QUEEN’S PARK – A conversation about the state of democratic participation in Ontario is long overdue. Marie-France Lalonde, MPP for Orleans, is introducing the Democratic Participation Act to begin that conversation.
“Ontarians feel disconnected from politics and the political process – and for good reason,” said Lalonde. “There are problems that need fixing. We must improve transparency, participation, and education about our system. This Bill is the beginning of a collective discussion about how to address these challenges. People across the province will have their voices listened to as work move together in our new way.”
The Bill seeks to improve democratic participation, transparency, and education. It will provide people with better information about elections and government activities so they can make better, more informed decisions.
This Bill includes innovative measures such as:
- Lowering the voting age to sixteen to increase youth participation.
- Providing a statement of spending and benefits to every Ontario household prior to each election that will include an annual breakdown of government expenses – including amounts spent on debt-service and tax benefits.
- Mandating the Chief Electoral Officer to study:
- making Election Day a provincial holiday to help improve voter turnout
- limiting polling during the writ period to issue – rather than voter-intention – polling and to only allow certified pollsters to release such polls
- the feasibility of mandatory voting and expanded mail-in voting.
- A ranked-ballot pilot project in upcoming byelections and during the next provincial election and a full analysis of its effectiveness.
The Bill in its current form is not set in stone – it is incomplete without the input and participation of Ontarians.
“The status quo is not working. The proposed changes are by no means a cure-all, but they do represent prudent steps that would help improve our democratic process,” said MPP Lalonde.
“Listening is the best way to identify problems that require government solutions,” she said. “Real conversations with the public about evidence and possible options, real facts about the reasons behind decisions — including what other options were considered — are required for real democratic legitimacy. We must work together in a new way.”