The mystery referendum

The Ontario referendum failed in changing the province’s electoral process. But were you even aware we were having a referendum?

So the referendum failed. On Oct. 10, Ontario voters overwhelmingly chose to keep the current FPTP system and forego adopting an MMP electoral system.

But do you even know what those obscure acronyms mean? Better yet, do you know how one differs from the other? Were you even aware that you could have woken up one morning to an entirely different electoral process?

Unless you’ve been watching the news daily, reading most papers cover to cover, or have been running for political office, then the answer to most of the previous questions is probably a flat-out “no.”

Briefly, First Past The Post (FPTP) is the current system used to elect local candidates. The government is formed by the party winning the most districts.

Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) would have had voters cast two ballots: one for their local candidate, another for the party that reflects the issues that have an impact on them.

Both have their own pros and cons, but that’sbeside the point.

What amazes me is how underwhelming the effort was to get this into the public eye. In a world where every turn (virtual or not) is greeted with an annoying pop-up for guffaws, the latest scientific developments in pore cleansing, or the hirsute virtues of having eight blades instead of a paltry seven on my razor, it’s hard to believe the government couldn’t put forth more of an effort to inform me that Ontario’s electoral process will potentially be something else when I wake up one October morning.

I can wager good money that you probably memorized Pizza Pizza’s phone number at the sweet age of six-months, but as to the number of Ontario’s electoral districts? Only God/Wikipedia knows.

The day after the referendum, the CBC reported several voters were asking election workers what the extra ballot was for. Of course, the workers were forbidden to give them too much input for fear of tainting the vote. And due to the wording of the ballot – it was so stale, bland and free of any information (which is nothing new, really) –that many voters were at a loss for an opinion either way.

Did people want to know what was in store for their future elections? I’m sure they did. I know I did.

I think it says something when the province is urging everyone to vote, and when people get out there to exercise their democratic right they get stuck with the equivalent of a political semicolon; an uncomfortable “oh-here-by-the-way” ballot.

And to answer the question I posed earlier about Ontario’s electoral districts, there are 107. There, at least you learned one thing today that the province should have clarified a while ago.

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Posted: Oct 18 2007 12:00 pm
Filed under: News