July 2013
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Open Letter to Kathleen Wynne

(in response to a recent email I received from the Ontario Liberal Party asking for donations of time, money, etc. to “help strengthen our Party and help our province stay on the right path”. This email started off with the line “Politics is not a game.  It’s about our lives”)

Dear Kathleen Wynne,

You’re absolutely right, politics is not a game.  The policies our government makes affect us and our future tremendously.

The problem is, you undercut your message by putting so much importance on the weight of the by-elections in 5 out of the 107 ridings.  The vast majority of us can’t vote, and can merely watch as the balance of power could be decided by a fraction of a fraction of voters.  Our First-Past-the-Post voting system has put parties into this position.

What I really want, before I can donate my money, time, and enthusiasm to the Liberal Party is for you to absolutely commit to electoral reform.  We need a fairer electoral system where a party can’t have a majority of power with barely 40% of the popular vote.  We see this in Federal politics, and we almost had it here in Ontario save for 1 riding.  Every election, almost 50% of the votes cast don’t elect anyone, and fewer and fewer people even bother to vote – largely, I believe, because they know their vote wouldn’t count anyway.

We have tremendous challenges to overcome, with health-care, education, pensions, infrastructure and public transit, and (most importantly, in my mind), the environment.  We need policies that can be forward-thinking, for multiple sessions of government without the risk of them being torn down completely and reworked in the “games” of winner-takes-all politics that FPTP voting creates.  We need the voice of the Green Party in the House.  We need a balanced cross-section of Ontarians so we are properly represented.  Proportional representation systems are used in most evolved democracies, and generally lead to more stable governments with more sustainable policies that evolve over time rather than the “slash-and-burn” policies that new governments in our system do as part of their “mandate”.  Germany, Norway, Finland, Scotland – they have robust economies and are rising to the challenges of the 21st century.

Ontario is doing well, comparatively.  We have a fairly clean electrical grid, for one.  I am encouraged by efforts to phase out coal power and expand hydroelectic, solar, and wind projects.  I am eager to see improvements to our rail network, and other public transportation initiatives.  I want to see more go to eco-Energy projects and more incentives to phase out gas vehicles and encourage cleaner technologies.  I am largely supportive of the Liberal Party of Ontario’s policies, but I feel we should be setting an even better example for the rest of Canada too.  Part of that means moving from our archaic First-Past-the-Post electoral system to a fairer system.  We owe it to ourselves, and our future.

McGuinty held a referendum in 2007 on adopting an MMP system, but – for various reasons, the motion failed.  I think the initiative could have been handled far better, but here we are, six years later, and I feel the subject deserves to be revisited.

Thank you.

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