Saturday, September 09, 2006

Citizens Assembly BS

Ian Urquhart has an excellent piece in the star talking about the citizens' assembly that is being set up in Ontario to possibly propose electoral reform. I called this blog 'All Politics is Local' because I firmly believe that. This is the primary reason why I oppose proportional representation. Our government should be a representation of the people from all parts of the province. This is of particular importance in Ontario where such divergent communities exist. But I'll save my defence of first past the post for another day.

What troubles me is the whole business of a citizens' assembly. I guess the point is that if the assembly pisses anyone off the government doesn't get the blame. However, the idea of 103 Ontarians with no special knowledge of electoral systems being asked to alter the course of Canadian electoral history is a little bit ridiculous. This is particularly true when the people running the assembly are not as neutral as advertised.

I had the pleasure of having Professor Jonathan Rose, who has now been named head of the secretariat responsible for the citizens' assembly as my first year political studies professor. I mean that with all sincerity. I have the utmost respect for Prof. Rose. However, he is not neutral on the issue of proportional representation. He is, like the vast majority of politics profs, pro-PR. Now, hopefully his personal opinions will not impact the course of the citizens' assembly but I am more and more concerned that Ontario is on the road to party dominated minority parliament land. I hope that someone grants this assembly the wisdom to advise the status quo.

1 comment:

J Rose said...

Hello there "aginsberg" -- Aaron, maybe?

Thanks for the nice words about teaching you POLS 110.

To be sure there is a wide range of thoughts on the wisdom of Citizens' Assemblies and I think Urquhart's piece highlights some of them. Whatever one thinks of Citizens' Assemblies, it's an exciting democratic experiment. No one knows what members will recommend but one thing is certain; for better or worse, the idea of having citizens involved in such a fundamental issue of democratic importance will surely change the way we think about the way politics is done in Ontario.

Hope you are following along on our website: http://citizensassembly.gov.on.ca

Best, Jonathan Rose.

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