Provincial lawmakers are poised to consider two private member’s bills that could bring a landmark change to the way Torontonians elect their mayor and councillors. The duelling bills tabled by Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter and NDP MPP Jonah Schein, who both represent Toronto ridings, would give the city the option of switching to a ranked choice ballot system, starting with the 2018 municipal election. If MPPs give their blessing to one of the bills, the change would not be automatic. The final say would rest with city council. The bills are not carbon copies of each other but they both have the same aim – to allow Toronto to replace its traditional electoral system, if it chooses, with ranked balloting. Hunter, who represents Scarborough-Guildwood, is tabling her bill – the Toronto Ranked Ballot Elections Act – Wednesday afternoon at Queen’s Park. “We live in a diverse city and the way we elect our municipal representatives should reflect that,” Hunter told reporters at a news conference before she tabled the bill.
Her proposal will be debated March 6 and if it passes second reading it will go to committee before returning to the legislature for a final vote.
Schein tabled his bill, called the City of Toronto Alternative Voting System Act, on Tuesday.
The Davenport MPP is proposing to amend the Municipal Elections Act to give council the freedom to adopt an “alternative voting system” and establish its own rules surrounding the casting and counting of votes.
If one of the bills passes and council OKs the changes, Toronto would become the first jurisdiction in Canada to cast votes outside the traditional electoral system.