Monday, September 24, 2007

Pro-MMP group calls on John Tory to affirm respect for citizen democracy

The following press release was issued today by VoteForMMP.ca.

TORONTO, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - Noting that Conservative Party Leader John Tory's name is listed on an anti-MMP website, the www.VoteForMMP.ca campaign has called upon Mr. Tory to promise to follow voters' wishes should they vote to implement MMP.

"Mr. Tory apparently has little regard for the work of the 103 regular citizens who toiled long and hard on behalf of their fellow voters in Ontario's Citizens' Assembly," said Rick Anderson, Chair of the VoteForMMP.ca Campaign. "Voters deserve assurance that a Tory Government will not show similar disregard for voters' intentions should the MMP referendum pass, and that a Tory Government would proceed to implement change in accordance with the Electoral System Referendum Act."

On October 10, Ontarians will vote in an historic election reform referendum, deciding whether to approve or reject modernizing of Ontario's old-fashioned electoral system with reforms aimed at:

- making future legislatures more representative of votes cast
- making every vote count
- increasing opportunities for women and minorities to be elected, and
- allowing voters to vote twice in future elections, once for their preferred local candidate and once for their preferred party.

Two years ago the Ontario Legislature passed an act establishing an independent citizen-based process to consider Ontario election reform, in a manner purposefully arms-length from partisan politics. The 103-member Citizens Assembly strongly recommended that Ontario adopt the "Mixed Member Proportional" (MMP) system for future elections. Consequently, under the provisions of the Referendum Act, voters at large now have the responsibility to accept or reject the MMP recommendation, in a nonpartisan referendum where political parties are also precluded by law from campaigning.

"It is regrettable that Mr. Tory's name is being used to sway voters one way or another in this important referendum," said Mr. Anderson. "When this process commenced, the Legislature was very wise to have placed redesign of Ontario's antiquated electoral system beyond the self-interest gamesmanship of competitive partisan politics. It would be a shame if today partisan politics are allowed to lower the level of thinking on this important matter in the way they unfortunately do on so many issues."

"We encourage Mr. Tory to have his name withdrawn from the anti-MMP website, and to state clearly to voters that their decision will be respected."

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About Vote for MMP: Vote for MMP is a multi-partisan citizens' campaign supporting the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system presented to Ontarians for adoption in the referendum on electoral reform on October 10. MMP was proposed by the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, an independent body of 103 randomly chosen Ontario voters. Assembly members were asked by the Ontario Legislature to (a) determine whether Ontario needs a new voting system, and (b) if so to recommend an improved system. The Assembly studied proportional electoral systems used in 81 democracies around the world, and selected MMP as the approach best-suited for Ontario. Vote for MMP is funded by donations from citizens and organizations who agree with the Citizens' Assembly recommendations, and believe it is time to strengthen democracy and modernize Ontario's voting system that gives voters more choice, fairer results and stronger representation.

For further information: Steve Withers, Media Coordinator, VoteForMMP Campaign, Tel: (519) 282-1078, e-mail: steve.withers@VoteForMMP.ca; Rick Anderson, Chair, VoteForMMP Campaign, e-mail: rick@asci.ca; Website: www.VoteForMMP.ca

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