NO MMP
NO MMP
If you want your MPP to REPRESENT YOU to the GOVERNMENT, vote FOR DEMOCRACY and AGAINST MMP on OCTOBER 10.

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What people are saying about MMP...

"Parties are proportionally represented under MMP, but people aren't." - Billy Barnes, Toronto, ON

QUESTION

What is the Mixed Member Proportional System (MMP) proposed by the Citizens' Assembly as Ontario's new electoral system?

ANSWER

The Mixed Member Proportional System (MMP) is an alternative to the First Past The Post electoral system currently in use in Canada and every province, as well as in the United Kingdom and United States. It is also sometimes called the Single Member Plurality system.

First Past The Post is used by the most people - about 45% - in the world living in democracies, in about 45 countries.

MMP is currently in use in Germany, New Zealand, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Lesotho.

QUESTION

How does the MMP proposal differ from our current electoral system?

ANSWER

The MMP proposal that all Ontarians will vote on in the October 10 referendum will mark a great change in the way citizens of Ontario elect their representatives.

Under MMP, the voter will be given two votes. They can vote for a local candidate as they would do under our current system, and they also vote for the individual parties as well.

Under the proposed model, the Ontario legislature will consist of 129 seats. Local constituency races will determine 90 of those seats, as it is under the current electoral system. But the other 39 seats will be proportional or list seats and will be used to top up parties' seat totals so that the proportion of seats that each party gets corresponds to the proportion of votes that each party gets in the party vote. If a party fails to get 3% of the overall vote, they will not receive any seats in the legislature.

QUESTION

Does MMP give us better representation?

ANSWER

No it does not. In fact, the strength of our representation would weaken dramatically if MMP were to become our electoral system. Ontarians, compared to citizens in other provinces, are already the most poorly represented citizens in Canada.

It is not entirely certain who the 39 proportional or list MPPs that come from party lists represent. They might be considered to represent their political parties in the legislature. But we at NO MMP think that MPPs should represent citizens - people like you and me - from a real constituency, not the political parties who already have too much power in our democracy.

Some consider these list MPPs "at-large representatives" or "regional representatives". This will leave us with several MPPs who represent large and densely populated regions, but do not represent clearly defined ridings as it is under our current system. This makes it very difficult for citizens to identify which of the party list MPPs represents them. This will certainly dilute representation here in Ontario.

Who exactly do these list MPPs represent? MMP has no real answer. They sort of do not represent anyone, which means that there is less accountability and weaker democracy in Ontario.

QUESTION

How does the proposed MMP model distribute the list seats?

ANSWER

The list seats will be distributed on a province-wide list tier. This is different from other MMP countries like Germany that divide up their lists into regions.

This means that the list seats can be distributed in any way that political parties deem necessary or politically expedient. They can decide to put all their seats in Toronto, or any other part of the province. There is no provision in this proposal to make political parties distribute the 39 seats evenly across Ontario.

Under this MMP proposal, there is no mechanism to ensure that the 39 party list MPPs are distributed evenly throughout Ontario, thus ensuring weaker accountability. The only way to ensure that is to fix representatives to a specific constituency, just like in our current system."

QUESTION

I heard that the people who get the 39 proportional seats would be names from a list provided by political parties. Is that true?

ANSWER

Yes, that is correct. If the results from the party vote, let us say, show that the Liberals get five seats, then the top five people on the Liberal list who have not already been elected at the constituency level will get those seats.

QUESTION

So who gets to determine the makeup and order of these party lists?

ANSWER

The political parties would be solely responsible for the composition of the party lists under the MMP proposal. They can either be determined by direct orders by the party leadership, or they might be determined by a vote by party members. The proposal from the Citizens' Assembly does not have any provision for this whatsoever.

No matter what, the composition of the party lists will be in the hands of members of political parties, who make up a tiny part of the population of Ontario. Non-aligned voters do not get a say at all.

QUESTION

If I do not like the candidates at the top of the party list that I want to vote for, can I alter the list so I can put my preferred candidates at the top when it comes time to vote?

