MoVE: Statement on Schein and Hunter Bills: Shein’s Better; Both Incomplete

MoVE: Movement for Voter Equality Statement on MPP Schein’s and MPP Hunter’s Private Members’ Bills

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 – TORONTO – The MoVE board has had the opportunity to review the draft text of two private members’ bills slated for presentation to the Ontario Provincial Parliament by NDP MPP Jonah Schein and Liberal MPP and cabinet minister Mitzie Hunter. While we refer these bills for more detailed examination by legal counsel, it is our opinion that the enactment of either piece of legislation would constitute a significant step forward for the equality of voters within the City of Toronto.

The basis for MoVE’s support of these pieces of legislation inheres in their interaction with sections 128, 129 and, especially 135 of the City of Toronto Act which stipulate that Council may devise a voting system using any combination of single- and multi-member wards. This interaction permits the City of Toronto to enact new voting systems in which all votes and all voters are equal, systems that are sometimes collectively referred-to as “proportional representation.”

For this reason, MoVE adds its voice to the political parties, civil society organizations and ordinary citizens who have been campaigning for this change. We express our support, unequivocally, for the immediate enactment of both or either bill to permit equal voting in the City of Toronto. In anticipation of speedy passage, MoVE has contacted the City of Toronto to offer our services to assist with the design and implementation of a broad consultive process to engage Toronto taxpayers in the creation of a made-in-Toronto solution to problems of voter inequality.

MoVE wishes also to clarify what this statement does not say:

  1. MoVE does not consider both pieces of legislation equally good. The Schein bill is substantially more permissive than the Hunter bill which permits the enactment of only one form of proportional representation. All other things being equal – and they are, given that the Hunter bill has not been introduced as government legislation – we would prefer the passage of the Schein bill.
  2. MoVE does not consider the democratization of Toronto or the equalizing of Torontonians’ votes to be complete with the passage of either bill. Regulations inhibiting fundraising and campaigning by non-incumbent candidates and regulations that suppress reporting of political party funding, activity and affiliation are, among others, continued obstacles to the equal democratic rights of all Toronto taxpayers.

Again, we offer our congratulations, commendations and thanks to Toronto City Council in requesting these powers, MPPs Schein and Hunter for answering their call and to the many activists whose years of work has made all this possible.

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The Movement for Voter Equality