Should Ontario keep its current electoral system or change to a new one?

"The Citizens’ Assembly will assess Ontario’s electoral system, and others, and make a recommendation whether Ontario should retain its current system or adopt a different one."

All Ontarians were encouraged to participate in this historic process by making written submissions or oral presentations to the Assembly. Public consultations began in November 2006 and concluded in January 2007.

Why electoral systems matter

Voting is fundamental to democracy. Electoral systems determine what options we have when we vote and how our votes are translated into seats. What electoral system we use matters because it affects who is elected to represent us and which parties form the government and opposition. Around the world, we find that different systems work in dramatically different ways.

There are many different electoral systems and often variations on each one. While these models may seem complicated and technical, they deliver outcomes that are important to each of us. These outcomes go to the heart of democracy.

What’s important to you?

How do we evaluate and choose between different electoral systems? We can start by identifying a list of principles that are most important to the people of Ontario, and then determine which electoral system is most likely to reflect them.

The Citizens’ Assembly regulation directed the Assembly to consider eight principles and characteristics as it evaluated electoral systems. The regulation also allowed the Assembly to consider any other principles or characteristics it believes are important.

Eight Principles and Characteristics

Legitimacy

An electoral system should have the confidence of the people and reflect their values.

Fairness of Representation

The Legislative Assembly should reflect the population in accordance with demographic representation, proportionality and representation by population, among other factors.

Voter Choice

An electoral system should promote voter choice in terms of quantity and quality of options available to voters.

Effective Parties

Political parties should be able to structure public debate, mobilize and engage the electorate, and develop policy alternatives.

Stable and Effective Government

An electoral system should contribute to continuity of government, and governments should be able to develop and implement their agendas and take decisive action when required.

Effective Parliament

The Legislative Assembly should include a government and opposition, and should be able to perform its parliamentary functions successfully.

Stronger Voter Participation

An electoral system should promote voter participation as well as engagement with the broader democratic process.

Accountability

Voters should be able to identify decision-makers and hold them to account for their actions.

Simplicity and Practicality

The Citizen’s Assembly has also identified simplicity and practicality as principles that should be considered in assessing electoral systems. It believes the system should be understandable to the public. Simplicity may include how easy it is for voters to use the ballot and to understand the election results. Practicality involves looking at the feasibility of adopting a new system in Ontario.