Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Toronto Star continues to print misinformation about new voting system

Those sneaky Toronto Star editors continue to slip misinformation about the proposed Mixed Member Proportional system into their coverage of the referendum.

Today, the Star reprinted a Canadian Press story by Gregory Bonnell (which also contained the error) with the headline, "Referendum awareness on the rise, official says."

Leaving the misleading nature of this headline aside (voter awareness of this referendum question continues to be woefully low according to another recent poll), the article goes on to state that only 40 per cent of voters understand a mixed-member proportional electoral system is being proposed in this referendum. Later, the article reads, "If voters vote "yes" in the referendum, Ontario would elect politicians as they do now but also award seats in the Legislature based on the popular vote. Parties would draw those members of the Legislature from prepared lists of appointed candidates."

There is no provision in the Mixed Member Proportional system for province-wide candidates to be "appointed" as the Star and Canadian Press write.

This isn't the first time the Toronto Star (or other papers like the Toronto Sun) have printed misinformation about the provision for province-wide list candidates under MMP.

The Toronto Star did it in the first week of the campaign as well and failed to correct the record.

After many protests, Star editors emailed the campaign to say they agreed that describing province-wide candidates as "appointed" was a loaded and unfair term and they said they'd try not to use it again. But the Star also admitted the term "appointed candidates" might slip in again in future stories (as it did today) if copy editors got lazy.


The Toronto Star doesn't always get it wrong on MMP. In today's edition (Thurs, Sept 27th), reporter Kerry Gillespie thankfully doesn't use the "loaded" word "appointed" to describe province-wide candidates in this article. Instead, we get the less inaccurate description: "The new system, if people vote for it, would expand the Legislature from 107 to 129 MPPs. Of those, 90 would be directly elected by voters in individual ridings (the way it is now) and 39 would be selected from party lists to reflect the parties' percentage of the popular vote."

1 comment:

Wilf Day said...

"Selected from party lists" still suggests to me that parties choose after the fact who fills those seats.

For those allergic to the word "elected," one could say "taken from the top of the party lists." Even the Elections Ontario site says "If a political party is entitled to more seats than it won locally, 'List Members' are elected to make up the difference. 'List Members' can only be elected from a political party that received more than 3% of these votes."

It also says "‘List Members’ are candidates from any registered political party. Before an election each political party prepares (what's wrong with "nominates??) an ordered list of candidates they would like considered as ‘List Members’. These lists, and the way they are created, would be made public well in advance of any election in a Mixed Member Proportional system."

And it says "39 'List Members' would be elected from the lists developed by political parties. The other 90 MPPs would be locally elected."

So I'm holding out for "elected." Our local referendum information officers seem able to pronounce it.