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Strengthening And Renewing Ontario's Democracy

Archived Backgrounder

Strengthening And Renewing Ontario's Democracy

Office of the Premier

Bold new initiatives to strengthen our democracy

As part of an unprecedented course to strengthen and renew democracy in the province, the McGuinty government is providing opportunities for citizens to have a say on the issues that matter most to them:

  • A citizens' assembly on electoral reform will explore new ideas for electing representatives. If that assembly recommends an alternative, all Ontarians will have their say on the assembly's recommendations in a provincewide referendum.

  • A citizens' jury will be established to consider changes to Ontario's political spending and contribution limits. Changes will aim to reduce the influence of money in politics.

Citizens' assemblies and citizens' juries are representative groups of people selected from the population at random.

Citizens' assemblies are large groups that are often asked to debate an issue and submit a consensus position to their fellow citizens. Citizens' juries are smaller groups that often make recommendations to government, which makes the final decision.

The plan: Making government more accountable

The McGuinty government has taken a number of important steps to strengthen Ontario's democracy and make government more accountable to the people it serves.

  • Fixed election dates

The government introduced Bill 86, the Election Statute Law Amendment Act, 2004. If passed, it will set fixed election dates -- every four years on the first Thursday in October -- starting October 4, 2007.

  • Sunshine provisions returned to Ontario Hydro successor companies

Hydro One Inc. and Ontario Power Generation Inc. -- including their subsidiaries -- are now covered under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act was also extended to these companies to disclose the names of employees earning more than $100,000 a year.

  • Mandatory question period attendance for Cabinet ministers

The government introduced Bill 17, the Executive Council Amendment Act, 2003. If passed, it would require that Cabinet ministers attend question period at least two-thirds of the time, or potentially face a $500 fine for each missed day.

  • Extending powers of the provincial auditor

Bill 84, the Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Act, 2004, was introduced to ensure that Ontarians have the facts about provincial finances before going to the polls. If passed, it would require the Finance Minister to release a pre-election report about Ontario's finances to the provincial auditor for independent review before an election.

The government also introduced Bill 18, the Audit Statute Law Amendment Act. If passed, it would allow for value-for-money audits of institutions in the broader public sector, such as school boards, universities, colleges and hospitals.

  • Ending partisan government advertising

The government introduced Bill 25, the Government Advertising Act, 2003. If passed, it would end government spending on partisan advertising and make the provincial auditor responsible for deciding what is and what is not partisan. The government also took the immediate step of banning partisan advertising in its own operations.