ANSWER

No, you cannot. The MMP proposal allows for closed party lists only. This means that voters cannot cross off names or change the order of a party list in the ballot box, as is allowed in countries such as Switzerland. The only choice given to the voters under MMP is to choose between lists.

QUESTION

Isn't giving political parties total control over the makeup of the list undemocratic?

ANSWER

It certainly is. It is important to be highly ranked on a party list in MMP. If a candidate is highly ranked, then he or she is pretty much guaranteed a seat at Queen's Park, so long as that party gets 3% of the vote. So if you want to vote for a party but do not like whom they have at the top of the list, you are pretty much stuck. Not only is this undemocratic, it is also unfair.

QUESTION

If I don't like the candidate who is first on a party list, how can I make sure that he does not get into office?

ANSWER

You can vote against the party list. But the only way to be certain that the candidate does not get a seat is ensure that 98% of Ontarians vote for someone else, thanks to the 3% threshold proposed.

Under our current FPTP system, a candidate can lose his seat if another candidate gets more votes than him. It is that simple. For a list MPP to lose his under MMP, if he is first on the list, 98% of the population have to vote against him.

How would you like an electoral system that puts in a representative that has 97% of the electorate voting against him?

QUESTION

Is it true that MMP will make it virtually impossible for political parties to form majority governments?

ANSWER

It wouldn't be impossible, but very rare. Under MMP a political party has to secure over 50% of the vote or win 72.2% of the local seats in order to get a majority. Since this rarely happens in Ontario, we can pretty much be certain that we will always have minority or coalition governments if MMP were to pass.

QUESTION

Is it better to always have minority governments? Wouldn't that be better for Ontario?

ANSWER

The Yes Side is telling the public that minority governments are better and will lead to improvement in politics in Ontario. Here's a quote from the Yes Side's literature:

"...because parties will be required to work with one another in coalitions to pass legislation, the system will reward cooperation, compromise and accountability in place of partisan rigidity, trivial bickering and narrow thinking".

Anyone with any common sense knows this is ridiculous. We have had minority governments at the federal level for some time and many people in the media as well as ordinary Canadians are complaining more and more about the rancour and uncivilized behaviour in Queen's Park.

It is a mistake to think an electoral system will change the nature of politics and politicians. As recent history has shown, minority governments have not taken away the bickering and partisan rancour that Canadians have been used to from our politicians.

Also, let us not forget that majority governments have produced very positive achievements, most notably the patriation of our Constitution.

QUESTION

I have heard that voter turnout would go up if we implement MMP. Is that true?

ANSWER

No, there is no way to guarantee that. Low voter turnout is a problem all over the world. And while it is true that MMP countries have higher voter turnout than FPTP countries, their voter turnout levels are falling as well. However, voter turnout in the United States and Canada, two FPTP countries, went up in recent elections

The best example is from New Zealand. In 1996 they changed from our FPTP system to MMP. They have had four elections under MMP, and three of those elections have had the three lowest voter turnouts in New Zealand history.

QUESTION

The Yes Side is saying that MMP will get rid of tactical voting. Is it possible for electoral reform to stop citizens from voting strategically?

ANSWER

Absolutely not. No electoral system can eliminate tactical voting. To suggest otherwise is completely erroneous.

Tactical voting is when a voter supports Party or Candidate A, but instead votes for Party B to stop Party C from winning. This happens all the time in FPTP, but it can still happen in the 90 seats that will still be contested in the same way as we have in our current electoral system.

It is also possible to vote tactically for the party lists. Remember that the ratio between constituency seats and list seats is about 70% / 30% under this proposed MMP system. This means that the larger parties that pick up more seats than their vote proportion at the constituency level will usually not be entitled to any list seats.

This means that smaller parties are more likely to get these lists seats. This gives voters, especially those who support large parties, a strategic incentive to vote for a small party that could be a potential coalition partner with the large party they might support.

This happens in Germany all the time. Supporters of the conservative Christian Democratic Union often vote for smaller like-minded parties so that they get list seats, since they realize that voting for the CDU list will work to elect small parties that would not be interested in forming a coalition with them.

