Pro-abortion party leaders will thwart pro-life nominations


For the next several months, voters in Ontario will be subjected to a government-financed propaganda campaign in favour of a mixed-member system of proportional representation. Pro-life voters should be wary of this ill-considered initiative of Ontario’s Liberal government.

In a bid for votes during the last Ontario election in 2003, Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty rashly promised to hold a binding referendum on electoral reform. To this end, his government established a Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. It has recommended a form of mixed-member proportional representation that would divide the Ontario Legislature between 90 local members elected by the current plurality process and 39 province-wide members elected in proportion to each party’s share of the provincial vote.

Ontario New Democrats enthusiastically support the recommendation and understandably so. Under a mixed-member system of proportional representation, they would stand to gain power, because no provincial party has won more than 50 per cent of the vote in Ontario for the past 70 years.

With a mixed-member system of proportional representation in effect, the New Democrats and their socialist predecessors might well have held the balance of power in the Ontario Legislature throughout most of this period. They could have continuously ruled over the province in a succession of coalition governments with the Liberals.

The existing electoral system, for all its faults, at least gives voters an opportunity to hold governments accountable and to change them from time to time. With proportional representation in effect, the Liberals and New Democrats would have a quasi-permanent lock on provincial power in Ontario.

Consequently, most Ontario Progressive Conservatives are dead set against proportional representation. (John Tory is thus far non-committal.) The last time their party won a majority of the provincial vote was in 1929. Under a system of proportional representation, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party might well have been excluded from provincial power for the past 73 years.

Despite having initiated the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, McGuinty has yet to express any opinion on the group’s recommendation. Most other members of his Liberal cabinet have also refrained from taking a position. It seems that upon reflection, these Liberals have decided they would prefer to keep the current electoral system that has enabled them to rule on their own, rather than embrace a system of proportional representation that almost always results in coalition governments.

On the issue of electoral reform, the Family Coalition Party (FCP) and the Green Party of Ontario side with the New Democrats. Since their inception, neither the FCP nor the Green Party has come close to winning a single constituency. With a mixed-member system of proportional representation in effect, both of these tiny parties would probably still lose every local election, but could each pick up one or more of the 39 province-wide seats by garnering at least 3 per cent of the provincial vote.

In this way, Giuseppe Gori, the staunchly pro-life leader of the FCP, might finally gain a seat in the Ontario Legislature. But his victory could come at a severe cost for the overall pro-life movement in Ontario.

The problem is that under a mixed-member system of proportional representation, pro-lifers would find it much more difficult to expand their presence within the major parties.

Experience with proportional representation in other countries indicates that party leaders usually dominate the selection of candidates for each party’s list. Ontario PC leader John Tory, NDP leader Howard Hampton and McGuinty are all, alas, pro-abortion. They can be expected to thwart the nomination of pro-life politicians to the list of candidates offered by their parties for the 39 province-wide seats proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.

However, adoption of the recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly is far from certain. Under stiff rules devised by the McGuinty government, the proposal will be submitted to voters in a provincial referendum on Oct. 10 and must be approved by a margin of at least 60 per cent of voters province-wide, as well as a majority of voters in at least 60 per cent of the province’s constituencies.

Voters in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island have already voted down proposals for proportional representation in their provinces. Pro-lifers should strive to ensure that voters in Ontario do the same.

Rory Leishman is the national affairs columnist of The Interim and a columnist with the London Free Press.