Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Senator Hugh Segal's Speech about MMP

I just read Senator Hugh Segal's speech that he gave to The Empire Club of Toronto about why he is supporting the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system in Ontario's referendum on October 10th. I strongly encourage you to read his speech.

Below are the first three paragraphs of Senator Segal's speech:

Repairing the Infrastructure of Democracy before it Collapses
Hon. Hugh D. Segal, C.M.Senator, Kingston-Frontenac-Leeds
Wednesday September 12, 2007

Economic Club of Toronto

I am pleased to take part in your speaker series. My topic is democracy whose core infrastructure is legitimacy. My worry is that we take its infrastructure for granted. My hope is that my presentation will underline why that is a bad thing.

This room understands better than most the relationship between corporate profits, efficiency and proper governance. You understand that legitimacy and accountability are not trivial to success and progress in business. Annual general meetings bring shareholders, directors and management together – as they are the owners and operators of any public company – and offer them the opportunity to express their views by casting their votes, votes plural, for the auditor, the board of directors and for any special resolutions requiring their approval. The right of management to manage, to spend, to invest, to innovate and plan is based on this core process of electing directors, one by one, and choosing the framework of corporate oversight and shareholder protection.

My question to you is this - why are taxpayers and voters not accorded the same rights when choosing their government’s board of directors (our parliaments), their leaders (our governments) and their representatives in what is usually the largest corporation, effecting all aspects of our lives and livelihoods? As taxpayers, we are the majority shareholders and stakeholders of the “government” corporation and also the investors - providing the necessary dollars for operational and capital expenditures. And the notion that we are prepared to “invest” our hard-earned dollars – albeit not always voluntarily – and then be hamstrung in voicing displeasure by not having the option of meaningfully changing the board of directors goes against all good common sense. But this is what our ‘first past the post’, old and hoary electoral ‘winner take all’ system actually ensures when a majority of votes are wasted in almost every riding.

Link to Senator Hugh Segal's entire speech

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