontarians know his position on the referendum question.
On Tuesday, when asked why he hasn't taken a position, the Liberal leader said he made a "specific commitment" that he would not "attempt to influence the outcome of this debate."
All candidates are free to express their personal opinions on where they stand on the question, the province's Chief Electoral Officer John Hollins has said.
"This is not something that's going to be decided by the premier or the cabinet or the government caucus or (elected politicians). It's up to the people of Ontario," McGuinty has said.
Yet if public understanding of the question runs as low as 12% and as high as 40%, it begs the question how can Ontarians make an informed choice?
Recently, a provincial Liberal official, who asked not to be identified, reportedly said, “It's not our responsibility to educate people on this.”
The government decided before the referendum campaign to stop printing any more materials on the Citizens' Assembly process (even though the Citizens' Assembly is specifically mentioned in the referendum question before voters.) Materials on the Citizens' Assembly are still available online and can be accessed here and here. Yet many Ontarians don't have access to the internet.
At the very least, voters deserve to know where all the party leaders stand on this issue.
It's time Dalton McGuinty let Ontarians know which system he thinks would be better for the province.
Posted by Matt Guerin at 12:09 PM