Dennis Pilon and Greg Albo, Associate Professors, in the Department of Politics, contributed to an editorial in the Toronto Star with an analysis of the Ontario provincial government's move to halve the number of Toronto city councillors using Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act.
The authors point out that a move in the 1990s to reduce MPPs did not lead to any cost savings but merely shifted where money was spent and centralized more power in the Premier’s Office. The move will also weaken democratic representation and more people will be trying to get the attention of fewer politicians, and thereby insulating politicians from public pressure.
"It will also make it harder to reflect the economic and social diversity of the city, as all research on representation shows winner-take-all voting systems combined with large riding sizes tend to benefit the most established, powerful groups in society and fail to reflect the class, gender, ethnic and racial diversity of the community effectively," the co-authored op-ed states.
The authors recommend that initiatives are put in place now to be enacted when this government is eventually defeated, including a consultation process for changes to ward representation, removing the ban on political parties or slates running at the local level, and striking a citizens’ assembly to rethink the whole role and purpose of local government.
Their most urgent call for reform is to introduce a proportional voting system for provincial elections, saying that "the results of the 2018 Ontario provincial election and the subsequent actions by the Ford PCs demonstrate clearly why the first-past-the-post voting system is a danger to the survival of democracy itself."
Read the full article in the Toronto Star.
The opinion piece was submitted by four co-authors:
Dennis Pilon, Associate Professor, Department of Politics at York University.
Roger Keil, Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.
Bryan Evans, Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University.
Greg Albo, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, York University.