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Ontario Democratic Renewal Secretariat

The Ontario Democratic Renewal Secretariat is the body charged with the
democratic reform of Ontario. Before or alongside the Ontario general election, 2007 it will hold an
Ontario electoral reform referendum, 2006 on a changed electoral system for Ontario. The main rationale is a drop in voter turnout.YOUTH PARTICIPATION VITAL TO DEMOCRATIC PROCESS is being lost, according to government statements.

"This is the most ambitious democratic renewal effort in North America," said Michael Bryant, Ontario's first Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal. cited in 2004.

youth mandate


"The Democratic Renewal Secretariat will be working to ensure that more people – particularly young people – vote during elections, get engaged in their communities, and participate in the democratic process."

party initiatives



jury and assembly


"We’ll also be leading an open debate on improvements to Ontario’s electoral process. The government will establish a Citizens' Assembly that will look at how our representatives are elected. If that Assembly recommends an alternative to our first-past-the-post system, the government will hold a referendum within this mandate."

"We’ll be convening a Citizens' Jury to consider Ontario’s political spending and contribution limits so that money has less influence on politics." Some current Ontario legislation deals with the infrastructure of this process. The list of current Ontario bills includes for instance Ontario Bill 214, "An Act to amend the Election Act, the Election Finances Act and the Legislative Assembly Act, to repeal the Representation Act, 1996 and to enact the Representation Act, 2005" is passing, after "public hearings in Toronto, Ottawa and North Bay on September 19, 20 and 21, 2005."

Reforms include:

voting system


"And we’ll examine whether and how to modernize our voting process, use technology better, and make it easier to vote." See vote often.

Long term planning for such changes requires many specific practices and processes especially within each provincial political party must change. The Elections Ontario CFO workshop
for instance refers to Section PG05.32 of the Ontario Elections Act which might change somewhat.

There are other early preparations to make if there is to be an Ontario electoral reform referendum, 2006.

radical change?


The democratic structuring of the Ontario Citizens Assembly is important since the Assembly may be able to contemplate radical change to the structure of Ontario. For instance it may:

The Secretariat's primary reponsibility in the early phase appears to be democratic infrastructuring to "inform, inspire and engage Ontario’s youth to get more involved in our democracy and have a real impact on issues that matter...help...young people... engage with the democratic system and make a difference in your community." Which might include:
For which they have opened an Idea Bank.

timing


McGuinty was specific on timing: "If that assembly recommends an alternative, we will hold a referendum on that alternative within our mandate," the Premier said in a speech to the government-sponsored Dialogue on Democracy conference." A special referendum held between the Nov. 2006 and October 2007 dates (which are the most convenient as there are already province-wide votes and there is time after Nov. 2006 to implement for October 2007) is possible but most observers think the Ontario electoral reform referendum, 2006 is the only realistic date.