McGuinty Government To Strengthen Democracy With Fixed Election Dates
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Michael Bryant, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal, took an important step to strengthen Ontario's democracy today by introducing legislation that would set fixed election dates for the province.
If the proposed legislation passes, elections will be held on the first Thursday in October every four years, starting Thursday, October 4, 2007, and political considerations will no longer be a factor in the selection of election dates.
The proposed Election Statute Law Amendment Act, 2004, also includes a number of other provisions.
Set Campaign Period
Currently, it is within the Premier's discretion to set the length of the campaign period, which is normally between 28 and 56 days. The campaign period begins when a writ is issued.
The proposed legislation would set campaign periods at 28 full days, ensuring that all parties know when the campaign period will start and can plan accordingly.
Accommodating Conflicts with Days of Religious or Cultural Significance
If the date set for the election falls on a day of cultural or religious significance, under the proposed legislation, the Chief Election Officer may recommend to the Lieutenant Governor that election day be moved later by up to a week.
As always, people would be able to vote through advance polls if they are not able to vote on election day.
Votes of Non-Confidence and Minority Governments
The proposed Election Statute Law Amendment Act respects the convention regarding confidence votes and subsequent elections. As is currently the case, if the government cannot maintain the confidence of the House and a new government cannot be formed, the Lieutenant Governor could call an election immediately.
Under the proposed legislation, the next scheduled election would then return to the first Thursday of October in the fourth calendar year following the unscheduled election.
Under the Representation Act, Ontario mirrors the federal government's electoral district boundaries.
The most recent federal seat redistribution would reduce Ontario's northern ridings to ten upon dissolution of the current provincial Legislature. Current transition rules would dissolve provincial riding associations by August 25, 2004.
The proposed Election Statute Law Amendment Act includes a provision preserving the old riding associations until December 31, 2006. This provision helps support the government's commitment to maintain eleven ridings in northern Ontario.