It’s Time For a Citizens’ Assembly in Ontario

Welcome!

This is the place to learn more about Fair Vote Canada’s initiative for a Citizens’ Assembly on electoral reform in Ontario, and our efforts here in Ottawa.

Jump to:

We have prepared contact and all-candidate meeting info for each riding in the Ottawa region, to help you find your local candidates.


You may have already received one of our door hangers at your door, from one of our volunteers.

Or you may be a volunteer yourself, or are looking to become one!

Click the button below to add your name to our list of volunteers, to help distribute our door hangers in your neighbourhood. Our coordinating team will be in touch. Thank you!


Our door hanger gives a number of reasons why electoral reform is needed, so we will not dwell on that here. You can find more on Fair Vote Canada’s website.

As a voter, you are most likely well aware that your vote only makes a difference in certain circumstances.

The challenge is not so much making the case for reform. It is, rather, a political one.

Politicians, once elected under our current system, are in a conflict of interest about changing that system. 

What we need therefore is both a change of mindset and a different process, in which the power is handed over to citizens themselves to deliberate and recommend what sort of reform they would like to see: a citizens’ assembly.


What it is and how it works

A citizens’ assembly consists of people just like us, and would be a much better way of consulting with citizens than referendums, which are easily manipulated and divisive as a way of consulting with citizens.

For Ontario, we might be looking at an assembly of 125 members or so — one person per riding. The mandate of the assembly would be established by an all-party committee of parliament and should be non-partisan in nature.

Ideally, the mandate of the assembly should be open-ended, leaving it up to citizens themselves to choose whether to stay with the status quo or to reform the voting system in a way that matches citizens’ democratic preferences.

Ideally as well, the assembly would be convened as soon after the election as possible, and the parties would commit in advance to act upon the recommendations of the assembly.

Selection of members is done using a structured random process managed by a specialized and independent organization. Letters would be sent out to thousands of people, and people would indicate whether they are ready to serve. The final list would be chosen from this list in such a way as to represent the demographic makeup of the province to the maximum extent possible.

Work would take place over a long period of time allowing participants to meet on alternate weekends through a learning phase, a consultative phase with experts and members of the public, a deliberative phase and finally, the preparation of recommendations on which each member would vote.

Citizens’ assemblies like this have a considerable degree of democratic legitimacy, and most importantly, do not suffer from the conflict of interest of having politicians design a different electoral system than the one that got them elected in the first place. 


Talking Points

One of the challenges we face on electoral reform is that politicians claim it is not a priority for citizens.

We beg to differ!

But yes, when politicians come to the door, they come with promises of immediate benefits — from the elimination of car licensing fees to better long term care for seniors. We as voters tend to respond accordingly.

Yet we DO care about the power of our votes. Voting is one of the main ways that we participate in our democracy.

November 2021 polling by Leger commissioned by Fair Vote Canada shows a majority reject one-party decision-making on electoral reform, and support a Citizens’ Assembly & the principle of proportional representation.

See highlights of the poll below and the full poll here

You can help by telling the candidates in our riding that you care about this issue and plan to vote accordingly.

  • Let them know that the process of how reform is undertaken matters to you because politicians have failed us repeatedly in the past. 
  • Ask your candidate what their party’s position is regarding a citizens’ assembly on electoral reform. 
  • Ask them if they propose an open ended CA or one focused on their own party’s preferred system.
  • Ask them if their party is committed to act on the recommendations put forward by a CA in time for the next election. 
  • Ask them if they are prepared to make a priority of a CA, and if they would convene such an assembly as soon as possible after the election. 
  • If you can, participate in one of the candidates’ debates and ask a question. Click here for some sample wording and guidance.

Where the parties stand

  • Only the Green Party of Ontario has proposed a Citizens’ Assembly-based approach to reform. However, this is based on the party’s policy book and statements by the leader. So far, we have not seen anything in the Green Party of Ontario’s campaign platform on this issue. 

  • The NDP has electoral reform in its platform and gives it high billing in the Strengthening Our Democracy pillar of their platform. Their platform has room for an undefined “independent group of  citizens,” but would limit its mandate to designing a mixed member proportional system for Ontario.

  • Liberal Party of Ontario leader, Stephen Del Duca, put electoral reform on the agenda in a speech to the party faithful in October 2021 and promised to work with other parties on this. Some of this has now been picked up in the Liberal Party platform (see page 81 under the heading of strengthening democracy).

    The platform commits the Liberal Party to bring in ranked ballots for the next election, and to convene an independent review after that election. It calls for a citizens’ assembly but only for other issues, such as lowering the voting age.

    FVC has strongly criticized the ranked ballot option, since it would be unlikely to make election results any more proportional. FVC has advocated for the Ontario Liberal Party to work with other parties to convene a Citizens’ Assembly first and commit to act on the recommendations of a citizens’ assembly, but was not able to secure that change from the Liberals. 

  • The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has not taken a position on electoral reform, and most likely feels that they benefit from the vote splitting that allowed them to form a majority in Ontario, with 61% of the seats, based on 40.5% of the popular vote in 2018. The current Conservative government has rescinded the freedom of municipalities to reform their voting systems, and has increased the influence of private money in election campaigns.

  • New Blue is a new conservative party running candidates in 124 out of 125 provincial ridings. The party speaks of increasing political accountability in its platform, but makes no mention of electoral reform per se. The party leader has said in an interview that he is not interested in PR.

  • None of the Above (NOTA) is an umbrella party of independents. It favours proportional representation and direct democracy, but has not taken a position on a citizens’ assembly. However, individual candidates are free to take an independent position on the subject. 

How to get through to candidates and voters

One-on-one, individual conversations are the greatest tool we have.

We have prepared contact and all-candidate meeting info for each riding in the Ottawa region, to help you find your local candidates.

The more that candidates hear from voters that they are interested in this issue, and want their elected officials to take action, the more the pressure on politicians increases to consider this a ballot-box priority.

Meanwhile, talking to your neighbours, family and friends, or chatting at doorways as you hand out door hangers, gets the message across in a powerful, personal and memorable way.

When candidates come to your door, ask them what their party is doing on proportional representation!

Ask them where they stand on an impartial, non-partisan Citizens’ Assembly for Ontario, to be created as soon as possible.

Remind your family, friends and neighbours to ask these questions too, to raise the points at local candidates’ debates, and to talk to their social circle about the issue.

You can sign up to help distribute door hangers in your neighbourhood, in other parts of your riding, or even in other ridings.

Here in Ottawa, we have set a target of 20,000 door hangers in different ridings, with emphasis on Ottawa West-Nepean, which is the closest thing to a swing riding in our city. We have 48 volunteers already, but could use double that number. 

Could you help? 

As always, our NCR team is equipped to support you in your own community and neighbourhood or in other areas as you see best. 

We can get some door hangers to you, provide you with talking points and general guidance.

Each riding has a dedicated organizer, who will coordinate details with you and prepare you with riding maps.  

Some volunteers will go out only once for a couple of hours. Others catch the bug and do more. It’s your call, but we do need some help. 

Click below to register, We’ll take it from there and get in touch with you!