USC votes no to MMP motion

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

After a heated debate about the upcoming Ontario referendum, the University Students’ Council voted yesterday to remain impartial and let students decide for themselves.

At last night’s USC meeting, a motion was put forth by VP-university affairs David Simmonds to have the USC endorse a mixed-member proportional electoral system (MMP) for Ontario.

The endorsement would allow the use of USC media outlets " such as newsletters, events, and the USC website " as a vehicle for promoting MMP.

MMP was recommended by the Ontario Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform to replace Ontario’s current first-past-the-post system.

In the upcoming referendum on Oct. 10, Ontarians have the opportunity to vote to switch to MMP or retain the province’s current electoral system.

Simmonds proposed the motion to endorse MMP due to a request from the Students for MMP group on campus.

However, many USC councillors were strongly against USC endorsement for a variety of reasons.

Senator Stephen Lecce expressed concern over placing a vote to endorse a specific side in the referendum when the students were not yet educated on the issue.

Lecce also noted USC support for a particular side would create bias within the USC Elections Readiness Task Force, a non-partisan initiative geared towards educating students about the upcoming election and referendum.

Councillors were shown a presentation by MMP supporters, but engineering councillor Keith Roy did not feel sufficiently educated on the issue.

“To make a vote for my whole constituency based on one speech I’ve heard isn’t fair,” Roy said.

Social Science councillor Monika Drobnicki said the presentation itself was biased.

“There was no ‘no’ presentation,” Drobnicki added.

However, not all councillors were against endorsing MMP. Science councillor Brian Tinney said it is a non-partisan, pro-democratic issue"something the USC should support more.

Simmonds noted the USC is legally entitled to take a stance because the recommendation for MMP came from the Ontario Citizen’s Assembly, a non-partisan body.

Regardless, the motion was defeated by a landslide as only three councilors voted to have the USC endorse MMP.

The result of last night’s vote is no indication of the personal preference of individual council members toward either side in the referendum. However, it ensures that the USC itself will remain impartial on the issue.

For more information on MMP and the upcoming referendum on Oct. 10, visit www.yourbigdecision.ca.

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