At the end of their 8 month learning, consultation and deliberation process the 103 members of the the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly voted 84% in approval of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) over the current First-Past-the-Post (FPP). If we can assume that any other group of random citizens would have done the same, than we can guess an educated public will also vote for MMP in the referendum.
Of course the problem is that voters will be going to the ballot box without this education and deliberation. The members of the Citizen’s Assembly spent over 200 hours each reading text books, hearing expert presentations, reviewing public consultations and discussing their reform options. Granted not all this time was spent on just the MMP vs FPP debate, but it gives you an idea of the insight they brought to their decision.
Reading the one page Referendum Ontario pamphlet or spending 10 minutes visiting YourBigDecision.ca only provides the bare facts about each of the two electorial models and does not explain why the Citizens’ Assembly strongly recommend a change to MMP. Beyond that the public is expected to make an informed decision based on sound bites in the news, some confused dinner table discussion and maybe an article or two they read in the paper. When people don’t understand their options and have not heard any recommendations from people they trust, they are most likely to stick to the status quo. With a 60% approval required to win the referendum, it’s unlikely the Citizens’ Assembly recommendation will become law. I doubt most other laws would pass if they had to go through the same poorly informed referendum process. Hopefully future governments will trust and approve the recommendations from our next Citizens’ Assemblies and leave out the expensive and confused referendum requirement.
See a growing list of political science experts who support the Citizens’ Assembly process visit: www.citizensassemblymonument.ca/supporters