Law students help research electoral reform

York law students have a chance to do research for the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform as part of their academic work.

The citizens’ assembly, recently established by the Ontario government, is considering changes to the province’s electoral system. Ontario voters will get a chance to vote on any recommended changes in a referendum on or before the next provincial election in October 2007.

Starting in September, 10 students from Osgoode Hall Law School will participate in a directed reading course as part of their work for the assembly. They will research the advantages and disadvantages of various electoral systems, the relationship between electoral systems and election outcomes, how electoral systems affect policy outcomes, and the value of citizens’ assemblies to achieve electoral reform.

“This is a unique opportunity for Osgoode students to make a difference,” Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan said. “They will be able to take part in the work of the citizens’ assembly to benefit the people of Ontario.”

Ten students from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law will also participate in the reading research group.

The citizens’ assembly consists of 103 members — one from each Ontario riding — and is chaired by George Thomson, a former judge and deputy attorney general in provincial and federal governments. It will meet at Osgoode two weekends a month from September 2006 to April 2007.

“I am pleased that the assembly will be meeting at one of the country’s leading law schools, and that students from Osgoode and U of T will be undertaking research that will be helpful to the assembly in its work,” Thomson said.

The student research will be supervised by Osgoode’s Monahan and U of T Associate Dean Lorne Sossin.