| Oct 04, 2007


Editorial - October 4, 2007 Editorial - October 4, 2007

But What if it is Broke?Editorial by Jeff Green

I support the Mixed Member Proportional Representation system and will be voting yes in the referendum next week.

I will be doing so even though I share some of the concerns that people opposing the proposal have raised. I don’t like the idea of giving the parties the opportunity to choose the 29 list members. I prefer electing an individual, who, even though they affiliated with a party, I can at least hold personally responsible for the decisions they make.

However, when I look at the way politics really work at Queen’s Park, I see that the Members of Provincial Parliament that we elect under the current system have little or no impact on provincial policy. The people who wield power at Queen’s Park are the premier and the un-elected people who work in the premier’s office.

They are the people who spend their time pouring over opinion polls and crafting political positions for the benefit of their boss. They are the people, who determine government policy.

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The premier’s office staff, along with the deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers, another group of un-elected officials, form the backbone of the government.

People who worry that list members are not directly elected, might look more closely at the way the systems works, or doesn’t work now. Our system is less than democratic. We have a broken democracy that is in need of reform.

The MMP, if successful, will shake up the system, if only because it will give more political power to the politicians by making coalition governments the norm. In a coalition government, the premier’s office would still run the province, but they will have to take the demands of their coalition partners into account.

No matter what system is in place, political operatives working for the major parties will learn how to exploit it for the benefit of the party leadership. That’s their job.

But a new system that will give each vote a certain amount of impact, and stands a chance of engaging more of the population in the political process, is something I can support.

One hundred and three Ontarians formed the citizens’ assembly that came up with the MMP. These are people who had no political axe to grind, no personal advantage to consider. Maybe I’m being hopelessly nae or hopelessly cynical, but I trust those people more than I trust the people in the premier’s office.

(There are many pros and cons to the MMP, and I have focussed on a single perspective. A google search under “MMP Ontario” will lead to a lot of information and opinions on both sides of the debate.)– Jeff Green

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