Bill paves way for voting-reform referendum
60% support required to alter Ontario system

By Robert Benzie
Published October 25th 2006

It will take "a solid majority" of at least 60 per cent of voters to change Ontario's electoral system if a referendum is held next year on proposed reforms, says Democratic Renewal Minister Marie Bountrogianni.


Bountrogianni yesterday tabled legislation that would allow a question on electoral reform to be part of the Oct. 4, 2007, ballot if a citizens' panel studying the issue recommends that.


"This is historic legislation. A decision to change electoral systems should not be taken lightly," she said.


A Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform will announce by May 15 whether the first-past-the-post electoral system needs to be reformed to allow proportional representation or some other model.

If the 103-member assembly recommends changes, a referendum question would be added to the ballot next year.


For the changes to be adopted, at least 60 per cent support is required. Reforms would have to be endorsed by more than 50 per cent of the ballots cast in 64 of the 107 ridings being contested in the 2007 election. Critics lambasted the Liberal government for following in B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's controversial footsteps. Campbell set a 60 per cent threshold for reform in a May 2005 referendum, but change was supported by 57 per cent of British Columbians, so he was shamed into promising another vote for 2009.


"We have a government that is setting a standard that has failed in British Columbia, that was greeted with cynicism in British Columbia, that was discredited in British Columbia," said NDP MPP Michael Prue (Beaches-East York).


Larry Gordon, executive director of Fair Vote Canada, said it was "ironic" that a bill devoted to democratic reform would be so undemocratic and warned of political problems for Premier Dalton McGuinty.