Councillors should do their homework

Should Ontario reform its voting?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “USC votes no to MMP motion”
Sept. 14, 2007

To the editor:
This is my first year as a USC councillor. As such, I defer to the wisdom of the mob.

For this past meeting, I read the mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) endorsement motion (posted two days beforehand) and became well read on the topic of electoral reform in Ontario by consulting reputable Internet sources and several of my constituents. It’s my job to have a well-reasoned opinion in the representation of my constituents, right? As a first-timer, I didn’t want to screw up.

With the time I had, I ensured I was informed by dispassionate sources before debate ensued; I could sort through the spin and know what was being discussed without using council time inquiring what the proposed MMP system was and how it works. That was the right move " I think. I’m doubting myself now because other councillors cited being uninformed and needing more presentations from differing viewpoints as reasons for voting the way they did.

It is evident that a major factor within the minds of a significant number of councillors driving the vote against MMP endorsement was their lack of confidence in the comprehensiveness of the information presented. But is it our role as elected representatives, entrusted with the voice of 28,000 undergrads, to willfully rely solely on a 10-minute presentation?

If every voting member were to have informed him/herself (in the two days available for a member to do so) and come to the meeting prepared, the vote may have had a different outcome. Instead, those unwittingly unsure chose the “safer” vote " not to take a progressive stand in advocacy of our democracy (arguably an integral part of the USC’s mandate) " in the fear that they might not actually know what was going on.

I write this letter not to protest the result of the vote, but rather to express my dismay at the level of effort " or rather, the lack thereof " in preparation for the meeting, and the subsequent ignorance that swayed the vote. I attended that meeting prepared.
"Fred Wu
Microbiology and Immunology III
USC Science Councillor

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