Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca proposes ranked ballots, 4-day work week in address

Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca announced in his keynote address at the party's annual general meeting on Sunday that he would introduce a ranked ballot voting system and consider a four-day work week if elected.

Liberal leader says he'll 'resign on the spot' if promise of ranked ballot not delivered

Speaking at the Ontario Liberal Party's annual general meeting in North York on Sunday, Steven Del Duca announced the party would introduce a ranked ballot system and consider a four-day work week. (CBC)

Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca announced that if elected to provincial government, the party will introduce ranked ballots and consider the possibility of a four-day work week.

Speaking at the party's annual general meeting in North York on Sunday, Del Duca presented the policy options as an introduction to the Ontario Liberals' upcoming platform for the provincial election, slated for June 2, 2022.

In addition to ranked ballots and a four-day work week consideration, Del Duca announced he would bring back the basic income pilot project that the current Progressive Conservative government cancelled.

On ranked ballots, Del Duca added he'd also reinstate the option for municipal elections.

"If I don't deliver on this in my first term, I'll resign on the spot," he said, referencing concerns of electoral reform promises made by political parties in past elections.

In a ranked ballot system, voters use their ballot to select more than one candidate and rank the choices in sequence. Currently in Ontario, voters elect their representatives using the first-past-the-post system, which means voters cast their ballot for the candidate of their choice, and whoever gets the most votes wins, even if they win less than 50 per cent of the total vote.

"It means parties and leaders will have to compete for second choices as well as their first, so it won't make sense for leaders and parties to demonize each other," Del Duca said.

Liberals likely to benefit from ranked ballot, advocate says

But being in the political centre of the three major parties at Queen's Park, the Ontario Liberals stand to benefit, said creative director of Unlock Democracy Canada Dave Meslin.

The non-profit organization advocates for electoral reform for all levels of government. Meslin says while ranked ballots work well for municipal elections where candidates aren't affiliated with political parties, it wouldn't function effectively for Queen's Park or at the federal level in the House of Commons.

Creative director of Unlock Democracy Canada Dave Meslin says a ranked ballot system for partisan legislatures might not be effective. (Submitted by Dave Meslin)

"On a mathematical basis, the Liberals are the most likely party to be on the second choice of a [Progressive] Conservative or a New Democrat vote," he said. "The optics of a middle party introducing a voting system that benefits people in the middle doesn't look good."

Meslin explained that ranked ballots have the potential to push out smaller parties more than in the current first-past-the-post system. For example, the Ontario Green Party can receive 10 per cent of the popular vote, but win no seats, or at the most one or two.

"With a ranked ballot, any small start-up party is less likely to win seats since you need a majority of votes in a single riding to win the seat," Meslin said.

Del Duca mentioned that he would appoint a citizens' assembly "empowered to review further changes to electoral systems and make recommendations to an all-party committee for action."

In his keynote address, Del Duca also said he would reinstate the basic income pilot project "that was cancelled by Doug Ford." He also added that the Ontario Liberals would launch a pilot project to analyze the potential for a four-day work week where the number of hours worked across five days would be condensed into four.

"I want to understand if it has merit here," he said, noting that four-day work weeks are being considered in New Zealand, Spain, Scotland and Iceland.

with files from Lorenda Reddekopp