Conservative leader John Tory is finally starting to show his hand on the referendum question before Ontario voters on October 10th.
Yesterday, while still claiming to be neutral on the subject, Tory apparently spent several minutes criticizing the Citizens' Assembly recommendation for change during an interview with the National Post's editorial board.
Mr. Tory also seemed entirely ignorant about the Mixed Member Proportional option before voters in this referendum (unless of course he was trying to deliberately mislead voters with his comments, which could very well be the case).
Mr. Tory said he is wary of the mixed-member proportional system because some MPPs would be "appointed by party bosses and accountable to no constituents."
This is a false statement.
Under the proposed system, voters will elect list members when they vote for a political party on their ballot. Parties will be required to present their list of province-wide candidates to the public well in advance of election day through Elections Ontario, and explain what process they undertook to select them.
Province-wide list nominees will be a new form of province-wide candidacy in Ontario. They will be teams of candidates put forth by the political parties to represent the province as a whole, not just one constituency in the legislature.
Tory continued yesterday with his misinformation: "The notion to me that you'd have a whole bunch of people that would be down there now who will be accountable only to party bosses who put their names on the list, to me seems to be making the place less democratic, not more, and less accountable."
Why does Mr. Tory assume party bosses would only appoint candidates to the province-wide lists? Maybe because that is exactly what Mr. Tory intends to do if the Citizens' Assembly proposal becomes law.
Yesterday, Rosemary Speirs of Equal Voice wrote eloquently in the Toronto Star in favour of the proposed system:
NDP Leader Howard Hampton has already pledged province-wide party nomination conventions to elect his "list" candidates. Premier Dalton McGuinty and Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory should now join in Hampton's declaration that all his party's nominations will be open and democratic. Otherwise, think what the No forces are admitting in their desperation to win! Cronyism is alive and well and could get worse? The party leaders will want to assure us that era is over.
With his words to the National Post, John Tory is clearly stating the era of cronyism is alive and well in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. No wonder he's attacking the proposed new system.
In other jurisdictions that have a Mixed Member Proportional system, like New Zealand and Germany, political parties hold regional votes to elect their list nominees before elections. We have every reason to believe that parties in Ontario, except for the Conservatives of course, would do the same here.
Last week, Liberals For MMP called on the Ontario Liberal Party to undertake the most democratic and transparent process possible to select its province-wide list, convening regional party conventions and/or primaries to choose nominees, should MMP pass. We re-iterate that call today.
Premier Dalton McGuinty should commit before October 10th to this principle so that voters will know how the Ontario Liberal Party will operate under the new system.
This would leave John Tory as the only provincial party leader promising to continue cronyism in the selection of province-wide Members of Provincial Parliament.