After eight months of learning, consulting and deliberating, the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform wrapped up its eight-month examination of the province’s current electoral system and other systems on Sunday, April 29.
Independent of government, the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly is made up of 103 randomly-selected citizens – one from each of Ontario’s electoral districts. With the Chair, 52 of the members are male and 52 are female. At least one member is aboriginal. Assembly members were selected at random by Elections Ontario from the Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario. Every registered voter was eligible to participate, with a few exceptions, such as elected officials. The assembly’s work was led and facilitated by George Thomson, an educator and former judge and deputy minister, who was appointed by the government.
|Above: Members of the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, comprised of Ontarians from 103 ridings, pose in Osgoode Hall Law School’s mixing area on April 28. Pictured in the front row are Assembly Chair George Thomson (left) and Marie Bountrogianni, Ontario’s minister of intergovernmental affairs.|
Excluding the months of December and January, the assembly met two weekends a month from September through April 2007 at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Students from Osgoode and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law undertook research to assist the assembly in its work.
The Citizens’ Assembly decided to recommend a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system for Ontario. MMP is a form of proportional representation in which voters have two votes – one for their riding representative, and one for their favourite party. The students who assisted the assembly convened their own "mini-citizens’ assembly" on Dec. 8 as part of their directed reading course and arrived at the same recommendation as the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.
Right: The province’s first Citizens’ Assembly meets in Osgoode Hall Law School’s Moot Court Room
The assembly’s final report is due to the Ontario government on May 15, 2007. A referendum on the assembly’s recommendation will be held in conjunction with the next provincial election, which is set for October 10, 2007.
For more information on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly, visit www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/splash.aspx.