Publication: Brampton Guardian
Title: People get a say about government
Date: May 21, 2006
By: Roger Belgrave
For the article, click here.
Recruitment has quietly begun for what may turn out to be a political revolution in Ontario.
Last fall, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal government announced a review of the province's electoral system-- the very mechanism that determines political power. Ordinary citizens are now being chosen to conduct that review that will culminate in a report recommending possible changes to the way political representation is decided at Queen's Park.
Selection of members to the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform started this spring. The selection process is being conducted by Elections Ontario who will randomly choose 103 people from the registered voters' list. There will be one person selected from each riding in the province.
In an effort to reflect diversity and equal representation, the membership will be composed of 52 females and 51 males.
McGuinty is asking this group of volunteers to re-examine the current "first-past-the-post" electoral system. Work will include looking at different types of electoral systems-- such as proportional representation-- and deciding whether it is time to change how Ontario elects its government. The Premier has said the citizens' assembly will be free to consider all options.
The assembly is expected involve Ontario residents in its review through public meetings across the province and written submissions from the public.
Should the assembly recommend a change, a province-wide referendum will be held on the issue.
Every Ontarian would have an opportunity to vote on whether they want to change the electoral system or continue electing politicians in the same fashion.
Former provincial court judge George Thomson has been appointed assembly chair by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Thomson is also a former deputy minister in Ontario and federal governments and Law Society of Canada education director.
He is currently the Senior Director of International Programs for the National Judicial Institute.
Selections were scheduled to begin this past April and completed in July. Beginning in September, the assembly members will meet about twice a month for eight months. Their report is due by May 15, 2007.
As the process unfolds, information about local meetings and other details is available online at www.citizensassembly.gov. on.ca.
General information about the process is available by calling 1-866-656-9908 or contact the Citizens' Assembly Secretariat at 416-325-0758. Questions or remarks can also be e-mailed to [email protected] gov.on.ca.
This is an opportunity for ordinary citizens to redraw our political system. It is not often that the average voter has a chance to play such a monumental role in changing the rules that decide how political power is determined.
This is the kind of revolution we should all try to play a role in, whether you regularly cast a ballot at election time or you complain about the system and refuse to enter a polling station.