The decision on what election voting method is used should be left in the hands of the municipality, not the province.
That’s the general sentiment expressed by Mono council regarding the Doug Ford government’s decision to strip municipalities of the option of choosing a ranked balloting system for their elections.
“The provincial government once again is falling into the trap of pretending to treat us like adults, and then they don’t,” Deputy Mayor John Creelman said during Mono council’s meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 27. “This is an example of when they don’t.”
Concerns were initially raised by Creelman following the introduction of Bill 218, the Supporting Ontario's Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020, which eliminates the option of a ranked balloting system for the 2022 municipal elections.
The ranked-ballot concept was originally introduced to give municipalities another option, allowing for more diversity and inclusion in the elections.
Ranked ballots would mean that voters choose their choices in order of preference. When a candidate receives more than half of the votes, they would win the election just like in the current system.
However, if none of the candidates win the majority, the candidate with the least votes is knocked out and the second choices of that candidate's supporters are added to the remaining candidates. The process would continue until a winner receives majority support.
On Oct. 26, Creelman participated in an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) call with 250 individuals from across Ontario and other parts of Canada regarding the decision.
“We’re very concerned that an approach to elections was shut down by Premier Ford,” said Creelman. “There was no warning on this, no consultation on this.”
Ranked ballot elections have not become common yet, though a successful trial was completed in London during its most recent municipal election.
“There were speakers on the call, including the clerk from London, who spoke to how successful the process was. It enfranchised a number of groups within the town, and it led to more, not fewer, candidates,” Creelman said.
“One of the surprising facts that was presented in the call last night is that Canada is the only county in the OECD that has the first-past-the-post electoral system. Every other country involved has a number of approaches,” he added. “We’re behind everyone else.”
Another aspect of Bill 218 is that the nomination deadline for the next municipal election is being pushed back from the end of July until mid-September. Rather than having a few months of campaigning, it means candidates will have only about a month before elections.
“I’m very much in favour of this motion,” said Coun. Ralph Manktelow. “I don’t have a fixed point of view on how we should be voting, but I think when it comes to moving the date (for nominations), it really compresses things unfairly, especially for new candidates.”
Creelman proposed a motion at council to send a request to local MPP Sylvia Jones, Premier Ford and other municipalities to rescind the changes and return to the optional system. The vote to distribute the letter was unanimous.
Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner