Unlike the closed-list MMP model Ontario voters in 2007, you can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. This is commonly called “open list.” All MPPs have faced the voters. No one is guaranteed a seat. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.
Our winner-take-all voting system exaggerates Ontario’s regional differences, especially the rural-urban divide.
This was the stronghold of Doug Ford’s false majority. PC voters cast only 50% of the votes in York Region and Durham Region, yet elected 14 of the 15 MPPs. With MMP, instead of electing only one NDP member, they would have also elected three New Democrat regional MPPs (such as Niki Lundquist, Melissa Williams and Nerissa Cariño or Joel Usher or Dave Szollosy), and three Liberal regional MPPs (maybe Steven Del Duca, Joe Dickson and Helena Jaczek), along with eight PCs.
Voters electing 13 MPPs from Peel Region and Oakville would, instead of electing only three NDP members and 10 PCs, have elected three Regional Liberal MPPs (maybe Charles Sousa, Kevin Flynn, and Dipika Damerla), and one more New Democrat (maybe Nikki Clarke or Jagroop Singh), along with six Progressive Conservatives.
City of Toronto
Voters electing 12 MPPs from North York-Scarborough would, instead of
electing only one New Democrat and three Liberals, have elected two NDP
regional MPPs (such as Felicia Samuel and Zeyd Bismilla) and another
Liberal MPP (maybe Mike Colle), along with five PCs.
Voters electing 13 MPPs from Toronto—Etobicoke-York would, instead of electing only NDP and PC MPPs, have elected three Liberals and a Green, along with six New Democrats and three PCs.
Mid-East Ontario (Kingston—Peterborough)
Voters electing eight MPPs from Mid-East Ontario would, instead of electing one New Democrat and seven PCs, have elected two Liberal regional MPPs such as Jeff Leal and Sophie Kiwala), along with another New Democrat (maybe Peterborough’s Sean Conway or Belleville’s Joanne Belanger) and four local PC MPPs.
Eastern Ontario (Ottawa—Cornwall)
Voters electing 11 MPPs from Eastern Ontario would, instead of electing only one New Democrat, have elected two regional NDP MPPs (maybe Ottawa’s Chandra Pasma and Bonnie Jean-Louis or John Hansen) along with three Liberals and five PCs.
Central West (Simcoe—Bruce—Waterloo)
Voters electing 15 MPPs from Central West Ontario would, instead of electing only two New Democrats and a Green but no Liberals, have elected two more New Democrat MPPs and two Liberals, along with Green leader Mike Schreiner and a second Green MPP, and seven local PC MPPs.
Central South (Hamilton—Niagara—Brantford--Burlington)
Voters electing 13 MPPs from Central South Ontario would, instead of electing no Liberal or Green MPP, have elected two regional Liberal MPPs (maybe Indira Naidoo-Harris and Jim Bradley) and a Green regional MPP, along with five New Democrat MPPs and five PCs.
Voters electing 12 MPPs from Southwest Ontario would, instead of electing no Liberal or Green MPP, have elected a regional Liberal MPP (maybe London’s Kate Graham) and a Green, along with five New Democrats and five PCs.
Voters electing 12 MPPs from Northern Ontario would, instead of electing only one Liberal MPP and three PCs, have elected a regional Liberal MPP and a regional PC MPP along with six New Democrat MPPs.
The NDP caucus already had good diversity of women and black candidates, but only one aboriginal. Top-up MPPs elected to regional seats will better represent groups that have been historically under-represented. In the above simulation, even the NDP would have 16 regional MPPs. Ontario will have the kind of diversity around the table that we need to be more focussed on major policy issues.
Ontario NDP Policy
I have also done a simulation with the Green vote doubling. Once every vote counts, with no more strategic voting, that’s likely what would happen. That would mean Green voters would have cast 8.9% of the votes, and should elect 11 MPPs. Sure enough, my simulation shows Green voters electing a regional MPP in each of the 10 regions. In Central West (Simcoe-Bruce-Wellington) they would elect Mike Schreiner and a second MPP.
The purpose of the compensatory regional seats is to correct disproportional local results, not to provide a parallel system of getting elected. The Law Commission recommended that the right to nominate candidates for regional top-up seats should be limited to those parties which have candidates standing for election in at least one-third of the ridings within the top-up region. Jenkins recommended 50%. This prevents a possible distortion of the system by parties pretending to split into twin decoy parties for the regional seats, the trick which Berlusconi invented to sabotage Italy’s voting system.
How many MPPs should Ontario have?
One of the advantages of a Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform is to decide this question, since elected politicians are too nervous about recommending more MPPs.
In 2002 Jack Murray’s Ontario NDP PR Task Force was dealing with Mike Harris having cut the number of MPPs by 27. The Task Force recommended restoring the 27 MPPs and adding “some” additional MPPs to enhance democracy, in the interests of proportionality. It suggested at least 30 percent of MPPs be regional top-up MPPs, and mentioned Wales where 33% are regional top-ups. In fact most experts recommend 40%. Scotland has 43%. New Zealand has 40%. The 2007 Ontario Citizens Assembly struggled with this issue, and ended up recommending the 103 seats be reduced to 90, and the total be increased to 129, with 39 top-up MPPs (30%).
If an MMP system for Ontario kept the present 124 ridings and added 30% top-up seats, that would mean 177 MPPs, 53 top-up. If the ratio was 40%, that would be 207 MPPs, 83 top-up. So the calculations above assume the present 124 MPPs continue, with local ridings reduced to 76 seats, plus 48 regional top-up seats (39%). I hope a Citizens Assembly would increase the number of MPPs.
(Note: this post was updated Jan 5, 2022.)