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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario Announcing Fixed Election Dates Statement To The Legislative Assembly

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Remarks By Dalton McGuinty, Premier Of Ontario Announcing Fixed Election Dates Statement To The Legislative Assembly


Office of the Premier

Mr. Speaker,

Last fall, our government was elected to deliver real, positive change.

Since then, we have taken action on our commitments by introducing a progressive legislative agenda in this House.

One of the cornerstones of that agenda is strengthening our democracy.

Our government is making progress.

We have:

  • Introduced legislation that would eliminate the waste of taxpayers' dollars on partisan, self-promotional government advertising
  • Given every government MPP a seat on powerful cabinet committees that help set policy and
  • Appointed Ontario's first Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal.

But more is needed, Mr. Speaker, to restore people's faith in our democracy.

In the first 100 years of Ontario's history, about two-thirds of registered voters regularly went to the polls.

In the last four elections, that number has declined steadily, from 64% in 1990 to 57% last fall.

Almost half of Ontarians do not see the point of heading to the polls.

Some are disillusioned with the process; others are cynical.

The only way to reverse this trend, Mr. Speaker, is to engage our citizens.

To show those who have become disillusioned and cynical that government can change.

To show young people why it is so important to vote.

Mr. Speaker, we need to get more Ontarians to the polls on election day.

Voting in an election should be easy so that as many of us as possible can participate, as citizens, in choosing our representatives.

The parliamentary system based on the Westminster model has served us well.

We respect this parliamentary tradition, Mr. Speaker, including the tradition of change that is built into our system.

Indeed, the ability to change and adapt is what keeps our system so strong.

So it would be foolish to limit ourselves to 19th century methods to deal with 21st century challenges.

Change is what keeps our democracy vibrant and vital.

And change is what we're introducing today.

Mr. Speaker, the decision of when to call an election has always rested with the Premier of this province.

It allows the government to call an election when it feels it can win.

It serves no one but the governing party.

It's a perk of being in power.

And it ignores the most important members of any democracy -- its citizens.

That's why our system needs to change.

And that's why today we're embracing the change that is central to our democracy by introducing legislation to fix the dates of elections in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the Election Statute Law Amendment Act, 2004.

If passed, it would make election day in this province the first Thursday in October, every four years, starting in 2007.

It would mean the date of the next election will be October 4, 2007.

Mr. Speaker, elections are democratic events that belong to all of us.

They do not belong to the party in power, to manipulate for its own partisan advantage.

Elections do not belong to premiers, to use as they see fit for their own political agenda.

Elections belong to all of us, as citizens, and we have a right to know when they will be held, so that we can plan effectively and participate fully.

Mr. Speaker, elections belong to all political parties, so that all of us are on an equal footing and can compete for office fairly.

They belong to Elections Ontario, so it can plan efficiently for upcoming elections.

They belong to public servants, so that the important work they do to deliver and continuously improve public services can proceed efficiently, without the disruption of snap election calls, or the delays of calls postponed.

They belong to anyone who wants to run for office or work on a campaign, so they can get their personal and professional lives in order to participate in the democratic process.

They belong to each and every one of us, as citizens, so that we can put aside some time every four years to think about the direction of our province and its government.

And to talk to our friends, families, neighbours, and co-workers about what needs to be done, and who is best suited to do it.

This is how government should work in the 21st century.

This is how it will work in Ontario from now on.

Mr. Speaker, never again will a governing party be able to manipulate the date of an election to serve its own interests.

Never again will a Premier have the ability to set election dates when it is politically opportune for the government.

Mr. Speaker, I -- as Premier -- am forever renouncing this right.

I'm doing it for one reason and one reason only -- because it is the right thing to do.

This is an important step toward strengthening democracy in Ontario.

It's part of our government's agenda to modernize Ontario's democratic institutions.

To engage the people of this province in the most ambitious democratic renewal process in our history.

To get more Ontarians participating in the democratic process.

To make government in Ontario work for the people of Ontario.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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