EDITOR’S NOTE: Wednesday is election day in Ontario. The importance of this election is huge for Toronto, and one of the most important aspects of this election is the referendum on MMP. Cross-posted from Spacing Votes.
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Spacing will not endorse any candidate or political party as we head to the polls tomorrow. But we are not shy about our support for the Mixed-Member Proportional system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.
In recent years, urban concerns have not been well represented at Queen’s Park. In a political system that favours rural ridings over urban ones, Toronto and other urban regions have seen their influence marginalized, as they’ve suffered from a mixture of provincial indifference to outright vindictiveness. At a time when cities around the world are assuming more importance than ever, provincial politics have dragged urban regions backwards.
How would MMP affect this problem?
A fairer government means that by nature urban areas would be more represented in the provincial legislature. The thousands of urban votes that currently go to unsuccessful candidates would help to elect the 39 list MPPs. Toronto voters would be electing a large number of these new MPPs, purely by benefit of the city’s population. This means that the value of the Toronto vote to all parties would increase significantly. This extends to urban regions generally, as the decreased importance of ridings and the increased importance of individual voters would favor areas with high population density.
Parties would be obligated to tailor their platforms to urban voters in order to secure votes for list MPPs; â€œvote richâ€ areas would be as important as â€œseat richâ€ areas. Areas with a high population density will see their value increase, as their votes will be more consequential. The possibility of electing a party with an anti-urban platform would decrease, as urban elected list MPPs from other parties could compensate for any success such a party could have across the province. A party pursuing an anti-urban strategy would be doing so at great risk, given the increased power of the urban vote.
MMP would also allow for alterations to the province’s party makeup, and a Toronto or urban-oriented party could emerge to advocate on behalf of urban issues. This party could operate in a coalition or play â€œkingmaker,â€ helping a more successful party form a government and ensure that urban issues — transit, housing, uploading, etc. — are given priority in government. Such a party could have significant power in the legislature, able to work over time to ensure that urban concerns are heard.
Succinctly, urban voters would be less marginalized under MMP. They’ll have a greater say in provincial affairs, and could even elect local issue or pan-urban parties if they so choose. And while MMP isn’t a panacea for the problems of urban regions, it provides a real and improved opportunity for cities to articulate their concerns at Queen’s Park. For these reasons, Spacing supports switching Ontario to a mixed member proportional system. We hope you support this too.
On election day, say yes to MMP.
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