As stated here previously, most Ontario Liberal candidates are staying neutral on the referendum question now before voters.
Those Liberal candidates officially endorsing the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) option are incumbents Michael Bryant, John Gerretsen, George Smitherman and Tony Ruprecht, plus new Liberal candidates Kate Holloway, Steve Fishman and Selwyn Hicks. Other Liberals like Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Bob Rae, Elinor Caplan and Monique Begin have also endorsed MMP.
But some of the many neutral Liberal candidates have nonetheless been speaking favourably of the need for democratic reform.
Last week, Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale Liberal incumbent Ted McMeekin took part in an all-candidates debate in Rockton, as reported by the Ancaster News.
According to the story, there was almost unanimity among the local candidates over the proposed referendum question. Mr. McMeekin agreed that Ontario's parliament structure is "dysfunctional" and "doesn't work very well." McMeekin's local Tory opponent was the only candidate who rejected the referendum idea outright.
McMeekin is remaining neutral on the referendum question. But his comments on our current dysfunctional democratic system in Ontario are bang on.
Mike Lostracco, the Liberal candidate in Niagara West-Glanbrook, shared similar sentiments in a recent article in the Stoney Creek News.
While Lostracco is also officially neutral on the referendum question, he wrote:
"There have been a number of complaints over the years that our "first past the post" system of voting provides unfairly weighted representation in the Legislature. With that in mind, the Dalton McGuinty Government committed itself last election to take a look at the electoral system in Ontario to see what options might be available for electoral representation.
"The citizens (not politicians) committee decided on Mixed Member Proportional. I am in favour of this from a concept point of view - it certainly would provide fringe parties in particular, representation where they haven't before. What is concerning, however, is the fact this referendum is getting lost in the middle of an election campaign - I think changing the way we vote is not something that should be done lightly in any society. It is my hope everyone spends time understanding what is being recommended and making an informed decision."
Lostracco's campaign chair, Rob Foster, told Liberals For MMP that Lostracco's generally in favour of the concept of proportional voting, but has concerns about really making it work, particularly for rural Ontario (see the Liberals For MMP Manifesto for our proposals on province-wide lists). He's trying to hear from the people door to door on the subject.
Similarly, Oakville Liberal incumbent Kevin Flynn has told many local residents that he's fond of the process the Citizens' Assembly undertook in drawing up its proposal now before voters. He says he's favourable to electoral reform, but he wants to leave it up to voters to decide for themselves.
"I'm pretty comfortable with the position I'm taking right now," says Flynn in an email to Liberals For MMP. "I have a personal opinion, but I really do believe that it's up to the people themselves."