With the defeat of the Citizens' Assembly's Mixed Member Proportional proposal this week, we've decided to revamp this site with a new title and mission: to promote the cause of electoral reform both in Ontario and across Canada.
Our official response to the referendum results and our recommendations on where we go from here on the issue of democratic renewal in Ontario will be posted here on Monday.
In the mean time, we wanted to bring to your attention two very different responses from Canada's two major newspapers in the post-referendum period.
The Toronto Star shamelessly printed misinformation about the MMP proposal on a few occasions during the campaign, contributing greatly to the false and unfortunately widespread belief that politicians would be "appointed" to the legislature if it had passed. This in turn contributed to MMP's defeat. Yesterday's Star editorial stayed true to the paper's establishment credentials by trying to argue the defeat for this particular proposal means the end of electoral reform in Canada. The Star even printed, "Ontario has now joined British Columbia and Prince Edward Island in rejecting proportional representation and choosing the status quo. That should be all the answer the advocates of electoral reform need."
Nothing could be further from the truth. First-Past-The-Post is still broken. Yes, MMP has been defeated in two provinces. But another form of proportional voting called Single Transferable Vote (STV) actually passed with over 57% support in the British Columbia referendum in 2005. But due to the high approval threshold of 60%, it wasn't implemented. To interpret this as a public "rejection" of change, as the Star does, is once again disingenuous. Indeed, British Columbians will get another chance to vote on STV in 2009.
For a better interpretation of the Ontario election and referendum results, check out the Globe & Mail's editorial today:
"Ontarians were not given a fair chance to reform the system; nor was there the full "debate" that Mr. McGuinty claims. Rather, a flawed model was put forward in a referendum that was barely publicized until the campaign's final days. By claiming the result settled the matter once and for all, Mr. McGuinty lends credence to claims that the referendum was intended only to reinforce the status quo.
"This much we know about Ontario's election results: The Liberals won, the Conservatives lost, and one particular brand of electoral change was rejected. Politicians should be careful not to read too much between the lines."