In the News June 1
Ontario Election 2022
Rising Consciousness on Need for Electoral Reform
The more it goes, the more ruling elites are seen to control elections by keeping the people from participating beyond casting a ballot. The result is that, today, the electoral system called a representative democracy is seen to be anything but representative of the people.
There is nothing political about the cartel parties in the sense that they serve narrow private interests, not the interests of the polity as defined by the members of the polity themselves. Their lack of legitimacy is such that the number of people coming forward to advocate electoral reforms is increasing. In the Ontario 2022 election, several small parties, independent candidates and what are called “third parties” are bringing this concern to the fore.
Fair Vote Canada
Fair Vote Canada, registered as a third party, is campaigning door-to-door for a Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. Its appeal is linked with a federal campaign calling for a national citizens assembly. Fair Vote is a strong proponent of proportional representation to end the first-past-the-post method of counting votes.
As part of its campaign in Ontario, Fair Vote Canada rates the parties with representation in the provincial assembly on their electoral reform platforms. It favours the Green Party which promises a “binding Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform,” and stands for proportional representation. While it supports the NDP for promising to create a citizens’ group with a specific mandate to institute a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system of voting, Fair Vote calls on it to “embrace a Citizens’ Assembly that will consider all options.” As for the Liberals, whose leader Del Duca has said he will resign if he fails to legislate a ranked ballot system upon election, Fair Vote says it “opposes winner take-all ranked ballots, which can produce results more skewed than first-past-the-post.”
Without mentioning any parties by name, Fair Vote’s handout states: “Some politicians are trying to rig Ontario’s voting system to give their party more power.”
Canadian Choice Party, which describes itself as “a unique party designed for independents,” is fielding two candidates, calling on people to vote for anyone but the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, comparing them to a “group of thugs” who “have done nothing but lick the boots of a few elite industrialists and technocrats … and disregard the welfare of the very populace who have voted them into office.” It argues that while many people do not vote, they should and can “play a pivotal role” by “voting for independents or candidates from smaller parties, who are mainly part of the suffering population and are neither career politicians nor members of the aristocratic oligarchy.”
Aside from eliminating the party control over MPP’s, Canadian Choice Party stands for recall and referenda. It says what while “a Party governing Independents may be an oxymoron,” its aim is to “enable Independents” to stand for election.
Consensus Ontario wants to see “party-less politics.” It is fielding two candidates and says: “Ontarians want their MPPs to listen to them, they want them to represent their riding’s views at Queen’s Park, not the party’s views back to the riding.” It defines “non-partisan (party-less) democracy” as one that would return to “Government by the people,” not “government by the party.”
Its website states: “Universal and periodic elections will take place without reference to political parties. Consensus Ontario will work towards the removal of all parties (including itself) from politics in Ontario and replace it with independent, elected representatives who answer to their constituents.” In a “consensus government,” it says, the “premier and cabinet are chosen from within the elected legislature without reference to any party affiliation.”
The Electoral Reform Party is fielding two candidates and says it wants to “challenge the top-down nature of our political process.” It favours proportional representation or single transferable votes so that “Ontarians are free from strategic voting.” It says it would oblige politicians to represent their local constituents, requiring MPPs “to hold monthly Town Halls in their riding so their constituents can hold them accountable face-to-face and so MPPs have a pulse on the riding they represent.” MPPs would also be required to write weekly public reports “to explain how they’ve been representing their constituents each week” and their salaries would be tied to a system of approval rating by their constituents.
None of the Above Direct Democracy Party is fielding 28 candidates in this election. It too calls for a system where MPPs “are not bound by party control and who truly can represent their constituents first.” The components of its direct democracy are referred to as the “3Rs: Referendum, Recall and Responsible Government laws for true Legislative and Electoral Reforms.”
A key component of its electoral reform program is ending the inequality of candidates and parties built into the election law. In March of this year, None of the Above launched a court challenge to an Elections Ontario ruling saying it lacked authority to require election debate organizers to include all candidates in election debates. Party leader Greg Vezina says the Chief Electoral Officer has “a duty to remind debate organizers to invite candidates from smaller parties” and that Elections Ontario is violating the rights of voters by not doing so.
The definition of the word “debate” is at the center of the pleadings in the court challenge with None of the Above arguing Elections Ontario should treat debates as election expenses and therefore contributions to parties when they are organized on an exclusive basis. In its submissions, Elections Ontario argues the agency has no authority over the organization of pre-election debates in the province, because the legislature wanted it to avoid controlling the political expression of the candidates.
Other small parties in the provincial election do not particularly highlight the need for electoral reform in their campaigns, but list various aspects of electoral reform on their programs. The Communist Party of Ontario is fielding 12 candidates and calls for a Mixed Member Proportional System; lower campaign spending limits; the right to recall; “average workers’ wage” salaries for elected officials; lowering the voting age to 16; and reforming election broadcasting to ensure “fair and equal access to all candidates and parties.” It says it would regulate the spending power of “corporate front organizations” and remove the ban on trade unions funding political parties.
The very act of standing as an independent candidate is a call for electoral reform, bucking a system that says independents don’t stand a chance and that only the candidates of the cartel parties are worthy of a vote. Some candidates in this election are making a point of highlighting the negative role played by parties in both the electoral and political process.
In the Toronto riding of Davenport, Nicholas Alexander says he is running because people understand “how divisive parties and politicians have been” and he wants to end this divisiveness by fostering “a sense of togetherness” in the riding.
Ottawa Centre candidate Thomas Borcok is calling for a Citizens’ Assembly for electoral reform and says that it must be sufficiently funded to conduct a thorough study and have its recommendations known. His website states, “Democracy in Ontario is languishing. Between … the first-past-the post system and the unchecked hyper-partisanism which sows divisions … our government is failing us.”
In Haldimand-Norkfolk, Bobbi Ann Brady says her experience in provincial politics tells her that people “have lost hope.” Her website says that internationally, “voters are turning away from traditional political parties as they feel elites and special interests have infiltrated and highjacked the process.” She appeals to voters to “work together to fix this crisis [of democracy] by sending a clear message our vote will not be taken for granted. We cannot continually reward political parties for mistreating the very people they serve — it’s time to reclaim our power.”
Laura Chesnik in Windsor-Tecumseh who is a member of the Marxist-Leninist Party and is running as an independent, has issued one of the strongest appeals to electors on the need for electoral reform. At its heart, she says, electoral reform demands people involving themselves in politics and speaking in their own name. Both during elections and between, she sees the solution to problems facing society in the emergence of worker politicians like herself. She opposes the entire system of parties coming to power, arguing that the role of political parties should be to politicize the people. The electors, not political parties, she argues, should nominate and select candidates from amongst their own peers. She strongly opposes parties being financed by the state and says that public funds should be used to finance the process not political parties.
Chesnik also calls for reforming the legislative assembly itself. The premier would be elected by MPPs. As for the position of lieutenant governor, she states that the representative of the Crown should be eliminated, and “Royal Assent” to legislation replaced with one of the MPPs being elected with a mandate to ratify legislation adopted by the provincial assembly.
Ontario Political Forum, posted June 1, 2022.