This is an example of tactical voting. Some Germans support the CDU but vote for small conservative parties to stop other small parties from winning seats. MMP does nothing to get rid of tactical voting.

QUESTION

Will MMP eliminate vote wasting?

ANSWER

If no vote were to be "wasted" that would mean every voter's candidate of choice would have to win an election - it's not possible or sensible. Elections are to select which candidate in each constituency has the most support and then which parties across the province have enough support from elected members to form a government.

Under First Past The Post, your vote goes to one candidate and is counted clearly. Regardless of your choice, that's not a wasted vote.

QUESTION

Will MMP make it easier for smaller parties to get seats?

ANSWER

Yes it will. The MMP system, by introducing proportional representation, will make it much easier for smaller parties to get seats. Under this MMP proposal, any party that has at least 3% of the vote will be guaranteed seats in the Ontario legislature.

Larger parties will then have to make deals with smaller parties to form government. This means that the balance of power could be held in the hands of a party that does not have support from 97% of Ontarians.

QUESTION

Will MMP put an end to backroom politics in Ontario?

ANSWER

Quite the opposite! MMP would encourage more backroom wheeling and dealing than there is now.

Under MMP, if no party has a majority there will have to be deals to form a minority government supported by several parties. MMP does mean that potentially a party with just a few MPPs who may represent a very minority view will have the balance of power and can dictate policies in the backroom to the other parties who want to form a government. This can only be a bad thing for democracy in Ontario.

QUESTION

Isn't MMP a lot more complicated than FPTP?

ANSWER

Yes it is. One of the greatest advantages of FPTP is that offers voters a simple choice to make in the ballot box. MMP gives the voter a more complicated choice to make in the ballot box.

There is empirical evidence that voters often do not understand MMP. In elections to the Scottish parliament, the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey in 2003 found that less than 40% of their respondents were answering questions about key aspects of MMP correctly. We feel that voters deserve an electoral system that all can understand so to help stop elites from getting further control of our democracy.

QUESTION

Doesn't an MMP system mean political parties have less influence over candidates and that candidates can be more responsive to voters?

ANSWER

No. If anything, political parties gain more power over candidates, making them more responsible to the party brass than the voters of Ontario.

All candidates will want a high rank on a party list, and will have to rely on substantial party support to get that. This is over and above the party support and finance that a candidate needs to get elected at the constituency level.

QUESTION

Will MMP allow for more women and minorities to be elected?

ANSWER

That is entirely up to the political parties. If political parties do not want to field more women or minority candidates, they are not compelled to do so. There is no guarantee that political parties will put more women or minority candidates on their party lists.

As it stands now, the Liberal Party of Ontario have promised to have women make up 1/3 of their candidate slate, and the Ontario NDP have managed to have women make up 50% of their candidate list for the upcoming election. MMP will not make political parties step up their efforts in this area.

QUESTION

In short, why should I vote against MMP?

ANSWER

Because it is a convoluted and confusing system that dilutes representation, weakens accountability, and gives more power to political parties at the expense of voters just like you and me. In short, MMP makes democracy weaker in Ontario. Just say no to MMP!

QUESTION

I am concerned with some problems in FPTP but I do have some concerns with this MMP proposal. What should I do?

ANSWER

You should vote NO to MMP! We are a big tent movement. A lot of us feel that FPTP is fine, but a lot of us also feel that changes would be beneficial to the electoral system. But we all feel that this MMP proposal is a step in the wrong direction for Ontario. We must get democratic renewal right in Ontario, and not make a mistake by implementing this MMP proposal!

QUESTION

If I don't like the candidate who is first on a party list, how can I make sure that he does not get into office?

ANSWER

You can vote against the party list. But the only way to be certain that the candidate does not get a seat is ensure that 98% of Ontarians vote for someone else, thanks to the 3% threshold proposed.

Under our current FPTP system, a candidate can lose his seat if another candidate gets more votes than him. It is that simple. For a list MPP to lose his under MMP, if he is first on the list, 98% of the population have to vote against him.

How would you like an electoral system that puts in a representative that has 97% of the electorate voting against him?