Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Dangerous Precedent for Ontario Voters

To the Mayor and Council,
c/o Oshawa City Clerk

You may be interested to know that the following Letter to the Editor has today been forwarded to 250 Ontario Newspapers and hopefully will receive wide circulation and exposure. As you can see, we are wanting to focus province-wide attention to the actions of Oshawa City Council to either bring legislative reform to enable a workable general vote for Oshawa or for the government to prohibit Oshawa's move if this is not the direction it intends for Ontario Municipal Elections.

As you know, a similar but expanded letter has already gone to the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Letter to the Editor
250 Ontario Newspapers (personally named and addressed)

A Dangerous Precedent for Ontario Voters

Ontario Bill 130 allows city councils across the Province to introduce city wide elections whereby the vote for every council seat would take place over the entire city as is the case for mayors at present.

Ontario Municipal Councils can make this change unilaterally and it cannot be appealed to the OMB or any other independent or senior body.

Oshawa City Council has voted for this change. At the next election, all candidates for Oshawa City Council will campaign for election across the entire city of 160,000 people.

This has a number of negative repercussions for Oshawa ratepayers and potentially for voters throughout Ontario where local politicians choose to implement the general vote.

In Oshawa, the huge election ballot will contain the names of up to 70 or 80 candidates for the various offices making informed voter choices virtually impossible. The city-wide constituencies of local politicians will be twice the size of our Federal and Provincial Constituencies making local politicians less accessible and accountable than our senior government members, and the high cost of campaigning will make city politicians less representative of the demographics of the city.

To overcome these and the many additional deficiencies of the general vote, the growth of civic political parties must be encouraged by changes to the Ontario Municipal Act and The Ontario Municipal Elections Act if the general vote is to be allowed in large municipalities in Ontario.

The formation of civic political parties would simplify the process of informing voters as candidates associated with the party would all adhere to a common platform and party affiliation and its platform would be the predominant factor attracting votes rather than the individual. The party would be accountable to the public in implementing its platform and its candidates would face electoral defeat for not doing so.

Barriers to municipal political parties presently exist in regards to fundraising limitations, election expenses reporting, registering of candidates, etc., and no provision is given for civic parties to formally and officially approve their associated candidates or the identification of candidate party affiliation on the election ballot which the Supreme Court has held as an essential aspect of voter’s rights to make informed and rational ballot choices under the Charter of Rights.

Such permissive legislation to allow for the formation of civic political parties exists in British Columbia's Local Governments Act to permit the use of the general vote in Vancouver, the only large city in the country, now along with Oshawa, to use the general vote.

While these changes would “Americanize” Ontario’s Municipal Elections System, there is no alternative if the Province is going to allow for use of the general vote in large Ontario Municipalities.

You can read more about this important issue at

Bill Longworth,
Founder & Chair of VOTES (Vote to Eliminate Self Serving Politicians)

No comments: